I would like to take this opportunity to tell a little bit about
Designer Day, organized by Cindy Edelstein of Jewelry Resources.
This isn't something I would be normally drawn to. I am not a high
end jewelry designer trying to eek out a living in NYC, but this
year, I thought it would be interesting to attend. Designer Day was
held at the Fashion Institute of Technology, with Michael Coan, the
Department Chair, assisting throughout with the 125 or so who
attended. Cindy had asked me to take part as one of their one-on-one
counseling sessions for business development.
First, I was pleasantly surprised to see Dana Singer, the Executive
Director of SNAG. Dana said that she was making a point this year to
visit different exhibitions, such as MJSA Expo, Designer Day and to
help her gain a broader view of the needs of the jewelry industry at
The day begun for me, hearing two excellent talks on marketing. I
took copious notes, recognizing some tweaking needed for my business.
Jerry Cisco, a buyer for Bloomingdales was very dynamic and
articulate speaker, recognizing the need for the service personnel to
be educated about fashion jewelry.
After lunch, I begun the counseling sessions. What I was happy to
discover, was that many of the questions, issues, fears and
enthusiasm were common to the hobbyist as to the professional. Some
where mid-career, and some making a very good business in selling
their work and thinking about hiring their first employee. I
reviewed press packets, portfolios and gained some excellent
about finding art reps and how to work with them, from
Alan Revere sitting next to me.
The one common challenge that nearly everyone voiced was, how do you
make a living when you are doing it all! Artisans were fabricating
their work, going to shows, working the circuit, publishing their
brochures, doing their books, etc.! There were a lot of very tired
people in their late 20's out there!
Here is what we agreed upon.
1) IF you hate doing the books, STOP DOING THEM! Hire a good
bookkeeper to come once a week to once a month. Let them write the
checks, balance your account, file, make calls to suppliers, etc.
Think how much happier you will be when you know that every check you
sign is good. You can find a good one for $20 an hour. It's not
rocket science, it's tedious. Would you want your accountant making
your jewelry? Of course not. Accountants love to count numbers.
2) If you hate doing office work, STOP DOING IT! Find a part time
person who is interested in learning the business. Can't afford one?
There are all kinds of people who are starting out who would love to
have this experience. They are out there. ASK. Trade for learning
to make jewelry, or send them to a class.
3) Stop worrying how you are going to usurp 80 percent of the
market place globally. Start in your own back yard. Get the local
paper to write articles about you. Do you have a story to tell?
Great, tell it! Until you have exhausted everyone in your
neighborhood, then you can wander outside your domain.
4) Rexamine what is selling. If it is not, scrap it. Present
current work with fresh work. Now that you have more time not having
to worry about your books, or have that perky assistant helping you
with your office work, you will have more time to create your
5) Do you have employees? DELEGATE! Give them the opportunity to
help you. Do you hate setting stones, or polishing? Contract the
One woman mentioned that she could have a stone prong set, bezel set
and polished for $12. "Wow" I said, "that is cheap", "yes", but
sometimes they are not very good". "Well, I hope you don't pay them
when they don't perform correctly". "Oh", she said, "you mean I
don't have to pay then?"
What did I walk away with from this experience? You may think you
are just a designer, or contract jeweler, or a professional stone
setter, or an artist, the second you obtained a tax ID number, you
became a business person. Learn the business of doing business. If
you do only the things you love and give up the tasks you hate, you
will be a happier and more productive person.
I want to personally thank Cindy Edelstein for asking me to
participate. I'm impressed with what you are doing. Thank you
Michael Coan for being so gracious. I was honored to assist where I
could. I learned much from this event and look forward to attending
again next year.
Cindy Edelstein's website
Fashion Instiute of Technology
M E T A L W E R X
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
Ph. 781/891-3854 Fax 3857
Jewelry/Metalarts School & Cooperative Studio