by Christi Schimpke.
(Los Angeles, California USA)
I’ve been making jewelry for 2 years or so and I’ve recently created my own website and online business.
My sister has a skincare studio about 500 miles north of me and she’s been kind enough to sell some of my jewelry in her shop.
However, I haven’t made a profit and I’m using all my ‘other’ business income to support my jewelry habit.
I once had a regular 9-5 job as an editor at a major museum but had always wanted to be an artist. Instead I got a masters in art history (yawn!)
In my mid-40’s I quit my job, became a personal trainer and started to dabble in jewelry.
The only reason I was able to do this was due to my lovely husband who felt I should (for once) try to do something I liked (loved?)
Soooo… I made wire jewelry with beads and found vintage jewelry that I dissected and re-used to make (what I thought) was interesting stuff.
Alas, only a few people felt the same.
So I ventured out into Viking weave, crocheted wire, and even chain maille but still not much of a response.
Then I took a metalsmithing class and I fell in love.
Now I want to devote all my time to learning how to solder, drill, polish, saw and do whatever else there is to do to a piece of metal.
Now here’s what’s stopping me.
First of all, the expense of materials is daunting.
Second, there isn’t enough time in the day to do all that I aspire to do.
Third, I want to know everything there is to know NOW!
Fourth, I’m not sure how much inventory I should develop or even what it should consist of.
And fifth, I feel GUILTY! Guilty because I’d rather work on jewelry all day and all night (well, part of it) than anything else.
Sadly, reality gets in the way: clients, husband, cooking, cleaning, etc. and so on and I feel resentful.
I feel guilty because for the first time in my life I really, really love what I’m doing and I can’t give it my full attention.
And what’s even more frightening is the idea of trying to sell my stuff at a store, crafts sale or market or even online.
I just can’t seem to find the confidence that others seem to have in this line of work.
What to do?
Does anyone else have these same feelings or experiences?
Ginger and Maryann Fine Gifts
You’re definitely not alone!
I think you’ve just voiced the turmoil of thousands of jewelry artists (and probably other types of creative folks as well!).
Having finally found your creative fire and the work you love passionately, I think it’s very natural to have a 24/7 obsession with it!
And having really clicked with this fabulous new obsession, it’s SO frustrating to have to do any of that boring everyday stuff that needs to be taken care of!
So I don’t think you should feel guilty for wanting – needing – to follow your new creative path.
Instead, can you make some changes that will free you up from some of the everyday obligations?
Devote 15 minutes each day to housecleaning, and stop the instant your 15 minutes are up. That results in a total of 1 hour and 45 minutes of fairly painless cleaning every week!
For cooking, you could focus on fixing crock-pot meals that you throw together in the morning, let it cook all day, and then eat it for dinner along with a quickly tossed salad; etc. Be sure to fix enough to have leftovers for easy lunches.
For more jewelry-making time, could you work on your creations while companionably watching a movie or TV with your hubby?
And could you “gang up” your clients into fewer days per week, which could give you at least one full extra day each week for your jewelry?
Okay, now about selling your work.
You’re right – it does take courage when you first start putting your inner soul’s creations out there for people to see, scrutinize, and perhaps criticize.
But once we really put our jewelry out there, I think most of us find that there’s far LESS criticism, and far MORE positive reaction, than we expected.
I haven’t seen your new metal pieces, but from what I see of your lovely wire pieces, I can say that yes, most definitely, “Surely someone will like this piece!” :o)
So your job is to identify WHO will most love your work – and then devise the best ways to get your jewelry seen by them.
Just as an example from what I see of your jewelry, I would say that it would be a hot property among folks who are into fantasy, sci-fi, Renaissance Faires, goth, etc.
I’ve written about selling jewelry to customers with those interests in niche market venues here:
Niche Market and Lack of Venues / Sales (answers to a question asked by a Steampunk jewelry artist).
Of course, there are plenty of mainstream folks who would very likely love your exquisite style, too.
You may have to experiment with various venues to discover these folks – but once you get one or two customers, I think you have an excellent chance of getting lots of referral business from them.
Their friends and family will want to know where they got these fantastic, unique pieces!
And your website is a great step in the right direction. Now you need to work on getting your site in front of people who are likely to love your jewelry!
Many artists find that the road to business success lies in spending at least as much time on promoting and marketing your art as you spend creating it.
That means that (although you’re scaling back a bit on the fun time of making jewelry) you’re adding the new absorbingly creative activity of building your own unique jewelry business.
Forgot to mention…
I think brides would swoon over your wire-and-ribbon corset-style cuff bracelets, made with white pearls and white ribbon!
