A Guide to Making and Marketing Your Own Jewellery
To be labelled a by-product isn’t terribly flattering, but that is what our jewellery really is. Over five years of manufacturing and wholesaling, we have honed a few things and thought it might be handy for people and fellow artisans to put it out there as a guide to making and marketing your own jewellery.
We travel and we dabble. We mostly engage in painting and photographic mediums but making and marketing your own jewellery, well that only really came about when we realised that we were loosing customers to high price points or the inconvenience of our larger works of art.
So we turned to our meticulous travel records, our experiences of textures and impressions through painting, sketching and photography. So there we have it, our jewellery is the by-product of these moments although we have now gone full circle to where the travelling and dabbling has now become both the bi-product and the genesis.
WILD Fine Art Jewellery is one of our babies, we’ve been designing hand crafted resin jewellery for nearly five years and supplying to over 80 stores nation wide. So read on for a guide to making and marketing your own jewellery and a peak into our creative process along with some of the special places behind the inspiration.
Where do you start when making and marketing your own jewellery?
Before you do anything you should do your market research – I cover this in detail later in the post – Is there a demand? Is there a point of difference? It will save you a lot of time and money if you answer these questions first. With regards to the practicalities of stimulating your imagination it’s pretty simple, spend an insane amount of time in research and development. You need to be stimulated, education is more than just reading, immerse yourself in an aesthetic… something will come.
With us, it all begins with a doodle, a photo, maybe a new found object on the beach but our pieces are nearly always very organic in form. I’ll take a stone, a stick, a piece of coconut then create all sorts of colour boards and studies with pencil, crayon, water colours, acrylics and oils as a starting point.
Luckily I have a ‘pack horse’, he answers to Perry.
My ‘pack horse’ does all the physical stuff and he reacts to whatever I am doing by designing shapes and creating prototypes that might best carry the piece.
In the beginning we made lots and lots of bangles.
Why we started with bangles, the hardest possible piece, I’ll never stop asking myself, but we did and they were very popular. The biggest issue with a bangle is the variations in sizing requirements, which results in doubling or even tripling your SKU count for every piece you create. It’s also a hard sell to retailers.
I would recommend ‘neckpieces & earrings’ – one size fits all.
We expanded into pendants, necklaces and earrings, the idea being to develop products with less sizing complications and therefore higher sell through. It worked for the most part and now our bangle ranges only make up 30% of our turnover.
Once I’ve honed my palette I’ll start painting with the shapes Perry has created and when he’s not filling orders I’ll turn his attention to casting my latest creation. He will cast them and finish them to a point where it’s time to decide on findings… bands, bails, packaging and the rest. We didn’t create jewellery because we love it. We created jewellery because it fed an artistic desire but most importantly it butters our bread so it needs to turn a profit. The best piece of advice that comes to mind when considering making and marketing your own jewellery is that you have to ride that ego hard, don’t let it get out of control. Expensive findings (eg. Silver instead of stainless steel) will kill your profit margin and for every process you add to the manufacturing you have to imagine doing 3 stages of production 50 times over for each order… then add the prospect of another stage and another.
You have to be brutal, how expensive is your ego?
Do you research. As an example, let’s say you absolutely have to make bangles.
- Find a comparable… AND YES!… THERE ARE COMPS!
- How much will people pay for a bangle?
- What are the different price points and origins of manufacture?
- Are they packaged?
- What are the price comps to packaged and unpackaged?
- What is the core marketing component?
- Do you have a point of difference?
- Calculate your profit margin (be realistic about your labour) and ask yourself if you can compete.
Marketing & Selling Your Jewellery
From the start we couldn’t see ourselves doing the ‘artist market’ thing. The idea of refining a wholesale business model and keeping the bulk of work at the studio was more appealing. To compete with off-shore manufacturing you really only have one choice, which is too mark-up baby and embrace ‘hand-crafted’ and in our case, ‘Australian Made’, which means paying a license fee. With that comes additional expense in creating packaging and marketing that is worthy of the higher price point, so it comes in very handy when your ‘pack horse’ is also a graphic designer.
So the irony is that we needed to leave the studio, hit the road and tour the trade shows, knock on doors and send those terribly annoying marketing emails for a couple of years until we developed a respectable portfolio of resellers throughout Australia.
As I write, Perry is filling an order for one of our Australia Made airport resellers, which has been great for us and very challenging yet rewarding working with a large multi-national company.. but hey, bring it on!
We’ve got quite few ‘one off’ pieces that we will put up on the site so have peak at the shop if any of it takes your fancy, subscribe and be in with a chance to snatch up one of our ‘give-aways’!