Today on our beloved blog we are tackling the ultimate question… can you make a living selling jewellery or running your own jewellery business?
Well the short answer to this is yes but like anything it takes lots of hard work and determination so take a look below for a quick run down on some of the main aspects to consider…
– Demand: Like any other business, you can only sell something if people want it. Luckily many of us love jewellery so there is a proven demand for it but there is also plenty of competition from the 100’s of other jewelers and companies out there. So if you are setting up your own business the key is to find something unique about your jewellery (or business) that sets you apart from everyone else. It may be that you use an unusual combination of materials, have an exceptionally good customer service for your customers, have exclusive, exquisite designs or that you have access to selling at events or in shops where there is a high level of demand for handmade jewellery.
It can be difficult before you start to be sure what the level of demand will be for your jewellery but one excellent source of information are the people around you. Show your work to friends, family, friends-of-friends and so on and ask them for their honest feedback. This is often a great way of recognizing trends of what people like to wear which can help you bucket-loads in terms of your designing and how to meet demand in your business.
If something you are selling isn’t working or there is a lack of demand it is also important to recognize this and try something else, don’t spend too long flogging a dead horse as they say!
– Keeping costs down: One thing I can’t stress enough is the need when you are starting out to be economical with what you spend on the business. Try to buy things as you go instead of going on a massive shopping trip and getting everything you think you will ever need for your business. New businesses are very changeable and what you originally plan to do could end up being something completely different. For example if you decide you want to make silver jewellery and go out and buy all the tools and materials to last you the year then one month in, realize that you prefer beaded work your money could be wasted and you may need to buy a whole new lot of equipment. Try things for a while before making big investments. Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.
– Believing in yourself, confidence and determination: I regularly meet lots of students interested in settingup their own business but who are under-confident or don’t feel they will be able to make it successful. When you are running your own business there is no one there to tell you what to do or which direction to go in which can be very daunting but it is essential to believe not only in yourself but your work and your ideas, this will come with time and experience. I am always very encouraging of anyone interested in setting up a jewellery business, as I believe if I can do it anyone can. Its not easy but it is certainly possible however you do need to be fairly thick-skinned, determined and able to bounce back from setbacks, as they happen to us all. I know it’s a cliché but don’t be afraid to make mistakes as they are an excellent learning opportunity.
– Work hard: To be successful at running your own business it is essential to put the hours in and work hard. Although, I must say, working hard at something you love is hugely rewarding and lots of fun – not like doing algebra! Try and do at least one thing everyday to move your business forward, whether it be designing a new collection, working on the website, writing to the press or exhibiting at a craft show it is all great experience and will surely contribute to making your business a success.
– The Nitty Gritty – Time and Money: Setting up a new business takes time. Time to develop your skills, design and create your jewellery and set up the ‘business’ side of operations so it is important to have another source of income at least initially. Most business don’t make anything in their first year as all ‘profits’ need to go straight back into investing in new tools, materials etc… It is better to know this from the outset that way you can plan for it. Ideally you would have some money to invest in the business, a way of providing for yourself whilst the business is setting up and as much time as possible to put into it. These are all a balancing act and most of us don’t have them all in abundance but a bit of both time and money is required to set up a jewellery business.
– Consider combos: Sometimes a combination of things works best and many jewellers make and sell jewellery alongside other related avenues such as teaching jewellery making, hosting jewellery parties, working for other jewellers, organizing fairs or events, running parties or sessions for children and young people or selling craft or jewellery making supplies – the list is endless. They are not all for everyone but you may find that one other thing can help to keep money coming in during dry periods.
– Enjoy yourself and give credit where it’s due: On a final note, don’t forget to enjoy yourself, making jewellery is an extremely rewarding job and I for one wouldn’t change it for the world. Don’t forget to stop every now and then and congratulate yourself on how well you are doing as it is not easy but is greatly rewarding and certainly a possible and fulfilling career.
If you would like to learn more about how to set up your own jewellery business, regular classes are held at the London Jewellery School including the ‘Jewellery Business Day‘ and ‘5 Day Jewellery Business Intensive’. We also offer business mentoring sessions for help and support at every stage of your business and will soon be offering an online, distance learning jewellery business course that can be completed from the comfort of your own home. More info to follow – watch this space.
Until next time,