The bridesmaids could have the same style of cuffs, but in colors matching their gowns. :o)
by: Christi Schimpke
Thank you for your good advice and enthusiasm, Rena! This is a great venue and there is so much to read and absorb, really terrific!
Good ideas about the niche market, I hadn’t thought of that.
by: Rita Juhlin
Well Christi, welcome to our world. I dare say that I know that I know there are many, many jewelers in the same boat.
Until my Curtis passed I felt like a pin ball in a huge pin ball machine. I was taking care of mother, husband, pets, stray pets and stray people and a huge business. Being one that was up and running at 6 a.m. and usually until 2 a.m. I look back now and wonder how I did it all.
I longed to get my hands in the dirt to plant flowers, and wondered what I could do to rid myself of all the creative instinct that was bubbling up and being suppressed.
After there wasn’t anymore than a couple dogs to take care I had to take care of, during this nuts-o period of time, I went from painting to refinishing antique furniture, well, I was a mess, I searched and tried everything to find my place.
One day I discovered wire wrapped jewelry on the internet. I didn’t care what it cost I wanted to learn how to do that. Yes, I did learn and it’s taken a few years but it’s paying off now. My venue is consignment sales not necessarily the web although I’ve had a level of success there too.
The web takes way to much time to suite my need (addiction). I, like you, have discovered the fun of soldering silver and making things that I cannot do with wire, but I use all those skills I have learned in wire wrapping and chain maille.
I too felt guilty as guilty can be until I realized I am important and what I do creatively is as important as all those things that depended on me. My only problem now is that I don’t get enough exercise because I spend hours and hours sitting, working on my art.
You need the balance in your life like I found after getting over the excitement of my first discovery of talents and successes I have and getting over being a martyr, solving all the problems, never asking for help, etc.
You are not alone. Never lose your enthusiasm; don’t let anyone or anything especially guilt take it away! Oh, and be sure to laugh at yourself regularly, it’s better than chicken soup.
My best to you,
Private Stock Jewelry
P.S. Be sure you get listed at homebasedjewelers.blogspot.com when you are up and running on the web with your store.
(Ha, Rena I did it under 3000 characters!)
I’m With You Sister!
Like you, I’m struggling with the same feelings…all because creating jewelry art has taken a very central place of importance in my life. (oh yeah, I can totally relate to the resentment around taking time away from my art to do anything domestic) Sometimes I wonder if I have obsessive-compulsive disorder or a hoarding problem (my jewelry-making stuff has taken over multiple areas of our house)and I sometimes question if I actually have talent or if I’m delusional…well, maybe there’s a reality show in all this angst. (TLC-are you listening?)
But just maybe this is what all artists go through to one degree or another…the process of creation, no matter what the media, engages us on so many levels…and it demands focus…like the saying goes “art is a jealous lover.”
In the meantime, I still have my day job and I haven’t put my family in Chapter 11, and creating jewelry makes me HAPPY…isn’t that ultimately what it’s all about?
Don’g Give Up – We have all been there!
Man your stuff is AWESOME! I love it. I myself tried to make one of the cuff’s you have made but got too frustrated and couldn’t deal with it. I am a jewelry designer as well and I know how you feel. I make spirutual jewelry with Crosses and Medals and have a website. I did my first show which was huge and I lost alot of money – and sold nothing! It was a huge loss in terms of not only money but it cost me my self esteem and I almost gave up. Now I am doing much smaller shows that are local and am working on getting up to speed on social networks. It is tough but we all have to keep going. I think your stuff is beautiful and some of the suggestions will probably not only work for you but me and other artists as well.
One other thought – you may want to team up with another artist (someone who makes bags or paintings) and do a show – you never know. Best of luck. Julie Saillant
Do what feels right!
by: Erin Prais-Hintz
Yes. It takes courage to chase your dreams. And it is a lot of hard work. I work a full time job, have kids that are involved in sports and dance, a healthy committed relationship with my husband, and volunteer opportunities. Making one of a kind wearable works of art is my 9p to midnight job! Sometimes I can’t commit to that. But I try. I would challenge yourself. Pick one thing…setting up an online presence is a great place to start. Make it a gallery of your best work (selling online through it can come later). You need to have a presence and a well thought out brand before you can make it. Think about what you like to make, and what people seem to buy. Then make more. Start small and grow and focus less on what others say you should have on stock (depends on where and how you are selling it) and more on doing what is right for you. I sell through an artist coop, word of mouth is huge for me, and I am breaking into online selling. Bottom line is to do what feels right and don’t feel like you have to do it all, at least not all at once!
Enjoy the day!
