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Making living off jewelry art?

i am a jewelry artist and i have just joined orchid, i thought i
would send out a hey yall email to introduce myself. my full info is
listed in my profile, if you’re interested.

what i want to ask is… how on earth does one make a living off
their art? as far as i know, i’m doing everything right.

i have a website.
it isnt a freeweb thing, its its own domain.
i plug it every chance i can
i do linkshares constantly
i go online to forums and scour the net to find new clients
i call all the area stores i can find
etc etc etc

i’m told my work is beautiful, and of good quality. so why am i 5
months behind on my electric bill, and a month behind on rent? anyone
out there who’s making it, please tell me how. i just cant go back to
telemarketing, itll break my heart. this is my dream and i have to
follow it or i’ll lose a certain part of myself. anyone with input,
please let me know. thank you in advance.

Jennifer
www.eden-originals.com

Jennifer

I am by no means an expert on the subject, but I would have to
say, first off - give it some time! I have only been at it since
March - and I expect it will take [with my soon to be single status
and my 2.5 YO toddler to keep me busy as well] at least a couple
years before I feel like I’m making any sort of “living” at this
wonderfully fun career. Do you have print materials? Business cards,
letterhead, etc? Do you hand them out everyone you know? Have you
participated in a local craft fair? I have not yet - but I hope to -
and I assume that is as much of a day of marketing as it is selling
your wares. I don’t expect my website to simply generate income,
simply b/c it’s there and a collection of people know about it. I
can only hope that some of my previous clients will check it from
time to time and buy something later on, and over time, it may be one
way for people to connect with me - with the occasional sale from
someone who just stumbles upon it. I have heard the average business
takes 2-3 years to get going [making a profit], and that’s if it
DOES get going - I figure, with all I have going… it will take me
at least 3 or more. SO… I think it’s good that you have other
avenues to generate income - but don’t let the slow start discourage
you! Many online “catalogs” send out thousands upon thousands of
printed catalogs to a HUGE list of potential clients, to support
their sales. Marketing is key - but patience and dilence is too.

Ok - I will let someone more qualified that I take over now. :slight_smile: Best
wishes and hang in there!! Just keep doing it if it’s what you love,
and the money will follow - call me silly - but I really believe
that.

Alysia in So CAL
www.alysiamurray.com

    Now I'm trying to do this for a living and it's damn near
killing me. HOW EXACTLY DOES ONE MAKE A LIVING ON ART? Please, if
you have the magic secret, tell me. 

Hi All;

Please tell me you are being sarcastic.

This is what I’ve been saying. Perhaps, since I’ve been so adamant
about it, the people who need to hear it aren’t. So here it is, as
succinctly as I can put it, and much more adamantly:

Making good jewelry and making a living at it is HARD and it takes a
LONG TIME!

That is not to say you can’t have a lot of fun at it. Depends on
your character.

But as for that magic secret, if you really think there is such a
thing, you had better give up right now, because you will never make
it.

David L. Huffman

Jennifer,

Craft shows? Finding local jewelers to consign your work? Either of
these possible? I did notice that you call all area stores. How
about ones a county or two over? Hang in there, artists are a very
specific type. I could never go back to working at a bank or in an
office. From what you said, I can tell you believe in your work
which is more important than anything else. Also, my Mother is
forever trying to get me to make less expensive easy little jewelry
items to sell to friends or online, just to generate cash flow.
Maybe that is a possibility also, not to replace your main line,
just a little side thing unitl the money gets rolling.

Good luck,
Belinda

Jennifer,

It is all about learning to run a business. The “art” end has damned
little to do with it. Hence all the hungry “artists”. Being on this
forum is the best place to start. Talk to your local chapter of
SCORE, your banker, look into business planning and business programs
at you local community college. You have to learn marketing skills;
links, websites, forums, all help but in the end it is getting in
front of people. It is also not your product that is important, it is
your vision. That is what sets you apart from the herd. Trust me,
there is a herd of jewelry designers too. A post the other day
mentioned something like 360,000 designers on a google search.
Somebody is going to go hungry. I will not be one of the hungry ones.

Please fell free to contact me off list.

Bill Churlik
@Bill_Churlik
www.earthspeakarts.com

Hi Jennifer:

Welcome to Orchid! My name is Karen. Hello!

I took a look at your website and navigated around through to see
what you are offering.

I have a few questions for you.

  1. how long have you been selling your work?

  2. what are your goals? 1 year, 3 year, 5 year

  3. did you stop your telemarketing job completely and begin selling
    jewelry full time?

  4. besides your website and talking to stores, what other kind of
    marketing have you been doing?

  5. can you tell me what is in your marketing support materials?

  6. competition for selling jewelry is really hard. What does
    Jennifer do that is different from everybody else?

My first impression of your website is that I see a lot of black and
white and an abundance of text. Inviting and soothing colors keep
people wandering around your pages. Black and white can be too
stark.

What is the purpose of your website? Is it to sell jewelry or as a
place for about your jewelry?

I’ve listed here some jewelry websites which have different goals as
a website. Some are for and some to directly sell and
the others for interested galleries. Take a look at these.

http://www.emmaville.com/
http://www.betsyfrostdesign.com/
http://www.goder.com/beads/

Good luck!

-k

Karen Christians
M E T A L W E R X
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
Ph. 781/891-3854 Fax 3857
http://www.metalwerx.com/
Jewelry/Metalarts School & Cooperative Studio

Hi Jennifer,

Realistically, a successful business doesn’t happen overnight. It’s
a telling thing that the IRS expects to see a loss for the first 3
years of any business.

