by Melinda O’Keefe.
Jewelry Assembly Studio
I run a small jewelry assembly studio in Westchester County (Hudson Valley region), NY, about an hour north of NYC.
I started as a jewelry designer and moved into jewelry assembly by helping a friend fill an order – and found my true calling.
I taught classes on wire wrapping and assembling at craft guilds and adult continuing education classes.
I approached other jewelry designers at retail shows and offered my help to them as well.
At first they were a little hesitant but once I did their first orders, they loved my work and by reputation and word of mouth, I got more referrals and settled into my business of jewelry assembly.
At first I would meet designers at their studios and perhaps work with them in their studios to build a trust that would eventually lead to me being able to take the work and materials home.
Now everything gets shipped to me – the jewelry sample, directions, the materials to make the pieces.
I return all completed pieces and materials.
I’ve become quite proficient at wire wrapping – I’m an expert at it!
And now I have 4-6 part time employees that each have their own specialties to bring to the table – soldering, metal forming, free form wire wrapping, etc.
Our emphasis is making each piece of jewelry by hand, perfectly, whether it’s one piece or a thousand pieces.
I’m pleased to be able to offer this all done in the USA, and to be able to employ people in my community.
All the work is done by women who work all different days around their schedules, and my son who is 16 and quite the expert at chain cutting!
My husband, Michael, is the computer whiz and when he designed my website and got it going live, that’s when my Melindesign jewelry assembly business really got the professional edge it needed.
On my website I describe all the services, and now I reach a wider audience, giving jewelry designers a way to find jewelry outsource in the United States without having to go overseas.
We offer help in techniques as well, and help designers to improve the construction of a piece in ways that they may not have been aware of. Basic techniques aren’t secret and should be shared.
Which is what I discuss in my blog. I try to reassure designers that when their jewelry business is growing by leaps and bounds, it’s okay to seek the assistance of a good, trusted team.
We know that there is a lot of contention of what is hand made and what is made by the artist’s hand.
We follow the client’s vision and direction, and carry out their orders to their specs. We take pride in helping fellow designers and get great satisfaction seeing their businesses grow and expand.
On my blog I also discuss jewelry hints, shortcuts and organization tips. And I give shout outs to those in the jewelry community that strike my fancy as well.
I am in awe of what these amazing, creative people come up with and I’m just pleased as punch to be able to help!
Jewelry business that fills a need
Thanks so much for sharing your jewelry journey, Melinda! I was very interested to hear how your path led to providing a service to other jewelry designers.
Also, how cool that you can employ other ladies in your community, and that everyone can fit the work around their family life.
What a neat cottage industry you’ve started!
Thanks for this interesting look at a different kind of jewelry biz. Just curious, do you get tired of making multiples of a design for your customers? I ask that because to me making a jewelry design once is fun but to make it again is not nearly as fun! Your wirework is awesome.
I don’t know how to explain it but the constant, repetitive assembly of the pieces doesn’t bother me. And my assistants have the same affliction: We just love to wire wrap. When the studio is full of us working on 500 pieces, we just netflix a season of Dexter or Weeds that we haven’t seen, and twist away the day. I have a grand group of gals here and totally enjoy their company. It’s like a knitting circle or a quilting group, like ladies of long ago used to do but I’ve managed to find a like minded group that enjoys the final product and get paid for it. The hours just fly by. I never get bored of it. I also have a group of teenagers that come in to cut miles of chains on some afternoons and to have a table full of teens, gossiping and giggling, it’s just too much fun. I should start a documentary on the process and the characters involved! I’m completely satisfied when all those pile of baggies are ready to ship and look forward to the next assault so we pick out another season of some fab show we didn’t see and twist and wrap. And thanks so much for the wire wrap compliment!
I always wondered………
Thanks for sharing Melinda! I only wish that I lived closer because I would love to learn how to make beautiful jewelry like you! Keep up the good work!
by: Rita Juhlin
I never ever get tired when I’m making money, LOL! Nice work
There’s nothing better than getting paid for a job you love to do!
by: Tricia – Bead Booty
What a fabulous jewelry service niche. My favorite part about making jewelry has always been the actual assembly. I’ve loved putting things together since I was a kid! Kudos to you for creating a valuable service for your clients and an enjoyable experience for yourself.
Thanks Tricia! Yes, it’s the same for me too. I like assembling the stuff!
What a job!
by: Janine G.
You have such an awesome job!! At first, the thought of repetition made me a bit queasy but the more I think about it, the more I realize that is the best time when I make jewelry because I am totally in the “Zone”, and watch shows and movies. I love it!
Consider yourself very lucky!
If you ever need help (although I think I am very far away form you) I am interested!
in the “zone”
Thanks Janine. I definitely feel like this is a meditative practice for me. Plus, I’ve caught up with all 5 seasons of Weeds!
And what a zone she has created!
Melinda is one of the most efficient, honest, crafty person I know. She is a go getter and a task Master! I’m one of her “ladies” and enjoy working for her as well as all the designers we get to work for. I think we all love what we do and it shows in our work.
Fairy Jewelry Mother
by: Devora Libin
From our very first conversation it was clear to me that having Melinda in not only my business’ life but my life was a no brainer. She delivers beautiful quality pieces as well as invaluable support, suggestions and enthusiasm.
I’m Happy to Tip Some Fairy Dust Your Way!
It’s been a pleasure to watch you explode on the fashion accessories scene, Miss Devora! You have the talent, you just needed a little direction which you followed to a tee. Check out Devora Libin Jewelry in June 26-July 1 US Magazine (last week!s issue). How far you have come from our meeting in April. Three months and your fine work is in a major publication. Congrats!