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Starting small home jewelry repair business


#1

I would like to start my small business at my home. It is for
Jewelry Repair and Custom Designs. I have my 28 years of expreinces
for working at the different places. Now I am 52 and just moved to PA
to be with my fiance and couldn’t find a job here…Any advice for me
how to start my small business at my home.

Thanking you in advance, I remain,
Clarence Chessher


#2

Hi Mr. Chessher:

Any advice for me how to start my small business at my home. 

While I am sorry that you were unable to find a job in your area, I
congratulate you on having the fortitude to give it a go on your
own. Working from home can be extremely rewarding and (hopefully for
my own future) profitable.

I can’t speak for your specific area, but the local Chamber of
Commerce can be a good source to start networking. Ours offers
monthly get-togethers for business members, workshops for different
business issues, and low-cost advertising via their website.

Having a very nice picture postcard of your work with your services
and contact info on it can help. You could put them up everywhere
your potential customers would go…coffee shops, the gyms, the bank
lobby etc…Many people do this in my area (especially at those
trendy coffee shops).

In my own experience, the thing that has been most helpful has been
the placement of a couple “gifts”. I am shy by nature, but I have
found that if I can get my jewelry on the body of the right woman
(one who is outgoing and sees a lot of my potential target market
women) it is worth ten times what I could pay for any advertising. I
haven’t yet sold any of my jewelry myself…it’s all been by word of
mouth from a woman I know who is just very social. It’s like that old
commercial…and she’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two
friends, and so on, and so on…now I’m dating myself.

Anyway, I am nowhere near as experienced as some of the other
members on the list, but I hope this helps a little.

Good Luck,
Kim Starbard
Cove Beads


#3

Here is a question that has plagued me about home business.

how do you build a new clientele from a home business with
postcards/flyers, address and phone number and still be safe in the
modern world. My largest concern with expanding in the way you
mentioned (and I know of no other way, other than solely selling via
the internet) is being subject to a home robbery, that is now a
business robbery too. Of course, you can keep precious metals, stones
and customer jobs in a safe, but what is to protect you during working
hours, or while you are at home. Of someone saying, “yeah, I heard
about this person who does jewelry work from home.”

of course, this is not a nice concern, but is a seriously realistic
concern.

julia potts
julia potts studios


#4

learn how to work on watches, teach yourself if you dont know how by
every means possible my local watch supply guy has been a wealth of
info the batteries are cheap bands are cheap and you dont even need
to fix the movements themselves just swap them out most of them can
be had for $9 or less. crystals etc… good luck - goo


#5

There is one reply to your question regarding marketing. My comments
would be to think about safety, and equally importantly, security.
Safety is pretty obvious - fire, chemicals, fumes, acids, dust. None
of those things really belong in the home, but provisions can be
made. As far as security, though — If you do repair work, that
means you are going to be taking in other people’s property. You may
think/know that your neighborhood/friends are safe and secure, but
they are not. They’re not because that’s what security is about. If
anything should happen, you will be liable for everything. If a child
in the house picks up a $5,000 bauble to play with and drops it down
the toilet, you just bought a bauble. I can’t say how to take care of
these things in your specific situation, just to be aware from the
beginning.


#6

a few suggestions:

Get some about your competition. Are there other people
doing the same thing in your area? How can you differentiate yourself
from them (besides a lower price)?

Prepare yourself and your shop. Most places will want you to be as
professional as possible. This means alarm and insurance. Start
basic and increase coverage as you grow. Get marketing materials
ready: business cards, pictures of you work, it helps to have a
resume and a personal profile.

If you feel you have to have a price sheet be careful as to how you
promote it. You probably don’t want to send the message that you are
the cheapest jeweler in the area as it’s really hard to break out of
that mold. Accent quality and custom work if you have those
abilities, otherwise you’re stuck with price as your main marketing
message.

