Saturday, April 27, 2013

7th Bead Soup Blog Party – 3rd Reveal

My partner this time for the bead soup blog party is Shai Williams. She received the package from me quicker than anticipated but hers to me seemed to take forever. It did finally arrive in my mailbox, thank goodness. To see what she sent to me, click here

I created two separate pieces from my bead soup. The first one is from a design idea that I saw in a recent Jewelry Stringing magazine (Fall, 2012). I’ve wanted to try the technique out since I first saw it and this seemed like a good opportunity. After all, that is what the bead soup blog party is all about...stepping out of our comfort zone and trying something new.

Bead and Loop Clasp

Made with lampwork and seed beads
The finished necklace

The second design is fairly traditional. It is a symmetrical necklace strung on nylon cord using a variety of different materials; metal, glass and gemstone components. Shai’s bead soup to me contained all these ingredients.

Simple, yet elegant, silver clasp
Basic stringing method used
The finished necklace
I had a great time with my bead soup. There are a few components that I could not work into my two designs but I do have plans for them. Thank you, Shai.

Please take some time over the weekend to check out the creations of the other participants. You can find them here.

Focusing on Life - Week 17

‘Whether photographing a full shot of amazing colours or small pops of colour against a muted background, this week break out your camera and capture some colour. Think about how the colours of the shot affect your mood, feelings, perception of your surroundings!  Focus on how the colours impact your decision to take a particular shot.’

I’ve actually been playing around with colour a lot lately. I recently learned how to create colour palettes in Photoshop, thanks to a really great tutorial by Brandi.

Here are a few samples below created from photos that I took myself with my little Sony Cybershot camera:

My challenge to myself this year is to design a collection of jewelry pieces inspired by some of the colour palettes I create. Or perhaps to base the colour scheme of a new quilt on one of them.

The 'colour picker' allows you to focus in on any of the colours in the photo and pull them out to your palette. There are times when I've been able to get two completely different colour palettes from the same photo simply by changing the area of the photograph I'm focusing on.

Note: the butterfly photo was taken by a friend, not me.

Concentrating on the flower and stem

Focusing on the butterfly

As you can see, I've been having fun with this. *smile* 

Friday, April 26, 2013

How to Price Handmade: Things to Consider

This is not as simple a question as you might think. I've come across various formulas and theories to calculate pricing for your handmade products but here are some basic things to factor in, whatever formula you use.

  • Cost of materials; including taxes, shipping and handling, and/or travel expenses
  • Overhead costs; internet service, show fees, equipment, tools, packaging, etc.
  • Labour; your time is valuable
  • Profit margin
Keep one important thing in mind when you are calculating prices for your handmade product. Under-pricing it devalues the overall handmade marketplace. It hurts us all and only attracts 'bargain shoppers'. It does not reflect the quality and uniqueness of the product you are selling when compared to what is available at discount stores.

You 'must' value your own talent; believe that your product is worthy of a higher price...or no one else will. And don't assume your product is too expensive if it is not selling either. There could be any number of other factors at work here, including a lack of effective marketing or offering your product in the wrong place. Don't automatically lower your prices.

Getting pricing right is crucial to your success, so much thought and consideration needs to go into this. Over the next couple of weeks, I will look at some of the different aspects of pricing and share my thoughts and suggestions with you. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Focusing on Life - Week 16

‘Grab your camera, open the door and step outside into the fresh air.  Take a walk!  Step back and look at the wide world around you and capture a shot of the landscape in front of you!’

Take a walk. I used to love going for long walks on the local woodland trails. I felt the most settled when interacting with nature in this way. Walking was a form of meditation and a way to relieve stress.

Walking is not so easy for me anymore. I miss those times once spent in quiet contemplation and reflection as I traversed along the path.

It’s a real challenge to walk anywhere these days and when I do I must take along my ‘friend on wheels’. Progress is slow and painful, so I typically don’t go very far. *Big sigh* 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Selling on Consignment: What Happens Now?

You have done all the legwork and your products are in the consignment shop. How exciting is that? Did you ever imagine in your wildest dreams that this would happen one day? Maybe not but, lo and behold, it has! So, what do you do now?

* Stop in at least once a month to see if anything has been sold and to collect any money owed to you. You can drop in occasionally in between, if you are in the area, but don’t call or go there every other day to see how it’s going.

* Replenish stock as required, if you agreed to keep a certain level of product in the shop. Have an inventory list to be signed for the new products, as before.

