When people learn to make jewelry, many of them are excited to sell some of their pieces. Selling jewelry can be a great way to offset the expense of a jewelry-making hobby and it is a great business venture for more serious entrepreneurs.
I have been making jewelry for several years now and have sold lots of pieces. Most of those sales occurred because I had been approached by people who knew that I make jewelry. I never really wanted to start a business selling my jewelry. I owned a bead shop for a few years and now I run an Etsy store where I sell beading patterns.
In any case, selling jewelry is not easy and I thought it would be a good idea to share what I have learned from my experience.
Practice, Practice, Practice
I taught jewelry-making classes while I owned my bead shop. My students were always so excited to show off their finished pieces and that was great! What worried me though, was the number of people that I heard saying they can't wait to sell their jewelry.
Wait a minute! You haven't even finished the classes yet but you want to start selling to other people? How comfortable would you be if you called an electrician over to your house and saw him reading a textbook on how to run electrical wires properly?
I know beading is nowhere near as serious as electricity but it's the same concept. Your customers will expect and deserve a quality product and I'm sorry to say, your pieces may not be as great as you think they are just yet.
I think back to the time when I was looking through some of my beaded jewelry and found a couple of bracelets that I had made while I was learning. They looked awful! Needless to say, I cringed and put them aside to recycle the beads later. While I was taking my jewelry classes, I proudly wore each piece home after class, thinking it was the best-looking piece ever. Now, I know that my thread tension was way off and I could see that I made a few mistakes while making those bracelets.
It is always better to get quite a bit of practice before you decide to start a business. Make jewelry consistently for at least one year before you jump into anything more. The mere fact that you kept it up for a year means that you may be more likely to stick to it because you enjoy it. Once you start selling handmade jewelry, the demands of the business may zap the love of jewelry-making right out of you.
Once you have decided that you want to sell handmade jewelry, you have some other things to think about:
These are just a few of the basic decisions you have to make. Obviously, if you are starting a serious jewelry business and not just a side hustle, then this is a drop of water in the bucket of work you need to do to get started.
- Where will you sell?
- Who will you sell to?
- What kind of jewelry will you make?
- Will you offer custom pieces?
- What are realistic production times for you?
- Will you need help?
- How will you deal with returns or claims of damage?
Your ideal customer is probably the most important thing you need to think about. The person you want to be selling to will ultimately dictate where you will sell, what kind of jewelry you will make, your price point etc.
I highly recommend that if you will be offering custom pieces that you require a deposit to be made before you buy any materials or begin working on the jewelry. I learned this the hard way so benefit from my mistake.
People often ask for jewelry and then balk at the price or they simply change their minds. Then, you're stuck with jewelry you made specifically for them and/ or the materials that you purchased to make it.
Now, I ask for 50% of the fee that I will charge for the custom piece upfront. Most customers are understanding and do not have any issues with this. The ones that do have a problem with it probably aren't your ideal customer anyway so don't feel bad if you lose out on one or two sales. You want customers who will fall over themselves trying to get your products not the ones that complain the whole way.
Keep Your Receipts
Receipts are important when you are selling jewelry. You need to know what each component cost you so that you can accurately calculate the price of the finished product. You should not be losing money because you did not keep track of your costs effectively.
I suggest that you keep your costs in an Excel document. Include the name of the component, the total price, quantity and name of the store and location or website where you purchased the item. I would also include details such as metal finish, colour and size where applicable.
From this information, you can work out the cost of the individual piece. In the photo below, I show an example of a pack of 100 silver-plated lobster clasps that cost $5. This means that the cost of one lobster clasp from this package is $0.05. So when I calculate the total cost of the components that I used to make my jewelry, I can include this price.
You may have noticed that I have renamed each Excel worksheet as well (at the bottom left of the photo). This way, you can keep all of the components of your jewelry categorized. I have my pages separated into Findings, Beads and Stringing Materials. You can add as many categories as you like.
You MUST include labour costs in your final jewelry price.
This is where most beginners get antsy. They fear people will not want to pay what they charge or they are confused about how they should even calculate the price.
As I mentioned before, you have to determine your target market. Your ideal customer will not gripe and groan about your prices so ignore those people that do. They are NOT who you want to be selling to.
If selling your jewelry is just a way to make a little extra money, then really you can charge what you like for labour. Just make sure you are not charging below the hourly minimum wage in your country. If you are starting a serious business, then you need to find the total cost of all of your monthly bills, personal and business-related and then divide that cost by the number of hours you expect you will work. This will ensure that your labour cost covers your monthly bills.
While you are making your jewelry, track how long it took you to complete and add your hourly labour cost to the total price of the components you have used.
Be Firm and Fair
Once you know your total price, stand firm and do not let people intimidate you into lowering your prices below what you need. One trick that I used, at craft shows especially, was to add on 5% to my final jewelry price. When that one customer came along who wasn't happy with what I was charging, I offered a 5% discount. 5% honestly is not a lot of money when you think about it but it always worked! The customer felt like they had won the battle and I still got my sale.
Whether you are selling jewelry on the side or you are starting a serious business, you need to have clear policies in place to deal with returns or damaged items. In what time-frame will you accept returns? What can be returned and what can not? There are people who will try to take advantage of you. Ensure everyone knows your policies upfront by including them on the receipt or a separate flyer. This will make your life much easier in the end.
Honestly, there is so much to think about when you want to make and sell jewelry. One thing I can say is, it can be quite rewarding once your hard work pays off and your ideal customer can't get enough of your pieces.
For more advice about selling handmade jewelry, click here and here.
What are your tips for anyone who wants to sell handmade jewelry?
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Labels: craft business, handmade jewelry business, new jewelry business tips, selling jewelry, The Bead Club Lounge, tips for selling jewelry