How Can I Start a Jewelry Business When I Can’t Make Jewelry?

by Zaina.
(Toronto)

How Can I Start a Jewelry Business When I Can't Make Jewelry?  - Discussion on Jewelry Making Journal

I am a recent MBA graduate from the finance industry. I graduated 7 months ago and have been applying for banking jobs but landing absolutely nothing.

I was always inclined to be a stylist and designer, but was pressured away towards a ‘stable and sure income’. Not so stable today.

I absolutely love buying and wearing jewelry as well as getting it designed. Most of my jewelry comes from me explaining to my jeweler what I want, and he makes it a reality.

I am renowned in family and friends for wearing great jewelry and often get asked where I got it from.

And now to the point – I’m 30, I’ve worked for several multi national banks and have had the (mis?!)fortune of not finding a job yet – which makes me think, do I want to turn 50 and still just SAY I could design my own jewelry?

Over the past 8 months, I could’ve tried and succeeded, or even failed, at least I would have tried and found out. So now I want to TRY!

My question is, how do I start about not knowing how to make jewelry?

I spoke to a very old alumni at my university (20 yrs in jewelry business) who advised me to have jewelry made and focus on brand and marketing.

And to be honest, almost a year out of school with a degree I spent over 150k on, I really cant afford to pay for any more classes.

I have been reading about social media marketing, Etsy, word of mouth, and really believe in having friends and other people market and model the jewelry.

But what do I start with? Just 20 or 50 pieces? Do I need to have a manufacturer have a mold ready in case orders come and customers need different sizes?

I am thinking of not getting a company registration till I hit at least 50 sales, would that be the right approach?

I am so scared of failure given that I’m already unemployed.

Zaina
Sheikha

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Comments

  1. Hi Zaina, whether you decide to design and make jewelry yourself for your business, or whether you hire other people to do it – you would benefit tremendously by learning how jewelry is made.

    I’m not sure what types of jewelry you are interested in, or what types of materials you prefer – but you can learn a lot about jewelry making – for free. For example, there are loads of jewelry making tutorials on YouTube, and here at Jewelry Making Journal (Rena’s free jewelry tutorials), and in books you can check out from the library. If you’re not currently in a position to pay for more schooling, I would definitely recommend that you start learning all you can from these free sources.

    Also continue your research on social media and other business topics, because the more you know, the better your business decisions will be.

    And as for starting your jewelry business – I wouldn’t recommend jumping into that immediately. I’d say you should get a good background in jewelry-making first, because that knowledge that will affect how you want your business to be, and probably also how successful your business will be.

    I hope this helps, Zaina, and please keep us posted on your progress! 🙂

  2. I agree with Rena completely. I live in the GTA also; most bead stores hold relatively short, inexpensive classes that teach the basics (stringing, wirework, metal clay, etc) and (apparently) there are weekend courses on silversmithing . Various craft guilds hold classes as does night school. When I started out over 10 years ago I spent approx. 7-8 hrs a day, 7 days a week for 8 months reading, researching, practicing, practicing, practicing, and I am still learning, trying new things and spend several hrs a day researching. And this is just for a very part time little business. I also worked for 3 years in an upmarket bead store (great way to learn, as we were tasked with making samples from new products ). There I saw people come in, take a 2 hr class, decide to start a business that day and fail miserably because they simply did not have the knowledge and experience or understand the mechanics. Personally, I do not think there is an easy road to doing something and doing it well and successfully.

  3. Hello Zaina, WOW, your dilemma would be my savior in grace. I love making jewelry (addicted…) but do not like selling/marketing. Periodically, over the last two years, I have dreamed of finding someone to take my creations and sell them, then share the profits. Hmmm! In my mind I know this is doable but so far I have not delved into finding that partner :(. Keep researching Zaina.

  4. Rena:

    Thank you for your feedback! I have been looking at all your website resources, articles and youtube videos as well. I have also read several books to learn about gemstones and their qualities, jewelry making procedures, and producing jewelry collections. So at this point, i could look at a jewelry piece and tell someone exactly what tools it took, procedures and polishing stages it went through.
    I have also got a detailed excel sheet of recent designers who have emerged, their social media strategies, price points, and materials they work with.
    The last thing i am trying to nail is breaking down regional demography by income, education and spending habits including their go to media points to understand which is my target group, their budget, and the designers these women go to! This is still preliminary research given by MBA background so that when i do come to the point of starting, my consumer reach is nailed well.
    I strongly believe that people buy anything that is sold well, and sometimes the product may be awful and bad quality, but you could sell it well and for the highest price point if the branding is done well and the right channels are used.

