Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Jewelry "Friends"


I am running into some superbly sticky situations with “friends” and
family members.

In the beginning, I sold much of my things at low prices to attract
attention and get my feet wet. All kinds of new friends and
acquaintances appeared on the scene. Everywhere I went, I was so
interesting all of a sudden. As time went by and I brought my prices
up to market (still a little low) the phone calls and invites tapered
off. Don’t get me wrong, I have real friends as well…but I was a
little hurt still.

Family members are a different thing as well. They want things for
nothing, and I mean nothing. I can’t keep giving everything away
There’s Christmas and birthdays sure, but it’s getting out of hand.
Over the weekend, my mother-in-law stopped by my booth. She
eventually pointed out a piece and informed me that “that’s the one”.
I went back to my father-in-law and said “should I put it aside for
you to get her for Christmas?” and he totally waffled when I told him
it was 125 (it’s normally 175). He said something about a discount
and then mumbled incoherently for a long time. I told him it was 50
off. This stuff is getting really yucky. When I start making things
from more precious material, this is going to get really tough. I
want to make a living, not be some kind of thrift store for jewelry

Some of the other stories are truly odd. Does anyone have a canned
response to these kinds of things? Last week, I sent my new
sister-in-law things she had ordered and she left me a message
informing me that she would not be paying for her necklace. Can you
believe that? She just “informed” me, like it was a done deal.

This is crazy
Sorry for the rant


Personally, I would write these people off. No need to be rude but
ignore their future inquiries. You are not a charity, you are a
business venture. But take care of those who take care of you. That
piece you slaved over for hours and hours and spent your CASH to
acquire the materials for…you can sell it at full price in your
regular course of business. That’s what you do, make jewelry and sell
at a profit. So DO that. Forget the glommers-on. If you absolutely
must deal with friends and family, have a set discount you can live
with and don’t budge.

Just my take on it.


I think we all have been through this, to some extent, I think
women get hit harder than the guys, the reasoning I was blown away
with, they have to support their families and we have
husbands…I have been told that on several occasions. When you start
a business you go to friends and family first, sounds like that
route has dried up for you,it is time to hit the pavement and go
for your customers.

Give your sister in-law a call ask her to return the merchandise
that is’nt paid for, you understand money is tight,but you have
people that will pay and you are not in position to gift your
designs any longer,remind her you have bills and like to eat as
well. If this approach is too harsh, remember she will be family for
a long long time, just write it off and learn a lesson about dear
"sister". Very and I mean Very few of us have been successful when
working with or for family.

Good Luck,
Lisa McConnell


Unfortunately you seem to be around some spectacularly self people.
My store has purchased jewelry and pieces I have made. The purchased
jewelry we usually sell at 20% over cost to family and employees,
20-30% off retail to friends. Some situations happen as our
continuing education, and this is a lesson on you learning how to
take care of yourself, and you have to set boundaries. With your
sister-in-law, if you gave her a price, verbally or enclosed an
invoice, I would suggest that your husband request payment from his
sibling. I believe he should show support for you, and it is
appropriate for him to do this as sister-in-law should be made aware
that there are consequences for bad behavior, and that this is not
acceptable. Pay for it or return it, otherwise, it is theft. My wife
has six siblings, five in-laws, ect., and I would not have a business
if that stuff went on with my wife’s family. My wife used to be too
generous, and sold things for what we paid for them. I kept pointing
out that the time she spent shopping (Tucson!) and the credit card
interest meant we were loosing money when she did that. Took her a
while, but she finally realized that I was right and adjusted for it.
My mother-in-law is very generous and gives my wife thousands of
dollars to use at gem shows and makes a list of what she wants. I am
sorry that you do not have the support of these people who should
want to acknowledge you in an appropriate way for your risk and
creativity, and that means buying the pieces they like. I have a
sense from your posts on this forum that you are fair and that you
are probably undervaluing you work to begin with Please do not allow
these people to cause you to question your own self worth. And be as
generous as you can, but do not hurt yourself. It does seem to take
time to come to terms with this, and it is tough because of the
inherent value of the materials and your time, which we tend to get
ubderpaid for sometimes anyway.

