Gemstones are Hot for 2008

 

What’s Hot this summer? If you are like me, following the trends are important, for me it’s because I am a jewelry artist and want to make sure I offer what people want, but I am also a trend enthusiastic and I am always wanting to design myself a pair of trendy earrings to wear out on a girls night out, or for a night of karaoke.

 

So what is hot right now?  Gemstones and silver. Currently,  the stars are flashing gemstones around and dazzling up their casual and evening wear with simple gemstone bracelets and gemstone earrings. The trendy colors this summer are the pastels colors: light pinks, purples, and blues. So what kind of gemstones should you be looking for?

 

Gemstones that are Pink: Rose Quartz, Cherry Quartz, Rhodolite, Agate, Moonstone

Gemstones that are Blue: Turquoise, Sapphire, Aquamarine, Topaz, Agate

Gemstones that are Purple: Amethyst, Some Jaspers, Agate

 

Have fun, find colors that compliment your skin tone, your eye color, and your outfit. I love purples and blues, and they look good on me so I often times wear gemstones like that. I love Amethyst and Turquoise. Also be on the look out for yellow! I have been seeing many new pieces with yellow turquoise on the market, and I have also been experimenting yellow turquoise and be so happy with the results. Absolutely stunning.

Pricing Your Jewelry : Whose the Judge of Overpriced?

 

I was inspired to write this blog after reading a bullentin in ETSY. What happens when a customer approaches you and pretty much tells you that the price tag is more then the value of your handmade goods? I have never had this issue before, but I am sure there are several people who have ran into this issue.

 

Wow, it surprises me that there are people who could look at an artists work and under-value what they have made it one simple sentence “You are trying to rip me off.” I am sure there are situations, very far and very few in between, that may deserve that upfront statement, but most of us jewelry artists spend alot of time finding that perfect price point and it’s not a price we just come up with on the spot. It takes calculation of so many different things, overhead, labor, material costs, marketing costs, photography costs, listing prices, and etc. Out of all the issues in an artists struggles with, the most often heard is how do I price this piece.

 

I know as an artist I struggled for months on how to price my work, and honestly feel I have a fair price point on what I sell. I think there are many people who don’t know why often times retail mass production of goods is often times a little less expensive. Most of the time quality is not as good in mass produced items sold for retail, as they are in handmade crafts where sometimes hours are spent on an individual piece. I myself will go through every gemstone I have, and if there is any inperfection I won’t use it. I also spend hours of time dedicated to finding the best quality beads, most unique beads, and the best materials to string them.

 

My heart goes out to artists who may get bombarded with a comment like this one, but always remember as an artist you know what your product is worth and what it is not, and I feel that education and helping consumers understand how you get to that price point are very important. Don’t undercut yourself if you truly feel that you made a piece that is worth the price tag hanging from it. Keep your head up and keep on beading.

If you would like to see my work, please visit me at:

http://naturalamber.etsy.com

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Incorporating Jewelry Trends

Staying up with the market is hard since fashion is always changing. What’s hot today may be out of style within a month, or may even sizzle before it catches wind. Often times the stars lay out what’s in and what’s out, and once they say it’s out, often times it is. So what can a jewelry artist do to make sure she is selling to the market?  How can an artist today learn to incorporate hot trends into her unique pieces?

 

*~*~*~ Before I go any further on this article I wanted to state that just because a design is hot, doesn’t mean you have to copy it. I have seen many artists copy other artists work and it’s an absolute no-no in the jewelry world. It’s just like stealing. The most important thing to take from this article is how to incorporate current trends into your own unique works *~*~*~*~

 

1. Use Social Networks and Shopping Sites to your Advantage.  They are a great tool for seeing what consumers are buying now. Often on the social shopping sites you can even read customer reviews on items, and read what trends are popular to them right now. Also Social networks are great as well, you can ask your friends, your family, open a blog asking what is on their to buy list, what they are currently looking at. The feedback you will get with be tremendous, and very rewarding to your future works.  Take that feedback and incorporate it into your work.

 

2. Flip Through Magazines.  What are the stars wearing right now? How long has it been since you checked out the fashion section of your favorite magazine?  I often will flip through magazines looking from what’s hot in colors, what pieces are in, and what trends have been revived. My newest project in the work are bangles (a revived trend of the 80’s) which I will be debuting on my shop this weekend, http://naturalamber.etsy.com, so please stay tuned for that!

 

3.  Surprise! The Local Library Is Still Around. Let’s be honest here, really when was the last time you went down to the library? instead of you investing in buying a bunch of magazines and books, I would check out what they have. Often times they have current magazines, and fashion books. Take a peek, and see how resourceful they still can be!

 

The main key is to focus on color, style, and piece and the rest will fall in place. If you use polymer clay what can you do to jazz up your style? If you use gemstones, what colors are hot, and what stones can you use to make pieces that are color trendy. If you use vintage beads, how can you make a piece of the past a trendy current seller? Use your imagination and bead away. Remember —- having fun is in :).