I don’t want to discourage you, Jennifer - that’s not my intent.
Just look at your business from a more open-minded, realistic point
of view.

I am about twice your age, and have jumped in and out of selling my
artwork - of all kinds- since my 20’s. I have learned from
experience, and from working day jobs for other small business
owners, that it takes TIME and lots of hard work to be successful,
in any industry. And selling art, I believe, is probably a bit more
difficult. I am giving myself 5 years to see a profit, and much
further down the road to have it be successful enough so I don’t
need that day job.

You have had a website since April- that’s not long at all. It seems
it takes an average of 2 years to sell through one - I have talked
with jewelry artists who do have successful websites and this is a
common thing for all of them.

I know, it can be a heartbreaker, but keep marketing your jewelry,
and eventually it will happen. But in time.

I wish you all the best.

Nancie
www.moonfishdesign.com

Hi:

I tried to make a living just selling jewelry, and it was very
difficult. I know have a job I love, and make/sell jewelry on the
side. I don’t think there is a “secret answer” to “making it”. You
may want to consider adding another type of work to support your
jewelry business. Instead of telemarketing, why not try retail sales
in a store that carries your jewelry?

Here’s another suggestion (apologies in advance if you perceive this
as rude, it is not my intention) be professional. This includes
corresponding professionally whether it is using email or another
means (capital letters, spell check, etc.). Your email may be the
only way others will generate an opinion of you - keep that in mind.

Good luck

Ever hear the expression “starving artist” ?

Jennifer,

I have been in this trade for over 40 years and never been short of
work. If you are a unique designer maker, you need unique buyer
clients and these type of clients don,t buy over the web. I have had
my work posted on the web for many years now and have not had one
single serious job contact from this type of advertising, although
I get many e-mails from “Nigerian ex millionaires” wanting to order
via credit card? best avoided) My advice to you is to find a well
connected sales person who is known by the better quality outlets,
over the years I have found that I sell more goods when the outlet
can sell the item as their original make with their shop’s name on
the item and box, and these shops like to deal with the sales
people they know and trust. Which is why I make a good living but
will never be famous or rich.

I have tried to sell direct to the customer but have found that the
type of customer interested in buying my type of work would rather
deal with one of London’s main West End shops and pay four times as
much as my sales price for the same article, made by me, but with an
Asprey, Garrard, Cartier or Kutchinsky hallmark on it. Much the same
as the modern trend for designer labels on clothing, shoes and
handbags these days.

See some of my work on the orchid gallery if you are interested.

Good luck
James Miller

I agree with Bill, and disagree somewhat with Belinda. A couple of
thoughts.

Most of the older goldsmiths active today were part of the crafts
revivial or what might be called the second “Arts & Crafts
Movement”. First happened just about 100 years before the second,
but I digress.

Looking at the history of those involved in the 60s-80s is
instructive. The most sucessful gave up on the crafts aesthetic.
Last February I met Paul Morelli, one of the more sucessful, guess
where? Give up?, Bangkok! He was setting up his production line.

The economic realities force the craftsman to move up or down. That
is, if you want to hand fabricate fine jewelry you must move
upscale. The craftsmen who attempted to make handmade product lines
in sterling went the way of all flesh, they are probably rocking on
the backporch somewhere gumming their oatmeal with carpal tunnel in
both wrists. In short, ya can’t compete with Asia.

My choice was to move up market. People will pay more for gold than
silver, more for 18 than 14k.

Learn gems. Hate to keep beating this horse but If a person buys a
twenty-five thousand dollar ruby spending two thousand on an 18k or
platinum custom setting doesn’t seem unreasonable. Try selling that
setting for a fifty dollar agate and you will see what I mean.

Buying gems: I know of a lot of craftspeople who went down the
tubes because they bought gems from a couple of very nice dealers I
know and paid too much. Do the math: I buy a ruby for 5,000 and
mark it up. The jeweler who I buy from does the same.
Unfortunately he usually buys at the same price meaning that if I
buy the finished piece from him it already is marked up and my
markup makes it more expensive than it should be, a double markup
from wholesale.

Last point, consignment: If you do what I suggest above and consign
you better have a lot of capital. I work with a number of high end
jewelers on consignment. I love it cuz it allows me to freshen my
inventory without having a fire sale.

Richard
www.rwwise.com
For Information and sample chapters from my new book:

Hi all,

Your appearance is critical, your manners have to be perfect, don’t
joke about anything, don’t say anything that will come back and
haunt you. After that, keep business cards always with you. Do what
you say and make no promises you can’t keep. I have been doing this
for 10 years. My little company has grown, has good great sales
figures, we have a good reputation in the markets that we service.

We do a few things for good public relations, that gets us in the
local paper and on TV, these are generally working on community
projects or doing some community art, and it’s fun!

Sometimes I made small things that don’t cost a lot, like out of
polyclay, molded to look like roses, etc. add some extra colour with
a pin and you have a low cost freebie. I carry some in my pocket and
give them away. You can find the stuff at most local craft stores.

If I had to live on the money I made the first three years, I would
have starved, now I am turning down work. But I must qualify all of
this I do metal art, we make jewelry, we cut facet stones and cut
MOP, we make elegant knives for thanksgiving carving sets and other
for the wood carvers. I do architectural metal as well as repairing
existing architectural metal. We meet the needs of several markets
thru out the year.