* Make sure your product is properly displayed and sustained. Ensure that nothing has gone missing, referring back to your original inventory list.

* Maintain a friendly, but professional, relationship with the owner. She is the person who will be promoting, and hopefully selling, your products on a daily basis.

I hope that you have found this series of blog posts helpful. Learning lessons the 'hard way' is never my preference. I'm sure it's not yours either. 

I wish you all the best of luck with your consignment ventures! If you have any other tips or advice to share on this topic, please leave a comment below.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Selling on Consignment: Ready to Go

Now that the contract is negotiated and signed, it’s time to get your products ready and into the store. Let’s get started!

For each item you need to:
* Create a unique part number
* Take a photo or two
* Write a short, but detailed, description
* Calculate the selling price

Next you will:
* Create an inventory list with all the above information
* Box or package your product appropriately, as agreed
* Make a tag/sticker for each iten with the part number and price on it
* Print two copies of your inventory list

It’s time to schedule an appointment with the shop owner (the person who signed the contract) so you can take your products in. Go over each item with her, referring to the detailed inventory list, checking them off as you go.

Once completed, ask the shop owner to give you a receipt for your product. A signed and dated copy of the inventory list will work. Keep the signed copy for yourself and leave her with the other copy for her records.

What happens now?  See the next installment of this series here.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Selling on Consignment: Protect Yourself

Do not forget Rule #1, 'protect yourself'. Nobody else cares about your interests. It might seem like they care, they may pay lip service to your needs but the main concern of the shop owner is the success of their business. Nothing else matters to them. That is why it is imperative to make sure all terms and conditions are written down and agreed to by both parties. Each of you should have a signed and dated copy of the contract before any of your product goes into the shop.

What should the contract cover?
  • Sales percentage - how much each party receives when an item is sold
  • Any other charges, like an administrative fee or rental space, to be deducted, if any
  • When payment for items sold will be paid to the seller (monthly/quarterly)
  • Which party determines the selling price of the products offered
  • Inventory tracking system and reporting method
  • Proof of insurance and guarantee that your products are included in the coverage against fire and theft
  • Minimum/maximum time period products must or will be in the shop
  • Notice required if either party wants to remove the products from the shop, for whatever reason

Once all the terms and conditions are negotiated and agreed to, the contract is signed, then you are ready to go. See the next installment in the series that will discuss 'what comes next'.

The next article in the series can be found here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Selling on Consignment: Find the Right Shop

How do you choose the shop you want to sell your products in? What factors need to be considered?

Store location is vitally important. You want to be in a high traffic shopping district. Scope the store out, make sure people are coming in and purchasing. Once you’ve determined that this might be the right kind of shop for you, ASK them if they sell any products on consignment. No point going any further if they don’t or won’t.

Before you make any commitments, evaluate the look and feel of the shop. See if it’s a fit for what you offer. One-of-a-kind jewelry will not sell in a hardware store. Make sure the merchandise is well displayed and maintained. Is the price range comparable to yours? You won’t sell high-end, hand-made jewelry in a discount store.

Consignment stores go in and out of business all the time. Ensure that the store you select has a good track record, open for at least 3 years. Ask for references from other sellers. Your products will be tied up here until they are sold (or you retrieve them), so make sure consignment items are selling and not just making the place look good.

Next time, we will discuss the process of selling on consignment and how to make sure your interests are honoured and protected.

For the third article in the series, click here.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Selling on Consignment: To Do or Not To Do

This topic came up in an Etsy discussion forum this past week. A jewelry designer was recounting a very negative experience with selling on consignment.

She had some of her product in a store operated by a woman she’d known for 20 years. There was no written/signed agreement between them. She did not feel the need for one at this point.

When she went to the store one day to see how her product was selling, she found it closed. The sign on the window said ‘Out of Business’ and the contents, including her stuff, were gone.

After much investigation, she finally learned that the owner of the shop had declared bankruptcy and skipped town. The contents of the store had been auctioned off to pay her creditors.

The unfortunate jewelry designer will not get her product back, nor will she likely ever get paid for them. As you would imagine, she is angry and upset. After all, she is the victim of theft.

So this week, I thought it would be a good exercise to look at selling on consignment...the ins and outs, the pros and cons. In the next few days, I will look at different aspects of moving product this way. It certainly CAN work for you as long as you remember Rule #1...take care of your own interests. Nobody else will.

Next article in the series is here.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Focusing on Life - Week 15

Our challenge for this week...

