Handmade Jewelry: Packaging with Love

 

People love buying handmade for the overall experience. Most love that what they are buying is unique and made with love but many love (and appreciate!) the packaging that comes with it.  When I first started ETSY I remember shipping some of my jewelry in protective bags and other times in these little flimsy boxes. Not the best presentation. Not the most durable packaging to ship jewelry in.  I have since changed how I ship my jewelry. I now use colored ribbon boxes for my earrings and rings, and I use sash bags and larger jewelry boxes to ship my necklaces and bracelets in. 

ETSY has a lot of wonderful jewelry artists, and because of that packaging can also be important in setting yourself outside of the crowd. I know I love receiving items wrapped up, even if it’s just in tissue paper.

Here are some helpful tips:

 Take pictures of your jewelry in the box. Customers loves visuals!
Make sure you have plenty of packaging on stock! I hate when I have two boxes left and I left hanging wondering if they will come in time to fulfill an order.
 Be creative! There are so many ways you can ship your items. You can ship your jewelry in sashes, boxes, tissue paper with bows… there are so many tutorials online to make your own!

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Handmade 101: Recreating Motivation

 

I love making handmade jewelry, but just like many other artists there are times where I also find myself in a creating slump. Many things can cause that slump;  finances, boredom, low sales, and low confidence in your work are just a handful of those reasons. What do you do to get yourself out of a slump? After Christmas I was feeling a little down and unmotivated but I quickly dissolve those feelings with these helpful tips:

* RETAIL THERAPY.  Buying new beads, new cabochons, new materials, and just browsing through bead catalogs and ETSY I have instantly found my creative spark burning. There is nothing more motivating then visualizing new designs in your head using materials and beads you do not currently own.

* LEARN A NEW METHOD. Just learning a new method or making a new item that relates to your craft but you have never done before can also  kick you out of a boredom slump. I recently learned how to make bezel jewelry rings which I will be adding to my shop NaturalAmber and was surprised how rewarding it was!

* WORK ON YOUR CRAFT WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY.  This has actually helped me tremendously when I have been down.  My mom loves to work on craft stuff with me and many times I have brought my jewelry to her house and one time we made polymer beads just for the phone of it. I’m not as good as I would like to be but it was fun getting those creative juices rolling!

Here are some more helpful links on getting yourself out of a motivation rut!

“What Do You Do To Stay Motivated?”

“10 Tips to Stay Highly Motivated!”

Jewelry How-to 101: Finding the Perfect Name

Green Floral Lantern Earringsg

Green Floral Lantern Earrings

 

Finding the perfect name for your business seems simple, but for many jewelry artists they have vocalized on how hard it was for them to come up with that perfect name. You want to come up with a name that is catching, describes your business in a nutshell, and a name you can be happy with. It took me 6 months before I felt comfortable with the name NaturalAmberDesigns

 

So as a jewelry artist, what can you do to simplify the process of coming up with a business name you love? Four simple tips: Brainstorming, Research, Advice, and Final Brainstorming.

 

1. Get Out Your Pen and Paper and Brainstorm.  This is one of the best and easiest ways to start coming up with ideas. Remember those good times from school when they said draw a table, draw a diagram, and just start filling it in with ideas? Find words that you feel describe your business, what materials do you use, what kind of jewelry do you make? Take those words and a Thesaurus and start finding words that are the same as what you said that you like too. Abandon the brainstorming and come back to it in a few days.  What words really stick out to you? What words sound good combined? Come up with at least three names, I recommend five that you like.

 

2. Research The Names You like. At this point I would take those names you came up with and start looking to make sure they are not already taken. Look on government websites, look on state websites, look up trade names and licensed name, Google it. If it looks safe its a keeper, if its in use legally ditch it.

 

3. Get Advice From Family and Friends. Pitch the names you have remaining to your friends and family and get their input. Ask them questions like, “Which one is more appealing?”, “With this name do you have a guess on what I am selling?”, “Does the name fit the product?” “What names do you like?” Narrow down the list from there, take the new ideas they have given to you and research them as well.

 

4.  Picking Your Name, Final Brainstorming. Now you have been sitting on these names for more then a week, and chances are there is one you like more then the others. Why? Is it suitable for you, does it describe your business, is it a name that can stand the test of time or is it more of a fad? If you like it, keep it. At this time point I would get a domain name in your name, and if you really like ti start considering the steps of registering it legally so no one can come under you and steal it.

