“There are no such things as mistakes – only learning experiences”.
Every jewellery business will face setbacks and have things go wrong, it is part of life but you can prepare yourself by learning from other people’s experiences.
With this in mind London Jewellery School asked some of the designers it works with to share their “learning experiences” (anonymously).
Spent all my money on stock
When I was starting my first Etsy shop and booking my first stalls at craft fairs, I thought I should make as much stock as possible so that I would have lots of options for my designs in different colours and finishes. So I spent a lot of money on materials and made masses of jewellery without any idea what would sell.
Of course some items didn’t sell much and even the popular ones didn’t sell out all at once or had some colours that didn’t do so well. This meant that my money was tied up in unsold stock and I very little cash to make more of more of the items that did sell.
Now I know to test items with my Facebook followers and to research what I’m likely to sell at a particular fair, so I can plan what I’ll make and have better cashflow. Also I know now to tell customers they can order something in a different colour or with different beads rather than have every possible variation in stock.
Shop rent ate all my earnings
My biggest jewellery business mistake was signing up to sell in a shop for six months. Very quickly I realised that my type of jewellery was not going to sell well in that location and I ended up with a costly rental bill which wasn’t covered by the sales I made.
And what I learnt was to negotiate to try somewhere for one or two months first (even if signing up for a longer period is cheaper month on month) so that I can see if the location is viable for me before committing to a longer term agreement
Advertising needn’t always cost the earth
One of my biggest mistakes has been assuming that I have to spend a lot of money on advertising and PR. This is fine and necessary once you are more established and have a decent budget for it, but as a small and new business it can end up being crippling.
Once your name starts to get out there you will be consistently approached by sales agents for various platforms, publications and shows who are very good at boosting your ego in order to convince you to buy exposure.
It looks glossy and slick and as a result costs rather a lot of money. However it very often doesn’t yield the results that you had expected.
I found that I gained more exposure by attending free networking events and being proactive in contacting stylists, journalists, make-up artists and photographers and by building a data base of all these contacts.
And of course creating a similar network of contacts on my social media pages [link] and actively communicating with them has been incredibly rewarding too, as it is direct contact, they reach a wider audience and it’s FREE.
My website took all my time
I got very excited about having my own website so registered a site name from one of the companies that advertise quite widely. That part went well but I also signed up for a package to build a number of pages for the site using templates and the company’s design tool. I didn’t take the time to explore exactly what that gave me or how easy it was to customise the pages.
So although I did have a website that people could find, it didn’t look the way I wanted and it was very difficult to upload and work with pictures – very bad news for a jewellery business. Working with the site soaked up lots of my time – which meant I wasn’t making or selling. So in the end I had to bite the bullet and spend money starting again with another service.
Now I think much more like a big business before I invest in a web tool or other items. I think carefully about what I need from the tool or service and research all my options – including asking other people – until I find something that I know I can use, that will give me what I need and that I can afford. And I always take the free trial if it’s on offer.
More orders than I could handle
When I was still working from home my work started to become popular and I was delighted to get an order from a high profile outlet. I delivered the first order which was a big success. So just two weeks later I found myself with too many orders and very little space to work in, let alone the time to get it all done. I was really worried that I wouldn’t be able to deliver.
But it actually meant I had to change my business set up. I was lucky enough to find a studio I could move into and to bring people in to help. It was big change and a stressful time, but it allowed me to develop my business.
What about you?
If you have a learning experience to share – please comment below.
During business week, London Jewellery School is offering 20% off all day and taster business courses plus the Business Bookcamp if you book between 2 and 9 February 2014. To get your discount call 020 3176 0345 and book your class quoting BIZWEEK20. Find out more here.