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Making the switch


#1

Dave:

You wrote (snip) I have done a little research on switching careers and
have learned that jewelry artists usually contract out their designs and
employ shops in

Mexico or Thailand to do 100’s of dumb easy little pieces that constitute
your catalog. This is supposedly where you make your money. Then you do
your one of a kind pieces for more money.

I think I am starting to hear that “sucking” sound that Ross Perot was
always talking about. I have known people that do this, but I do not call
them jewelers. They are importers and their stuff is in all of the trade
magazines, and they set up at all of the major trade shows and some of them
tell people the stuff is made in their own studios. I suppose they make
money, but so do mercenaries.

As far as switching careers is concerned, the grass is always greener on
the other side. Whatever it is that you do not like about your graphic
design business, you will probably not like about running a full time
jewelry business. Instead of computers cutting into your business, it would
be importers.

If you enjoy making jewelry as a hobby, do you need to make your living at
it? However, if you are intent on doing this, then I would suggest writing
a serious business plan. Figure out how much money you need to live and run
a business and get it all down on a spreadsheet and start doing what if
scenarios. I have had to increase the size of my business several times and
have had success doing just that. How much can you produce? Could you
produce your line profitably with labor? How large of a market is there for
what you produce. From my experience, the larger our business grew, the
more things changed. Insurance, marketing expenses, shop overhead,
equipment purchases, etc, etc, etc. we swim in bills. Fortunately, we had a
business plan and learned to swim.

I took a very long term approach to the development of our business and
decided to do as much of the production in house and purchase only metal,
findings and stones. We do all of our fabricating, casting, soldering, etc.
This gives us complete control over our production process. Timing,
quality, techniques, etc. I have talked to people who have everything done
out of house and or imported. They have no control over their business
except in the marketing arena. Even then, their designs must conform to the
skills their chosen job shops can perform. Sometimes it takes months to get
an order filled from overseas. Over the years our line has evolved and
improved. Work that is designed and executed by the same people eventually
develops and improves beyond what is possible through disjointed efforts.
Work that is designed by jewelers without production skills and produced by
others sometimes becomes clumsy looking and lacks that special look and
feel associated with well designed and manufactured jewelry.

Dave, I have seen your work on your web page and it is great looking stuff,
I do not think that it would translate well into flimsy, lifeless, poorly
made import junk. There is enough of that crap around. Stick to your vision
of good design and quality and work with reputable production shops to help
you with your production if necessary. It is best to make the transition
slowly, as this makes cash flow alot easier

By the way I do not endorse Ross Perot, just sticking up for American
crafts(men) women.

Just my $.05 worth

Kenneth Gastineau
gastin@mis.net


#2

To Kenneth Gastineau:

Just wanted to write you a quick note to say thanks for posting your very sage
advice to Dave. I lived with a guy for seven years who called himself an
inventor and tried to get several ideas off the ground, without success. He was
a very creative man, and his ideas were wonderfully innovative. He wrote
detailed business plans, but they still weren’t realistic, and we ended up way
over our heads in debt. Several times, he tried to make the leap, and I
generally ended up carrying the financial burden. It caused an enormous amount
of friction in our relationship and contributed to its eventual breakdown. But
I sure learned alot about how NOT to run a business!

To Dave:

The best way to make a smooth transition is to keep doing the work that pays
your bills as well as the work you love, until you have developed your new
business to the point where you are spending enough time and making enough
money to justify letting go of the other job. There can be no short cuts: you
have to plan each step in order and have to be prepared to be unnaturally
patient. Remember Murphy’s Law and make sure all your "T"s are crossed and your
"I"s are dotted. You’ll be thankful in the long run. My suggestion is that
when you write your business plan, add a contingency fund of 10-15% “just in
case” and add at least 1-2 years to your timeframe.

Best of luck Dave, and thanks for your comments Kenneth.

Dianne Karg
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
103125.1115@compuserve.com


#3

Dianne:

Sounds like you’ve been there too.

In the beginning I was just like every classic artist story I know of. I
felt like joining AA (Artist Anonymous) An empty stomach literally tempered
me into thinking like a business person. (I didn’t even have crackers
left). And all of this was during a National economic boom period.

One thing I learned for sure. If I cannot imagine how to run a successful
enterprise, then how could it possibly work. Just as you stated, it takes
skillful, innovative, and realistic planning to be able to pull it off. The
hard part is the
added G forces one experiences as they freefall through their bank account.
I still swear by Quicken, it has kept me from going belly up more than
once.

I appreciate your experiences, unfortunately business experience is almost
always hard won.

Kenneth Gastineau
gastin@mis.net


#4

Just like to add one word… ANY… in front of the word ‘business’ …
been there done that… NO MORE, NO MORE! … Think there’s a song in
there somewhere…
Jim

At 09:43 PM 10/23/96 -0400, you wrote:


#5

Dave, I have seen your work on your web page and it is great looking stuff,
I do not think that it would translate well into flimsy, lifeless, poorly
made import junk. There is enough of that crap around. Stick to your vision
of good design and quality and work with reputable production shops to help
you with your production if necessary. It is best to make the transition
slowly, as this makes cash flow alot easier

Kenneth Gastineau
gastin@mis.net

Kenneth: WOW, thank you SO MUCH for that reply, sorry I haven’t gotten to
you sooner. What you told me is exactly what I need to hear-a view from
someone who is really doing it. You are right about the import and design
info on doing things in Mexico etc. It just never felt right to me and I
can just see spending $1000 and getting back stuff that would make me feel
ill. The one company I contacted about this, Accents in Silver in Texas,
just made me feel weird as the salesman was real sleazy. I found out later
their main guy there is an ex-con and has burned a few people I think. I
really don’t want to be an importer selling borderline crap. That kind of
stuff has already given silver jewelry a bad name. So, I’ve decided to do
what you suggested and just keep doing what I’m doing and eventually it
could lead to enough of a reputation to establish a little studio/retail
outlet or something like that. I’m a terrible businessman anyway and am
just alot more happy sitting in my quiet garage making this stuff with no
deadlines or other criteria other than what I’m inspired to do. I’ve asked
several people about the possibility of switching careers and yours is the
best advice I’ve ever gotten, so again, thankyou…Dave

Art Jewelry for Conscious People
http://www.opendoor.com/stephensdesign/crystalguy.html


#6

To Dave:

The best way to make a smooth transition is to keep doing the work that pays
your bills as well as the work you love, until you have developed your new
business to the point where you are spending enough time and making enough
money to justify letting go of the other job. There can be no short cuts:
you…

Dianne Karg

Dianne: thanks, yours and Kenneths advice are taken to heart and is what I
plan on doing. Thanks for the input and its taken the stress off this
subject for me. I’ll keep doing this work until it takes over on its
own…Dave

Art Jewelry for Conscious People
http://www.opendoor.com/stephensdesign/crystalguy.html