But the real success tool is your presence, you are the best sales
person you have.

Jerry

I think “Learn gems” is the best advice I’ve heard so far. Im fairly
new myself, but I have to say that 99% of the new jewelry designers
I have met have no clue what they are buying (or selling for that
matter). When I began taking jewelry classes it seemed to me to be
common sense to study gems as well, but apparently I am in the
minority? Books and magazines are inexpensive ways to learn more
about gems…by the way, Richard’s new book is great, I highly
recommend it!

Lots of new designers also go through a period of a couple years
where they are really finding their “style”. Also, like everyone
else said, it takes time…often it takes many years to make it
really work. If you don’t have many resources or inventory just
start making a name for yourself locally. Contact local stores, see
if you can work out a consignment arangement and possibly a trunk
show during the busy holiday season. You cant expect results
overnight…I first started right out of highschool, and I had to
work two jobs just to afford the classes and materials. That was 5
years ago and I just recently got to the point where this is
"working out" for me. So just hang in there…get the word out about
your jewelry, work hard and things will start to come together.

-Adelaide

wow guys, thank you for the over WHELMING response. its really great
to get input from people in the industry. here are some of my replies
to your statements and inquiries, any additional help is welcome.

 Craft shows? Finding local jewelers to consign your work? Either
of these possible? I did notice that you call all area stores. How
about ones a county or two over? 

i do. i have called all over the country as well as internationally.
i already have what little work i HAVE been able to make with my
current finances displayed in 2 local stores and 1 gallery in
massachusetts.

 make less expensive easy little jewelry items to sell to friends
or online, just to generate cash flow. Maybe that is a possibility
also, not to replace your main line, just a little side thing unitl
the money gets rolling. 

i wish… but noone seems to want to buy the “junk” pieces bc they
want a higher quality, but everyone says that the higher quality
ones are “too expensive.” rock, hard place.

 Do you have print materials? Business cards, letterhead, etc? Do
you hand them out everyone you know? 

yes, yes, and yes. i am also a freelance graphic designer. i ALWAYS
have cards and all the print material. i give em to anyone who will
take em. i leave em in diners. etc etc

 Have you participated in a local craft fair? 

cant afford the table fees OR the supplies to make stock pieces. i’m
totally stuck and have no idea how to get out! i cant make money
unless i go to fairs, but cant go to fairs unless i have money.

 I have heard the average business takes 2-3 *years* to get going
[making a profit], 

man, i dont care about proft, perse, i care about eating. and not
being evicted. and that’s looking rather difficult right now. i’ll
settle for eating.

 Talk to your local chapter of SCORE, your banker, look into
business planning and business programs at you local community
college. 

tried talking to score. they dont seem to return my phone calls or
emails. i have NO idea why.i’ve contacted them repeatedly. my credit
is atrocious due to my poverty. i cant get a loan to get ahead. and i
have been to business classes in college, as well as being raised by
a father who was a marketing higherup brass type for general motors.

 "Please, if you have the magic secret, tell me." Please tell me
you are being sarcastic. 

i was most certainly being sarcastic. i’m very rarely not sarcastic.
hehe. just get to know me a bit and find out. i have a very dry
sense of humor. =) it was a deliberate oversimplification for the
purposes of humor. it was intended to be funny BECAUSE it was so
absurd.

 how long have you been selling your work? 

i am 25 now, and i have been selling my work since i was 11. i’ve
obviously grown since then, in both artistic skills and
salesmanship.

 what are your goals?  1 year, 3 year, 5 year 

i do not understand? my goals are to make enough money to eat and pay
bills. everything other than that is gravy.

 did you stop your telemarketing job completely and begin selling
jewelry full time? 

yes i did. i had been trying to manage doing full time day job and
pursing this at night, as well as do day job part time and devote
other spare time to this. nothing was making any headway bc i did not
have the necessary “business hours” time to devote to getting
anything productive done. so i took the leap.

   besides your website and talking to stores, what other kind of
marketing have you been doing? 

linksharing with anyone who’ll have me, to get my search engine
ratings up. posting advertisements on every free classified board i
can findt. leaving fliers in conspicuous local areas. conscripting
outside help all over the globe (i’ve got people from alabama to
california to the UK to india) to advertise for me via word of mouth
and flier handouts. they get a commission on all sales they bring in.
i’ve been going into chat rooms and posting boards. basically
everything short of holding people at gunpoint or anything that costs
money, as i have none. it would be lovely to be able to pay for
qualified targeted advertising that people SEE but as i cant even buy
supplies to make stock, thats rather difficult.

 can you tell me what is in your marketing support materials? 

i do not understand what you mean by marketing support materials.

  competition for selling jewelry is really hard.  What does
Jennifer do that is different from everybody else? 

my construction and handcraft quality are excellent, my designs are
unique, and i only utilize high quality materials.

 My first impression of your website is that I see a lot of black
and white and an abundance of text.  Inviting and soothing colors
keep people wandering around your pages.  Black and white can be
too stark. 

black was chosen for a dramatic backdrop for the jewelry, to make it
pop more without distractions. the rest of the website is supposed
to be stark in contrast to the jewelry. yours is honestly the first
negative comment i’ve heard on it, most people compliment me for the
look of the site. but everyone’s got their preferences.

 What is the purpose of your website?  Is it to sell jewelry or as
a place for about your jewelry? 

both. i have prices listed if they wish to buy existing designs, as
well as for them to better choose new designs.

