by AnnaLea Sloan.
AnnaLea Sloan began her jewelry business just a bit younger than most of us.
At age 14 she earned $1000 in net profit by selling her work at her first jewelry home party.
Discover how AnnaLea’s passion for jewelry making, her determination to learn how to run a business, and her supportive family have combined to make her jewelry business dream come true.
Here’s her story.
The Journey Begins
I have always loved making jewelry. It has been a hobby of mine since I was 6 years old. I would use my mother’s beads to take apart and piece together new and beautiful jewelry.
I would give them as presents to family members and keep them for my own. They served as meaningful gifts; some of my family members still have my jewelry and wear it from when way back then.
When I was fourteen years old, my mother took me to a GEM show in Kansas City. I was overwhelmed by the selection of beads and gems that I saw. There were examples of jewelry pieces already made from the beads and gems at the show, and booth’s for artists to show their jewelry.
It was inspiring to see what could be done with just these simple materials.
I began brainstorming about creating and selling jewelry. I shared this with my mother and she replied, “Why don’t you start now?”
So, we decided to purchase some basic materials at the GEM show. Once I got home, I literally made hundreds of jewelry pieces in about a month.
We ended up getting a wholesale license in my name so that we could buy materials in bulk at the future GEM shows. The costs can add up very quickly, so this helped tremendously with cutting back on expenses.
I slowly found out what the most efficient ways were to bead and bind bracelets and necklaces, and how to create earrings. I found which designs and styles I liked and which ones I did not.
I learned so much through practice. I eliminated what didn’t work and built on what did work.
A Successful Jewelry Party
After I started becoming more familiar with jewelry making, I heard about a woman who creates jewelry and has what she calls “jewelry parties” her home.
She invites friends over and has food and games set up. She has her jewelry on display for people to look at and shop for.
I decided that I should have something like this at my home. This way, I could get a feel for the jewelry market and to see what people liked and didn’t care for.
My grandmother offered to have the party at her home and invited several of her close friends. I invited family members and friends of mine. I sent out invitations with descriptions of the materials I used in my jewelry and what the price ranges were.
We served wine and snacks and played music. This seemed to create a warm atmosphere where people felt safe to browse and try on jewelry.
The party was designed for everyone to enjoy themselves. There was no vibe of harsh advertisement and no pressure for anyone to feel that they had to buy something.
I set my jewelry out on a dining room table, clothed with black velvet. This was a great background to bring out the colors in my jewelry. We had the party in the late afternoon/evening. We dimmed the lights a bit, but kept good lighting above the dining room table, which had the jewelry displayed on it.
jewelry party display by annalea sloan AnnaLea’s jewelry home party display.
Since I use crystals in my jewelry pieces, the combination of the black velvet and the bright lighting made for a beautiful and sparkling display table.
The party lasted for about 4 hours. When everyone had gone, after I filled out a log of my expenses and documented the purchases, I came out to have made about $1000.00 in one night.
I was ecstatic! Being fourteen years old, $1000.00 seemed like a million dollars to me. I was so thrilled that people liked my jewelry.
Becoming a Businessperson
After my first jewelry party, I continued making jewelry for the next year. I was always inspired to create new jewelry pieces, so by the end of a year, I had more than enough jewelry for another jewelry show.
It wasn’t until I was sixteen that I had my next jewelry showing. By then, I was getting more curious about the business aspect of jewelry.
I printed out business cards with the name “Custom Designed Jewelry by AnnaLea” and added my contact information, with a statement saying that I was willing to customize any jewelry piece to any person’s style.
I started learning about documenting expenses, filing taxes, balancing out the amount of expenses and income, to see how much money I actually made, etc. This was all very new to me, but I was excited about it!
I have continued to have jewelry parties ever since. I always address them as parties and send out invitations.
It is important to me to keep the jewelry parties relaxed and personal. I’m not fond of businesses where it feels like people are interested more in making money than in what they are selling.
I now have a website, Jewelry by AnnaLea, displaying my art and sharing my vision.
I have new business cards and am making more jewelry than ever. I continue to study and learn about jewelry making and selling jewelry as a business.
Surprisingly, my first jewelry party has been the most successful financially. More people showed up to the first jewelry party than to any of the ones I’ve had since. It was an amazing first experience and it inspired me.
I have a passion for creating jewelry and a goal to make women feel beautiful. I love how jewelry dresses up every occasion and I love matching colors with my outfits and wearing my jewelry in new ways, every day.
I still consider myself new to the jewelry industry, but I enjoy every step of the way.
I am eager to find out how to build my business, and as every artist can understand, I’m working on finding out how, where, and who to sell my jewelry to. The hardest part of the business is selling the merchandise.
I encourage other jewelry artists to keep on making jewelry, and to do it because you love it. I hope to discover new ways to promote and sell my jewelry and continue to grow as a jewelry artist.
I’m thankful for the articles from jewelry makers that have inspired me. I hope other people can remember to enjoy making the jewelry, and to always keep in mind the passion behind your business.
I believe that as long as you keep learning and looking, something great will come!
AnnaLea is now all grown up – a wife and mom.
Catch up with her and see her latest creations at Custom Designed Jewelry by AnnaLea.