Summer Celebration Sale at NaturalAmber

SUMMER BLOWOUT SALE

Please come visit my shop through Sunday August 3rd for my huge Summer Celebration Sale! All items in the shop are 15% off, and all Jewelry Sets are 20% off.

 

Visit my shop at:

http://naturalamber.etsy.com

By Demand: Who is NaturalAmber?

Let’s get to know each other! My name is Amber and I moved to Spokane last March (07) from Seattle. Everyone always wants to know what I moved from Seattle to Spokane, if you are familiar with Seattle you would see the smaller scale Spokane is. I love being outside, I love nature – and what better way to be inspired by spending outdoor hiking outings with the family while gathering inspiration in your head?

 

It’s absolutely beautiful out here, and really there’s a little bit of everything. You are moments away from the lake, the mountains, the city, and the woods who could not ask for more of a well-rounded place? I am still getting to know the area, and the people, always excited to meet new people.

 

I have a beautiful family – and my three year old is an absolute cutie! He is always inspiring me to grow and its so funny how much you can learn from your child regardless to how old he may be.

 

I got into jewelry as a way to expand my creative skills. I have always been an avid write and greeting card designer but wanted to try something new, fresh, and exciting! It really is fun, and I recommend those crafty artists to give it a shot! It’s very rewarding seeing the progress of your works.

 

I hope this gives a little more background about me. You can also read my profile on my shop on ETSY at http://naturalamber.etsy.com

 

Can’t wait to get to know more people on here. Wonderful writers and so many wonderful blogs to read!

The Transition to Seattle

I love Spokane, It is beautiful out here, there is always somewhere gorgeous to go, all my relatives are out here —- and there appears to be a family focused market for me to sell my jewelry but there seems to be a lack of “craft market” here compared to Seattle. Granted – I would have more competition but in reality it just seems there are places I can sell my jewelry then I have found in Spokane. Maybe I am not looking in the right places. Maybe I am not networking right. Maybe I would have the same issue in Seattle. I am not as seasoned as other sellers, there are people who have been doing this for a decade so perhaps it just takes time.

 

So where am I going form here? I am participating in the ValleyFest out here in Spokane Valley the 19th-21st and i have parties in line for relatives. I am going to be traveling over the mountains to attend some local Seattle fairs in the next view months, which deep down inside I am very excited about. There are days I miss Seattle, the people, my friends, the endless amount of activities to do. I love the idea of going back to my hometown.

 

What am I going to do? I want to go back, and I want to stay. It is an endless pull and tug with me. I am always up for an adventure – but I would need to save money, get a good day job to even consider making the move again. I learned the hard way when I moved here to Spokane over a year ago. Will I go or will I stay? For now I am just taking it one day at a time.

Interactive Networking: How do your Market Yourself?

 

Marketing is a continuing learning process. Sometimes some of your marketing will get noticed and other times what you are doing will just not work. Over the last week I have had some successes as well as some flops. I learned Craigslist is not the best route for advertisement, people apparently go flag happy and they really don’t encourage smaller home based businesses to advertise freely.  The one marketing skill that to me seems to be most successful isnetworking, both online and offline. You would be surprised how helpful artists can be to each other. It’s amazing, see how much people strive for others to succeed. One lesson I am glad to have learned this week.

 

So let’s network here! What makes you successful? Let’s share our floppers and successes, and perhaps this networking thread will help you really take a look at what has helped you and really what has not. Others could live and learn from your tips, so feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to hear your stories!

The Importance of Customer Service

 

There is a small percentage of people who could care less about a good or bad customer service experience, but the reality is excellent customer service is top on the expectations list for people. Customer service, and ratings are sometimes overlooked when a customer makes an initial purchase but as soon as there is a need, a question, a concern, the immediately expect a resolution and they expect a great customer service experience. The moment they get a bad taste in their mouth they may never shop from you again and are more likely to spread a bad experience to friends and family then a good one. So what can you do to make sure you are providing the best customer service possible? 

1. Always Provide Timely Responses. Don’t wait to answer a customers email, a customers phone call, or a customer request. Sometimes people will assume that they need to give the customer the answer right then and there, but the reality is most customers just want to know you have received their inquiry and you are giving it prompt attention and researching the issue. If you still do not have an answer by the end of the day, email them, call them. Let them know you haven’t put them on the back burner and that you are trying to resolve the problem as quickly as possible.

 

2. Keep the Lines of Communication Open. It is always important to keep in contact with the customer, especially when trying to resolve a problem. If the item is a lost shipment with the shipping carrier it could take a little time to resolve the problem. Always make sure you are touching base with the customer, and sending them daily updates with anything new or that you are still awaiting an answer. The customer will appreciate that you are keeping on top of the issue.

 

3. Avoid Being Confrontational. There is nothing more frustrating then having a customer service professional yelling our get confrontational with you on the phone. Many times people justify this by saying the customer was being rude, but regardless it is very unprofessional to handle a situation in this matter. Stay calm when resolving a problem, and even if they’re wrong just try to explain your policies in a non argumentative way.