 You may want to consider adding another type of work to support
your jewelry business. Instead of telemarketing, why not try retail
sales in a store that carries your jewelry? 

hehe. i was doing other work. it was killing me slowly. by degrees
over the last 5 years, i’ve been losing pieces of myself. i had to
leave. i only feel alive when i’m pursuing my art, in any form or
fashion. i try to supplement my income by gigging (i’m a musician),
and freelance graphic design and photography.

i’ve had nearly every other retail and service industry job you can
think of. i just cant do it anymore. i’m a sales wizard and
constantly praised for my work, when in a sales or customer service
position, but my most recent job, working for a copier service and
supply center, it got to the point where if i even had to LOOK at
another case of toner, i was going to scream.

 Here's another suggestion (apologies in advance if you perceive
this as rude, it is not my intention) be professional. This
includes corresponding professionally whether it is using email or
another means (capital letters, spell check, etc.). Your email may
be the only way others will generate an opinion of you - keep that
in mind. 

i spellcheck all professional correspondence, as well as
capitalization. this is a mailing list of peers. i did not know it
was necessary. if my casual style amongst peers is not well tolerated
here, please let me know. i will pass all future correspondence
through MSWord’s auto capitalization and spellchecker if it offends
you.

while i completely understand that most businesses do not ramp into
the black for 2-3 years, i’m just looking for treading water right
now. all i want is to sell my art, eat, and not get evicted. my goals
are very modest. i am not a terribly extravagant or ambitious person.

so, for round two, does anyone have any advice in a more immediate
sense? how to find customers? getting them to buy once i’ve got them
is rarely a problem, its getting qualified leads that seems to be.
also, how does one obtain startup money when ones credit is in the
crapper? noone will give me a loan. (an ex employer destroyed my
credit, long boring story ending in me being screwed). i’m
investigating grants and fellowships, but most artistic grants and
fellowships dont consider jewelry makers to be “real artists” and
thus, not worth their time. i’ve had so many people look down their
nose and say “oh, we dont accept crafters”, as if it were some sort
of contagious disease and they wanted me to go away before they
caught it, or as if i were some sort of lower life form, than someone
who paintball guns a canvas or welds random pieces of metal together
at odd angles.

thanks in advance for any input,

Jennifer

Hi jennifer,

I’m putting myself in the same boat in about a month. I’m going to
try to set up and live off of my jewelry work. I know it’s not going
to be easy, but have promised myself that now that I’m starting over
by moving and don’t have any other job obligations, have money from
the sale of my place in Norway etc…that it’s now or never. I am,
however, a single (widowed) mom w/ 2 kids, which can complicate
things. Some of my plans include:

  1. Moving to an area where Art Jewelry is accepted-AKA Asheville, NC

  2. Writing a book on filigree work- I have a contract w/ a
    publishing company for this

  3. working with designs/technique/style, which is different from
    what most other people are doing.

  4. Will make a variety of products which vary from one of a kind,
    high end/ to mass produce-able/quick sellers/lower end. I found a few
    years ago that it was not always easy to sell my higher end
    pieces…lots of oos and ahs when I went to markets, but few people,
    at least in Norway, went with that kind of money to local
    crafts/street markets. So, know your market when you do shows…and
    plan appropriately…You may not sell your big pieces, but you can
    earn just as much by having a lower end line for impulse buyers. The
    lower-end line could be things which you make yourself, or designs
    that you make and have mass produced. I’m planning to make a few
    filigree designs which can be sent away for casting.

Another point under this is that you have to pick your crafts
markets appropriately. There’s a difference between shows…will you
be sitting next to people who knit potholders or make crafts that are
very amateurish/cheap? Are you competing with fleamarket prices and
mentalities? If so, people may not expect to pay much more for your
things than what is around you even if yours outshines everything
around you quality wise. You may be better off in a group of your
artistic peers…though you may see it as more competition, the
people who go to those shows often come with more money and intention
to spend it!

  1. Try to find good markets for your product. Seeing as how mine is
    based in Norwegian filigree…I plan to make one plan of attack
    selling to scandinavian stores in the USA and possibly doing
    scandinavian markets. You need to research where your jewelry might
    sell.

  2. The web is good for advertising, but not necessarily for sales.
    It’s a cheap way to get your jewelry shown, but some people are still
    skeptical to ordering on the web from small businesses.

  3. if you are going to do wholesale/consignment, make sure your
    retail prices can support taking the cut that wholesale demands! You
    basically have to think of your prices in terms of will my wholesale
    prices bring me a profit. Then, if you also sell retail…great!
    That’s icing on the cake.

  4. Be professional and believe in yourself. If you can’t be
    confident in your work, get a salesperson to do it for you. I’ve not
    been the best sales person. I know I have a good product, but I have
    trouble convincing myself, a hopeless kmart/ebay/fleamarket shopper,
    that I would spend that kind of money on a piece of jewerly let alone
    convince someone else.

  5. Wear your own work. People seeing your work in use and wanting it
    or word of mouth are worth at least as much as paid advertising in a
    local market.