Richard Hart


Your sister-in-law takes the prize for “chutzpah”. I suggest that
you need to set clear boundaries with friends and family. Let them
know in a polite way that you are a professional and that your time
and materials have value and that you cannot afford to give them
away. You could offer them a discount off your normal retail price.
You have to be comfortable with the amount of the discount or you
will begin to be resentful. I think that most reasonable friends and
relatives can respect that. If they can’t they are disrespecting you.
You don’t need that.

Joel Schwalb

You shouldn’t feel bad-your family and friends should. It’s one
thing if you choose to make a piece of jewelry as a gift for someone.
That is your decision-that’s why it’s a gift.

You run a business, not a charity. You’ve decided you want to make a
living at something you love (I’m assuming) doing. But, in the end,
because you are a business, practicality rules all. You apparently do
give them a percentage off, like in the case of your father-in-law:
28% is a pretty nice little discount.

It’s a difficult situation. At some point you need to be able to
discuss this with your family, so they understand (and you would
think it wouldn’t be necessary). It will take some diplomacy on your
part, but firmness as well.

As for your sister-in-law, you definitely need request the necklace
back. Again-you are a business, not a charity, even if they are
related to you by marriage. I’m hoping your husband is on your side
and understands-not that I’m suggesting you bring him in-but I’m
hoping this is the case to make it easier for you when you finally
make your stance known.

In the end, if they can’t understand you are a business woman,
regardless of your relationship, you may need to make a rule to
separate family from business. They may not like it, but it’s like
dealing with children-either they come to an understanding, or you
have to exert more drastic measures.

Good luck to you-I hope it works out well.



I know just what you mean. It’s nice on one hand to know that you
relatives and friends want you pieces, but as you say, you have to
make a living. If they care about you they will understand, you just
need to work out how to tell them. Like me you need some practice in
gentle assertiveness.

As for the new sister-in-law, if I were you I’d be tempted to write
her a note and tell her you are sorry she didn’t like it and you
would be happy to pay the return postage. That would work on me. Are
we not lucky to have such a forum to air our grievances.

Cheers, Renate

I used to give a lot of stuff away. Finally quit. It was costing me
too much as I am in business and the freebies never brought the
referrals promised. Also don’t offer discounts anymore.

My mother would send an empty box twice a year with a note in it
saying" fill please". In 25 years my brother and sister-in-law have
never offered to buy anything from me. Came close 2 years ago but
lost out to a new TV for the mother-in-law.

I do give things to my sister…she gives back by finding great
books and giving them to me. At times I am not sure who is
"blackmailing" who but we have fun and a lot of books.

I finally told everyone else, “If you want it Buy It. If you want it
cheap, go to Wal Mart. I run a business to make money.” They all just
looked at me. No more “requests”.

Just say no. It will give them something to talk about at supper.

If you sent an invoice with the necklace, tell her you are turning
it over to a collection agency. If it was a verbal deal, see that she
never gets anything again with out cash up front. You know, “I have
to buy parts…”. Family will break you before anyone else will and
smile while doing it.

Never said I was a nice guy.

Bill Churlik

I just tell my family (and it helps me find out my true friends as
well) “This is a business. Please go to any other jewelry outlet and
see if they give necklaces away for free.” I had to do this early on,
there was some or the other thread I got it from, the one about
working from home. you don’t want people to stop by the house and
pester you while working for your business. The same goes for
friends. My family (we’re all a bunch of indians) all really love
silver and turquoise. So at Xmas time I spend a bit of time, and
materials spent with money I’d spend on them anyway, and make them
something unique. Well, at least one of them a year. Keeps them
guessing, and makes it a better gift. I’d rather surprise them than
have them expect it all the time.

Disclaimer: I really am an indian. The federal government calls
dealings with us “Federal Indian Policy” and “Federal Trust
Responsibility” so I call myself an indian. I even have a pedigree,
1/2 CS&KT Tribal Member, no XXXXXXXX. Sorry, it’s been a rough week.

Frank A. Finley
Salish Silver
Handmade Indian Jewelry

Kim, if you can’t rant to fellow jewelers, who can you rant to?