  5. Hi Joybelle Malcom

    I understand your position! Also, love your work. You can find alot of online resources and consumer behavior reports if youre willing to work on it yourself. On the other hand, you could reach out to undergraduate business students via college careers to see if they provide free internships. A few months of an intern could go a long way to boost your marketing and sales, and youd learn from the intern too!
    Good luck!

  6. Zaina, I so relate. I went bankrupt in 2008 and lost everything. I tried a few businesses that sucked up what little money I had and didn’t return anything.

    I currently own a gemstone bead business. I started with $480, and have been at it for almost five years. Last year I netted $6,500. Part of that is that I’ve been so ambivalent because of constant problems ordering from China. If you end up with a business that causes heartache, and if you keep plugging away hating it, your higher self will kick you to the curb to free you from your pain. Or your body will get sick, and you’ll be forced to stop.

    My bankruptcy was a blessing, because I was too afraid to get out of the book business. I was selling $30K a month on Amazon and plunking the money right back into more inventory trying to grow my business, because I bought the line that bigger is better. For some people it is. Me, I just put on 50 pounds and got really sick. I was a workaholic trying to escape from a dull life.

    I learned a lot from the mistakes I made, so there is no such thing as failure. They’re just steps on a ladder that you have to climb to get to the top.

    I think you have to decide what part of the jewelry business you enjoy.

    Is it designing and having someone else make it?
    Is it working with your own hands?
    Do you want to go big or stay small?
    Do you want to work from home or a shop?
    Do you want employees?
    Do you enjoy marketing?
    Do you enjoy interacting with customers?
    How important is your personal freedom?
    Are you just considering this because you can’t find a job and need money? (Forget it.)

    Basically, you have to go mentally in your imagination into the all the possible futures and see yourself working this business. What will it look like? What lifestyle will give you the happiness and creative expression you desire? Don’t think about the money. Build the business around your desires and strengths, what makes you happy. Nail this down before you do anything or you will waste a lot of time on side trails.

    For over a year I’ve been considering closing the bead business and teaching manifesting, which I’ve been studying for a couple years. I was looking at once again having to build a new business from scratch. What if I give up my bead business and fail again? Then I’ve lost something that at least paid the bills.

    But I finally realized this morning that my freedom is more important to me than anything. The freedom to wake without an alarm clock. To wear slippers and sweats and go bra-less. To read for hours every morning. This past summer I went to the beach almost every day. I don’t think I would have that freedom with the new business.

    So I decided to stay with the bead business. And since I love teaching and helping others, I’m going to incorporate that into the business, because that’s how I express my unique talent and creativity. I’m not a bead seller; I’m a teacher. We humans are creators, and if we’re not creating, we’re just not going to be fulfilled.

  7. I stumbled on this post and when I read it, I picked interest in the subject. Zaina, the situation you are in is not different from mine some years ago. I am a self-made engraver but I studied education at the university.

    I worked formally for some years but I wanted to be a boss of myself. I thought of what I could do to earn a living until I picked the idea of starting a laser engraving business. That was way back in 2008.

    When I researched on laser engraving, I realised that I needed skills like graphic designing, engraving and marketing to start the business in addition to acquiring the right technology.

    What I did was to purchase a graphic designing software (CorelDraw Graphic Suite X5) from my savings to teach myself graphic designing. I bought it online, downloaded it and started immediately learning. I used to learn in the evening after work and practised what I had learnt. Additionally, I subscribed to some online forums and graphic designing communities that taught me tricks of producing good designs. It took me a short time to learn the basics and enough skill to run a laser engraving business. Remember, I did not have any skill. I didn’t even do fine art at school.

    Secondly, I realized that marketing the products was a big concern. It’s a skill that I had to teach myself. I taught myself web designing so as to market my products online too. I also read books on marketing.

    By the time I bought the machine in 2014, I already knew a lot which was enough capital to run the business I am in now.

    What I want to bring out by this story is that you too can teach yourself slowly. The good thing is that you have the passion for starting a jewelry business. Passion drives everything in life. Just get all what it necessitates to begin now. Teach yourself. Human beings can adapt to anything. I was a teacher, then a child rights advocate and now an engraver running my own business.

    I wish you success in your plans. Happy New Year.

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