 

Remember picking out a name is suppose to be fun, and help you get noticed in the world. Go brand yourself!

 

Love my best selling earrings above? Come see the Floral Lantern Earrings.

Handmade Jewelry 101: You Got To Invest in Your Small Business

Shell Hoop Earrings

Shell Hoop Earrings

 

Starting a home based handmade jewelry business? With the market being so competitive, it’s important to remember you need to invest in yourself and your business before buyers will invest in you. Don’t worry, you do not need to break the bank, and investing doesn’t mean necessarily in the means of cash, you just need to get your name out there and that often means you need to invest your time, a little bit of money, and continue to educate yourself in this highly demanded market.

 

1. Market Yourself. Yes, you finally made the step, you opened up your own website, your own ETSY shop, your own Dawanda shop….but you have no customers, what do you do? It’s important to get your name out there. Pass out your business cards, get friends and family involved and looking at your site, setup local flyers on grocery and bank bulliten boards. Do something. I try to set aside at least 30 minutes a day to market myself and my website NaturalAmberDesigns, as well as my ETSY shop.  Some of the newest and most popular forms of marketing have been: Twitter, Facebook, ProjectWonderful. Myspace, Google Adwords, AdManager.

 

2. Research. Twice a week I Google. I Google for ways to promote handmade jewelry, customer service, setting myself apart from the competition. I make sure I stay on top of the game, introduce new ways to advertise and market, and ditch the things that aren’t working or pull back some of my time from the marketing that is working but not as much as expected. Marketing is all about trial and error, and you need to learn and constantly educate to grow successfully as a small business owner.

 

3. Network. Networking is huge, a good portion of it will get you the referrals you need for your business. Join groups. Join Chats. Join forums.

 

Remember have fun, invest in yourself. Sometimes you need to spend a little to get a little in return. Bring people to you!

Like the earrings in the picture? Please see them here in my online store.

Handmade Jewelry 101: Staying Motivated in the Struggling Economy

Green Fairy Necklace

Green Fairy Necklace

 

Handmade jewelry is one of the largest categories artists go into, but with the economy struggling, consumers afraid to let go of their dollars, how as a jewelry designer do you stay motivated?  Being new to the on-line scene I have days where I feel that it may not be my time to reach out beyond my local buyers, and then there are days, especially after receiving a sale that I know I am doing the next big and smart step in my handmade jewelry shop, NaturalAmber Designs. So how do I stay motivated? What do I do to make my shop stand out in this highly competitive market?

 

1. I add pieces to my shop daily. If I don’t add, I relist items in my ETSY shop and I have been building a Google Base as well. It’s especially important on ETSY to relist and renew at different times of the day since it is an international site. Listing late at night will reach to those customers across the seas.

 

2. Blog Daily. The more I blog, the more I stay motivated about what I love to do. I love making jewelry, I love sharing with other artists information that has helped me be successful, and it keeps me motivated and focused on my goals and why I love what I am doing.

 

3. Craft. Nothing can bring back the motivation like sitting down in front of your bead chest and bringing back the memories on why you started this adventure. I like sitting down and remembering the moment I told myself, I can make this bigger then a hobby.

 

4. Always Marketing Yourself and Your Goods. This step is crucial, and sometimes it may feel like you are doing this alot, but buyers can’t see your beautiful jewelry unless you show them it’s there. Experiment with AdWords from Google, Drop your blog link everywhere, build your own website. Building my website NaturalAmberDesigns has been very rewarding, and really makes me feel like I can do this. Don’t be afraid to pass out your business cards to someone new, or post them on a local grocery stores board.

 

Remember to stay focused on why you are doing this for yourself. It is hard to stay motivated during tough times, but things will bounce back. Just keep letting people know you are there. They will find you.

Like the piece above, come see the Fairy Necklace in my jewelry shop: Fairy Necklace

Custom Jewelry 101: Drive More Sales

Turquoise Heart Necklace

Turquoise Heart Necklace

Handmade Jewelry can  be a tough business to get into, so how can you separate yourself from the competition?  Consider adding custom jewelry to your shop and the doors could open for a potential drive in sales. Before getting too excited, make sure you have a custom jewelry plan in place so the new piece of your business is a success and does not turn into a flop. You do not want to create any extra headaches.

