In today’s maker revolution one of the crafters that are on the forefront of the trend are the home based jewelry designers. You know exactly the kind I mean; you see their strings of stones and little pearl earrings at every craft fair. They are probably the most prolific category on Etsy.
It is beginning to feel as if you can’t walk down the street in the summer months without stumbling across yet another neighborhood fair that features not just one but probably three or four different tables of carefully crafted handmade jewelry. Looking at the pieces you see in front of you, you may find yourself thinking, hey I could do this! It’s easy! But nothing could be further from the truth. Here are seven of the most common misconceptions many people have about what it takes to become a successful handmade jewelry designer.
Myth #1 – You Don’t Need Tools
While you may think that all you need is thread and beads from the local bead shop, you would be wrong. Even if you were able to find good strong beading thread, usually nylon, the tools needed just for stringing might surprise many. A good beading board is a start, for laying out your ideas. You will also need crimping tools, grounded awls for rounding out badly cut holes, glue for ending your beading line and more. That is just to create a simple beaded necklace with matching earrings.
Myth #2 – I Can Get It Locally
While the recent uptick in the number of bead shops has made shopping for personal pieces easier, anyone considering making jewelry on a larger scale will need to consider their market. Why should someone walking by your booth buy a necklace made of ordinary stones they can purchase around the corner? In addition, because you are buying from a retail shop you are paying full price. This means you will need to charge more for that piece in order to make a profit. Professional jewelers buy their wholesale jewelry supplies online from such sites as GemPacked. You will need to do so too.
Myth #3 – Anyone Can Design
While it may be true that even children can string beads on a string, that doesn’t make them jewelry designers. The one thing that really separates the amateurs from the professionals is the design. To understand many of the principles of jewelry design, most professionals attend art college classes to study the various concepts. So while your friends may tell you that you are “a natural” and should start selling your jewelry tomorrow, can you keep up the design ideas week after week?
Myth #4 – I Can Sell to Friends
Yes you can, and that is called a hobbyist. Nothing wrong with that, either, just don’t think you can spring from this to running a jewelry design business overnight. Your friends love the jewelry you give them because it is free. They might even buy the occasional piece from you because they like having it done by someone they know. But when you hang out that shingle and start trying to sell to strangers, it is a different story. They want something unique for that cash. Can you sell to them too?
Myth #5 – Hanging Out at Booths is Fun
We all love to hang out at a friend’s craft booth when the street fair is in full swing and it is a nice sunny day. But there is no guarantee that the weather will hold, the crowds will come or you will even make back your booth fee that weekend. While an hour or two spent with a friend at a booth is fine, once you commit to a street fair it is hard work to set up, talk to strangers for hours on end, deal with crying babies and overly chatty people who have no intention of buying. Then at the end of it all you have to pack it all up and haul it away. Trust me; you have to be dedicated to what you do for anyone to decide on doing three months of street fairs in the summer.
Myth #6 – You Only Need to Sell on Weekends
If you don’t need to make real money doing this, yes you can decide to do one weekend event a month and just have fun with it. But for anyone who is serious about making jewelry for a living, the summer months are your money months and you need to work them steady. That is because in the winter you will be making your stock and planning your next summer’s schedule. To make a go of it, plan to work every day for those three months of beautiful weather.
Myth #7 – I Can Start On a Shoestring
Some people do start with nothing more than a box full of beads and some old fishing line they had sitting around. Others begin with a one-time hundred dollar buying spree at their favorite bead supplier. If you plan to create elements for the jewelry in addition to the beads, then you will need to invest in whatever tools you require to do so. So some can indeed start on a shoestring when they are just doing it for fun, but you cannot do this if you intend to make a go of it for real. That will necessitate a major investment in the stock required and making sure you have all the right tools. It will also mean spending money on a booth, on marketing and probably on a website for online sales. All of these cost money and require an investment in time as well.