Book Review: How to Create Your Own Jewelry Line

Blogged under Crafty Biz,Good Books by Tammy on Tuesday 19 April 2016 at 6:58 am

How to Create Your Own Jewelry Line: Design – Production – Finance – Marketing & More by Emilie Shaprio is published by Lark with a copyright date of 2016. It’s a hardback 178 text that, as the author explains, is pretty much everything Shaprio knows about the jewelry industry and how jewelry designers can not only create their own line of jewelry but go on to sell it. Obviously, this means there is a lot of information in this book, so it is not a casual read. I found myself hopping around to different parts and using it more of a reference guide. However, those with no jewelry business knowledge could start at the beginning where basics are covered such as taxes and how to set up a jewelry business and move on as each of the many areas required for this are covered in detail.

Because of the title, I thought this book would focus only on creating a jewelry line, so it was a pleasant surprise to see that much more is covered. In fact, the subtitle is “Design/Production/Finance/Marking and More,” and all of these subject areas are included in the book. It can be a little overwhelming, but again, I see this more as a reference book to go to when needed versus a step by step manual. It takes awhile to get to the actual idea of creating a “marketable collection,” which does not show up until page 41.

If this book’s purpose is to describe every single item you need to know for a successful jewelry business, then the only area I felt was a little weak is the part concerning social media. It seems to gloss over this, but there are books written about social media and business, thus this is understandable.

Clearly, Emilie Shapiro has a wealth of information, and in an industry that sometimes can be a little tight with information, it is refreshing to see a successful designer and business person like her step forward and share.

Craft Business Advice from Rich Mom

Blogged under Crafting a Career,Crafty Biz by Tammy on Saturday 6 February 2016 at 4:10 pm

Back in the early 90s, I was very active when it came to making and then selling my jewelry. I participated in numerous art shows and sold to boutiques and galleries, mainly in the Central Florida area. I wasn’t running my small business full time, but I was pretty successful in  my own small way. Later, I dabbled on Ebay with selling jewelry that I either made myself, mainly charms that I cast, or jewelry items I bought wholesale and sold at retail prices. This was when silver was very inexpensive.

I still sell jewelry pieces now and then and occasionally add items to my Etsy shop, but I have not concentrated on the business side of jewelry for years. Given the time, I’d love to start it up again, however. My sister and fellow crafter and blogger opened up her own Etsy store, Tappingflamino Bling, not that long ago, and she’s seeing some success. She is focusing on building her business and recently shared interesting craft business information she found over on the Rich Mom Business site. Right now, there’s a way to sign up for videos produced by “rich mom,” Renae Christine. After signing up, you receive emails prompting you to head over and watch three videos she has on creating a “homemade” business. She also has a YouTube channel (of course).

Today’s handmade business model is much different than what I followed in the old days of the 1990s. I have watched two of Renae’s videos so far and found them really interesting, even a little inspiring! If you have been looking for some ideas on either starting a craft-related business or reviving a current business, then you might want to watch some of her videos as well. I’m not sure I am ready to work on my Etsy shop that it turns into a part-time job (since I already have a full-time job!), but I have to admit, she has got my jewelry business wheels turning!

Spilling the Beans about My Jewelry Kits

Blogged under Crafty Biz,Publications from Moi by Tammy on Wednesday 14 December 2011 at 10:41 am

They don’t look like much, but pictured above are 48 jewelry making kits I packed and mailed out the other day to a new wholesale customer, Annie’s Attic. A few summers ago, I finally put together 4 earring kits and tutorials and put them up on my Crafty Princess Etsy Shop. They did okay as far a sales, but honestly, I did very little to promote them. I squeezed out the time to design the kits (which takes a major chunk by the way), but then I didn’t have time to do the follow up marketing that I needed to do.

Then a few weeks ago, I was contacted by a rep from Annie’s Attic about selling some of my kits wholesale. Luckily, I have had enough experience selling my finished jewelry that I knew when I put these together that I needed to price them so that I could sell them either retail or wholesale. The thing with wholesale pricing that turns some designers off is that you don’t get as much per item, but you have to remember that someone who buys from you wholesale is not going to just buy one item. In fact, if anyone asks to do that the person is not really a wholesaler at all.