It’s so disheartening when a “friend” turns out to be an opportunist
instead. Be of good heart, though–at least you’re now separating
the sturdy wheat of true friends from the chaff of people who want
discounts on jewelry. Sounds to me like it’s time to discontinue the
"friendship" discount for future sales. If they are true friends and
buy from you repeatedly at the marked price (or your “best” price, if
you negotiate at all), then offer them a “repeat customer” discount.

With family, oy! what a headache! Unfortunately, you can’t choose
your family the way you can your friends. Does your family understand
that jewelry is your business and livelihood, not just a cute hobby?
You may have to explain to each and every one of them that you pay
actual money for the metal and stones you use, and that you bill for
your time. If your work is expensive enough and your income low
enough that you cannot afford to give them your pieces for birthday,
Christmas, whatever, ask each person if they’d prefer you give them
some item (probably not of your jewelry) you can afford on each
occasion or get one piece of jewelry to cover all of them. If any of
your relatives own businesses themselves, they should understand
your point. Another option is to make “special” gift pieces for your
relatives. You can put as much time and money as you can afford into
these, and keep them separate from your “professional” line.

For the sister-in-law who isn’t paying for the necklace, contemplate
asking her to please return the item or pay for it–as much as you’d
like to make it a gift, you simply cannot afford to do so. You could
also offer her a payment plan for the necklace if she’s just
temporarily short of funds. If she refuses to pay or return, there’s
the omen for you to require payment in advance of handing over the
goods, even with your family. Use this policy for all family members
so your policy is consistent and no one can point fingers at your
discrimination against your sister-in-law.

Note that things could get really rocky with the family as a result
of your standing up for yourself as a professional. Family matters
are the ones that give us sleepless nights and ulcers. It will be
your choice whether to give in to their demands for free jewelry. Try
to look realistically at your options and how you’ll feel about the
consequences of each. Which will bother you more–to lose the good
opinion of your sister-in-law or to feel slighted as a professional?



Oh dear! I am beginning to encounter similar situations with
’friends’. Everybody wants a discount! I think the problem therein
lies with the term “family” and “friends”. You might have to get a
bit ‘mean’ with these folks and tell them that your time is money
and you can only do business with customers that pay.

So, if they have their eye on something they will have to wait for
Christmas or their birthday to get it for “free” otherwise tell them
"you expect payment".

Besides, are your family and friends your ideal target market? If
they can’t afford to pay your real prices then they are not your
true clients.

Just a thought:

Maybe you should direct your mother-in-law and sister-in-law to
"Payless" jewellery shops in the mall like Wal-Mart.

or better yet:

Next time you happen to visit your sister-in-law’s home…find
something in the house that you can point out to her like a can
opener and say to her, “I really like this can opener”…“I could
really use a new can opener”…and pop it into your purse. Make sure
that she sees you and then just stare at her and smile…

See if that isn’t a wake up call!!

Good luck!

Hi Kim, Yes, this is a tough one. I look at my family as my best non
paying customers. I lov’em to death, but… It sounds like they
don’t respect what you do and that can’t happen. I try to keep
things on the light side when working with family and if they don’t
want to pay the price you tell them, let them know you understand
and it’s not a problem and keep it at that.

On your sister-in-law…I would politely ask for it back if she’s
uncomfortable with the price and go on with life. I’ve never had
that happen and hope it doesn’t. My family does provide many
referrals, so I do take that into consideration and they do get a
very good deal, but, you need to make something. Do they refer
clients to you? If not, I wouldn’t worry about it. Always try to do
what you think is right and treat people the way you want to be
treated…until it’s time not to. You know when you’re being taken
advantage of.

Good luck, Scott

Kim-You should get some better friends. Forget the in-laws…you
didn’t marry them. And manipulative family members? Don’t get me
started. Breath deeply and avoid those who hurt you.


Last week, I sent my new sister-in-law things she had ordered and
she left me a message informing me that she would not be paying
for her necklace. Can you believe that? She just "informed" me,
like it was a done deal. 

Wow, Kim! I guess you set the tone by starting off so carefully, but
these stories sure support the idea of “a prophet is not without
honor except in his own home”! I would be very tempted to leave the
s-i-l a message saying, “Oh, sorry you didn’t like it, I’ll pick it
back up from you Tuesday…”

The only advice I can offer is to change your ways, stand your
ground, and do not allow anyone to make you feel bad about it. Just
because you made a mistake in the past doesn’t mean you are obliged
to keep knocking yourself out for a bunch of freeloaders whose
consciences-- if they had any-- should not have allowed them to take
advantage of you in the first place!