Who will be your prime clients? Go visit stores, distribute your
materials, talk to owners and managers, explain who you are and what
you do, ask if they are using anyone for outside repairs or if they
have a need for a custom jeweler. Rarely, this is all you need to do,
but there are those who will probably give you a chance.

For everyone else it will take multiple visits. Be tough and
persistent but also ready to move on if there is no response after a
while.

Decide how you will handle pick ups and deliveries. The most
unproductive thing you do will be deliveries and pickups. I don’t
know how others handle this, I have people come to me. I will do some
deliveries on Saturday, but this is a special service that no one
expects as a regular thing.

Try to foresee as many questions as possible and have answers for
them. Nothing turns off a prospective client more than not knowing
how you will handle an important situation.

Once you’ve done all that you’ll realize that it will take a good
deal of money and time to start getting clients, so if you can
contact people who already know you ( people who you have worked for
in the past or those who know you but who are not local). It will be
easier to break through with these people because they are already
familiar with you and your work. Also, it’s much easier to pack up
finished work and send it out by registered mail or express delivery
than to drive across town to deliver work. Just make sure your
packages are properly secured and insured. Use third party insurance
for all express packages.

I’ll probably think of more things, if I can I’ll post more
later…got to go for my 3.5 mile run now and then sit at the bench
and pave set a hundred plus.01 ct diamonds today.

Larry


#7

My husband and I, we run business from home for 5 years and after
that we bought a comercial property 8 years ago and honestly I think
it was safer at home. We did work “by appointment only”, so we knew
who was coming (mostly referals).

We distributed some fliers but only in our neighberhood. Maybe it
limited our clientele but also it was safer.

Good Luck.

Danuta Cieslukowska
Gold Cast


#8

Clarence,

First, I would get insurance. I do not know how someone would give
you a piece of their jewelry to repair if you did not have insurance
to cover the value of the item. Make sure you inspect it when you are
given the item. Have customer inspect with you and note nay problems
with loose stones, damaged stones, etc., have the customer initial
your findings. You don’t want them coming back to you
saying… you damaged, etc., CYA.

You can go to local jewelry shops who often have to out source
repairs and let them know you are available to do work.

I liked the suggestion made of joining local chamber of commerce.
Good idea. There is also an organization called Pennsylvania Soc. of
Goldsmiths. Check archives for They have members in the
Philadelphia area.

Beth Katz Unique Solutions, Inc.
Paste Solder and Powder Solder for Jewelers and Metalsmiths
www.myuniquesolutions.com


#9

Hi julia:

You have asked questions that I have huge concerns with also. I am
the one always asking questions about how to go to the city to buy
materials and be safe. In my town, we have something called “open
studios by the sound”. At holiday time, artists all over Guilford
open their home or in town studios and people (strangers) just come
in to shop. There is NO way I am going to open my home to that many
strangers. Even if it was safe, it would give me nightmares. I am an
extremist when it comes to personal safety however, and, when you
really think about it, there isn’t anywhere that we can go where we
are completely safe. Where there is a jeweler, there is valuable
jewelry/material. My sales are all (so far) from personal referrals
and I (usually) am not the one to deliver the piece to the customer.
I don’t know how I am going to handle it in the future or if I will
be able to move (psychologically) past my fears for my personal
safety. (please everyone don’t start one of those threads on carrying
a weapon, it’s out of the question for me). This is something I think
about all the time.

A funny story…I did get a referral last year from a woman I knew
thru the nursery school. Her friend wanted some jewelry. I packed up
my case and went to her house. At one point she says "boy, I don’t
know which colors to get…could you just come with me to my bedroom,
I want you to look at my wardrobe and do some color matching for me"
I nearly fell off my chair. I immediately started counting exits and
plotting my escape should this person turn out to be some kind of
weird ninja warrior attacker.

I don’t actually meet anyone in my home. I tell them “why don’t we
meet for a cup of coffee?” and then we go to a real crowded place.