Everything takes time – be patient with yourself
by: Amanda Houser
All great thing come with time. You need to look at your goals and give yourself some satifaction at times. It’s been said that it takes 10 years to really get noticed in the arts – and it takes time to build clientele. I’ve been creating wire jewelry for over 10 years now and in business for 5 years. I’m still learning, and I’ve definately come a long way from where I started. Artists usually are very hard on themselves. I have to make myself look back sometimes to see what I have accomplished, that I have met my goals, but I always have new goals to aspire to.
I’ve done many shows now, small markets, home shows, trade shows, sometimes they are great sometimes not.
Everyone has their learning experiences, and the people that work through the tough times and have a good business sense with see the benefits in the long run.
You are doing beautiful work and you are following your passion. The bad thing about having a passion for jewellery is the materials cost!!!
I started off as a hobby because I had a passion for the materials I was working with a desire to create. I literally poured thousands of dollars into it but I started of selling a few bits here and there and promoting myself purely locally. It has slowly built to a decent turnover, and once sales start trickling in, its easier to justify the time and the dollars spent.
I have no doubt that one day we’ll see your work gracing the cover of a magazine being worn by someone famous!
mid-life crisis etc
by: Christi Schimpke
Thank you all so much for your supportive and informative comments. I love this site!
Mid- life crisis
by: Lisa oram
I am doing exactly what you are doing. My crazy, expensive obsession is lampworking. I am writing about “becoming an artist in midlife” at my blog: www. Lisaoram.com. Come on over and visit. There are worse ways to have a mid-life crisis! And I bet a flex shaft is cheaper than a sports car!
Been there…. Still there, but without the guilt.
I started a blog called Lynn’s Artist Motivation Blog (http://www.lynnwhitejewelry.blogspot.com) to support myself and the many other people who feel this way. My last blog, posted this week, refers to another person’s blog about just making art and forgetting the excuses and worrying whether someone will like it or buy it. We are so programmed that we have to be “productive” 100% of the time we are awake, that we can’t just enjoy art for art. Of course, we would all like the pat on the back of someone liking and buying our jewelry. And it reduces the guilt about how much we spend on our supplies. But do other people with other pursuits, such as fishing, worry about how much they spend on boats and tackle and travel, or do they just do it and enjoy it for what it is? Those of us who don’t have full time jobs to support our jewelry art obsessions probably feel the guiltiest. Look in the archives of my blog for the “Not Guilty” post in April 2009. And stop feeling guilty!
got that t shirt
Oh, Christi, I know exactly what you’re going through. I’ve been making jewelry for years and just recently started some metalwork and immediately fell in love.
(check my blog: susannaoriginals.blogspot.com)
I can’t justify spending a lot on tools or material so a little at a time, I’ve been collecting some of what I need. Hammer and files are needed for doing wire work, so I invested in one hammer and a decent, but not cadillac, set of files. I already have a good butane torch for soldering and fusing wire. A sale of a few necklaces got me a bench block and a ring vice without guilt. A jeweler’s saw isn’t expensive (around $15) nor are the blades. And I found a mechanical contractor nearby who has sheets of copper and I bought enough scrap for $30 to keep me going for a year. The sale of another necklace got me a portable bench vice ($39) from the local hardware store. So little by little, I’ve accumulated enough to do some interesting things. Now I just need the time!
Mine isn’t a mid-life thing, it’s a sixties thing, and luckily for me, I only have dogs to complain about my housecleaning, or lack thereof, but I also have my own business and stealing time for my jewelry is difficult. But I do it. Even if I have to work twice as hard the next day to catch up, I’ll find time.
Good luck! You’ll find that you can do a lot of creating without having a fully equipped workshop to start, and you could be the only woman on the block who asks for a propane torch for Christmas.
Sisters after my Heart
And so I now discover some the wearied warriors as we travel the same road, yet apart and at different times, thinking we are alone and yet we fight the same battle. My own story in this regard is at a site I have been building as a last desperate stand to keep myself from having to breath my last breath at a regular job…
http://pic-nic.webs.com/WEBPROTECT-onthewaytothepicnic.htm (You may have to sign in to read it as that is how this webhosting site set things up. … and believe it or not, it is a condensed version.)
It feels as though I may lose this one now, as I really am quite weary, thinking that perhaps it just might be easier to bite the bullet and see if I might gain at least guilt-free weekends or evenings to be creative.
