Starting your own jewellery business is a challenging and exciting time but many creative struggle with taking the step from running a small home-based operation alongside other work, to launching a brand that will develop and grow to provide you with enough of an income to ditch the day job and do what you love full time.
Award-winning jewellery entrepreneur and director of the London Jewellery School Jessica Rose shares her top ten tips for growing a successful jewellery business and making sure you have a model that will produce a sustainable profit as well as beautiful designs.
1. Identify your goals
With any business you need to have a clear vision of where you want to be. Whether you have a business already that you want to grow or are just starting out, try to picture where you would like to be in three years time. It can be a challenging process and you will no doubt change your mind many times but having this vision and setting goals of what you will achieve each; week, month and year to make them happen will give you direction and ensure that you focus on the right things when making decisions about spending money or time in your business.
2. Get your brand right
It is crucial for jewellers to have a clear brand consisting of a logo, business colours, website, promotional materials and online presence.
Your brand represents your business and everything you stand for so should relate directly to your business goals and perhaps more importantly, consider very carefully who your customers are and how you attract them to not only your jewellery but your brand as a whole.
When buying a Tiffany bracelet it is not really the bracelet you are buying, you are buying the brand, the green box, the associations with Tiffany, you are buying the brand experience and the physical jewellery is only one part of that. To build a strong jewellery business that customers believe in you need to spend time thinking about and developing your brand for growth.
3. Test your ideas and adapt them as you grow
A personal favorite of mine! When you have a new business idea, plan or direction that you want to go in, be sure to test out your plan, spending as little money or resources on it as possible to start with,. For example if you have an idea for a new collection, instead of making the whole collection, having it photographed and approaching shops who then could say that its not what they are looking for, make one piece, show it to others, get feedback early on in the process and test your ideas. Then, once you know there is sufficient demand, invest in making the whole collection and move forward.
4. Know your customers
I can’t stress enough how important it is to know who your customers are. For a business that you want to grow, you need to have a clear idea in mind of who you need to attract, in order to sell your work and what things make them tick. I find it helpful to segment customers and create a mini profile for the different types of customers you may have.
If you know your customer ‘type’ you can tailor everything to them, your designs, your brand, your service, your marketing etc… this clear identity and engagement with customers will make you stand out and create loyalty and sustainability in your business.
5. Build a financial model
I know that we jewellers are often a little allergic to finance but, trust me, getting this right will make all the difference. Open an excel spreadsheet, write down all of your costs and when you spend them, then write down all of your income (that you want or need) and when you expect to receive it in and check that at the end of the year you plan to make a profit. If the numbers are in the red by the end of a 12 month period you need to go back and either lower your spending or increase your sales.
It’s all a bit of guess work but at least you have an idea of what direction you are headed in and what targets you need to reach each month in order to survive.
6. Consider multiple income streams
Every business should aim to have multiple income streams so that you are not too reliant on any one aspect of your business. This will help protect you incase of problems with one area of your business.
For example you may have a number of collections you sell, which are both online and through shops and galleries, you might also offer a jewellery repairs service for fixing or adapting pieces, then you may work to commission, teaching jewellery making, writing a jewellery making book or projects for magazines.
Think about the skills that you have and how you could utilize them to create a diverse business that can offer something unique.
7. Be flexible and responsive
It is important in business that you are able to be flexible and adapt to a changing market. Often business owners set out on a path to do one thing and end up doing something quite different. For example, when I set up the London Jewellery School I had no plans to start a school or even teach. I wanted to make and sell my jewellery, which I did for a while in boutiques and galleries, I then began teaching as a side-line and found that, that was my true passion. So be open and flexible to were things might take you.
8. Dedication and putting the hours in
Never set up a full-time business if you want more time. You will be sure to work every waking hour in order for it to be successful, especially in the initial stages. BUT having said that, it really doesn’t feel like work, it is something you love and are passionate about so putting in the extra hours comes quite naturally. Just be aware that it takes plenty of hard work and dedication to run a full-time business. Like anything in life you get out what you put in, but I can assure you the rewards and satisfaction you get back are well worth it.
9. No room for being shy – learn to promote and sell
I can be quite a shy person in my own personal life but when it comes to business I have to be able to put myself out there, speak to people/ customers, engage with them, network and ultimately sell what you are offering in every sense of the word.
Building a brand and growing your own mini-empire doesn’t allow much room for shyness but don’t let that put you off. Speaking and networking are skills you can learn. I often find that even the most timid people can come to life when they are taking about something they really enjoy and believe in.
10. Get your skills right – Business Bootcamp
All of this doesn’t mean that much if you don’t have a solid business plan and training in the business skills needed to drive it forward. An excellent course to provide you will all of this is the intensive 6-Day Jewellery Business Bootcamp run by expert jewellery business tutors at LJS. In 6 days you will learn everything you need to know to launch a full-time jewellery business or grow and existing home business and with support, you will create a killer business plan to take your company forward.
What ever you choose to do make sure you enjoy it and never stop being creative!
To talk about anything jewellery business related feel free to tweet me at @jessica_roseLJS