  6. It takes time to get a business off the ground…I think I
    remember an estimate of about 2 years to get out of the negative…at
    least! You could be lucky, and become an instant hit if the right
    person/shop etc…carries your line and it becomes in demand, but
    expect a year or two of hard work to just break even. In my own
    situation, I’ll be receiving widow’s pension as well as having earned
    a good bit when I sold my apartment, otherwise, I’d have to find a
    regular job too…so I’m giving myself a year, initially, of jewelry
    work, at which point, I will sit down and evaluate it. I’m not
    expecting to be a super success in a year, but I should be able to
    see if it’s heading in the right direction or not.

  7. When you do sell your things yourself, be an active seller, yet
    not aggressive! It’s a fine balance between getting your customers
    attention and interest and nagging them to the point of them wanting
    to get away. See if you can take a course in sales somewhere or talk
    to a local jewelry store about it. It’s an art. A couple of summers
    ago, a friend of mine and I alternated weekends standing at a street
    market. When I sold, though it wasn’t a lot in the big scheme of
    things, I sold 3-5 times as much as she did because she just sat
    there and waited for customers to come to her. I generally gave
    friendly, informative comments…like that it was all handmade,
    sterling and gemstones or what memory wire is (it’s not common here),
    etc…simple things to get someone’s attention without making them
    feel cornered. You wait until you have their interest in a
    particular item(s) and then you corner them! You close the
    sale…find some way to convince them that they not only want the
    item, but need/deserve it etc…and that is the art part…the part I
    need to work on most.

  8. Don’t overextend yourself with consignment. Consignment can be
    ok in some cases, but it doesn’t put money in your pocket until the
    items are sold and it’s hard to keep track of if you have many shops
    doing it! Save consignment to a few galleries or shops locally which
    you can keep a solid overview of.

Hope it helps,
Jeanne
http://www.jeannius.com

what i want to ask is... how on earth does one make a living off
their art? 

A living off my art? Nope. I make a living off my jewelry – high
quality, well designed JEWELRY. Not ART. I sell a commodity that
people want. Does that sound too crass and commercial to you? If so,
rethink your career path if you need to make a living and not just
make pretty things.

   i have a website. it isnt a freeweb thing, its its own domain. 

That’s good. But I don’t see much in the way of SEO on your site.
You need to learn how to get the search engines to notice you. Go to
http://forums.seochat.com/ and read, read, read. Learn to define:
DMOZ, Froogle, page rank, PPC. Then apply that knowledge to your
website. “If you build it, they will come” only works in the movies.
Real Life™ requires planning, commitment, and lots of unartistic
drudge work.

(snip)    i call all the area stores i can find 

How many have you made appointments with to show your jewelry? Do
you have a plan for selling on consignment? What are your wholesale
terms or do you want to do wholesale?

   i'm told my work is beautiful, and of good quality. 

Improve your picture taking skills. Your site presentation doesn’t
do justice to your work.

so why am i 5 months behind on my electric bill, and a month
behind on rent? 

Did you quit your telemarketing job with or withOUT a business plan?
With or withOUT savings to cover at least a year’s living expenses?

Sorry to sound negative but there are too many people who think
having a dream is all that is necessary to be successful in this
business. Dreams are wonderful but don’t do anything to ensure
success.

Dorothy

Ever hear the expression "starving artist" ? 

hehe, i am one.

Your appearance is critical, your manners have to be perfect, don't
joke about anything, 

i always make sure to put on a very well groomed appearance, but i
have found humor tends to disarm people, not put them off. have
others of you found different experiences?

   If I had to live on the money I made the first three years, I
would have starved, 

so how did you make the extra, to NOT starve?

In short, ya can't compete with Asia 

aint that the truth. i’ve heard from so many distributors, “why would
i pay that when i can get it for a quarter of the cost from
singapore?”

Learn gems. 

i’ve been educated in both the metaphysical and market value
properties of gems since i was about 14. i try to offer a wide
variety of options for a number of potential buyers. i can accomodate
anything from rubies to agates, it all depends on the tastes and
budgets of my clients.

Last point, consignment:  If you do what I suggest above and
consign you better have a lot of capital. 

yeah, capital. i read about that somewhere. hehe. wish i had some.

thanks again all of you for being so supportive, i never expected
this volume of feedback! you guys are great!

Jennifer

    so, for round two, does anyone have any advice in a more
immediate sense? how to find customers? getting them to buy once
i've got them is rarely a problem, its getting qualified leads that
seems to be. also, how does one obtain startup money when ones
credit is in the crapper? noone will give me a loan.

I apologize, but for the immediate sense – I don’t think it can be
done. With no money to do shows, no credit rating to get a loan –
I don’t see how you can bring in enough income that quickly to
prevent eviction.

If you can get an injection of funds from someplace, enough to do
shows, buy you some time.

Unfortunately, this kind of business is built s l o w l y
over years.

I sympathize very much with your statement that you just can’t work
at those jobs any more, I’ve certainly been there myself. There is
a category of work I will never do again.

As to SCORE – I don’t know where you live, where I am I have a
choice of many different SCORE offices. They can be found downtown,
at community colleges. I have had limited help from SCORE, though I
still recommend them.

In my two appointments, years apart, I spent most of the time
explaining the concept of being a craftsperson selling handcrafted
jewelry. They had a really hard time with that.

From the Small Business Administration – their loans start at 25K.
Smaller loans may be available from local sources, that you can find
through SCORE, but the interest rates are high.

The trouble is, there are so many solutions, but all of them take
time, and you seem to be running out of that. You really, really
don’t want to be evicted. If you are, you’ll find it quite difficult
to ever rent again in a decent place.

I am normally a very positive and encouraging person. I do hope you
are able to find a solution.