'Focus on the aged beauty that may be an old building or an aging vehicle in a parking lot, items in a local barn, flea market, garage or in your jewelry box and snap a shot of a vintage beauty!' 

My mother recently gave me my great-grandmother's jewelry box. Along with it came a few little treasures from her life.

Ida Amelia White, my great-grandmother, was born in August, 1873 and died at the ripe old age of 96 years in 1970. She saw a lot of changes in the world in her lifetime. See a photo of her with me (the baby on the left), along with my cousins.

Here is her one of her watches from the jewelry box. It doesn't work anymore, of course. I wonder if it could be repaired. I love to take it out and look at it from time to time. I have fond memories of my great-grandmother and the watch brings them all back.

She loved to wear brooches too and the one below was one of her favourites. I recall how upset she was when one of the blue stones went missing. She searched high and low but never did find it. She still continued to wear the brooch though because she loved it so much.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Tell a Story...But Keep it Short

Without a doubt, a good story can sell product. I’ve talked about this before in a previous blog post. But, please, keep it short when listing items on Etsy or Artfire.

Most people will not have the time or the patience to read a novella (a short novel or long short story), especially when they don’t learn anything of value about what you are trying to sell. 

Potential customers want to look at a lot of listings in the least amount of time to find that one special item for them. They will get bored very quickly with a long winded, fluffy story with no substance and move quickly to the next listing.

Keep it short, keep it fun, inform & entertain, give added value to the item. But remember, keep it short. Did I mention that?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Dreaded 'To Do' List

The list is getting longer every day. Have you ever noticed how that happens? You are finally able to cross two things off your ‘To Do’ list and four more are on it than when you started. It seems to keep growing and growing and growing.

Do we ever get to the end of our lists? Or do we continually increase our personal expectations? For me, I’m sure that part of the problem is procrastination. I cannot keep myself focused. I have difficulty with self-discipline. 

This is not an issue at my ‘day job’. The expectations are very well outlined and there are clearly defined penalties for not following through. I show up for work on time. I do the assigned tasks at the designated times. No problem. I can do it there, why not on my own time?

So, my question to the masses is this, ‘How do you keep on track?’ Do you lay out a strict schedule for yourself? Reward yourself when you accomplish things? What works for you?

Please share your ideas and tips. Leave a comment below.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Focusing on Life - Week 14

This week our prompt from Sally was...

'Start exploring the details of the ordinary up close and glimpse a world that you may never have noticed until you observed it magnified!  Get up close and personal with the subject of your choice and snap a macro shot!'

Have you ever looked, I mean REALLY looked, at the bark of a tree? This week, I did and look what I saw.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Forward Into The Past, 2013

FITP is a one-day symposium that arranges for speakers on a broad range of historical topics including the arts and crafts practiced by various cultures, history of particular regions, cultures, or times, and where feasible allows this learning to be conducted in a hands-on environment.

An open-format day, Forward Into The Past is designed to allow academics, experimental archaeologists, members of the public, and members of various historical re-enactment and recreation groups to gather and explore history.

The event takes place this Saturday, April 6, 2013 in the Bricker Academic Building at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, ON. FITP is sponsored by the Medieval Students Society and the Archaeology Society and is celebrating its 23rd year in 2013.

My partner will be teaching the chain mail beginner and advanced classes, as he has every year for the past fifteen. We will also have a couple of vending tables set up, and I’ve scheduled myself in for a couple of classes, as time permits. One of my big projects this year is making new medieval garb for both of us, so I will be attending lectures on colour and style this weekend.

For more information on this event, check out the website. If you are in the area, we'd love to see you there.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Jewelry Blogging Success Guide

I am currently reading 'Jewelry Blogging Success Guide' by Rena Klingenberg. This eBook is full of tips and tricks to help you set up and take full advantage of this social media tool for your business.

On top of that, you will find lots of blog post idea starters for those times when you just don't know what to write about. Has that ever happened to you? You know that you want to post something (consistency is important) but the brain is on holiday.

Even a simple prompt like, 'Today I finished...' or 'Today I discovered...', can get the mind in gear and the words will flow. There are so many great ideas in this publication that you will never have to struggle looking for a topic again.

To purchase a copy of this excellent resource, click here. You can also check out Rena's blog for more ideas or hop over to her Jewelry Making Journal, a friendly online community of jewelry makers and designers.

Do you ever have difficulty coming up with ideas? What inspires you to post on your blog? Or what do you do when you are at a loss for words?