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Your jewelry business threatened by the economy?


#1

Noel said (albeit in an unrelated posting):

these are tough times, many of us are having our livelihood
threatened, 

So as an informal polling, how many people on Orchid feel their
livelihood is currently being impacted by the economy? How many of
you are going to change your profession because of it? How many of
you think that it will lead to the end of your jewelry business? I’m
not talking about how many of you “think” something is not as good, I
mean how many of you are truly seeing sales plummet to the point that
you’re going to do something else?

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
www.spirerjewelers.com


#2
how many of you are truly seeing sales plummet to the point that
you're going to do something else? 

Not sure this is what you mean, but my “something else” is a lot
more teaching. I used to apply to maybe 12 shows to do 8 or 9. This
year I applied to 15 and got into 3 (though one was Cherry Creek).
One of those I am always invited without jurying. So I’m working my
butt off doing out of town teaching gigs-- I’ve been in 9 cities so
far this year, two for shows and the resty for teaching. I don’t
know which end it up! I’ll be home 3 whole weeks now before my next
trip.

The shows I did do were WAY off previous years. So, yes, I directly
see the results of the economy.

I don’t really have any other alternative for a different career
altogether. Fortunately, I’m really a very good teacher, so that’s
going well. No advanced degree, so it would be tough to get an
actual job teaching.

Noel


#3

The good thing about the economics of freelance writing is that they
don’t seem to get significantly worse when the economy goes to hell.
Of course the bad thing is that even in good times they’re lousy.

RC


#4

Daniel

Haha… Too damned long being a jeweller to ever change. Times are
slow, I might have take on other unrelated work to pay the bills, but
never a change of my profession.

Jeff
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand


#5

17th year same retail location, yes we are down, been there done
that, doing it again…careful about how we spend money and what we
buy, changewhat I do for my livelihood, not quite yet. I believe
that those of us that are really good will still have enough business
to make it through an economic downturn. Especially if you do really
good work and are service oriented. The other day a young woman said
"Since I have been working with a lot of small businesses for my
wedding, i noticed that you have exceptional customer service." Sure
there are time wasters, but since I cannot tell which cus= tomers
will turn out to be good, I treat them all the same and suffer the
fools, but reap the reward of patience.

Richard Hart


#6

I have expanded the Lapidary end. The rock business is good. Some
rock dealers are reporting good sales at shows and one told me he had
the best show since he’s been in business and he’s been at it quite a
while.

I still have the jewelry line too. I’m getting more custom orders at
shows than readymade pieces sold. Funny thing in the last two shows
I’ve sold pieces I’ve had in inventory for 4-5 years without
discounting them. Some of them I was just about to un-mount the
stones, scrap the silver, and put the cab into inventory.

Although I’m down for the year mostly because I screwed up in
applying for shows and missed the deadlines. My two biggest shows are
in September and October. So fingers crossed I can make my whole year
come out good.

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
Rocky Mountain Wonders
Colorado Springs, Colorado
rockymountainwonders.com


#7

Hi:

Actually, I would like to go back to work as a full-time Accountant.
My husband changed jobs a few months ago and it completely changed
our situation. I can make much more money for the family if I go back
to corporate…I just don’t know how.

I have all this inventory, all this equipment, and at least 1
(possibly 3) more shows I have committed to.

I launched a new website last month, but there was a large problem.
The beads I had been weaving with had a flaw and, after a short time,
the plating completely broke down and the pieces I made (and all the
photos) are now useless. I spent app. 900 on photos and about 350 on
the site. It definitely put me in the hole. I did my first show and,
even though it went well for me, by the time I paid all the expenses,
I only cleared about 250.

I currently don’t have any motivation to make anything. I’m not sad
about going back to work, I just am having a hard time seeing the
point in creating right now. I’m not sure why.

So, how to scale back to maybe one or two nice shows a year and
still find a way to be excited about it?

Kim Starbard
Unique Jewelry Designs
http://www.kstardesigns.com


#8

I do retail repairs and re-cast customers gold. Business is up this
year; however, the time it takes to fix the CRAP jewelry that is
being imported these days has also increased, so I am having to work
longer. Not fun at all.

I hate hollow road chains…Smithy


#9

My answer to the actual question - MY business - is no, not that I
can see. We are downsizing our square footage because our new lease
is 30% higher, but we expected that.