Elaine
Elaine Luther
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay

    Did you quit your telemarketing job with or withOUT a business
plan? With or withOUT savings to cover at least a year's living
expenses? Sorry to sound negative but there are too many people who
think having a dream is all that is necessary to be successful in
this business. Dreams are wonderful but don't do anything to ensure
success. 

I agree wholeheartedly with this last point Dorothy made! If it
weren’t for the fact that I have earned so well on the sale of my
house and will be collecting widow’s pension during my start up time,
I’d have to find at least a part time job as well! Many women, at
least, who start up in jewelry production often have a husband who
earns well in a steady job…works the other way too…but I think
it’s more common that the wife starts up a home business while at
home w/ kids etc while the man works outside the house.

A business plan is essential. You need to know how much your
materials cost, how much you need to sell for to cover you expenses
AS WELL AS taking out money as wages for yourself! I think a lot of
people blur the lines between business and personal income when doing
jewelry or any art/craft/other independent business. If you know you
are going to have $800 of personal expenses and you know that to make
$800 in sales, you need $150 in materials, you have to sell at least
$950 or more to break even (simplified, of course… As you have to
include other forms of overhead, advertising, packaging, gas for
driving around to shops, telephone, internet costs etc)

When I first came to Norway, I got talked into running a jewelry
workshop for someone here who had do mandatory civil duty for a year
and a half (all men do either military or civil duty at some point).
I had NO business experience, no concept of budgeting or anything
else…I just winged it and barely got out of it intact! You have to
plan ahead…and I know that’s hard when the bills are piling up and
you don’t know if you’ll have money for next week’s meals, but if you
want to do it as a business…you have to plan and budget…you have to
know your business intimately…your expenses, your market, when you
need to have more stock or less because of seasonal variations. You
have to look at buying trends and the economy etc.

Otherwise, one other practical suggestion…do any of the local
shops do ‘fashion shows’? My sister in law runs a glasses/contact
lens place here in Norway and they got together last year with other
local shops that sell clothing, jewelry, shoes, sportswear etc…and
they put on a fashion show in a local school auditorium, used local
students/family members as models. If no one is doing that…suggest
it! Network! Go to someone you have some contact with in a store and
suggest it…see what you would need to set it up…do it in a local
shopping mall and get your jewelry shown!

Jeanne

        i wish... but noone seems to want to buy the "junk" pieces
bc they want a higher quality, but everyone says that the higher
quality ones are "too expensive." rock, hard place. 

“Inexpensive” does not have to mean “junk”. I sell an awful lot of
$15 earrings - and almost feel guilty for it sometimes since they
often have about $2 worth of material in them. I also have a line of
cheaper sterling stuff that is basically just assembled, where the
only thing I actually made was the earwire. These go for about $7 to
$8 (and they’re also under a totally different label). They actually
usually have higher material costs than the stuff I fabricate from
scratch - but they sell, and they get people looking at the other
stuff in the case as well. They start off looking at the $7 or $8
stuff and end up buying a $15 or $20 pair of earrings instead. My
cheaper stuff is not cheap LOOKING. I make sure to pay attention to
what is locally available (yes, I do check out WalMart not because I
am competing with them but because I CAN’T) and make sure what I
offer is DIFFERENT. And appealing.

It’s not art, but it does sell.

Eventually I’ll branch out into more innovative (and more expensive)
items, but right now I’m just plain not physically set up for it -
no torch, no kiln, no way to fabricate my best designs - yet. That’s
part of the 5 year plan. Not the ONE year plan.

Have you participated in a local craft fair?

    cant afford the table fees OR the supplies to make stock
pieces. i'm totally stuck and have no idea how to get out! i cant
make money unless i go to fairs, but cant go to fairs unless i have
money. 

You need to take a day job and save up enough money to live on for at
least a year. You need to take the time to identify crafts fairs that
would showcase your line and not bury it. You need to evaluate
whether or not you are willing to go into PRODUCTION, which would
require a larger variety than what you currently have listed on your
website. Not to mention a large stock. You need to actually have
that stock on hand.

All of that has to be financed. The most likely way for you to do
that is via a day job.

I have heard the average business takes 2-3 years to get going
[making a profit],

    man, i dont care about proft, perse, i care about eating. and
not being evicted. and that's looking rather difficult right now.
i'll settle for eating. 

Well, you can’t eat if you’re not making a profit. And frankly,
given the startup costs involved, especially if you’re going to go
into actual metal working as opposed to the wire-wrapping/beading
sort of thing you have on your website right now, I personally don’t
expect to actually turn a profit for at least FIVE YEARS, and I fully
expect to lose money for at least the first three. Because every
cent in profit I take in right now has to be plowed right back into
the business, either in the form of tools or supplies/stock.

what are your goals?  1 year, 3 year, 5 year 
    i do not understand? my goals are to make enough money to eat
and pay bills. everything other than that is gravy. 

This is probably going to seem harsh to you, but its high time for a
reality check here. You’re trying to make a living off your jewelry.
Yet you haven’t bothered to sit down and do any sort of cost
analysis or make a business plan. You seem to equate “making a
profit” with having disposable income - that ain’t gonna fly. Making
a profit means taking in more money than you spend ON THE BUSINESS.
If you take in ONE PENNY MORE than you had to spend on theh business,
you’ve made a profit. Period paragraph.