I ended up selling them two different kit designs, 24 kits each, for a total of 48 kits. Since I just mailed these out, they are not up on the company’s web site yet, but as soon as they are, I will blab about it some more. I really enjoy making the kits. They combine my designing and writing skills, and I end up with a product that I can sell over and over again instead of just one time. I have some more kit ideas floating around in my head, so hopefully this is just the beginning of a new (successful) venue for me.

Virtual Craft Show

Blogged under Around the Web,Crafty Biz by Tammy on Thursday 20 October 2011 at 10:01 am

Lori Anderson, the brains behind the Bead Soup Blog Party, has cooked up another amazing idea, a Virtual Craft Show. The very small nutshell version of this show is that participants offer to give away merchandise, such as finished jewelry, beads, etc. and Lori will promote them on her weblog during the show. I will be giving away a copy of my latest jewelry book (The Complete Photo Guide to Jewelry Making). I will post more about this when I have more to tell on my end, but you can learn about the basics of her virtual show over at her weblog, Pretty Things.

Another Reason for On-Line Craft Shops

Blogged under Crafty Biz by Tammy on Tuesday 31 August 2010 at 6:34 am

Vintage Style Mother of Pearl and Crystal Earrings

Vintage Style Mother of Pearl and Crystal Earrings

Like many crafters, I occasionally sell a piece or two of my jewelry to friends, family, or co-workers. While I do have a bag of jewelry priced and ready to hand to someone who is interested, I don’t always have it with me, or it might just be too awkward to load someone up with so much at one time.

Granted, some people will ask if you sell your work just as a way to be courteous, but very often they are sincerely interested in buying a piece or two, especially if they have been seeing you wear some of your work (like jewelry) around the office.

In comes the handy business card that includes the URL to your on-line shop. Even if you are like me and too busy to spend the amount of time necessary to run your shop at a high volume level, just having a small number of items in one of those free crafting networks like Artfire, Efreeme, or Etsy can be a good solution for this situation. Most shops allows like these are free to set up and charge a nominal fee for selling. Some, like, charge nothing, even if you list items for sale or make a sale.

Just the other day, I sold a few pair of earrings (one pictured above) to a co-worker who I directed to my Etsy shop. Both pieces were items I can easily remake, so I was still able to keep the listings. In fact, the earrings above are only in my shop as kits, but she wanted the finished earrings.

If you have been saying no to yourself about opening a web shop to sell your arts and crafts, maybe this is a reason to reconsider.

50th Etsy Sale, My Learning Curve

Blogged under Crafty Biz,etsy by Tammy on Tuesday 24 August 2010 at 11:14 am

Recently, I chalked up sale number 50 in the Crafty Princess Shop over at Etsy. For me, I find this a significant number. While I have  been an Etsy member since spring of 2006, I didn’t open a shop until a few years later in April 2008. Even then, I was just testing the waters and trying to learn more about how it all works. I was not seriously intent on trying to sell that much. Since I write about jewelry making and many jewelry people sell over there, I knew it was important to be part of the conversation. This was my primary incentive for finally opening a shop over there.

As it turned out, sales did trickle in, even when I was not actively promoting it. Some how or another, people found me, friends purchased items, and so on, and I did make a few sales over time, nothing huge but some sales at least.

This trickling in of sales made me realize that, gee, if I actually had time maybe I could make a go of this shop. I knew I didn’t have the time to go crazy over there, but if I could at least get the shop looking better, more listings, etc., then maybe I could get some semi-steady sales from it. So, that’s what I decided to do over my summer break from my teaching job this year.

I think the time I spent on it has paid off to a certain extent. Since May 8, 2010, when I started concentrating on my shop make-over, I have made 22 sales. Before that I had made 28 from March 2008 to January 2010. That means in 4 months I came pretty close to making the same number of sales I had made in almost two years.

Looking back, here are a few things I feel I learned that helped me:

