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Just starting in this business


#1

I am just starting in this business, and I have some questions that
I thought some of you might be able to answer:

  1. How did you start out in this business, financially speaking? Did
    you secure a loan for the proper equipment and buy it up front, or
    did you acquire it over time? If you got it over time, how did you
    make the things you want6ed to make without the proper equipment?

  2. Did you write a business plan? If so, how did you do the market
    research necessary to do this? Did you hire a bookkeeper, lawyer
    and/or accountant immediately, or wait until your business got off
    the ground first?

  3. Who do I go to for someone to design my logo, or do I do it
    myself? Business cards, contracts and invoices…now or wait?

  4. How did you start a website? I do NOT want to do it myself, but I
    have no idea who to go to to get it done.

  5. Do you go to a professional photographer to get the pictures of
    your jewelry taken, or do you do it yourself? If you do it on your
    own, how did you learn to take good pictures?

I know that is more than a few questions, but I have no mentors who
own their own business here.

Thanks!
Tara Hutchinson
Peg Leg Productions in Metal
Owner/Designer


#2
  1. I have bought my equipment piecemeal. I started with gem
    identification and am going forward with jewelry design and
    manufacture. I started with no specific monies, just what I make with
    work work.

  2. I do not have a business plan, yet. I do my own bookkeeping and
    accounting, LLC is $110 and a two page operation plan to the
    Secretary of State, so no lawyer.

  3. I did my own logo, to my picture and added the text. Business
    cards, etc. from Vista Print.com; watch out for the ads.

  4. I made my own website using Google Applications (free) and
    registering through them with GoDaddy for my domain name.

  5. I do my own photography, however, since I was a high school
    student I have been taking photos and using fairly sophisticated
    equipment; but I have a fairly simple Kodak digital camera that I
    use now (used to use film Minolta 35mm SLR).


#3

I am just starting in this business, and I have some questions that
I thought some of you might be able to answer:

How did you start out in this business, financially speaking? 

When we sold our house in Iowa and moved to Texas, took some of the
profits and started looking around for used equipment. Got lucky, a
daughter was selling her dad’s old business and since neither of us
had a clue, we offered her $300. Turned out I got everything from a
faceting machine to polishers. It is now 9 yrs later and we can do
everything from silver to glass. If you do some searching, you can
get some great older equipment to start out with.

Did you write a business plan? 

Nope just jumped in and took every class I could find and read every
book possible, I work in finance so I take care of the business side.

Who do I go to for someone to design my logo, or do I do it myself?
Business cards, contracts and invoices..now or wait? 

We have went through several logos and I am still not happy. Maybe
hiring someone this year, but we did it all our self to start out.
Business card- vista prints.com, great place to get started.

How did you start a website? I do NOT want to do it myself, but I
have no idea who to go to to get it done. 

Go to Etsy.com. I have had website, designed them myself and have
not had much luck but once I got on Etsy have been able to go
global.

Do you go to a professional photographer to get the pictures of
your jewelry taken, or do you do it yourself? If you do it on your
own, how did you learn to take good pictures? 

Again, as you can tell, I am more on the do it myself type. I did
invest in a photo cube and that really helped the quality of the
pictures, the down side to being a do it your selfer is that it does
take time from the designing and selling.

I know that is more than a few questions, but I have no mentors w= ho
own their own business here.

Hope that helps and feel free to contact me privately, I am a small
business but willing to help out :wink:

Regards
Tina

CreatedWithFire Studio’s
www.createdwithfire.com


#4

Tara,

When I started my business I supported myself serving food in
restaurants because I could support myself on the money I made
working 3 or 4 days a week and so I had the other days to make
jewelry. Eventually I had financial help from my family or I would
have had to wait a very long time to play with the very fine
gemstones and precious metals that I generally use. On the other
hand, one of my friends did not have help from her family and so
developed more of a fashion jewelry line and that has worked very
well for her.

In the beginning I consigned my work to galleries. That was
necessary for me because I wanted to make lots of unique stuff–not
design for reproduction. I have found that buyers want to buy exactly
what they want and that is a problem if your stuff is all
one-of-a-kind.

I know lots of people say you should have a business plan and I can
see how that would be a good idea–in a way. But when I opened my
store I did it with a partner–a person who was not an “artist” but
was a business person. She was always generating plans and
projections but they were based on income that usually didn’t
materialize and I couldn’t see how these plans were helping us. When
I discussed this with my father, who was an engineer in very large
scale design and manufacturing, he said this was the same in big
business.

By the way, having a partner in my gallery was one of the worst
mistakes I ever made and very expensive to get out of.

I would design jewelry that I was capable of making myself with the
tools I had. As I gained experience and money I hired people to do
work that was beyond my skills and sometimes my tools–like pave
stone setting which I believe has to be done quite a lot to get the
sort of perfection that makes me happy.

At first I took my own photos but when I kept being unhappy with the
results I was told that my shots were quite good for a
non-pro–which is when I started hiring a photographer to do the
photos. This was especially important when I was applying to juried
craft shows and now, when I am usually using the shots for magazine
ads. He does have really a lot of equipment and I am not interested
in being a jewelry photographer so this is the best solution for me.

