It’s me again! I asked you guys out there with help on making my jewelry stronger from my last post about breakage after a successful jewelry party. I thank you so much for your help.
I have taken the tips and applied them to my new jewelry. It’s a great lesson to learn and it will make my jewelry line better.
I had a potential wedding order (5 bridesmaid necklaces and earrings to match their dresses) from the successful party. The catch was the wedding was 4 weeks from the party.
I made 3 samples 4 days later. It is a thin finished box chain with a pendant consisting of 1 10mm round crystal on a fancy eyepin with a silver bead on top (what she asked for). I would post a picture but I am not home at the moment.
Well… the chain broke. I put in an alternate chain to choose from and that also broke.
She told my friend that all my jewelry breaks and she bought earrings for her bridesmaids somewhere else.
She wrote me a quick email about it and I responded that I understood, I apologized and good luck with all the wedding plans.
The stinky thing is that I bought the chains wholesale. I didn’t make them, just the pendant. Bummer.
I am going to send back the chains with a letter explaining what it cost me in business (in a professional manner). Is that right?
I use that company constantly and am looking around for another wholesale supplier. I am not going to name them here. I am not sure that Rena wants me to.
Also does anyone have chipping on their swarovski bicones and round beads on their bracelets? Anything to prevent that?
Thank you again!!
Breaking jewelry components
I think returning the broken and unused components along with a letter is definitely the right thing to do. You should be refunded – and the supplier needs to know they are either purchasing or making poor-quality chains and components.
Using components from this supplier could also be one of the causes of the jewelry breakage issues you had after your jewelry party. So you may want to mention that in your letter to them as well.
Regarding Swarovskis chipping – I don’t know of that happening on my jewelry. But bracelets do tend to take a beating while being worn.
On bracelets where you use Swarovski crystals, you may want to include a few sturdier, larger-diameter beads that could act as “bumpers” to help protect the crystals from any impacts, since the bigger beads would stick out farther than the crystals do (hope that makes sense!).
And kudos to you, Janine, for always remaining professional and not giving up in the face of this spell of difficulty!
The key for the entire package . Aim for the HEART
Crystal bicone problems
by: Bonnie Firestone
When you look up the difference between crystals you will find that Swarovski crystals have more sharp edges than other crystals. Although I have never had a problem with them myself, I do think that the idea of using a few larger sizes of beads may be of benefit. In the Guild I belong to there are members who use only Swarovski crystals and I have never heard of a problem with chipping.
Oh I KNOW!
I remember making a lovely multi-length necklace and wore it myself to a formal function (a bit of advertising). Well, you guessed it— the finding broke. And boy was I embarrassed (and needless to say, the rumour went around that my pieces broke).
I informed the company and they quickly wrote back that because I bought the component 6mos ago, I could not return it. (What designer doesn’t hoard components when they see a bargain?) They wouldn’t even acknowledge that the piece broke! Needless to say I wrote a professional yet scathing letter to them and told them to take me off their mailing list blah blah blah.
(And BOY would I like to shame name them here, you *company* in California!!)
As a new designer, I feel like I’m at the mercy of my suppliers. And a bit reluctant to sell anything without a disclaimer (that I’d fix it if it broke).
Repair Relationship with Customer
Janine – sorry to hear you had such a bad experience.
You may have already done this, but I wanted to mention for others reading this post that in a situation like this that I think it is important to attempt to repair your reputation and relationship with the lost client for 2 reasons:
1. From the customer’s viewpoint, she had a bad experience that impacted her wedding preparations – a big deal for any bride-to-be. It would be a nice gesture to her for your business to acknowledge how the broken items impacted her preparations and how disappointed and inconvenienced she must have felt.
2. “Stop the bleeding” – This customer will continue to spread the story of her negative experience… unless it the story ends on a positive note.
In this case, perhaps a hand written note or personal visit offering an apology even if you already apologized, and acknowledgement how the experience impacted them, and an offer of a discount or free gift. Make mention what changes your business has taken to resolve the issue.