Your living expenses come out of profit. Making a living requires
specific levels of profitability. Have you identified how much money
you need to live? Have you even identified how much money you need
just to keep your business itself out of the red?

You say you realize that most businesses are not profitable in the
first two to three years, yet you turn right around and ask why
you’re not profitable after a few months.

If you want to make enough money to pay rent and buy food and
clothing, that requires a level of profitability. You need to
identify that level of profitability and come up with a plan to
achieve it.

Your expectations are very far out of line with reality. Consider
that you are living the reality now and you will see that this is
so.

Doesn’t mean you can’t EVER make a living selling jewelry, but its
surely unrealistic to just up and quit your day job and expect to be
making rent right away.

did you stop your telemarketing job completely and begin selling

jewelry full time?

    yes i did. i had been trying to manage doing full time day job
and pursing this at night, as well as do day job part time and
devote other spare time to this. nothing was making any headway bc
i did not have the necessary "business hours" time to devote to
getting anything productive done. so i took the leap. 

I do believe you leaped without looking. You’re not making any
headway now because you weren’t making any headway before. As a
therapist friend of mine recently said, “Past performance is the
best indicator of future performance”. If you weren’t making any
headway before, why should you be making any headway now? Merely
throwing more time at it isn’t a marketing strategy. Or a profitable
product line.

    it would be lovely to be able to pay for qualified targeted
advertising that people SEE but as i cant even buy supplies to make
stock, thats rather difficult. 

Which is why you should not have quit your day job (at least not
yet).

I’m currently working three part time jobs. Every spare penny I have
goes towards stock and tools. I’m in the red businesswise and expect
to stay there for at least three years. I expect it to take at least
5 years to actually break even (eg pay for all my tools and supplies
purchased up to that point) and start showing a (small) profit.

I HOPE to be able to quit one of my part time jobs by the end of the
year. We’ll see when we get there whether or not that is still
feasible.

In the meantime, my stuff IS selling through a local artist’s co-op.
It’s been a long start-up time, but the moment of my first sale has
come and gone. In the past I have been able to sell absolutely
everything I ever made, including offers on my very first pieces
which I have not parted with but do still wear. “Past performance is
the BEST INDICATOR of future performance”, and I have past
performance to indicate the likelihood of my future success.

Nevertheless, I am NOT QUITTING MY DAY JOBS, and in fact went out
and scared up a job that will help me to continue to develop my
jewelry business (working as a polisher and jack-of-all-trades for
some former silversmiths who now have a production business in large
statuary). My day jobs are financing me through this period of
startup. The only other options for financing your startup are
winning the lottery, coming into a large inheritance, robbing a bank,
or saving up the money for two to three years operating expenses and
living expenses before you quit your day job.

Only one of the aforementioned options is even remotely realistic.

 can you tell me what is in your marketing support materials? 
    i do not understand what you mean by marketing support
materials. 

Again, were you NOT PAYING ATTENTION to your business classes?

Boot to the head. Reread the above paragraphs and take stock of
your current situation.

  competition for selling jewelry is really hard.  What does
Jennifer do that is different from everybody else? 
    my construction and handcraft quality are excellent, my
designs are unique, and i only utilize high quality materials. 

I’m not going to fault your construction quality, in fact your wire
wraps look better than mine do.

However, your designs are nice but not really unique. Furthermore,
I recognize many of the components from the Fire Mountain Gems
catalogs. They’re probably available from other places as well, and
frankly I myself do buy some things from Fire Mountain (though I’m
VERY CAREFUL about checking the descriptions and I don’t use most of
it in my higher quality work).

Howlite of any kind is not “high quality material”. Chip and
tumbled pebbles have a definite place in jewelry, especially when
used for contrast and in interesting combinations, but its not “high
quality material”.

There’s nothing WRONG with any of this stuff and you do clearly
identify it. But if its not generating sales (or rather ENOUGH
sales), you need to reconsider your product line. You need to expand
the different styles available (just showing pictures of different
cabs to go in the same setting is not “product expansion”). You need
to show a variety of different products - TRULY different products,
not 12 variations on a beaded wire-wrap earring.

You need better pictures - most of the pics are washed out and I
can’t tell aventurine from moonstone. And you need to drop the Goth
color scheme. If I had actually been shopping and not looking at
your website in order to evaluate it, I’d have clicked out right
from the main page. There’s nothing of interest there for the
shopper. As a shopper, I could care less about the growth and
development of your website, or even who you are. I WON’T care
unless and until you make me care by showing me your work up front,
up close, and personal, and right away - not multiple clicks into the
site.

When you click on one of the other artists, none of their art comes
up - you just change the side bar. DON’T MAKE YOUR SHOPPERS WORK TO
FIND THE STUFF YOU WANT TO SELL! Make it attractive. Use color in
your website. Black doesn’t make anything on that site pop except
possibly a vein in somebody’s head somewhere. It’s annoying and
unnattractive. Take it from a Real Web Designer, your site needs an
attractive color scheme to showcase your work. Go right to the work
and let the expository stuff about yourself and your website sit out
at the sidebar waiting for somebody who cares enough to click on it.

My first impression of your website is that I see a lot of black
and white and an abundance of text.  Inviting and soothing colors
keep people wandering around your pages.  Black and white can be
too stark. 
    black was chosen for a dramatic backdrop for the jewelry, to
make it pop more without distractions. the rest of the website is
supposed to be stark in contrast to the jewelry. yours is honestly
the first negative comment i've heard on it, most people compliment
me for the look of the site. but everyone's got their preferences. 