Early on I did my own logo design – later I hired a graphic
designer. I was able to trade jewelry for a lot of the work on my
website but we didn’t have websites back in those long ago days when
I was just starting out.

You can contact me off list if you want more info. Happy to tell you
anything I can.

Janet Alix
Alix and Company
www.alixandcompany.com


#5

sounds like you are doing it right to me no magic just nuts and bolts
when you get to the part where you interact with the public make sure
you tell the truth and keep the customers satisfied one at a time. a
good street sign is better than all the newspaper magazine tv
advertising out there remember i said good not expensive

goo


#6

John,

I made my own website using Google Applications (free) and
registering through them with GoDaddy for my domain name. 

Where on Google do you go to find Google applications for building a
website. I am curious what they have available.

Thanks
Greg DeMark


#7

Hi Tara,

Your questions about getting started in the Jewelry Business are good
ones. I can help with a couple of suggestions for starters:

Re: Graphic support for business cards, logos, web design and
photography: Catherine (at) Geek and Graphix.com

Catherine is an independent Graphics Designer who is very talented
and experienced with website design, banner ads, text ads, business
cards, photography and creating unique logos. She has years of
professional experience as an online Marketing Manager for a large
company, but is now working out of her home office so she can spend
more time with her family. She also makes jewelry as a hobby, so
understands the importance of lighting and background to enhance your
online artwork photos. (She can do a lot with Adobe Photoshop to
improve home-made digital photos that need a little tweaking, if
necessary.)

She provides quick turn-around and has very reasonable rates.
Talented
Graphics Designers are very hard to find, especially those who can
provide quick turn-around.

If you are interested, please email her and tell her that I
recommended her to you. She can send you her rate card as a
reference.

We are here to support your journey and hope that we can give you a
jump start from lessons we have learned along the way.

Warm regards from sunny
Tucson, AZ!

Virginia
Virginia Vivier
Online Advertising Consultant, The Ganoksin Project
virginia@ganoksin.com
Direct Phone Line: 1-520-616-8683


#8
loan for the proper equipment and buy it up front, or did you
acquire it over time? 

If you’re in the beginning stages I don’t think its wise to dump a
lot of money into this. I’m reminded of that old song…“And all the
stars that never were, are parking cars and pumping gas”. Which is
not to say you can’t make it, just well, there are casualties along
the way, so why risk a pile of dough until the outcome is more
likely. Certainly its risky to borrow until you are on a definite
path, one where you could have reasonable expectations of being
somewhere in a certain amount of time. Buy what you need AS you need
it. Don’t invest in long term profitability yet, invest in getting
something made and sold TODAY, or next week, but soon. Turn your
first sale into the second, then the third and so on. Start with the
basics. You don’t need a rolling mill right off the bat. Nor should
you invest in casting equipment until farming out your casting
becomes overly burdensome, and why waste your time and energy
learning a new process when you can get it done professionally kinda
cheap. Set up your bench with the usual hand tools, torch and flex
shaft. After that I’d suggest a 2 speed buffer(please don’t waste
your money on a single speed, I think they’re dangerous) and an
ultrasonic once you get bored with hand cleaning everything. You’d be
surprised just how much can be made with just the basics.

Of course if you’re independently wealthy forget everything I just
said

Did you write a business plan? 

I’ve never had a written plan that would meet the requirements of
even ‘how to start a business’ type books, much less a lending
institution. I’ve owned 4 companies and almost a few more, things
that I axed because it didn’t ‘feel right’. Biz plans can be useful
to map out what you need to do when. But since you’ve never been in
business it will be tough to figure out the goals and procedures. If
your idea is to borrow from a bank or something, while ‘they say’ you
need a business plan, bear in mind that banks don’t lend to
start-ups. They may lend to you on a personal basis with collateral,
but don’t say, “I want to start a jewelry business.”, nuh uh, banks
want no part of that. Until you’re certain that you can make money
consistently do not borrow money.

a bookkeeper, lawyer and/or accountant immediately 

You don’t need a bookkeeper until bookkeeping for you is an ungamely
distraction from making and selling jewelry. Lawyer depends. I once
paid my lawyer, I dunno, something like $1000 plus state fees to
incorporate me wrong. These days you can inc online for a few bucks
if you KNOW what your legal entity needs are. An accountant…if you
are doing business its a good idea to get setup with his system from
the get go. Catching up or switching systems can be a real chore.

my logo 

Give it a shot, you might be able to make your own. If you use a
design service, might be good to remember that a logo will not GET
you business by itself. I don’t think people buy from logos. Logo is
re-enforcement of your marketing persona. Save the re-enforcement for
when you have something to re-enforce. I’d wait until you’ve done
enough business to get a feel for what you need to say with your
logo. Why pay for the wrong message. Until you do a logo, you can
work quite well with just your trade name. If you do your own logo
it should speak for you instantly, don’t make the customer play
guessing games, same goes for your trade name.