 

1. Pricing. How are you going to determine pricing for your custom pieces? Many people lose money on custom orders simply because they underestimate how much time, and effort would go into pricing their work.  I would determine how much you are going to charge per bead, and a flat rate. The flat rate is going to be the tricky part, but make sure it reflects time spent. Many people will determine their flat rate depending on the amount of beads and the difficulty of the project. Most of us have been doing this work for quite sometime and can judge how long a piece is going to take. Don’t forget to pay yourself for time, labor, and profit!

 

2. Off-line, On-line, or Both? I know many jewelry artists who prefer only doing custom orders for customers who can see the beads, often times these are customers they meet at jewelry parties. Many artists I know fear making custom orders because they do not know how to experiment with showing them the possibilities of creations they can make with their beads.  Find a system that works for you. If you want to offer the custom portion on-line, I would take pictures of all your beads and make a page dedicated on your site for all the different beads you have currently in your order. Let customers know if there is something they like from a store that you can purchase the beads for, have them provide you the sellers information and source it for them.

 

3. Set Realistic Time-frames. One of the most important aspects of custom jewelry orders is making sure you are setting realistic expectation dates for your customers.  It is better overestimate then underestimated, and keep your customers in the loop. If it does turn out it will take longer then expected give your customer that update before the deadline, not the night of them expecting it to be delivered.

 

Custom Jewelry can be so much fun, and can separate you from the competition but it also can be a failure if you don’t plan it right. Think things through, and remember to have fun! Drive in those additional sales you may not of had if you didn’t offer custom jewelry.

 

I have launched my newest web page, http://naturalamberdesigns.com  where I will be adding a bead chest for custom jewelry orders. Please stay tuned!

Please see my ETSY store at: http://naturalamber.etsy.com

Craft Fair Countdown! Are You Really Ready?

 

The craft and bazaar season is approaching quick, and are you ready, I mean really ready to kick start the holiday season? I have a little less then a month before the ValleyFest here in Spokane, and I am starting to feel the pinch. Some of my displays need updating, and then I am starting to realize I do not have enough price tags. This time of year can be a little overwhelming for crafters, so to help alleviate some of the stress I have come up with my own craft fair “checklist”.

 

1. Do you have enough displays? Enough Jewelry Holders? Enough rocks to lay jewelry on?

2. Do you have enough price tags for all your work?

3. Do you know what you are required to bring and what they will provide for you? You don’t want to show up without a table and find out they don’t have one for you.

4. Do you have all your handouts? Business cards? Promotions? Are they in order and ready to give out?

5. Do you have enough storage room to transport all your crafts (and safely)?

6. If you are planning on doing custom pieces do you have all your equipment and best beads?

7. Are you really prepared to answer questions about your work? Do you know the pieces and the kind of beads you use? (You would be surprised how many people put together a piece because the beads are pretty, but they don’t know whats in them.)

 

Craft fairs can be so much fun, but stressful if you aren’t prepared. Put together a smile, organization, and some hard work and you will have fun and successful show!

Increasing Your Jewelry Sales with Catalogs

 

 

For those jewelry artists who want to increase the amount of sales they make, you may want to consider creating your own “travel catalog”. When I first started doing this I was in shock by how much more efficiently I was able to present what I offered to people who I handed business cards to on the spot. I am always wearing a piece of my jewelry so i can show off some of the items I make, but often times that piece of jewelry is the first impression, and sometimes not enough for someone to want to call your number on the card or click on your website, so I started making catalogs. They are simple to make, and fun to design. This may seem like a lot work, especially if you have a lot of inventory, but really you are just trying to show off some of your best works.

 

My catalog is made of 10 pages and I have a few copies bind-ed in nice binders with laminated pages. I have pages dedicated to bracelets, earrings, necklaces, jewelry sets, and pictures of some of my prettiest beads for custom orders. When I am out making referrals, and handing out business cards for those individuals who want to see more of my work I have one of my binders ready in my new “over sized” purse (and also a sales receipt book in case I get a splurger). People are so impressed with the pictures, the descriptions, and pricing and often times ask about what other items I carry. In these binders I always have Jewelry Party information on hand as well as a first time buyer coupon which has a code and instructions on how to  be redeemed on my ETSY site.  Most people get excited when they see the pictures of the beads and information on making their own custom jewelry piece. I get a lot of custom orders through the catalog.

