Lisa & all....
Hmmm... this is a good question.
I do and I don't. Does that make sense?
I share a lot of sources with a lot of people. I have shared a lot
of sources with the forum--when I could, you guys are mostly far
In fact, I just received a thank you note from another jewelry
design team thanking me for being open and generous with my sources
and helping them get in to and plan a recently successful trade show.
They are friends of mine and I trust them to act in a responsible
manner when dealing with my sources. We in fact talk a lot about how
some people are not open with their sources. I respect that as well,
people have their reasons for sharing/ not sharing.
When I do trade shows, Cal Gift in particular, we get a lot of
designers snooping around the show. Every time I do that show I get
numerous designers asking me where I get my stones, who does my
beading, who does my casting. I do not share at the
shows, I do not think it's the proper venue for sharing. I have paid
my $$ to have my booth, I have worked incredibly hard to design, and
set up my booth. I did not put time and effort into doing a trade
show to give out to anyone who asks for it. My focus is
to sell my product to retailers, and I feel it's unprofessional for
a "visitor" to ask for at that venue. At the beginning I
did, but then felt like it was a one-way street and stopped. Seems a
little bitchy of me, but I got tired of being pumped for info.
Sharing is one thing, I began to feel that this wasn't sharing it
was only giving....
However, in our down-time, I do share sources, with other vendors
that are forthcoming with their as well. Other vendors
are very tight-lipped. Once again, their choice, but it is a two-way
Sharing sources has come back to bite me in the ass on one than more
occasion, especially with casters and other labor. Stone dealers, no
problem... they are pretty much open to the public in downtown Los
Angeles. But, a lot of the casters and setters work on word of
mouth. The smaller guys are hesitant to open their triple bolted
security gates to strangers without introductions, even youngish
women. Trust me, I've tried!
Casters and setters are the sources I get asked about the most as
you can't find them at a bead or gem show! I use mostly small
casters/ setters in downtown Los Angeles, so small that they don't
even ship, you have to show up in person to pick up your work. And
there are usually only 2-3 people working in the shop, very small
operations. In the past, I was very open with sharing these casters
with others, especially friends that were just starting out. Here are
some problems that have arisen:
1) The designer that I recommended was inexperienced with wax
carving and was submitting waxes that were very difficult to cast.
The designer would argue or get mad with the caster and accuse the
caster of ruining their waxes. This would get back to me from both
the designer and the caster and they would try to put me in the
middle to help resolve the argument. Very awkward situation.
2) A designer friend cast a 14K ring- about 1 oz of gold, asked for
the stones to be pave set and when she picked up the ring refused to
pay for the casting and the setting because she claimed it was not
pave. It was in fact, pave. She wanted something different- flush
set, I think. But she was dead set that the setting she wanted was
pave and was very angry that they didn't do what she wanted.
3) A designer was unhappy with the work, turn-around time or
something else the caster did/did not do correctly, ran up a bill
and then wouldn't pay.
4) A designer gave out the source to a friend of hers that has no
clue how to make jewelry and this lady proceeded to try and start
her own knock-off jewelry business using my sources, bringing
pictures from magazines in and having the jeweler/caster/setter copy
the items from the magazine with small variations. Once again getting
pissed off that they "did not listen to her" and weren't doing their
job properly because they gave her what she asked for. She had no
experience with technical terms. She threatened to report him and
his staff to the authorities (I don't think they were all working
legally in the states) because she claimed she was loosing money on
this sale as the piece has already been sold to one of her "clients"
(aka friends) and they wouldn't redo it for free.
5) A designer ordered a huge order before Christmas, asked to have
it rushed and never picked it up. The caster had some problems with
her before so he was making her leave a deposit when she ordered. The
original check bounced and the credit card he had on file was
These experiences (over a 5 year period) were enough to make me not
give out these sources to anyone who asks. I am very cautious now.
Every single one of these problems ended up back in my lap..... The
caster: "Could you call her and tell her to pay me?" On my next
visit: "Have you talked to her yet, she hasn't paid me" On the next
visit: "I've left 10 messages and she won't call me back, can you
try and talk to her?"
The designer: "He messed up my original piece I'm never using him
again and I'm not paying him for anything that I owe him in the past
because I have to redo the piece" In this case the flask blew- a very
And on and on and on...I have had to listen to people whine,
complain, and blame me for recommending someone that they had a bad
experience with, or someone who wouldn't pay or for someone's friend
that I don't even know- all because I introduced someone in the
past. As if I am responsible for the actions of others. Well, I was
beginning to suspect that I kinda was. By recommending designers to
use my sources that are normally found by word of mouth I was
vouching for them. The casters/bench workers felt as if I was saying
"This is an upstanding person who has experience and knows what
they're doing. They will be a pleasure to work with, I give them my
stamp of approval" And when things don't work out, it ends up being a
bad reflection on me.
I even have one caster who said to me, "Do not introduce me to
anyone who has not been working with a caster for at least five
years. I am not interested in working with inexperienced people
So, this is why I don't share these sources. But can you blame me?
I will share Sierra-Pacific casting up in Northern Cal. They are a
larger company, mail service and less personal than these guys I
deal with down here. I don't think they will hold anything against me
if someone acts unprofessional. Also, I don't visit with them twice a
week when I'm picking up/dropping off waxes/castings and share
coffee and cookies, like I do with my guys down here. I don't think
I'll get an earful over tea with Sierra Pacific if someone acts out!
Lisa, I don't think you were expecting this much of a rant when you
posted this question, did you? I didn't when I started writing!