  • Take critiques with a grain of salt. There is a critiques folder on the Etsy forum, and I have had a number of Etsians give me their 25 cents over there. Some of it has been really helpful, like when I got a big thumbs down on my banner. Some of it, well, not so much. For example, one recent suggestion was that I accept alchemy requests, which means you agree to make customized items for people.  Special orders take a great deal of time, which I don’t have, so that’s why I didn’t include that on my shop. Obviously, this person who suggested it wouldn’t know that.
  • Learn by looking. This is a little related to my previous lesson above. While people can tell you their opinions, I think you can learn much more by looking around Etsy (or whatever network you may be a part of) and taking note of successful shops. In fact, many of those who will give you critique suggestions aren’t necessarily burning it up in sales. Sure, things like photos are really important, but they are not the end all be all. I found plenty of successful shops that had one or two clear photos and that’s it. They aren’t some super fancy artistic artwork, just a clear photo of the product.
  • Success is relative. For me, a few sales a week would be what I consider successful (repeat, for me). I have a job, actually two jobs. I just want to make a little extra income from my shop. Also, there are lots of Etsy shops that have high sales, but when you look at their products, they are super low end as far as prices. Selling $1 items, even if you sell hundreds of them, well, is not a huge amount of money considering all the time you have to put in to list them.
  • Good photos do help. While I said previously that they don’t have to necessarily be perfect, still, you want clear photos of your work. You are asking someone to buy an item from you, and other than your textual description, all they have to base their purchasing decision on is a photograph. I spent a crazy amount of time working on getting my photographs clearer, better, etc., and they still aren’t necessarily perfect, but they are so much better.
  • Describe what the heck it is! I buy on Etsy too now and then, and boy, I’m amazed at how many sellers will have their super long, drawn-out stories about a product but almost no basic information: What are the materials it is made of? How big is it? Where did it come from? Don’t just tell me the earrings have pink beads. Are they plastic, wood, stone, crystal? I would rather know that the earrings I’m looking at are made of sterling silver and are 2 inches long than read a stupid story about how some fairy came down and inspired the artist to make them.
  • Have a decent selection. I don’t know what the magic number is for me or anyone else for that matter, but I can say that the more I have in my shop, the more I have available to buy. I’m not talking about a thousand items, but if you only have 10 listings, then you don’t have much there for people to look at or buy. If a person only has 10 items to look at, I would think that’s going to be a very brief trip to your store.
  • Define your shop the best you can. Most of the shops I find that have high sales seem to have a clear focus about what the shop is all about, a kind of personality to it. I don’t necessarily think you have to be super quirky, like one shop I found that sells women’s silk screened panties, but I do admit that when you go to a shop like that, there is no doubt about what the product is. She clearly has a strong focus and is doing well with her product line. For me, I try to focus on jewelry products: kits, tutorials, supplies, and finished jewelry. Sure, I crochet, but it would just not fit in to have my crocheted baby hats in there.
  • Price it right. I’m still working on this, but after making a few low-end sales, I realized that it is not worth my time to sell a $2 bead, pack it, and drive to the post office, even if I do add shipping and packaging costs to each sale. The PIA factor alone, for me, is not worth it. I sill have some low-end items in my shop, but as I list and relist, I try to make sure that my prices are at least within the $10 range. This may mean combining items, like creating a bead assortment rather than selling one or two beads alone.
  • Promote yourself. You don’t want your friends and family to run the other way when they see you, but do not expect the network housing your shop to promote you. Have business cards handy to pass out. Include a link to your shop in your email signature. If you blog, well, blog about it. Use social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Twitpic. I can testify that it does bring in sales. How many sales? I can’t say for sure, but I have had the occasional immediate sale after mentioning a new listing on Facebook and Twitter.

Tag It, Tag It, Tag It on Etsy

Blogged under Crafty Biz,etsy by Tammy on Tuesday 10 August 2010 at 7:56 am

While I don not have the time now that I did earlier this summer to devote to my Crafty Princess Etsy Shop, I have been trying to keep up with it so that it does not turn into the shop with 3 things in it like it was earlier this summer! I sell an item now and then and do my best to relist and add new items. I also keep an eye on the Etsy forums and read helpful articles over there as well.

One issue that I see often popping up is the use of tags when listing an item in a shop. The Etsy forums have a “critique” folder, and while it is so busy that it may be impossible to get seen at times in that folder, I try to help out when I can. I’m not an expert, mind you, but I feel I know more than the average newbie. Tags seems to be one of the major things I see that newbies are not very savvy about.

To make a comparison to writing on the web, “tags” are like the key words or meta information. They help get the attention of those who are using a search tool to find a product. For example, if I list a pair of earrings in my shop, then I want to be sure to not only use the word “earrings” in the title, but I want to make sure that word is listed in my tags as well. There are 14 tags, and it is very important to use them all. When a potential buyer is looking for something, she will go to the search box on Etsy and type in words like “gold earrings.” If you don’t have these key words listed in your tags, she won’t find you.

