Saturday, October 31, 2015

Beauty and the Business

The founder of the Origami Owl, Bella Weems has made a literal fortune at making jewelry... and she is now 21.  This entrepreneur started making jewelry at a young age, but got serious about the venture when she wanted a new Jeep for her 16th birthday. She began selling her items "Living  Lockets" at the local mall in a kiosk, and skyrocketed to fame and yes, fortune, by marketing her idea. She has been highlighted in Teen magazine as well as featured by Swarovski who have a very strict and unwavering criteria for allowing their branding to be used.

She did this, because she really enjoyed it. That about sums it up...
You do what you love. If you are lucky, have a good support team, and a lot of energy, you can make it big, but what do we mean by big?  I am a small business...and I feel like I have made it big... I don't make a lot of money, but I am so in love with what I do, I am so in love that I am able to create every day... I feel that I have hit the big time, but.... I actually am just a tiny speck in the business world.

I have shown examples of people that create and make what they love, some are masters of their work, like Scott Schreiber or the jewelers at Brian Gavin, they are true masters of their trade... but what about the people just getting into the jewelry business that are simply in it for the love of creating a piece of jewelry, sharing it with the world?

To me... that is the essence of the jewelry artist.. that passion, that joy of making, that love for all that glitters... and the things that don't... but make a beautiful piece of jewelry.

If we all worked in a cubicle all day long, every day, life would be so boring... for those whose calling it is to do the paper work, the thinking, the correlating information about all things that are to me, boring... I salute you... you keep the world running, and all the rest of us... are truly grateful. I know that I could never do that... and people that have retired and left that part of their lives... and come over to some type of craft.. I know that they salute you as well.... You truly keep the world in proper order.

It is terribly hard for a creative person to be in the constrains of working a desk job, doing monotonous things, but... Many people do every day... it is called a job, and it is one of those things that most people do so that they have the necessities in life, like food and shelter.... And it is how most of the world makes a living.But there are those of us that just can't sit at a desk for 8 hours, shuffling paper. Some of us would rather sit at a bench for 16 hours a day, hammering and sawing and soldering burning our hands, simply for the love of creativity.

So what do you do if you really want to break away and work in the arts full time, specifically, in the jewelry industry?

First, education is always the best answer. Finish High School, apply to college, and start your training. There are listed colleges and trade schools in the blog that are a start... if you are working, take a workshop and see if you like it. Jewelry making is not for everyone... or a part of it possibly, there are so many sides of the jewelry industry... like Lea Avroch, who makes glass beads, or like the gem cutters at Brian Gavin, or those that work in wire, or casting... it is diverse... try it out. See if you like it... Some people find that it is not their calling. It is better to find out before you expend time and energy as well as the finances to truly get into the business....
If you do fall in love with any of the parts of jewelry making,  consider going about learning in a serious manner. Attending an accredited school is probably the best route... but there are so many other ways.

Many people go to workshops to get them started. There are many places you can start out... like Bead Fest, Bead and Button, Tucson Gem and Mineral Show... the list goes on and on... if you check you local college, they may give workshops in their Continuing Education courses.  There are many dedicated workshops that teach short courses... like Roadhouse Arts, in Bulverde, Tx, or Chris Nelson, with his gold fused steel workshops at Urban Armor, in Pagosa Springs, Co.

There are so many to choose from, workshops are everywhere... but so are online tutorials, some are for money, some are for free. There is a plethora of videos on everything from setting up your workspace to soldering prongs and cutting gems.  Some of the teachers are extraordinary, There are beadwork teachers, there are blacksmith teachers, there are silversmith teachers... pretty much any area you want to learn, you can find a tutorial or a place to start.

That is not to mention even the books that you can read. There are wonderful, very available books that teach everything you could want to know. Most can be accessed through your public library, or if you want, you can purchase them, some at very reasonable prices. Many can be purchased second hand, though it is harder to find the good books second hand, since they are coveted by their owners...

Lastly, you can apprentice. Many jewelers will take on an apprentice to be able pass on their skills, most jewelers in the past actually learned this way, working on the bench for years, learning the skills that their teachers had learned the same way. Tried and true methods of learning to work with silver and gold and gemstones.  In times past, apprentices were taken on by the tradesman in exchange for money from their family, or the indenture of the person apprenticing. Serving as some what a slave to be able to learn the trade...

If you are serious about going into business for yourself, it is required by most states that you register your business for tax purposes, and if you sell, you need to have a tax id number. You must above all, be prepared to claim what you sell, and pay taxes on the goods.
You must treat the business as just that... a business. If you do not, you will fail, miserably.
Taking courses in business, in accounting and even possibly public relations is probably a really good idea.. or having a mentor. Someone who can  show you the ropes of how to run the business from day to day, keeping track of inventory, of goods and especially, of money.

My late husband was partners in a business, and had a side business, I learned a lot from him over the course of time. I worked in another industry and managed a couple of businesses and taught before I got into making jewelry. I had a bit of practical experience before trying to set up a business. But I can tell you, it was nothing like what I thought it would be. It is rewarding, but... the sales are tough for me. I am pretty much an introvert, and the thought of being in the public is nerve-wracking. I do most of my sales in person, though. I sell at faires and festivals and love it. I love meeting people that like what I make.
Though, the internet takes away many of the problems of selling in person. A brick and mortar shop isn't what everyone wants, nor the trips to art shows and fairs and festivals.  Having a website or an Etsy or other type of selling site is the way to go for people who want to sell their wares, but are not into going out and actually setting up in public.
There are those who love selling in person, but also have websites and Etsy shops, they want to broaden their audience, sell to the world... and that is a huge boost to sales.
Advertisement, advertisement, advertisement... that's the key. If no one sees your art, no one will buy it.
Social media, great advertisement! Use of  social sites such as Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Blogger, Wordpress, Instagram, Pintrest, Hi5, Flickr, and a plethora of others. Posting your work gets some attention, having a dedicated page even more, and then there is the group pages that offer selling or auctioning which is a boon to any jewelry maker.

Selecting the way to run your business is very personal, but the input from other jewelers is very helpful. Most are very helpful, and the range of ideas varies from what type of work they do and how they sell... Asking about business ideas in groups such as Facebook's Jewelry Booth's and Displays. They are a great group and answer questions freely.

Jewelry has such intrinsic value and is at the same time superfluous, that it is hard to know how to price, what you pay yourself, how to stock, do you stock? How to sell it... Do you sell at a brick and mortar store, trade show, in a gallery, online, a combination of two or more?   .... it is very difficult to get your store seen... noticed in the vast sea of online stores, it costs money and time to do faires, festivals, and trade shows, it is grueling to be in a brick and mortar store every day, keeping it stocked, paying someone to help you, the extra utilities, the insurance, etc... it can be daunting.

But if you have the passion, you have the stamina, and you have well made, timeless jewelry... you can make it!

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