Yup, they sure do. And this is NOT WORKING FOR YOU. The proof is in
the pudding - you’re not making the sales you want. Now you’ve had
more than one negative comment about it, and several constructive
suggestions for how to change it.

    i've had nearly every other retail and service industry job
you can think of. i just cant do it anymore. i'm a sales wizard and
constantly praised for my work, when in a sales or customer
service position, but my most recent job, working for a copier
service and supply center, it got to the point where if i even had
to LOOK at another case of toner, i was going to scream. 

You need to do SOMETHING to bring in money during your startup
phase. It doesn’t HAVE to be something you hate, but it also doesn’t
have to be something that sends you into paroxysms of joy 24/7. It
just has to be something that feeds you and pays the rent.

Heck, I quit the computer biz 7 years ago. I used to make more in a
month than I made all last year. I hated it. I now work
(physically) ten times as hard as I ever used to, for way less filthy
lucre, and I really hate at least one of my three jobs (well actually
its the boss person who drive me crazy, you know, the one who broke
my Tri-cord Knotter CD because she had a temper tantrum), but its
what I need to do right now to get other things off the ground, so I
do it.

You’re going to have to get some sort of job somewhere, or
starve. That’s reality. You need to accept that its going to TAKE
TIME to get a jewelry business off the ground, and that you need a
source of income in the meantime. So go out and get one.

 Here's another suggestion (apologies in advance if you perceive
this as rude, it is not my intention) be professional. This
includes corresponding professionally whether it is using email or
another means (capital letters, spell check, etc.). Your email may
be the only way others will generate an opinion of you - keep that
in mind. 
    i spellcheck all professional correspondence, as well as
capitalization. this is a mailing list of peers. i did not know it
was necessary. if my casual style amongst peers is not well
tolerated 

Honestly, I find it off-putting. Basically you’re telling us that
you can’t be bothered to attempt to communicate in a clear and
professional manner. Poor spelling, grammar, and punctuation isn’t
"casual". It’s just obscure and difficult to read. And this is a
list of PROFESSIONAL peers - don’t you want to present yourself AS a
professional, and therefore a peer? But do as you please.

    while i completely understand that most businesses do not ramp
into the black for 2-3 years, i'm just looking for treading water
right now. all i want is to sell my art, eat, and not get evicted.
my goals are very modest. i am not a terribly extravagant or
ambitious person. 

That’s not a modest goal. You want to make enough money to live
on. Conservatively, I would estimate that you probably need at
least $8,000 a year to cover rent, transportation, food and clothing,
not to mention medical expenses.

Keeping a business “in the black” means that the business brings in
enough to meet all the expenses of running it. If you truly
understand that a business is not going to be running “in the black"
for at least 2 to 3 years, then why do you insist on believing that
YOUR business should be the exception to the rule, not only to run
"in the black” from the get go, but also to provide you with $8,000
to $10,000 a year for living expenses?

    also, how does one obtain startup money when ones credit is in
the crapper? 

One works for it. One gets a job and saves like a mother. Possibly
one gets TWO jobs and saves like a mother. One foregoes most
recreational pursuits and one devotes one’s self to developing one’s
art in one’s spare time (spare time being that time not actually
spent at a job or asleep). One does not expect acclaim and adulation
to fall from the sky merely because one feels one has an artistic
vision. One understands that one may need to take the time to develop
that artistic vision and the technical skills to express it to the
point where one can actually share it with others, rather than
expecting to impose it upon others for immediate gain.

    i've had so many people look down their nose and say "oh, we
dont accept *crafters*", as if it were some sort of contagious
disease and they wanted me to go away before they caught it, or as
if i were some sort of lower life form, than someone who paintball
guns a canvas or welds random pieces of metal together at odd
angles. 

I agree with the latter comment to a certain extent, but frankly what
I see on your website IS “crafting”. Which is fine. Whatever sells.
But it is really not realistic to expect to get an arts grant based
on the examples you’ve shown us on your website. Possibly you have
many as-yet unrealized (or at least unposted to your website)
artistic visions - I’m not saying you don’t. I’m just saying I don’t
see them on your website.

If its any comfort, I don’t consider most of the jewelry I sell to
be “art”. And when I do get ramped up enough to start working in
actual metal art, I doubt most of it will sell all that well. I’m
not Cynthia Eid, or Charles Lewton-Brain, or Tim McCreight, or …
just about any truly artistic metal worker on this list. And at my
age, its doubtful I’ll ever BE on their level or anywhere close to
it, simply because its too late in life for me to expect to develop
my technical skills to their level of excellence.

You’re young and have plenty of time to develop your “art” and the
skills to support it. But be realistic in setting your goals. In
order to be able to evaluate your work AS A SUCCESSFUL PRODUCT LINE,
you are going to have to separate yourself from it and evaluate it
OBJECTIVELY as a PRODUCT and not as a bit of your soul. And right
now, what you are showing on your website is not interesting or
unusual enough to expect somebody on an arts council somewhere to
hand you over a check for $500, let alone $10,000.

Doesn’t mean you can’t SELL it, but keep in mind that something you
can sell and “art” aren’t necessarily the same thing. If your goal
is to support yourself, you are going to HAVE to consider primarily
the former. If your goal is to develop your “art”, then you should
resign yourself to you supporting IT, not the other way around.

Best wishes, and good luck in your future endeavors.

Sojourner