So tag, tag, tag, and try to use words that properly describe your products. To help break down this important topic even more, I suggest reading this article in the Storque area of Etsy, Seller How-To: Tag-o-rama With Descriptive Keywords. Another thing I have found helpful to get the brain thinking about tags is to cruise around the Etsy network and look at other shops and the tags they use, especially shops that have high sales numbers. Got Me

Blogged under Crafty Biz by Tammy on Wednesday 7 July 2010 at 12:54 pm

Well, I told myself I wasn’t going to open another on-line store, no matter what, but I finally caved and listed a few of my pdf file tutorials over at It is free to list hand-crafted items, supplies, and vintage items, and while it is not as sleek as Etsy, hey, free is free. Now, it goes through PayPal, so there is that little fee to consider, but after listing my three items, I ended up selling one of the three shortly afterward.

Like I said, it is not as fancy as Etsy or Artfire. I found it a little kluggy even that I had to constantly stick in my email address and password while setting up a listing or making changes to my little shop, but it really only took me a few minutes to set things up over there. I think for anyone selling on-line that is worth checking into, and of course, buyers are welcome too!

1st Jewelry Kits Are Listed!

Blogged under Crafty Biz,Crafty Products,Publications from Moi by Tammy on Wednesday 16 June 2010 at 3:18 pm

My first jewelry kits are complete and listed in my Etsy shop.  Both are earring kits using ceramic Raku beads, natural mother of pearl beads, copper beads, and copper findings. One jewelry kit is what I call a “full” kit because it has all the materials (except tools) needed to make the jewelry piece as well as a detailed full-color instructional tutorial. This is a beginning level kit designed for someone who has made little to no jewelry at all.

The second jewelry kit makes the same earring design but is geared towards someone with more experience who may want to make the earrings but doesn’t need the tutorial included the the full kit, so the kit includes all the materials but no tutorial.

I have two more earring kits in the works that are now in the testing phases where I actually have people make the kits and follow the instructions so I can make extra sure they are super clear before I start selling them. And then, the fourth earring kit I have plan is still in the design stage.

What do you think about this first kit? I’d love to hear some feedback, and if you know of anyone who has wanted to start making jewelry but wasn’t sure how to get started, please pass along the links to the kits above. These earrings are very easy to make, so it would be a great way for a newbie to get started with this fun hobby.

Jewelry Kits Under Wraps, Spilling the Beans

Blogged under Crafting a Career,Crafty Biz,Crafty Products,Projects in Progress by Tammy on Tuesday 8 June 2010 at 5:05 pm

I have been working on a new jewelry related project during my summer vacation, and until I got to a certain point of completion, I didn’t feel comfortable discussing it here. However, I have made some major progress and see my vision coming clearer ever day, so I finally decided to spill the beans, at least some of them.

Drum roll please…Tammy Powley (aka the Crafty Princess) will soon be offering jewelry kits for sale. This is a project that I have been dreaming about for way too long and decided to just buckle down and do it this summer.

Of course, it has been way more work than I expected. For example, my husband is helping me with the photographs since it is basically impossible to take photos of your hands making jewelry since, well, you need your hands to operate the camera. On our first photo shoot, he asked me how many photos I thought we would need to take. This shoot was for two of the kits, so I said well, maybe two dozen pictures or a tad more than that. How many did we end up taking? More like 100 pictures!

When I get further along, I will reveal more details about the designs I’ve created for the kits, but for now, I can say that I’m just starting with a small number to test the waters. My vision for the kits I think are a little different than what I’ve seen available so far. In fact, I’ve been pretty surprised at what I’ve seen as far as kits in general. My goals when putting together the designs for each kit include the following (in no particular order of importance):

  • Use quality materials, some of which are not available at the average craft shop
  • Develop a “class in a kit” approach where each kit covers specific skills
  • Provide step-by-step instructions tailored for each specific kit
  • Incorporate high-resolution photographs for each tutorial that accompanies each kit
  • Generally create kits that are appealing to beginners but also appeal to intermediate level jewelry makers
  • Offer convenience to buyers, no going to the craft store, bead shop, or ordering a huge list of supplies on-line.

I’m really hoping I get these all together and ready to announce properly, yes, with lots of fan fair, press releases, and Hollywood parties (okay, maybe not a party but you get the picture) by the time I start back to school, which is (yikes!) only a few weeks away. So stay tuned!

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