 

4. Customer Appreciation is a Must.  Making a purchase is a very important thing to a customer. When a customer makes a purchase with you they trust that they are getting their money;s worth, and that you will deliver them goods they won’t regret purchasing. It is a small and very appreciated gesture if you send a customer a thank you for choosing your shop to make a purchase. This does not have to be a long drawn out email, but a simple thank you email or phone call that you appreciate their business. For customers that purchase from you a lot you should consider adding them to a special mailing list where they can get free or discounted rates on purchases.

 

5. Meet your Expected Customer Service. Give customers the same customer service that you would expect to get as a customer. By standing outside of the box, and really putting yourself in the customer’s position you will understand what steps you should take to make the situation right again.

 

Customer service is very essential to running a successful business. Treat customers the way you would like to be treated, and you should do well. Customers will appreciate a business that cares about them.

 

Come view my work at:

http://naturalamber.etsy.com

Raising Family with a Business


How many of you are juggling  your own business, a family, and a day job? You would be surprised how many more artists are managing all three of these aspects in their lives, especially those who are new to the craft scene. Currently I work as a fraud analyst reviewing on-line purchases, have my won jewelry business, and have a three year old son needs just as much attention! So how do I manage to balance? Time management and prioritizing the important parts of life. It’s important to make sure you are still spending quality time with your family as well as running your business.

 

For starters I am a “scheduleaholic”, I am not the most tedious scheduler but I do make a list of objectives for the week both personal and business related. One day I will focus on getting marketing promotions, taking pictures, and working on a new idea out of the way for the business and also penciling in watching a movie and taking a trip to the park for with the family.  Writing done your focuses, what you plan on doing and scheduling time slots to for those dedicated objectives will keep you on top of time management and helps make sure you dedicate yourself to every aspect of your life.

Why Sell Jewelry, Part II

You have finally found your niche, the type of jewelry you are comfortable making, and have made several pieces. At this point you have rattled around the idea of selling your work to friends and family, perhaps joining the local farmers market, and even at this point considered setting up a small shop on EBAY. I remember being at that point to, and so glad I gradually expanded over a years time. Many people skip over the small but very important stuff, and often times regret not taking the time to thoroughly think out their business plan. There are key things you want to consider before selling, and trust me not forgetting the small stuff will save you headache down the road.

Creating a business plan is important way to get a clear structure of your business, all the store policies, philosophies, pricing, marketing, etc. It’s important that you understand your business better then anyone else, and that none of your customers have to second guess any of your policies or your company’s visions.  How do you start writing a business plan? I would think of your business on a broad term, and once you write your business plan out derive your policies and marketing from the plan.

1. Quick Company Overview. My suggestion for this topic is to figure out your company overview in less then 100 words while addressing what your company is all about. Try addressing these three w’s: who, what, and why. What are you selling, who are you selling to, and why are you selling. What are your goals and objectives? Eventually you will take this overview and change it into your philosophy – the inspiration and drive behind how your company came to be.

2. Market Overview. The last article I wrote about marketing really covers this portion well. It is wise to know the industry you are selling in, and covering your strategies here. Research the latest trends. What colors are in style? What designs are obsolete? Who are your competition? Selling locally, what is the market like in the craft fairs? Considering selling on-line, who do you need to worry about? What are the current on-line trends? I would take a long time researching the In’s and out’s of the industry and really know the market well. It will further your success done the road.

3. Company Details. At this point this is where you need to decide all the small details. Consider everything you want from your business. Are you planning on working solo? Selling online? Are you going to create a line of charity jewelry? What are your policies? What kind of materials are you using? What sets you apart from the competition? Include eveyrthing you can aboiut the operations behind your business from creating, to ordering, to selling. If you choose to sell online it will help out tremendously when setting up your return policies, custom order policies, and terms and conditions of repairs.

4. Action Plan.At this point it’s time to determine how you are going to take your plan and turn it in motion. What steps are you going to take to make your vision into a reality? At this point I would address your company goals and objectives. Example: ABC Beads is going to be on-line by December of 2008. To ensure on-line by December will research domain names, higher a photographer, find a processor, enroll in paypal….etc. Make your dreams real. With a though out written action plan it will make every step of the way alot easier if you tried to achieve this by vision alone.

5. A Quick Summary. If you are planning on giving this action plan to someone else, for funding purposes or to show you work in a gallery, this portion will need to be included first in your business plan. Read over your plan and summarize it in this section that way someone considering selling your work or is interested in your work can get the nutshell of your company in a quick overview.

Having a strong business plan can help you become a successful artist by providing direction, goals, and confidence to keep you on track. There is nothing more frustrating then finding you have a gap in your company’s structure, or that you can’t meet a goal because you forgot a few steps. Have fun while making your business plan! It is your ompany you are creating, and a very rewarding feeling it can be when it’s done.

NaturalAmber http://naturalamber.etsy.com

Artciles to Come:

Article One: Why Sell Jewelry, Part III

Finally able to sell at a craft fair? How do you get yourself prepared for a successful show?

 

Article Two: Customer Service, The Importance of Happy Customers

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