I am working on getting my small jewelry business up and running.Posted: November 12, 2008
I am not fooling myself, I know I am looking at at least three years before I really am able to see anything really going here. But I am starting to see the my plan moving in my head and that is nice. I have goals and plans now, not just vague ideas.
First things first, I have been telling everyone about my business. It has been hard as I don’t like to feel pushy, but I have been shameless. I have also been trying to dress better when I go out in public even if it is just to go to the grocery store and I always wear something that I made, usually the flashier the better. It has worked too, people have asked me where I got the jewelry. At that point I proudly get to say that I make and sell jewelry. But here we run into a problem. I don’t have business cards and it is awkward to try and remember your website addresses and write it down on some random scrap of paper for some stranger. My super cheap plan was to go to Staples and buy one of those $7 packs of business cards that you print yourself and just print something VERY simple at home. (I am out of colored ink, so I can only print black words.) One of my girl friends told me about a site where you can get 250 free professional business cards and I loved it, Vista Print.Not only do they have free business cards but if you want other things to match they have a little bit of everything for a start up business and the price is reasonable in my view. You do have pay for shipping, but I can accept that. It is less than the blank cards would have cost me.
I am handling marketing by word of mouth, blogging, and I have made a commitment to myself to work harder on getting my name out there on the Internet no matter how much I hate sitting in front of the computer. Now I need to really put things out there to sell. In the short term here are the sites I know that sell handmade items. Some charge a posting fees and/or commissions some don’t.
Etsy is the 800 pound gorilla in the room, but I have found so far that my stuff is getting lost in a sea of other people’s things and there is a 20 cent posting fee for each item plus 3.5% commission if it sells. The posting fee makes it a little difficult to post smaller items like beads. But this is where everyone goes to buy handmade things and some supplies. It is the eBay of the crafting world.
I haven’t tried out these other places but they are on my “to do’ list. They look promising, and like I said some have no upfront fees.
For logistics of the business:
I have set up a separate savings account for my business and a paypal account that links right to it. I made one sale this month, with a $40 dollar profit. Not a lot, but it was enough to start the account. James and I have had some serious conversations about what I want to do and where this is headed. We know that the real money in crafting and handmade jewelry comes from attending conventions and events like Renaissance Fairs and Craft fairs, not selling bits and pieces on-line. You have to go where people are headed prepared to spend money. Unfortunately this requires a pretty big investment of time and money BEFORE you ever make a sale. I won’t be able to do that for about three years. I plan on using that time to build up my stock of materials and product as well as contacts and knowledge about how to run a small company.
To this end we have settled on a reasonable plan for coming up with a start up capital without having to take out a loan or make ourselves uncomfortable. It is pretty easy. I got $100 dollars right up front from our savings, and from now on I get $20 dollars a week transferred into my new business savings account and it is mine to do with as I please as well as any money that I make from sales. This may not seem like much at first, but now that I know at least some money will be coming in. I am willing to hold off on making some orders until I can get the bulk up a little higher for discounts.
For instance, I have an order on Fire Mountain Gems that I was going submit for $40 dollars worth of supplies last week but I choose to hold off a bit. Now that I have my order up to $140, those same items are only costing me $23. This site is great. They go by quantity of items ordered, and it doesn’t matter if your item cost $1 or $40 it still moves you toward bulk pricing. On the $140 order I currently have saved I have knocked off $98.41 due to bulk pricing. I am thinking of holding off ordering for a month longer so I can add another $100 to the order and see if I can get the next level of bulk pricing. That should let me get to more than half a year’s worth of supplies. I am also going to open my order up to my friends for the odds and ends that they need. The prices are too good right now, it would be almost selfish not to.
I also found a really good site for purchasing discounted yarn, Smiley’s. This might be my next big save up company money purchase. I still haven’t determined if I am going to try and sell anything made with yarn for profit. It just takes so long, and I am not sure that the profit margin is any good.
In the mean time I will be working this winter on making items that can be sold for $10-$20 dollars and I think come spring I will be spending some time as a street vendor in Boston. Not very glorious I know, and a little painful as I hate feeling like a street beggar. But it is a great way to get easy capital coming in. So wish me luck everyone and let all the cops in Boston ignore me. Let me know if you have any ideas or know any great resources that I haven’t mentioned. Above all else, buy my stuff 😉 Happy crafting!