I’m rambling
Kim Starbard
Cove Beads


#10
how do you build a new clientele from a home business with
postcards/flyers, address and phone number and still be safe in
the modern world. 

I don’t know about building a business nowdays, but I can tell you
that the next time I have business cards and labels printed, they are
not going to have my address or even the name of my small town on
them. No one ever knows where my little town is, anyhow, so I have to
tell them, “near (name of Larger Town Nearby)”. I will put my phone
number and email address on the cards & labels. I have seen more &
more jewelers at shows that have their cards done this way, and it
seems sensible to me.

– M’lou Brubaker, Jeweler
northern Minnesota, U.S.A.
www.craftswomen.com


#11

Hi Larry Thank so much for your valuable advices and I appreciate
it…I will always remember…Smile Enjoy your run and take care,

Clarence


#12

The jewelry store I managed for years used to have a jeweler come in
2ce a week (scheduled times) to pick up and drop off repairs, custom
work, etc… I’m pretty sure he did work for a lot of other stores in
the area- and he had two days that were his “errand” days- drop- offs
and pick-ups.

Aside: I know you guys are thinking… jewelry store that doesn’t do
their own repairs? Yup, that was us. No torch, no polishing wheel,
just jumprings and pliers! We were mostly a cast jewelry store and
we purchased about 50 different lines…

Back to the point… if you could find a few stores like this to get
you started it might be worth your while. Our jeweler eventually
opened up his own storefront as his business grew so large he needed
to hire employees to work for him- good for him! But I think he
lasted about 5-7 years in his apartment before he ran out of space.

Good luck!
Amery


#13

The jewelry store I managed for years used to have a jeweler come in
2ce a week (scheduled times) to pick up and drop off repairs, custom
work, etc… I’m pretty sure he did work for a lot of other stores in
the area- and he had two days that were his “errand” days- drop- offs
and pick-ups.

Aside: I know you guys are thinking… jewelry store that doesn’t do
their own repairs? Yup, that was us. No torch, no polishing wheel,
just jumprings and pliers! We were mostly a cast jewelry store and
we purchased about 50 different lines…

Back to the point… if you could find a few stores like this to get
you started it might be worth your while. Our jeweler eventually
opened up his own storefront as his business grew so large he needed
to hire employees to work for him- good for him! But I think he
lasted about 5-7 years in his apartment before he ran out of space.

Good luck!
Amery


#14

Hi M’lou…

Thing is…in a lot of cases, one can type a phone number into
Google… I think this only applies to land lines… Anyway, if it
hits, Google provides a name, a map you can bring up, etc…

Works for mine, and for my work phone…(I had to try it)…

Gary W. Bourbonais
A.J.P. (GIA)


#15

Julia,

It is safest to omit your address, just say you work in a private
studio without mentioning it’s at home. Meet your clients at a public
place convenient to you both.

Marta


#16

That’s what I am in the process of doing myself.

After years and years of working for other jewellers as their
in-house jeweller (and getting whatever pittance they decided to pay
me) I left the trade for a few years and did some better paying work
until I could afford to buy my own bench and tools.

I now have a reasonably complete setup at home and I get repairs,
remodelling and manufacturing work from jewellery stores (including
one I used to work in-house for).

My aim is to open my own shop at some stage as things gain momentum.
Although sadly I’ve had to take a break as my wife died in a car
crash 3 weeks ago. About to give the shops a call and get back into
it though.

Cheers,
Dale


#17

This is something that I have considered off and on for the past
couple years. I have repaired items for friends, but I only charged
them for material.

I do know some in my area that do work from home, but they mostly do
repairs only for pawn shops or retailers. I dont know if they still
do this, but even Wal-Mart use to use local craftsman for repairs.
The good thing about going out and getting work form other stores, is
that you dont have to advertise what you do.