 

The catalog doesn’t have to be fancy, just a few pieces of your best work laid out in a catalog form so it prints correctly. Simply make sure your printer prints at best, and use nice sturdy paper, and always put a protective sheet on the paper so your pictures don’t get worn or smudged. Make it your own. Have fun! Bring in more sales.

Please come visit my store at: http://naturalamber.etsy.com

The Blessings of Selling at Craft Fairs

Candy Drop Earrings

Candy Drop Earrings

Craft fairs are a great way to make new customers, network with other vendors, and keep up on the latest trends. Sometimes they can be scary, especially if you have never done one before, but they truly are one of the best ways to bring new business your way! Their is some work involved, but all the effort pays for itself, especially if you have a successful turnout.  So what can you do prepare yourself, and up your chances for success?
1. Have a Creative and Unique Display.  One of he first things I notice when I go to craft fairs, or juried events is how well the display is setup and what kind of eye candy is out in the open. If it doesn’t look interesting up front I usually do not stop in unless I have time to kill. First impressions are a must, and no one is going to want to look at a poorly displayed stand. They want to look at something unique, that stands out, somewhere they feel they dollar is worth being spent at and somewhere where they can see instantly the kind of goods that are inside. Have some of your best work displayed up front, a piece that is eye-catching and is going to draw in the crowd. There are several different ideas you can use to stand out, just be creative and really put some thought into how you want to display your work. You may want to use rocks to drape some of your pieces on, Metal Earring Trees, Old Picture Frames…..make yourself unique and stand out. (But don’t overdue it, too much can be just as unappealing as clutter or thoughtless displays)
2. Have Information Ready.  This may surprise you but I have gone to fairs where the vendor did not have any information to take with, and that is a bad thing. There are a good handful of customers who go to craft fairs and do not purchase anything but love to grab business cards and additional information so they can browse your site later. Without this information you may lose a potential customer and that potential customers referrals.
3. Know What You Are Selling.   Yes, I know this sounds silly but there are some sellers who do not know too much about what they are selling. Once again, I know that might sound strange, but it happens where people buy beads to use because they look good, but can’t recall later on what the bead is or anything about it. Customers want to buy items from sellers who know their product — it’s what makes them comfortable when making the purchase .
4. Great Customer Service.  For those of you who have not read my article on customer service, you may want to take a browse at it. Customer service is a must to keep customers coming to you, and to keep them buying from you. Be friendly when they come to your booth, compliment the way a piece stands out on them, and be ready to answer questions. Another important thing to remember though is there may be customers who monopolize your time, which in turn can cause other potential customers feel like you don;t care about their business. If you get a “monopolizer”, don’t be rude, just apologize that you would like to talk more but you need to help these customers over here.
5. Look Professional but Approachable. No one wants to buy from a seller who has dirt under their finger nails or looks snooty. Make sure that you look professional, your well-groomed, and that you wear clothing that looks nice but not over the top. I always feel intimidated when I go to a stand and the representative is wearing a suit……I would just wear a nice pair of slacks and a nice shirt. You will get more people who will want to approach you.  
I hope this tips are useful and helpful. Just remember have fun — customers want to see someone who smiles and looks like they are having a great time being there. Those are the most approachable vendors in my mind. Good Luck!

Who Remembers Friendship Jewelry?

Friendship Earrings

Friendship Earrings

 

Who remembers their best friend giving them the other “half of the charm heart” for your charm bracelet?  Come on, I am sure there are quite a few of us out there who still have that sacred gift tucked away in our jewelry boxes at home — possibly on the charm bracelet that sadly does not fit our adult wrists.  What saddens me is you don’t see stuff like that too much anymore, and often times those very special personal gifts have been replaced with the generation of cd cases with a gift card inside.

 

Well really, I want to bring them back. I want a friend of mine to send me one so we can go out to Karokee wearing our special treasures showing how much we appreciate and care for each other! Really — let’s get back to basics and celebrate our beautiful friendships. I think we have gone to far from the personal side when it comes to gifts, lets come back.

Please see my newly lsited friendship line at: http://naturalamber.etsy.com

Earrings: http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=13950394

Necklace: http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=13949838

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