I will say that San Francisco is a huge tourist city, but the last
few weeks and right now it is wall-to-wall tourists out there,
mostly foreign. You can spot most of them, but mostly it’s the
number of people walking around with maps. Or a bewildered look -
"Where am I!?!? The falling dollar is good for somebody, it’s just
not good for America…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#10

Hi Daniel,

My business is being effected by the current economic conditions.
Business is up some for me from the last couple of years. I sell only
at juried art shows and almost all of the shows I do have been up
from last year. In 40 years of selling jewelry, it’s been
consistently true for me that each and every time that the media
talks about recession and economic disaster my business takes at
least a small bump upwards. I’ve really never been able to see the
logic in it but there it is. I’m grateful of course. There is always
speculation about why, one popular one being that people are not
buying big things like houses and cars but are buying smaller things
to make themselves happy. Who knows? My jewelry is lower end, from
$150 to $2000 with most of my income coming from items in the $200
to $700 range and much of my business coming from people who have
bought from me before. I have no thoughts about abandoning my jewel
business.

Jima Abbott on the foggy northern California coast


#11
So as an informal polling, how many people on Orchid feel their
livelihood is currently being impacted by the economy? 

I have no “brick and mortar” representation. I vend at street fairs,
markets, rock and gem shows, etc. I’ve been doing it since 1995. I
understand my work has evolved and I am constantly adding more
services and products. I, so far, haven’t made a lot of money. I
watch bead stringers, farmers, and importers complain about making
only a few thousand dollars at an event and wait for the show where I
will break the 2K mark. I’m quite content making $500 a weekend.

Yet, July of this year, I got to see 2 of our shows set records. One
show set a single day record, a two day record, the event record,
and the Career-Best-Show-Ever record.

We are doing better than ever. I attribute that to adding gemstones
to our sales inventory which I really haven’t produced in these
quantities before. Which leads me to conclude with something I’ve
always believed, “in times of economic hardship,
diversity-and-innovation is always the key”.

TL Goodwin
Lapidarian/Metalsmith
The Pacifik Image
http://thepacifikimage.com


#12

Maybe I am just lucky. Or it’s the thirty years of hard work building
a service based business. I live in a small town, 100,000 people or
so. With maybe 2 shops that do most of what I do. It seems I am
busier now than I have been in the past. A solid repair business, and
more custom work coming in every day. Unless the economy takes a
total decline, I don’t think I will have to look for another way to
make a living. I sure wish I could figure out a way to take a
vacation, maybe when I get caught up next month. Janine, in Redding
Ca, where the air is finally getting clear enough to breathe again
after the fires.


#13
Too damned long being a jeweller to ever change. Times are slow, I
might have take on other unrelated work to pay the bills, but never
a change of my profession. 

Same here. Been at it too long to consider a change now, regardless
of the economy. Just time to shift gears for the curves in the road.
Same road, just a different speed.

Ed


#14

Kim,

Sounds like you need a vacation - too much pressure in not enough
time. Could you get away for a week by yourself and just loll on a
beach or go to the mountains to rest and take in the beautiful
scenery? It would give you time to sort things through and give you a
perspective on your situation. Some things are very worth the money.

Your jewelry is so beautiful I hope you wont give it all up. –
stating the obvious, maybe you could work part time and still have
time for the “art” side of you. We need to feed our souls too.

I wish you the best in whatever you decide.

Jan
www.designjewel.com
PS try praying - it works wonders!


#15
Been at it too long to consider a change now, regardless of the
economy 

I feel the same way as those who will contine making jewelry even
though sales are less than one would like. I love making jewelry,
and even though the economy is rough, I will continue to do it. My
last show, was pretty dismal. Lots of people admiring my work, but
few sales. A number of other jewelers at the show remarked that their
sales were way down. However, the concensus was that they would
continue to do what they loved.

Alma Rands


#16

Having had more than my share of hard times, when I set this current
business up I did it in such a manner as to reduce risks to the
point where I knew I could survive a real lean downturn. I’m not
surviving, I’m flourishing, much to my surprise and delight. But
that’s not the question.