I knew one jeweler who worked out of his basement for several years,
and one night while everyone was asleep, the house was broken into.
The alarm woke them, but they were met by 3 men with mask and guns.
Him, his wife, and thier 3 kids were tied up with phone and
electrical cords. One of the robbers held a gun on them, while the
other two ripped through the house. They took thousands of dollars
worth of jewelry, loose stones, and precious metal and were long gone
10 minutes before the police responded to the call from the alarm
agency.

I also know a jewelry who owns a store who was apparently staked out
for a while, and then hit at home on the night he brought some
finished repairs home with him from work so he could deliver them on
his way into work the next morning. He has moved and never tells his
neighbors what he does for a living, and also never tells anyone
where he is living now. I cant really blame him for being so paranoid
as they did beat him and his wife up pretty bad.

I know a gemstone sales man who drives an old beat up truck and
wears blue jeans and t shirts just so he isnt hit again. He was
getting robbed in parking lots, at his house, even at the drive up
ATM once. That was when he dressed the part and drove a nice car. I
havent seen him in a while, but I do now that for at least a couple
years after he stopped looking the part, he wasnt getting robbed.

Because I knew people who were robbed like this Ive been, shall lack
of better term, gun shy of working out of my house. I dont even tell
many people that I have a studio set up at my house so I can practice
and improve my skills, or even that I am working on my gemologist
degree. I think flaunting the fact I am doing anything with jewelry
could eventually give the wrong type of people the impression you
might have something they want… I have 2 young daughters and cant
see putting thier wellbeing on the line either. Maybe 20 or 30 years
ago or if I lived in a small town where everyone knows everyone else
it would be a different story. But I sure wouldnt hang a shingle on
the front of my house in the city these days.

I cant think of any jeweler I know in my area that has anything
obvious on car, house or on person that would indicate they are
jewelers. Its like advertising for someone to rob you. I have the
same feelings about people who always flash Rolex’s and wear high
priced jewelry everyday. I feel they might as well put a neon sign on
thier back asking for someone to rob them. But thats just my opinion.

Daniel


#18

Hi Gang,

FYI:

If you’re looking for a steamer & don’t want to pay the $400-$500 of
the big models, many of the larger jewelers suppliers now have a
small unit called the Jewel Jet. They hold 8 oz of water & put out
aprox 70# of stem at the push of a button. The majority of dealers at
last & this year’s Tucson show were selling them for for $50.00.

Usual disclaimers, no association with any jewelers suppliers or
steamer makers.

Dave


#19

Hi, Gary…

Thing is.....in a lot of cases, one can type a phone number into
Google..... I think this only applies to land lines.... Anyway, if
it hits, Google provides a name, a map you can bring up, etc... 

I didn’t know about this, but I feel like I should have known.(
I,too, am going to try it on my own phone number.) The world is
changing so fast, it is hard to keep up with it. I am not a very
paranoid or scared person, but I do try to keep reasonably safe.
Would my idea of keeping my address off of my business cards at
least, perhaps, keep the dumbest folks in the neighborhood from
hitting on me? The ones who don’t know how to manipulate computer
but rather just ride around in beat-up pickup trucks
looking for something easier to do than working for a living? Anyone
who knew my name and town could stop at either the post office or
Fred’s Store…the only two establishments regularly open in town…
and get helpful directions to my home, anyway. So maybe I should just
not worry about it. At least the materials and jewelry that I have
are almost always just my own property rather than that of my
customers, so I don’t have to worry about that kind of liability.

I know that we’ve had the whole safety/robbery discussion before,
and I don’t necessarily want to hear all the scarey stories again,
but does anyone else have opinions about the business card info?

Thanks for your info, Gary. I’llcheck on it and see what I get.
Probably a map right to my mailbox at the end of my driveway!

