Probably you started making handcrafted jewelry just for fun as an outlet for your creative energy. At some point you realized you could make some extra money from your hobby and began selling your handmade art bracelets and earrings. After that point, you also need to think like a business person and create designs that fit into a niche market in order to have a successful handmade jewelry business.
The most important factor in running a successful handcrafted jewelry business is innovation. Creating your own niche market within the niche is going to be your key to success. Everyone can put beads on an ear wire and say they make handmade earrings, but without your own creative touches you will not be able to build a successful business.
Retail stores are filled with mass produced jewelry so you have to make your jewelry unique, something that appeals to everybody and at a reasonable price. You need to create a demand for your designs with different techniques that you will become known for and that will set you apart from the competition. Creating your own niche within the handmade jewelry market is that something special whether you incorporate historical motifs or brilliantly colored gemstones it is up to your creativity and individuality.
Even if you just go to local craft shows you have probably noticed several other people trying to sell handmade jewelry. It is a very competitive marketplace whether it is craft shows or on the internet. You need that extra something that sets you apart from the rest. Once you find your special something you have to constantly be updating and showing your personality in each piece. Making matching sets of handmade earrings, bracelets, rings and necklaces will increase sales dramatically.
We have been making handcrafted jewelry for almost 30 years and still find that we are constantly thinking of new designs, techniques and styles. Every business needs to evolve with the marketplace and fashion trends. Listen to your customers and get their ideas because it can lead you in new directions that you never thought of before. Do not think of it as criticism of your work but encouragement to try something different. You do not have to have just one style; you can have many unique jewelry styles incorporating your creativity that could open new marketing opportunities. If you are hesitating consider it a custom order just to see if it works or not. Experimenting has never been a bad idea and you can get some surprising results or it can lead you in another direction entirely.
First of all, let me just say that we have been making handmade jewelry for over 25 years. We have had a store, sold at craft shows, mall shows, wholesale gift shows and have a website. We have sold at retail, on consignment, wholesale direct to stores, orders taken by sales reps, jobbers and distributors as well as online. We have started with nothing and built our handcrafted jewelry business one step at a time. Honestly speaking, to those people who think they are able to jump right to the top of the ladder, you need to crawl before you run the marathon.
Every business needs a solid foundation and must be gradually built to achieve success. There are very few who have the financial means to start at the wholesale jewelry level. Wholesale gift shows are expensive, requiring a great selection of unique jewelry and needing professional looking displays so it is not something for those just starting out.
This being said it is my humble opinion that craft shows are the best way to build an enduring handmade jewelry business. Local shows tend to be less expensive and are a good way to get those first sales. You will perfect your booth display and learn what customers actually want. You will get the experience that will enable you to move onto the next step on the ladder.
Eventually you will need to travel to juried arts and crafts shows. The best shows attract tens of thousands of customers and are difficult to get into especially for handmade jewelry artisans but are well worth the effort once you are ready. Displays need to draw the attention to your booth and you should have something for everyone. Different price ranges and styles so that no matter where you are your sales will be strong.
Along the way you will likely run into some store owners who would like to buy your work to sell in their stores. Have a wholesale price in mind when you are pricing for your retail sales. Also whenever you are traveling have samples ready to show to stores and galleries on the way. Sometimes it is difficult to get up the courage to go into a shop and sell your work, but it will become second nature. If the manager or owner is not there be sure to get contact information and you can call them later.
Once you have a good cash flow established and have a great selection of unique jewelry designs you will be able to venture into wholesale jewelry and gift shows with confidence. Wholesale shows that focus on handmade gifts are the best but most shows have a handmade section as well. Wholesale gift shows are the mainstay of our business. Major shows attract qualified buyers from across the country and internationally.
Internet sales whether your own website or an online marketplace are easily set-up with little expense but success online requires a great deal of time dedicated to social networking. We consider our website as an online catalog to make our customers ordering easier and as such it is wonderful. Everyday we get inquiries from all over the world that would never have been possible before the internet. It takes time to get noticed with so much competition but once established it can be very successful.
Be positive and don’t get discouraged or frustrated, the handmade jewelry business can be demanding at times but it can also make all your dreams come true. It is a great creative outlet as well as bringing in some extra money when you are first starting out. Over time you will be able to expand your business according to your own needs.
Every handcrafted jewelry artisan would like to have retail and wholesale jewelry customers remember them as well as their unique art jewelry. The secret to making a lasting impression, and ultimately trust, is simply treating each and every customer as if they are the only customer in the world!
I know it sounds too simple, but think about the people you remember and the reasons why you remember them. Great customer service presented in a sincere manner is so hard to find these days that it becomes memorable.
Every part of modern life has become impersonal from automated bank tellers, automated check outs at the grocery store to internet shopping. There are actually weeks where we do not talk to anyone outside of the family. I find it hard to believe that we are the only ones feeling like this. It has just become an ordinary part of life to spend our time in front of a computer.
Next time you are at a craft show or wholesale jewelry show, when a customer approaches your handmade jewelry booth promise to see them as if they are your only customer and treat them the way you prefer to be treated. You will be amazed at what a simple act of courtesy can accomplish. Your customer will buy handcrafted jewelry from you again and again. Many times customers have said that they came to the show specifically to see our new handmade earrings and handmade bracelets. One of the added benefits is that people will spread the word to their friends as well. Excellent service leads to happy customers who are always your best advertising. Building handmade jewelry customer loyalty can be the key to business success.
A welcoming smile and a sincere hello go a long way towards establishing a positive interaction with your handmade jewelry customer. Listen carefully to what they want and do your best to find the perfect unique gifts whether it is for themselves or for their gift store.
Always ask if there is any other way you can be of help to your customer. Give them your business card with your email address so that they can contact you if they have any other questions or concerns. Let them know that you are always available to help which shows that you appreciate their business.
Many times we have added a small inexpensive item just to say thank you for choosing our unique jewelry. For wholesale jewelry customers we add a few small items for them to give to their own customers to show their appreciation.
Good customers are hard to find and harder to keep in the competitive marketplace today. As a business person you must go the extra mile with superior customer service. Always try to make every handcrafted jewelry customer feel special as if they are your only and best customer.