To anyone who is thinking about leaving ‘the life’ I would encourage
you to at least keep a finger in the pie. You started this career
path for a reason. Ok, maybe now is not the best time for you and you
have to do what you have to do, but if you don’t stay connected in
some fashion it will be all the harder to re-up(which, you know you
will). Plus I think you’ll miss it. Especially if you aspire(d) to
owning your own business and doing things your way.

Although I found very good employers during my hardest times there
was always that tingling in my bones to do it again. I suppose it was
as much an existential tension as the need for more dough. But money
today comes before a satisfied ego.

A sour economy is not the only threat a jeweler faces. Trouble may
come from where you don’t anticipate it. Lease issues, dishonest
employee, personal injury suit, burglary, fire, it goes on and on. A
bad economy has some good points to it…you usually see it coming
and it always ends. Your job is to adjust things so you make it thru.
So don’t let the term ‘bad economy’ scare you. You actually have more
options dealing with the economy than the other things I mentioned.
You can change your price points, you can advertise differently, you
can retrench, you can expand, you can go with the flow or fight it.
Do your homework even if the project isn’t due til the end of the
semester.

If success was easy it wouldn’t mean all that much.


#17
that people are not buying big things like houses and cars but are
buying smaller things to make themselves happy. 

A number of years ago, as the economy was heating up dramatically in
Japan, real estate values were skyrocketing to levels that made it
very very difficult for young people to buy even starter homes. And
what did they spend their money on? High end diamonds, jewelry,
collectable vintage watches, fancy sports cars, etc… According to
articles in jewelry trade magazines, and a horology magazine.

An acquaintance of mine spent 2-3 years in Japan during this period
with a remount while-you-wait company. Made huge money, came back and
bought several rental properties, and 2 existing businesses as well,
with his profits.


#18
To anyone who is thinking about leaving 'the life' I would
encourage you to at least keep a finger in the pie. You started
this career path for a reason. Ok, maybe now is not the best time
for you and you have to do what you have to do, but if you don't
stay connected in some fashion it will be all the harder to
re-up(which, you know you will). Plus I think you'll miss it.
Especially if you aspire(d) to owning your own business and doing
things your way.

Very good advice. I also suggest that it is a good time to try the
projects that we could never find the time for it before. Business is
slowing down, but I still have piece of platinum silver which I got a
year ago, but did not have a chance to try it yet. Seems like a good
time now.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#19

Hi

So I have spent a couple of days evaluating my goals and I think the
basic problem has been that my way of operating has not really been
in the same direction as my goal. If my goal is to have my own
gallery/shop, then doing craft/art shows is not the most efficient
way to get there (actually pretty frustrating). If my goal is to make
beautiful jewelry, then assembling jewelry for the average consumer
is not the most efficient way to get there.

I always said “If I wake up a few days after I make something, look
at it, and still think it is beautiful, then I have reached my goal”.
At this rate I will get there when I am about 150 years old.

So, I decided to go ahead with the show I am signed on for (Stowe
Fall Foliage) and, if I have anything left after the show, have a
home party.

The things I design in my head are of other techniques really. I
want to do classical design. If you look at the work now, you see
patterns of many small beads. It’s actually similar in pattern to
what I would like to do with granulation (without a backsheet). There
is a “classical techniques” class coming up at the Art Center…and,
really, why do I work in so much silver when I love gold anyway?

Thanks for the good wishes and concern. I am going on a vacation
next week, actually (Bar Harbor…I love Bar Harbor). I have recently
been spotted “taking a break”…surfing Anthropologie and JCrew and
getting my hair done :slight_smile:

Kim Starbard
Unique Jewelry Designs
http://www.kstardesigns.com


#20
A bad economy has some good points to it...you usually see it
coming and it always ends. 

While I don’t totally dispute this (though I would say “things
always change”), we cannot blithely assume that our situation is
temporary. Our former life (here in the US, anyway) where we have a
more luxurious standard of living than much of the rest of the world
is not likely to be the same ever again. There are finite resources
on this planet and we have consumed more than our fair share for a
couple of centuries, but things are changing.

I do have faith that some of the current pain will ease (Lord, I
hope so! We are broker now than when we were just married, 30 years
ago) but some changes are here to stay. All those folks in China
have caught on, for example, and want what we’ve had for so long–
cars, meat, medical care…

We must all adapt, of course, as best we can.

Noel

P.S. I do fervently hope and believe that we have the opportunity to
change things for the better in the election, if we don’t screw up
again!