Best of luck.
by: Terri Wlaschin
Wow, that’s a shame. Early in my jewelry making career, I used materials that did not hold up. No one complained but I noticed that my own jewlery made from the materials had tarnished really fast and looked awful. Only a few people from my early home shows remained faithful customers over the years. While you can apologize again and explain you have replaced your chain supplier, I think it might be best to consider branching out to local craft shows to expand your customer base beyond friends and friends of friends. And develop a simple mailing list so you can have people’s name and email (that’s all i get). That way, you can email them periodically when you have new items or are doing a craft show or throwing your own home show or if you decide to sell on etsy. Lucky for you, you learned about materials early on. One way to check chains is to just pull hard on them to see if they break. Sometimes really lightweight chains are ok until they tarnish – they then become brittle and just snap. As to crystals, I experience chipping only if I am wire wrapping too close to the crystal. I watch that or sometimes I add a bead cap or a seed bead to keep the wire away from the crystal.
When it breaks
I am so sorry to hear how you feel. I can relate to it because it had happened to me especially in my first year.
At that phase my clients were mostly my friends but I heard rumors behind my back which made me sad.
In those cases I told them that I’d replace or fix and I did. But deep inside I was scared. I thought was I rushing too fast going into business?
At that time I met another fellow jewelry artist friend who assured me that one can never master without failing sometimes. Her things also got broken sometimes, got tarnished or faded. You learn from doing and making mistakes. Now I know which supply store to avoid buying from, Which extra special care makes big differences and so on.
I believe that customers are number one , and it is important to show them, otherwise the negative feelings and rumors can really hurt your business.
Thanks for being frank and bringing this topic. You have beautiful jewelry in your shop. So carry on with good feeling now.
There were wonderful comments too.
Take care – Dita
by: Lisa W.
In my opinion, we are all professionals (or trying to be!), and we are helping one another out with our information. I believe we should certainly be warning one another about inferior quality materials and companies that won’t stand behind their work. Our customers are certainly warning one another off our work if it isn’t up to quality! I don’t see that as badmouthing or gossiping, It is simply a sharing of pertinent information in our industry. All businesses such set-backs, just as you have, with broken or sub-quality pieces. The proof is in the company’s response. You have responded professionally, but the company that refused to acknowledge their bad materials did not.
I, personally, would like honest feedback about a company that stands behind their work, and one that does not. I would like to know who is selling poor quality merchandise. So, as long as Rena is on board, I say, NAME THEM!!! Any problem with that, Rena? (I know we will all keep within your guidelines.)
And Janine, ask about what companies have had good track records for chains and things. I have been buying snake chains from Dreamland Jewelry for about 5 years with excellent results. I haven’t ried their other chains yet, but I can recommend their quality and prices.
Good luck and keep improving – hang in there! And put out the word that all of the “feedback” you have recieved in the way of breakage is gratefully accepted and translates into a better product for them.
Naming sources of jewelry components
As long as we keep our discussion respectful and professional here, just as we all have been, it’s OK to mention suppliers’ names.
We’re all working together toward improving our jewelry and our businesses.
So we need to be able to share tips and info – including sources and / or components we’ve found to be of lesser quality, as well as the fantastic ones.
Please do feel free to name sources and components, in the spirit of professional artists working together.
Thanks so much for asking, and thanks to all for sharing such helpful feedback for Janine and the rest of us!
Thanks everyone for your tips. I have been making stronger pieces for sure. Wrapped loops, wire protectors, wires with 49 strands, double crimps, split rings and higher gauge wire are some things I have purchased from another source: fusion beads.com. These guys are GOOD.
I feel queasy mentioning the company because I have ordered from them for many years and have had no previous problems but surprisingly my faulty chain and other parts came from artbeads.com. BOO:(
I am looking around for another website that has everything I need. Such as:
*small quantities (if I only need 3 beads I shouldn’t have to buy 12)
*free shipping over $10 or similar
*Sterling beads, sterling block letter beads
*chain-in all or most metals
*components/wire in all or most metals
And then some special things too (resin, pendants, tools -you know the fun stuff)
So if anyone knows please feel free to post.
Thanks for the AWESOME support!
