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.