Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Who should I be selling to?

Who your target market is will have some influence on what you actually design. If your target market is teens and young adults into Goth, you shouldn't be designing jewelry that is delicate and full of bright colors. If your target is 25 to 40 year old moms because you are going to be doing mostly home shows and local crafts fairs then you want you designs to be affordable and also offer items that will appeal to them - like a mother's pendent or classic earrings that they can wear to a soccer game and out to dinner.
Because I live in a vacation/resort community I felt my target market should be 30 to 60 year old professional women who may live here or be visiting, works full time and wants pieces that they can wear to work and out to dinner or out and about on the weekend. The have some money to spend but are not high fashion jewelry shoppers (with the huge price tag that kind of jewelry demands) but rather bridge jewelry wearers - jewelry of mostly precious metal and semi-precious stones or high quality crystal. I also need to offer some designs that are reflective of the Cape to appeal to visitors and even residence that want something that represents the Cape to them.
I was already doing designs for friends and craft events that included wire wrapped beach glass. To me it was very symbolic of the Cape and I loved the look, but it was a little too organic (aka crunchy). I spent 2 months of my summer researching what was available for venues to sell jewelry in and I spent time looking at what other beach glass jewelry was out there. The items I saw at stores and galleries all remind me of boxes from the bakery wrapped in string. The designs seems more organic then even what I was doing. Looking at who I wanted to market to - I could not imagine a professional woman wearing one of these types of beach glass pieces. They seemed more for a younger client. If I had not determined who my target market was, I might not have realized I needed to search for a different way to design the beach glass pieces.
In searching for a more stylish way to wrap beach glass I found a great tutorial on wrapping stones that I thought would work. I did a prototype and started wearing it around. People LOVED it! When I went to a craft show and a well established wire wrap artist here complimented my work and started examining it a little TOO closely I knew I had found something that might work. I have made a few pieces and to do a little market research I took pictures of some of my work including the wire wrapped beach glass and every one I have shown them to have made more comments about the beach glass then most of the other pieces. I think I might have a hit but we will see.
So who is your target market? What kind of pieces would they want to buy? What is the best venue for selling your work to these clients?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Defining your market

The two things that seemed to be most important in the initial creation of a business in the arts or crafts field is knowing who you are planning to market to and what is already out there in the market place. Defining your customer base is very important. If you don't do this then you are creating products that are all over the place. Ever walk into a display at an arts and crafts show and wonder what exactly is this person selling? You can tell (some times) they sell woodwork, painting, jewelry, or what ever but the products seem to be a hodgepodge of items for children, bric-a-brac and artistic items. The other extreme is the artist who has 100 items of basically the exact same thing. We have a wonderful artist here on the Cape that makes jewelry from a type of shell that is fairly unique to this area - which she mounts on sterling silver for necklaces, bracelets, earrings. For variation some have man-made gem stones and some don't. That's it . . . she does nothing else different or new with the shells. So once your customer has bought what they want they have no real reason to come back to you to buy more unless its a gift for someone else.
In my last post, I recommended reading HBI's grant information to help get an idea of what you should do to get your jewelry business off the ground - I have put a direct link on this blog under links to check out. In their Hints and Tips section they have an article on Targeting Customers. It is a great guide and walks you through how to come up with a target customer base and how to come up with ideas unique to that base. If you are thinking about starting a jewelry business I highly recommend doing this exercise. Okay, okay - I know that doing this is not nearly as fun or exciting as learning a new wire wrap technique, figuring out how to mount unfireable gems in PMC, or creating an ethereal necklace from beautiful beads and crystals. However, if you are serious about wanting to start a business of creating and selling your jewelry this is a key step. This will be an important component when you get down to writing your business plan.
BUSINESS PLAN?????? What the heck is that????
We will talk about that in days to come and all the reasons that having one is important.
Based on your target group, you need to research what is currently being offered both in your area and on the Internet (because your business world is now automatically a national business if not a global business). If you live in a rural area with a limited customer base, if you move often because your spouse's or your regular career requires it, or if you have family or personal reasons that you can not work outside of the home then Internet sales may be your thing. If you live in a tourist or resort area (like I do) then you may also want to do local shows during the "season"; however, you need a way to continue to do sales off season. My next post I'll talk about the specific steps I took and what conclusions I have made - as my first year of business continues I will keep you posted on what I have found to be right and wrong about my conclusions.
Have fun . . .

Saturday, January 26, 2008

And so it begins . . .

It seems like I have spent as much time researching the steps to creating a jewelry business as I have working on jewelry. Maybe more . . .

After having responded to so many posting in the different groups I belong to about struggling to start a business, start a web site or pricing your work - because people who have been in this business a while seem to have forgotten the struggles and fears of doing this for the very first time - I thought I would put some of what I have learned into a blog. I also thought this would be a great opportunity to share with other struggling working artists my own struggles (and hopefully triumphs). After all don't we all feel better when we know we are not alone in our fears, worries and self-doubts.

Recently I privately answered another persons posting on the PMC group in yahoo about what we had done in starting our handcrafted jewelry business so lets start there:

I spent over 2 months of researching the areas market, what was available on the web, going to craft shows in the area and determining who my market should be. I signed up for Tammy Powley's online e-class at about.com on starting a business and made sure I read all the related articles she suggested. I also found http://www.home-jewelry-business-success-tips.com/index.html which was helpful (great articles on pricing you work).
For me I decided that as I am doing the part-time and am a computer person that selling on the Internet would be my primary method. I am also going to do some crafts shows and some home shows with friends. Those methods work the best right now for me and my life. You may decide that farmers markets and craft shows are you thing, or selling to a gallery is better for you. Take the time to do some market research for the area you live in and determine who you want to sell to. Also read
http://www.halsteadbead.com/Grant/ This company offers an award each year to an up and coming jewelry artist running a business. Read what they have to say about what they look for in their winners - even though you probably would not be going for this, their thoughts on what makes a solid jewelry business is great!Finally - talk to an attorney and an accountant if you are going to do this. I found out from my accountant that setting up as a DBA would make me prime for an audit as we are in a "hobby" type field and the IRS is going after people they think are not really in business but are just using the EIN# for a tax break.

I am not sure if my email helped her but maybe it can help others. See where I have gotten so far with my business (Capescapes Jewelry, LLC at http://www.capescapesjewelry.com/). I will continue with these thoughts . . .