Designing your own jewelry can be a fulfilling business. Although there is a lot of competition, establishing your own brand has a particular attraction, especially if you are passionate about your work as most jewelry designers are.
Jewelry designers are artists. And like most artists, they can get caught up in the creativity process.
They often start making jewelry as a hobby and as interest in their designs grow, they decide to sell their merchandise commercially. Many crafters fail when they do this because they continue to conduct their business as if it is a hobby.
However, if you want to succeed in the jewelry design trade, you must treat it as a profession. Jewelry is a $70 billion industry.
You must be disciplined in your approach. Sure, designing is a lot of fun, but if you want to build your brand and grow a viable business, you must do your homework.
You can succeed with a little hard work and by avoiding these ten mistakes others jewelry designers have made.
#1 – Poor Presentations, Images and Website
Your presentation is critical. Display your jewelry correctly. If you use inexpensive busts or stands, your jewelry will look cheap. You want your potential customers to see your pieces at their very best.
Don’t scrimp on your website. People most often find retailers today on the web, especially niche products. Find a good web designer and have him or her create a website that accurately showcases your material.
Ensure you use a branded website. If you have your own website, you create a feeling of legitimacy for your brand. People will recognize your logo or name. Include your back story on your “about us” page because clients love to know where the ideas for your creations originated.
Finally, invest in a good photographer. The sale of your jewelry relates directly to how good, or how bad, they look in the pictures.
#2 – Mixing Business and Personal Accounts
Mixing business and personal accounts is a common mistake many entrepreneurs make, not only jewelry designers. Don’t do it! At first it might seem easier, but it is worth the time it takes to keep the accounts separate. It makes it too easy to confuse business and personal expenses.
Also, as you grow, it will become increasingly complicated. It makes filing your taxes harder, and the IRS may target you for an audit.
#3 – Don’t Attend Every Trade Show
Avoid becoming a trade show victim. You can easily get caught up in the excitement and fun, and not make a dime. Trade shows can be very expensive.
Do your research and select the ones appropriate for your targeted potential client base. Don’t go to a diamond jewelry show when your specialty is gemstone beads and freshwater pearls.
When you participate in a trade show, have a plan in mind. Meeting like-minded people is fun, but that does not necessarily translate into increased sales.
Walk the floor. Keep track of your booth’s visitors and follow up with them by email or phone after the event. Keep track of your expenses and sales, and review the outcomes of the tradeshows you attend each year before deciding to participate the following year.
#4 – Not Having a Business Plan
Just because you know how to design jewelry does not mean you know how to run a business. Draft a business plan. Set goals and objectives.
It does not have to be an elaborate one. Just one or two pages where you write focus your thoughts and write a company description, market analysis, target market, goals and financial projections. Remember that a business plan is a necessity if you ever want to take out a business loan.
#5 – Inadequate Funding
Underfunding has ruined what were otherwise great enterprises. You need to sit down and determine a reasonable amount of working capital for your new business.
You will need more than supplies. You will need startup expenses covered such as a website, phone, email address, tools, business cards and literature, transportation costs and more.
Many businesses start off using their personal credit cards. This may be necessary at first but at some point, you need to establish business credit.
#6 – Not Focusing on Your Target Market
Determine your target market and focus on it. Don’t try to have a little bit of everything in your brick and mortar or online store. Not everyone will like all of the pieces. Some people like Southwestern jewelry, some like small, intricate pieces and still others enjoy statement pieces.
Stick with what you are good at, and don’t lose your vision. Brand your product and be true to your brand.
#7 – Under or Overstocked Inventory
Keep strict control of your inventory. What sold well last year is usually not going to sell as well next year. Pay attention to trends and react accordingly with your designs and inventory.
Be sure to also highlight seasonal or holiday pieces. Otherwise, your regular customers won’t visit your shop or online store very often.
#8 – Poor Pricing Policy
Jewelry designers tend to overprice their own products. Remember, just because you may think it is the greatest piece since Louis Tiffany made his first lamp doesn’t mean it is worth $1,000, especially if it has $100 worth of material in it.
You need to factor in the price of the raw materials you use, your time and effort and research what your competitors charge for similar pieces. Plus, remember that selling 10 $50 necklaces is better than selling two or three priced at $100 each.
#9 – No Marketing Plan
Plan and budget for marketing. You may be a great designer, but if people don’t know about you, you won’t sell anything.
You might want to use print media or, depending on your budget, radio or even television. You will need brochures, a catalog, business cards and, if you have a storefront, a sign.
Don’t forget about social media. Social media today is a primary means of communicating, as well as advertising. Solicit customer reviews and use them to your advantage.
You can also consider hiring an SEO firm to increase your ranking in Google search. Blogging on internal and external sites can be another way to market your products.
Remember, while marketing may be part of overhead, if you spend $500 a month on it and succeed in attracting $2,000 worth of business, it’s worth it. Too many companies will cut the marketing budget to save $500 without realizing they are giving up $1,500 in lost revenue by doing so.
#10 – Sourcing Supplies Based on Price
Don’t buy the least expensive supplies offered by your supplier. Cheap supplies usually translate into cheap products.
You don’t have to go overboard. Consider buying 10 quality pieces instead of 50 cut-rate items. Research reputable wholesale gemstone bead suppliers and establish a relationship. They can provide guidance on current trends, deals and quality merchandise.