How did you start a website 

I pay some company way too much money for a crummy site. But I’m
getting customers from it so how good does it have to be? I’m bricks
and mortar though, I just want it to steer people in the door, I can
take it from there. If you’re selling online it’d be a different
case.

how did you learn to take good pictures 

I still haven’t!!! bwahahaha

I have no mentors 

call your local SCORE…Service Corps Of Retired Executives. Its
free and they are there to guide you.

Good luck, knock em dead.


#9
I know lots of people say you should have a business plan and I
can see how that would be a good idea--in a way. 

There are (at least) two people on Orchid that I knew when they were
rank beginners- Jim Binnion and us are actual friends, though
there’s geography issues the last decade, and Janet Alix - we’re
more just acquainted. Either one is a fine poster child for “how to
make a jewelry career happen”. Trust me, they each were just like
the newbies here, and now they are much, much more.

An actual business plan (glad to hear somebody else say it, too) is
something you do when you want to apply for a loan, and especially
physically expanding a company. For me, and most of us, my business
plan is to make and sell jewelry - not a lot more to say, really.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#10

Hello to new member Tara Hutchinson…I always check the new members
to see if there is anyone in my area…deep South Texas. San Antonio
is 240 miles upstate but I see that you live in San Antonio so
wanted to share an idea with you. So excited for you that you are
loving the metalwork. Don’t know if you are familiar with PMC
(Precious Metal Clay) but there is an absolutely fabulous PMC
instructor in San Antonio. Her name is Sherry Fotopoulus and she
teaches great classes in this fairly new medium that is .999 silver.
Her website is PMC123.com I love the concept of co-using PMC with
regular metals…the stuff really sparks the imagination. Good luck
to you and have great fun with your new explorations into the
wonderful world of metals. I work with beads, standard fabrication
and PMC.

Pat Klein


#11
a good street sign is better than all the newspaper 

One year, I spent 10 grand in December for radio ads and 5 grand in
newspaper ads. Located in front of a new shopping center with
Walmart. But my sign was difficult to read from the road. Spent about
3 grand on that sign. Worst Christmas season ever. 11 yrs ago I moved
my store where my sign(about $500) was directly visible to the line
of cars at a drive up fast food window. Best move ever. Four years
ago, a regional carwash built in front of me,started picking up 20,
50, 100’s of new customers weekly. When cars are waiting in line,
they read signs, look around, etc… Make sure your signage tells
people what you do in simple concise terms-‘custom jewelry’, jewelry
repair’, ‘watch repair’, etc. My last name is on the sign in very
small letters, but what I do is in great big letters- ‘WATCH &
JEWELRY REPAIR’ Way more important they know what you do, than some
tricky contrived name.

I’ve never spent another dime on radio, tv, or print ads since. Have
loads of business yearround. Even in this downturn economy, I am
searching for a location with similar characteristics, to open an
additional store. Sales reps tell me that I am one of very few in
this area that is doing any business right now.

Ed


#12

Tara,

One of the most important parts of starting a business is creating
an Exit Plan. No one who is excited about starting a business wants
to think that it might fail. But knowing when to say “uncle” can
keep your life from being miserable if you’re unsuccessful. I’ve run
three successful businesses, but in each case I knew what my “risk
limit” was from the first day and I had an outline of how to have an
acceptable failure. The following are important questions to answer
BEFORE you get into the pressures of daily business, because you can
get sucked in too far, by inches.

Ask yourself, how much cash am I willing to put into this business?
Write down your limits. Am I willing to mortgage and potentially
lose my house (since many start-up business loans are second
mortgages)? Is my spouse willing to support this level of risk? Am I
willing to cash in my retirement savings, and pay the resulting taxes
and penalties? How much credit card debt am I willing to carry? Am I
willing to borrow from family and friends? How much? If I’m not
successful in this business, what am I going to do for a job? How can
I keep my job options open so that I can step into a paycheck
immediately if I decide it’s time to pull the plug?

If you can do this, it demonstrates to others that you have a
maturity level that is realistic and not a pie-in-the-sky attitude
that infects so many new business owners. That will garner respect
from your business advisors, bankers, CPA, attorney, family, etc.
Good luck and have fun. There’s n= othing more fun, challenging,
scary, difficult or life changing than starting a new business
venture.

Jamie


#13

To be unabashedly self-promoting - I highly recommend my book which
was just published by MJSA called “Profiting by Design” which is a
book for people just starting in the jewelry industry. It should
answer most of your questions and even those you didn’t know you
wanted to ask. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact
me directly at marlene.richey at comcast.net

Marlene Richey


#14

I received a copy of the new book “Profiting by Design” from Marlene
Richey just in time for my Marketing class at Revere in September.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0971349592/theganoksinpr-20

In addition to Marlene’s wide ranging industry expertise from her own
experiences as a jewelry designer business manager, wholesaler, art
and craft show veteran and gallery owner, there are valuable insights
from many highly successful jewelry professionals.

This book is a great resource for the new entrepreneur as well as the
established studio artist, covering all aspects of the business
perspective. I recommend it.

Michael David Sturlin
www.goldcrochet.com
www.michaeldavidsturlin.com