She just "informed" me, like it was a done deal. 

Wow Kim, this is ‘ballsy’. Since she prefers to communicate in
messages, do the same and let her know you are sorry the piece is
not to her liking but not to worry, that you have another BUYER that
is interested. Make a statement regarding arrangements to get the
necklace back to you. After she says she wants to keep it, restate
the price and ask her who will be covering the cost.

New SIL, does she expect this to be a gift? If this is just a
misunderstanding, lost in a messsage, get conversation going that
includes your costs of production. She’s the newbie in the family
(you’re not the one trying to win welcome), and it seems she’s a
newbie in commerce too. She is challenging you to stand up for
yourself so rise up and do it.


Some of the other stories are truly odd. Does anyone have a canned
response to these kinds of things? 

One of my favorite responses to this kind of person is ( as I close
the case) if I cant get paid for working I may as well go fishing, at
least I’ll eat tonight. My second favorite is, funny, you don’t even
look like my mom, and besides she would kick my butt for giving away
my hard work for nothing. Third is, if you took a cut in pay, maybe
your boss could give me a better deal on whatever they do.

Christopher Arnett

Hi Kim,

I guess I was really lucky–I started my business with what I
suspect were somewhat inflated prices, my friends jump-started me by
paying them, and my family is far away (where they belong…).

But I have an idea: print up a nice, elegant-looking announcement
(with a logo, even if you have to fake it), stating that your
business is now formally a business and, since it is now the way you
will be making your living, you will no longer be able to give pieces
away or sell them for more than e.g. 10% off. Emphasize how grateful
you are for all the support friends and family have given you during
your start-up phase. Say that, once a year, you will do a “home
show”–may be on Black Monday–for those nearest and dearest to you,
at which everything will be deeply discounted (and plan to use the
home show to divest yourself of old stock). Then mail the
announcement to each and every person who’s giving you tsuris. ASAP!

Good luck!

Lisa Orlando
Albion, CA, US

I think we all have been through this,, to some extent, I think
women get hit harder than the guys, the reasoning I was blown away
with,,,, they have to support their families and we have
husbands...I have been told that on several occasions. When you
start a business you go to friends and family first, sounds like
that route has dried up for you,,,it is time to hit the pavement
and go for your customers. 

You are absolutely right. I am 56 years old woman who has spent a
lifetime of people telling me I have a husband to support me so I
don’t need the same income as someone else. Where anyone gets off
thinking that my husbands income is seriously suppose to subsidize
there business is beyond me. Yes it is against the law. But people
break the law. I could sue them, of course! But I am an artist, and
always working for another starving artist. Quite simply, its a
prejudice that no one talks about. A stable 34 year marriage is not
always admired.


Hello All,

I used to work with a woman who was very tight and blunt. She would
tell people, when they used the term “friend” to get a discount, "I
can’t give my friends discounts, my enemies don’t buy from me so I’d
have to give every one discounts. She also used to say, and I think
of it often. “Use it up, wear it out, make do or do with out.” She’s
been pretty succsessful, pays cash for new cars, buys property. All
in a 1-2 person shop. Your Sister in law… I like the idea of
sending her a note apologizing that if there is a problem, you would
replace it. If that doesn’t work, if she should be recieving a
christmas present, I would put a picture of the piece she just ripped
off in a box. And say Merry Christmas! Also Anytime someone orders
something, get a deposit, to cover costs.


Last week, I sent my new sister-in-law things she had ordered and
she left me a message > informing me that she would not be paying
for her necklace. Can you > believe that? She just "informed" me,
like it was a done deal. 

I think a return message is in order, informing her that if she
isn’t going to be paying for the necklace, she isn’t going to be
keeping it, and how soon should you expect it to arrive by mail? Oh,
and be sure to ask her to insure it when she mails it back. It’s
valuable, you know, and it would be awful if it were lost in

Kathy Johnson
Feathered Gems Jewelry