© by Rena Klingenberg
Wholesaling jewelry to shops sometimes means making multiples of the same items in a line of jewelry. And that means operating with efficiency rather than creativity when you sit down at your studio.
Instead of creating lots of unique, one-of-a-kind pieces for shows, parties, and possibly consignment, you’ll keep reproducing a line of specific jewelry pieces that shops can order from.
And when they order (for example) Bracelet SS-B-421 from you, they expect it to look like your dozens of other copies of Bracelet SS-B-421 that they’ve ordered.
Mass producing jewelry even on a small scale is a different mindset. By working in assembly-line fashion on a dozen of the same piece at once, you’ll be able to complete several of the same item much faster than if you make them one at a time from start to finish.
Issues Involved in Mass-Producing Jewelry at Home
If you’re wholesaling a line of jewelry, you’ll have to set up your work space for efficiency and volume production. You’ll need adequate space to store large quantities of the raw materials you’ll be using for your production runs, and again later to store the large quantities of finished jewelry before shipping it to the shops.
Depending on the pieces you’re wholesaling, you may need multiples of some of your tools and supplies, such as bead boards, for creating several copies of the design at once. And your regular jewelry table may not accommodate production of dozens of an item at a time, so you may need to commandeer a larger area such as the dining room table for your production runs.
That means being up front with your family about what’s going to be involved at home when you step into wholesaling jewelry. It’s a good idea to discuss issues such as jewelry components occasionally taking over the dining room for a few days at a time, or filling the guest bed with packaged jewelry orders. But be sure to also mention the upside – the steady income you’re earning from wholesaling jewelry!
Mass-producing jewelry under a wholesale deadline can be stressful if your family isn’t happy about the changes your home undergoes during your production runs. It’s better to be honest ahead of time about what they can expect, and get their support – and even their willing assistance – when you’re working on a deadline.
Paring Down Jewelry Production Time and Costs
Streamlining each production step when wholesaling jewelry is vital for managing your time. For example, if your design can use a ready-made clasp, think hard about whether it’s worth the extra time for you to make handcrafted clasps for all the copies of that design. Eliminating even a few seconds from each step of making the design can knock hours off a full-scale production run.
In jewelry mass-production, it’s simply not efficient to include time-consuming details that don’t affect the salability of the piece. Save these details for your one-of-a-kind pieces.
Streamlining the cost of your supplies for your wholesale jewelry pieces is also important. Shaving a few cents off of your cost of producing each item can net you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in extra profits in a year of wholesaling jewelry.
Could You Mass-Produce Jewelry?
At this point you might be thinking, “Why would anyone want to mass-produce the same pieces of jewelry over and over, working under a deadline? That’s not why I became a jewelry artist.”
Well, for many artists, knowing that they’ve already sold every piece they make is a very comfortable feeling – especially if jewelry making is their only source of income. Scheduling the right amount of orders to keep you busy enough – and having a good, reliable income rolling in from your wholesale accounts – can be a delightful form of self-employment!
By comparison, creating one-of-a-kind pieces on speculation that someone will decide to purchase them, and getting ready for shows that may or may not have good attendance or earn you much profit, is a more expensive, less certain, but equally valid way of making a living from your craft.
Each artist is different, and it’s up to you to decide what road your jewelry business will take.
The repetitive nature of mass-producing jewelry can also be positive. It can be good “thinking time” when your hands are busy and your brain can travel anywhere it wants to! It’s also a great opportunity to listen to a good audiobook or music while you work. Watching TV, however, tends to slow down jewelry making, because you have to keep looking up to see what’s going on in the show or movie.
A Solution for Temporary Employees
If you’re wholesaling jewelry and need some temporary employees to help you with a large or tedious jewelry order, here’s an ideal solution.
You can get the help you need through a sheltered workshop in your area, without having to delve into the legal and financial issues of hiring employees.
Sheltered workshops are organizations that hire veterans or disabled workers who can do piece-work or routine tasks like stringing bead bracelets, tagging or packaging jewelry, etc. You would pay the sheltered workshop a fee for the job to be done, and they would provide the workers and take responsibility for all the legal, tax, and insurance issues. It’s a wonderful win-win situation!
Ease into Wholesale Jewelry Production
Because wholesaling jewelry requires you to operate on a business-to-business level, and because producing jewelry for wholesale can be overwhelming if you get in over your head, I recommend that you get into it gradually. Start with just one wholesale account and use it as an opportunity to work out all the bugs in your business procedures and your jewelry mass production strategies. Then add one shop at a time until you reach the level where you have just the right amount of orders to keep you busy, and just the right amount of income coming in.