Trendy jewelry woes

July 27, 2007

Here’s a recent clip from the Seattle Times which ran with an article advising readers to wear more “trendy” pendant necklaces this season.

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Is it just me, or are these styles becoming boring beyond belief? (Sorry that sounds so negative . . .)

I especially cringe when I see that little rose pendant, which, granted, is cute, but it was also the “hottest” retro-trendy pendant design a full five years ago.

I wonder if people who wear jewelry, but don’t design and make it themselves, are starting to feel the same way about fashion jewelry trends? (I’ve been making jewelry long enough now that I guess I don’t remember what it’s like to be . . . a normal person . . .).

In comments to a past post we briefly discussed jewelry-crafter burnout related to relying too heavily on current jewelry fashion trends. There could be several reasons for this. Here are the two that I suspect are the biggest factors:

Stifling of creativity – In order to keep the so-called creative juices flowing, you need to exercise your creative ability all the time. It’s not always easy (I think everyone gets creative “blocks” from time to time), but the more you sort-of force yourself to be creative, the more creative you become. You may be familiar with this general vibe if you’ve read The Artist’s Way.

Frustration over competition – Unless you tap heavily into a big, local market, or sell quite a bit to your friends, it can be nearly impossible to compete price-wise with the mass-producers of trendy fashion jewelry. This struggle can be very discouraging, especially if it remains a problem over a long period of time.

For my designs, I think I do consider fashion trends to some degree. I say that because I believe I’m influenced by fashion because it’s so prevalent in our culture. But, as I’ve grown as an artist and begun to “discover” my own personal tastes (and, hopefully, as I become more creative), I think my designs noticeably vary from the trendiest designs out there.

I guess at this point, I’m just trying to allow myself to create designs that “feel right” to me. I’m relying a lot on instinct – and crossing my fingers that the results will be positive.

shopserviceebook.jpgRena Klingenberg of Home Jewelry Business Success Tips has announced the release of her latest ebook, Secrets of a Handcrafted Jewelry Shopping Service.

Her previous ebook, Ultimate Guide to Your Profitable Jewelry Booth, has been very popular with artisans who are trying to get started selling at shows – or just to improve their show experience. (You can read my review here).

The new ebook (115 pages) describes how you can break into the niche market of offering a jewelry shopping service. In her July 18 newsletter, Rena explains:

I first stumbled onto the “jewelry shopping service” approach to marketing my handcrafted jewelry a few years ago….

Personal shopping services are a growing trend in all kinds of market niches. Typically a personal shopper helps clients determine what they should buy, or finds the perfect gifts for customers to give. Personal shoppers tend to specialize in a particular area of expertise, where they know a certain market and its suppliers inside and out.

Here’s why I think this approach sounds really interesting. If you’re a serious jewelry artisan/businessperson already, then you know the value of your skills and knowledge – but it can be difficult to effectively communicate that value to potential customers, especially retail customers.

If you transform your business into something offering a service like this, customers can see, understand, and experience what you have to offer. They’re actually hiring you, personally, to help them.

This reminds me of the idea of having a personal stylist (which I think would be very cool). Celebrities with lots of money hire stylists to help them define their look – to find them clothing and accessories, help them decide what to do with their hair, etc.

There’s something about it that seems really luxurious. If you can offer a little “bite” of similar services to customers . . . . it sounds kind of enticing, doesn’t it?

I haven’t read the new ebook, but if you have, consider posting a comment on what you think of it – and whether you plan to try this approach.

If you don’t have a copy but would like one, be aware that Rena is offering a special bonus to everyone who picks it up by July 30 (this coming Monday). She describes it as a 10-page report on creating successful marketing brochures for your jewelry shopping business, to keep you from having to come up with some entirely from scratch.

The ebook is available for purchase and download here for $29.00.

To sell on Etsy?

June 21, 2007

This has been an ongoing topic of discussion among jewelry artisans since the inception of the increasingly-popular Etsy.com, where anyone can set up an ecommerce shop and offer their handmade wares for sale online. 

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When you visit the Etsy home page, you’ll immediately notice that there are some high-quality, very artistic items listed there (see “Hand-picked items”.)  There are also many  lower-quality, “novice” level items, though most of them have very low asking prices.

As usual, the Jewelry category is the most saturated of them all.  This means more than increased “competition” in the strict sense.  It also means that your jewelry listings can be lost in the shuffle more easily (or diluted), resulting in less exposure.

Overall, it seems that Etsy is worthwhile for many jewelry crafters, although it’s certainly no panacea.  I do plan to set up a storefront there myself . . . if time ever permits!  In the meantime, here are summaries of some of the feedback I’ve received about Etsy from various sources over the past year.

 

  • Some artists have acquired new wholesale accounts from buyers who found them on Etsy, but many more have not.

 

  • Very few jewelry artists report “high” sales volume using Etsy for their jewelry, although some have success selling “supplies” there (like beads and findings).

 

  • The only reliable way to drive traffic to your Etsy site is through self-promotion; merely having an Etsy storefront typically is not enough.
  • For some artists, most or all of their Etsy customers are other Etsy sellers.
  • Sellers who participate in the Etsy “community” through its forums usually have more sales (because of their exposure to other sellers who are also customers); but in recent months, negative and unprofessional conduct in some of the forums has driven members away.
  • Etsy shops seems to be doing relatively well with their Google rankings.

I’ll post on this topic again as I learn more about the Etsy experience for jewelry crafters.  In the meantime, I hope these thoughts help you decide whether it might be right for you.

I’ve often wondered how some seemingly large-volume jewelry sellers on eBay are able to sustain their businesses by offering high-value items with 99 cent or $1.99 starting bids. Well, at least one seller apparently was doing just fine with low starting bids because they simply logged in as different users and inflated those bids by bidding on their own items

If you’re pretty familiar with eBay, you’ve probably heard about this illegal trick before.  But this is the first time I’ve heard of a seller being fined $400,000 as a penalty – and being banned from participating in online auctions for a number of years.

The fine is actually part of a settlement agreement between the seller and the New York Attorney General’s office.  (According to reports, eBay itself reported the seller’s activities to the Attorney General.)

For those of us who play by the rules selling on eBay, it’s nice to see at least one of these problems addressed by the criminal justice system.