To Sisters After My Own Heart
To Sisters After My Own Heart – Janet
DO NOT GIVE UP:
As I said in an earlier post I almost gave up just a few weeks ago but thanks to my lovely sister I didn’t. I am at a job that does not give me any satisfaction or joy and I bet you feel the same way. My job is also in jeopardy and I may lose it soon which will really be bad financially. So I (and you) need to keep trying to get your art out there for others to see. All it takes is just a few sales to get you going and then you will be off and running. This is an important time for you because you may be so close, success may be literally just around the corner. And think to yourself (at least I think about this) if I did give up? then what? So I am to go from hopeless job to hopeless job and hate your life. No, Keep going not to mention that you probably have LOADS of talent. Take it from me – we are both on the same path and it has to happen at some point for us. Best of luck! Julie www.heavensjules.com
by: Tricia – Bead Booty
Christi, that corset style cuff bracelet is amazing! I love the colors and your workmanship is breathtaking.
I couldn’t agree with Rena more when she says that probably a great number of crafts people have the same trepidations and such that you’ve expressed. I know I do, big time. Being comfortable with putting myself and my jewelry out there is something I deal with daily. I don’t claim to have the answer for you, but I’ll share a bit of encouragement. Stay in touch with fellow artisans, crafts people of all kinds, not just jewelrymakers. As a community we all have something to offer each other. And you know the best and most important things I get from my compadres? Encouragement, laughs and advice. Sometimes that’s all you need.
Chin up, be proud of your work and enjoy the process!
Keep up the good work…
I just want to say your work is lovely and there is always someone who will love it, you’ll see.
Thanks for sending a few jewels of encouragement from your heart my way, Julie. They are much appreciated. I will keep one and pass the rest back to those gathered here for the same reason, to help nurture creativity in order that it may grow and thrive.
It certainly is a positive practice to keep company with those who have a similar passion, not only to inspire and share our work, but our thoughts of reassurance as well, especially since at least in my own practice, we spend so much of our spare moments creating that often it is at the expense of keeping in touch with other people.
Many thanks to all of you. You’ve offered so much help and support already! What a wonderful community. I now realize that no (wo)man is an island; I’ve been cloistered for so long making jewelry that I haven’t even tapped into all the positive and similar stories and sisters out there.
Whew, there seems to be so much more than just making jewelry to get your business going, doesn’t it? I can’t even begin to think about marketing, displays, shows, getting the work out, etc.
Does anyone have a story regarding the process of getting yourself off the ground in a retail sense?
Also, another question, do you find that the bead shows are a good place to buy supplies or do you think they might be overpriced?
by: Leta of letamariedesigns
I hear ya. It is a lot of work to get your name out there and your creations noticed. I used to sell consignment but now am just focusing on the internet. I work outside the home too and it is hard to balance everything (family, chores, creating, networking,etc.) But I realize there are so many out there who do Fabulous work that I am just grateful for the sales I do make. I have had a lot of fun meeting other artists through networking and try to stay as engaged with them as possible. Your Creations are Beautiful and I say just keep plugging away at it. Creating Jewelry and continuing to learn are making me Happy! If you Love what you are doing, I believe the rest will come. P.S. Just when I think about taking something down from my shop cause its been there so long, someone buys it. There is always someone out there who will want your work. Leta
I just stumbled on this site tonight. Like so many others I had no idea how common my feelings and experiences are. I haven’t done anything with my jewelry other than wear a few pieces occasionally. I always get compliments, but I don’t go any further with it. I also work at a job which really gets in the way. I haven’t spent my whole life doing art in any form in fact I always figured I wasn’t artistic. It has only been the last year I’ve realized I’m very artistic and have never allowed myself to admit it.
Anyway….this is so disjointed….it is so good to know there are others, lots of others out there like me. I’m not ready to take my jewelry making any further yet, but at least I know when I do I’ll have lots of support and company.
What an amazing site, I’ve just stumbled upon!!! I also have fear of rejection, resentment, and guilt. I feel like a gambler or some type of addict, because of my obsession with anything to do with crafts. I get a rush when I buy supplies and make things. Only to pile my finished product with my other completed items that I’m going to sell some day. Occasionally, I’ll wear a piece and get some compliments. I know I can sell some of my items, but I just can’t get over the fear of rejection or failure. I know I just need to do it and some day I will, but for now I guess I’ll just keep adding to my stockpile. Thanks to everyone for sharing their personal issues and phobias. Hopefully through this wonderful website and our companionship. We will help each other break out of our cocoons!
Mimi and Sandra . . .
Welcome! I’m so glad you’ve discovered us!
And Sandra, you’re in good company with the fear of rejection / failure when it comes to selling your work. I think that’s one of the biggest roadblocks for creative people.
For me I think it came down to this decision: Which was I more afraid of – what might happen if I tried selling my work, or what my life might be like if I never tried?