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First year in the business


#1

I have just completed my first year of doing shows. I make
one-of-a-kind pieces, hand-forged silver, gold, brass copper with
cabs and faceted stones. I need to know how I am doing. Would some
of you who have been doing this longer than me answer a couple of
questions?

  1. Is this the kind of business that should build one year from the
    next? I have been able to make some really good contacts and
    customers who are crazy about my work at each show. So far, I have
    covered show expenses and cost of materials plus a smidgen.

  2. Did any of you make a huge profit the first year of selling your
    wares?

  3. Would someone give me an idea how trunk shows usually work? In
    other words, what does the shop expect to pay and what should the
    artisan expect to pay. Do you use their displays or yours or does it
    vary? Who pays for advertising?

  4. I am afraid of consignment. For one thing, it thins my stock. I
    did a show this weekend where I know I could’ve sold a piece that I
    have on consignment in a gallery several states away. Does anyone
    have really good luck with consignments?

  5. A buyer who saw my work this last weekend wants me to mass
    produce for her. She says one-of-a-kind is OUT! She says if you do
    one-of-a-kind you are waging a war on money! I want to work for
    myself, but if I take her up on her offer I will have to spend ALL
    of my time producing for her instead of promoting and selling my
    unique designs. Thoughts or opinions?

J. S. Ellington
J. S. Ellington Jewelry Designs
jsellington@cs.com


#2

dear js, it is your temparament and what you want to acheive from the
business that you are doing is the determining factor in points

  1. it usually takes 2 to 3 years of show to have some regular client
    base and to make profits

  2. mass producing is good if the objectoive is merchandising and
    making money

  3. one of kind is also good if the objective is to follow the heart
    for art and satisfaction of creation of uniqueness

  4. one of kind piece are art objects and they can be priced fairly
    high as here the biggest cost is your own personal artistic input and
    this i guess you haveto decide what is your art worth.

  5. consignment sometimes is important in one of kind piece as the
    name suggest one of kind piece also has one of a kind buyer so here
    sometime consignment could be necessary but to who and where you
    consign should be done after due diligence

regqards
kumar


#3
    1. Is this the kind of business that should build one year
from the next? I have been able to make some really good contacts
and customers who are crazy about my work at each show. So far, I
have covered show expenses and cost of materials plus a smidgen. 

Supposedly you will build your clientele and have a better idea of
your show market as you go into your second year. Consider which
shows had the best return and attracted the clientele that likes your
style of work, and drop the ones that didn’t meet this criteria, and
add on one or two others to try out as replacements. Get your
customers’ names and addresses so you can drop them a note telling
them where your booth will be when a show is in their area. Past
customers are great repeat customers.

    2. Did any of you make a huge profit the first year of selling
your wares? 

I sold enough to pay for my investment in inventory and to buy new
tools to allow me to buy tools to make things easier on me. Not a
huge profit, but it was enough to satisfy my desire to continue.

    4. I am afraid of consignment. For one thing, it thins my
stock. I did a show this weekend where I know I could've sold a
piece that I have on consignment in a gallery several states away.
Does anyone have really good luck with consignments? 

Some consignments are very good with a monthly track record. Others
only sell occasionally, and those I drop.

    5. A buyer who saw my work this last weekend wants me to mass
produce for her. She says one-of-a-kind is OUT! She says if you do
one-of-a-kind you are waging a war on money! I want to work for
myself, but if I take her up on her offer I will have to spend ALL
of my time producing for her instead of promoting and selling my
unique designs. Thoughts or opinions? 

Consider making this a wholesale account. Develop an exclusive line
for her, and figure out a way to mass produce by means of casting. If
you don’t have the capability of casting, farm it out. Tell her what
the price points are for volume sales, and that when she places her
order, it’s half down and the balance net 30 days after delivery,
with signed contracts for the exclusivity on her part, and cash basis
on your part. Have the understanding that once she no longer buys a
particular exclusive design for a certain time period, then it passes
back to you for general public consumption.

However, in my opinion, she wants one-of-a-kind designs, but she
wants them at rock-bottom prices that are competitive with foreign
manufacturing. Will you be able to meet the price points she expects,
and still be able to make a profit that allows you a wage outside of your
inventory and labor?


#4
  1. Yes, this is definitely the kind of business that builds year
    after year. Many buyers told me my first year that they liked my
    work but wanted to see if I’d still be around in a few years. I was
    also told by the Met that new jewelry designers are notorious for
    not being able to produce.

  2. No, I did not make a huge profit my first year, I did not make a
    moderate profit, nor did I make a small profit. In fact, I lost
    money. But I loved what I was doing and I figured that if I were in
    Graduate School learning to do something else it would cost me lots
    of money so I had to look at the early years as a sort of education.

3.I recently did a ten day trunk show in NYC and lots of Orchidians
posted very helpful advice. I’m sure it can be found on the
archives but you could also email me off line and I will forward you
the emails. The store where I did my trunk show would only allow me
to use there display materials, advertising is to be paid by you
unless you are already very well known and then you might share the
cost.

  1. Most designers have to do some consignment work if they want
    exposure.

  2. As far as one of a kind vs mass produced, you can do both. Also,
    you do not have to manufacture the mass produced pieces. There are
    Orchidians who will mold, cast and even finish pieces for you. That
    way you could still create on-of-kinds as well.

Finally, in my opinion, if your work is of good quality and your
designs really are unique hang in there! However, this is NOT and
easy business, by any means! Unless you are incredibly talented and
extremely lucky, you really have to be willing to be in it for the
long haul; there are no instant millionaires in this group (as far
as I know at least!). This profession is not for whimps! Good Luck