We should have a retreat someday where we can mingle, meet and make cool stuff.
by: db Designs Jewelry
I have been in business for 6 years with surprizing little breakage, however… when it rains it pours! I had a repeat out of state customer who purchased a necklace at a show. I had originally made it for myself and it was not for sale, but since she was a repeat client, I sold it to her off my neck. Well, less than a month later, she mails me the necklace to be repaired for a broken clasp. I replace the clasp, double check everything, and mail it back. Less than another month goes by and it is mailed back to me again (I had used simple loops instead of wrapped ones, because I had originally made the necklace for myself) because a loop had opened. Ugggg. Now I am feeling awful! I remake the necklace, replacing all the simple loops with wrapped loops – return the necklace to her along with a refund of all her shipping costs and a matching pair of earrings for her trouble. The story does not end there! 2 months go by and I receive the necklace back again – totally my mistake – I must have snipped/nicked a link in the chain when I remade the necklace. Ultimately, I gave her a full refund (including shipping), a profound apology, and the necklace back (quadruple checked for stregnth) with a note saying “Please keep the necklace, as a gift, with the full refund – If it breaks again atleast you’ve lost nothing.” Guess what? After a year, it hasn’t broken! Go figure. Did I lose out big time on that sale, NO. My customer is more confident now, more than before, that I will stand behind my product and do what it takes to make things right.
Good luck to you, and remember that we all make mistakes. How we fix them is what’s important!
I had a customer email me that the chain broke on a piece. I told her to return it, I will reimburse her for postage and repair it.
When I got the piece back, it was bent, dented and looked like a dog chewed on it. I emailed her about it and she said, “oh, I stepped on it, but it was okay for two weeks after” – oy!
I repaired it anyway, replaced the bent part and still refunded her postage. My reasoning was that if she had “neglected” to tell me she stepped on, and if I didn’t take care of it, she would bad mouth me behind my back.
It wasn’t worth taking the risk for a few dollars, especially since my business was just a few months young.
Excellent service is good marketing
by: db Designs Jewelry
Linda I think you did the right thing. You want to build a solid customer base that will come back again and again. There is a lot of competition in the handmade jewelry business and providing unwavering superior service can help set you apart.
Thanks for naming the company – AND for naming good companies – I agree, fusionbeads is excellent! As for another site like artbeads, have you looked at DollarBeads.com? They have small quantities, etc. I’m a seed beader so I mostly stick to Fusionbeads myself, so I can’t really review chains or large beads or wire. I placed one order with dollarbeads and I can tell you that the order arrived VERY quickly. The color of one strand of glass beads I ordered wasn’t what I thought it would be, but other than that, and a few poorly-drilled tourmaline chips, it was good and the beads seem to be good quality. I believe I DID pay shipping. (Fusionbeads is spoiling me!)
I also wanted to say, all of the advice you’ve gotten so far is good – Make a BIG deal out of apologies and pleasing your customers. Hand-written Thank-You notes are a MUST! And free gifts are absolutely magical. In a customer service class I took last year, we were taught that a “satisfied” customer will tell 1 person she is satisfied; an “ecstatic” customer will tell 7 people she is ecstatic; and an unhappy customer will tell an average of FORTY people, in explicit detail, which probably includes name-calling and exaggeration, exactly why she is dissatisfied with your company. Then, unless those 40 people have previously had positive experiences themselves, THEY will probably pass on the news that *your name here* is terrible, because they have no proof otherwise. So the “stop the bleeding” remark is VERY true!
I had an item in a bag, in a box, inside a bubblemailer, and the work arrived looking like a dog had eaten it. Who knows how some of these things happen? But we just have to keep trying, and keep making free repairs and replacements, until we have awesome reputations. When I was nursing my baby, I literally burned out THREE breast pump motors, but every time, the Evenflo people immediately replaced it for free. And I’ll remember that forever. =) They were awesome to me. And to me, that means more than the quality of the pump motor, honestly. I’d much rather talk to nice people three times than talk to a phone tree in India once.
Also Specify to the customer HOW to ship the item back
Great discussion everybody! I just wanted to add in that you also need to specify to the customer how to ship the item back. Once I just told the customer to send the necklace back to me for repair. I received back a plain business envelope (not padded) with a small hole in it and no necklace. Of course, he only put a first class stamp on it, and no insurance. I could see the indentation on the envelope where the necklace had been. Either it was damaged in transit and fell out the hole, or someone stole it out of the envelope. I was furious, but it was my own fault for not spelling out the proper return procedures. I replaced the necklace, chalked it up to a learning experience, and now I explicitly tell my customers my return procedures:
~Wrap the item in tissue paper to avoid scratching
~place in ziploc bag
~place in a padded or bubble envelope
~mail first class WITH insurance.
Hope that helps a little bit. Good luck!