Have a look at the notes below,
My daughter Kerry is finding it difficult getting an opportunity
within the Jewellery design and manufacturing industry and
wondering if there are any suggestions from professional Jewellers
that might assist Kerry make that break through.
She needs to prove herself to the trade.
This means a number of strategies.
Have a clear, normal sized business card with room on the back to
write notes on. Jewelers put contact info, email, web site, post
office box on a card, never a street address (unless you actually
have a retail store). Security is important.
Ask jewellers for advice on what to do next and on possibilities,
not for a job. This lets them off the hook in terms of pressure, and
uses the old adage “if you want to make a friend ask someone for
advice”. Make sure you are taking up their time on their terms, when
it fits best into their week. Now that it is past the Holidays most
will have more time.
Ask around for the shops who have the best reputation for design and
hand construction, for hand work, (and/or computer aided design use),
see if there are any that won awards (as it means they pay attention
to design and building their brand). If a shop has a laser it implies
they keep up with technology and have funds to invest in tools and
production. Look for 2-8 employees so the shop needs you to do
multiple kinds of jobs.
Call back, follow up, kindly and gently. I know a guy who created
his career basically by sending 40-50 postcards out a month to pretty
much everyone he met in his art field, steady, for two years. This
resulted in very effective network.
Create a nicely presented sample kit of pieces and examples showing
what she can do in terms of skill. Speed is an essential issue, so if
there is any way to practice at home with simple ring sizings and
increase speed this is good. If there is a repair shop to the trade
in town then working piece-work there for a while can be a great way
to increase skills and speed. Piece work means that pay is low until
the speed increases, but can be good later. This point is not to stay
there, but six months would introduce many real life experiences and
increase skills and speed.
This is the most important step: Offer to work at the higher
design/manufacturing level of shop for two weeks for free. This is a
standard approach, proven and tested. This gives you a chance to
prove yourself, (and also to see if you want to work there). Even if
they don’t have a job available it may lead to other opportunities.
Work real hard, try real hard, have no ego during this test time,
and do an excellent job, particularly at cleaning up and paying
attention to details. European goldsmiths say “put your ego in the
drawer when you are learning: you can always take it out again when
you need it”.
Use standard strategies of taking notes, keeping a log, bringing
coffee and treats for people now and then is good. Not every shop is
where you want to work, so if it doesn’t feel right after two weeks
feel free to thank them and go on. As a principle do a lot of written
thank you notes, they are worth more in these email days, and thank
you’s for time offered or shared are truly appreciated.
Don’t make enemies, word of mouth is everything in the jewellery
world, and it is a very small world. Make sure your reputation is
good. Honesty and professional behavior is essential.
Make the rounds of the diamond and gem dealers as well (asking for
advice, job suggestions etc) and work to set up accounts with them
(you may need to do the next step first).
Create an account at the local tool supplier, and use it, paying it
off within a week with every purchase to build trade references. Then
you have a reference within the trade to tell others (like gem
dealers) about. You will need to have a good relationship with a
diamond dealer, to permit you to have stones ‘on memo’ to show to
Network like mad, going to every special opening the important
jewellery trade shops have.
If she can’t get a job with these ideas, then offer to do ‘home
work’, that is repairs they don’t want to handle etc, again to prove
herself. Any job will pay poorly for a while, but the idea is that it
is about another 4-6 years education in the field by working, and
eventually to own a shop or something similar.
Make sure there is a home workbench available, (even the simplest),
to practice sawing, filing, soldering and finishing/polishing. Use
Alan Revere’s videos or Professional Goldsmithing book and do
everything 3-5 times (using a timer) to build the sample kit and
skill set. Check out his repair and repair/setting book as well.
Enter jewellery design competitions, as many as possible in as many
places as possible to build the resume, have a deadline and maintain
professional pressure on oneself. In the same vein make sure that
ones designs and pieces get published, in the national and (easier)
other country’s jewellery and related magazines. She has a ‘hook’ to
get published locally because she went away to study at Revere’s.
Build that track record as a designer. You want the shops to have
heard of you from others (the media, gem dealers, others in the
Persistence counts. More than almost anything else.
She might ask several jewelers if she can take them out for a coffee
once a month and ask for their advice, creating her own advisory
board. If she can spot someone who is doing what she thinks she wants
to do later in life ask if they are willing to be her mentor, that is
to meet with her every couple of weeks to advise/critique, with a six
month term so they don’t think they are stuck forever.
Document everything, both the work she is doing as well as shots of
her working in the workshop.
Create an Ganoksin/Orchid gallery page that outlines her work, what
her designs and skills are. Make a flickr.com account and post images
of work, and of her working. Link to this from the facebook account.
Join any local jewellers groups and organizations and go to meetings.
It is about the network. Cheerful and postive attitudes help. A
friend of mine said once to me that his steady employment as a
painter could only be attributed to “I clean up really well and I’m
happy in the morning”. Consider joining the board of the local
jewellers group as a volunteer. Most groups want younger people
involved and the network is excellent.
Join JMGA http://www.jmgasa.net.au/, go to the conferences and
participate. While I understand the tensions and mutual snobbery
between trade and the arts in Australia it is quite possible to
operate in both worlds and it increases her circle of network and
Have a web page of some type, for your resume, your skill set (what
you can do), images of work etc, to refer people to.
Donate a piece to highly visible benefit auctions, particularly ones
where the jewellers are likely to see it or be involved. (the
symphony benefit concert, anything at the golf club, etc). If the
local jewellers group has a favorite charity find a way to be visible
in relationship to it.
Create a nice business card that specializes/hints at wedding ring
expertise. Dress nice and visit bridal shops to set up a relationship
to design wedding rings/engagement rings one on one with clients they
get a good percentage of the sale (30% or more). Wedding rings and
engagement rings pay very well indeed, and the one on one
relationship is increasingly important, so this can be an excellent
path. Jewellers often forget about alternate ways to market, high end
hair salons, bridal shops, gold clubs.