M’lou Brubaker, Jeweler
northern Minnesota, U.S.A.
www.craftswomen.com


#20

Greetings Orchidians,

I’ve been following Orchid for a while now and this I think is my
first message. My name is Jim, and I come from a sculpture
background, and recently breaking into the realm of jewelry. I look
forward to being active in this community as I’ve here seen, in
black and white, a very strong member foundation.

I think the following ramblings (forgive length) could apply to any
home business. (FYI: Use of “you” referring to anyone in general.)

  1. ADDRESS & PHONE NUMBER CONCERNS

Definitely do not give out your home address. I’ve purchased a mail
box (different from PO Box) through the UPS Store. It runs about
$385/yr, but completely worth the price for the privacy attained. I
then am able to put the “mailing” address on my business card, and
it looks very professional. If you’re in a city that would be a
great solution, but for those in really rural areas, this may be
difficult to find. In that case, get a P.O. Box from the closest
branch of the USPS. You may only get to drive to the P.O. Box once a
week, but it is worth it. ?And hey, any tax write-off sounds good to
me. Also, you can continue to receive packages at your home address,
but don’t try to have packages sent to your P.O. Box. Mail boxes
like UPS Store, however, do accept packages and will notify you when
you receive them, upon request. As for phone numbers, simply don’t
use your home?phone. Get a cell phone. Any cell phone used for
"business" is tax deductible as well.

  1. PERSONAL & MERCHANDISE SAFETY (OFF TOPIC BUT RELEVENT)

The drawback of working alone is some may feel not as safe or secure
in operating their business. If at all possible, share studio space
with someone in a different line of work than you are in, someone
who you’ve known very well. Sometimes all you need is trustworthy
company to keep your fears at ease. Then again, I’ve known of women
who would rather keep company with their handy tazers, and even give
them names. Don’t want a gun? Forget pepper spray, non-lethal
electric stun weapons are the way to go. And remember, you get what
you pay for. I™m sure it™d make a great addition to the bench.

Meeting clients at public places is a huge deal. It is important to
be in a place they are comfortable at, where there are people, but
not too many people to overwhelm or drown out your conversation in
background noise-- as that can be very annoying and
counter-productive. It is highly unlikely a potential client would
be out to rob you, especially in a public place, but if you are
around hundreds of people the odds are higher that there are
pickpocket thieves on the prowl. This won’t be a problem if you
carry your merchandise in a discreet and secure manner, like in a
combination briefcase, not some clear plastic craft bin, and
especially not carried loose in your pocket.

Just as important, document all of your merchandise; you can do
monthly or bi-monthly inventories to make sure none of your wip or
merch’ got up and walked away. Take digital photos and upload into
folders labeled by month/year. This way, the worst case scenario if
you lose anything to theft, you can report them as losses on your
taxes. You can minimize that risk by building a miniature vault some
place for your raw materials, and keep a stack of pewter ingots
labeled as silver bullion out in the open-- thieves are usually in a
hurry :wink:

  1. FEAR & WORRY (EVEN MORE OFF TOPIC)

Psychological problems like excessive fear and worry are not good
and must be eliminated to retain any creative flow and retain high
productivity. There is a huge difference between being careful and
safe in business dealings, in comparison to being afraid to do
business. It is natural to get the “butterflies” when meeting new
clients, but help should be sought if one is too afraid to deliver
work in person. To me, client relationships are important to build,
and one cannot do that while living in fear.

Additionally, like sharks in the ocean, thieves are capable of
detecting fear and people with low self-esteem; they know those
traits make for the perfect victim. A thief is highly unlikely to
victimize someone who displays a strong sense of self and has good
business practices, because that increases their risk in getting
caught. Though, there are stupid criminals out there, but it is
better to live life with the “Don’t mess with me” attitude, not the
"always-looking-over-my-shoulder" mentality.

If low confidence, low self-esteem, fear, or worry is a continuous
problem, it can be more of a theft in your life than any criminals
out there. Get help or support somewhere quick!

All the best in starting your new business!

–Jim Sprague Jr.—