Jewelry Business Tips: Multiple Streams of Income Part 4, Consignment

Jewelry Business Tips

This Part 4 on a series of posts about multiple streams of income in handmade jewelry business.

What is multiple streams of income?  It’s a combination of income generating activities.  It will mean different things for each individual depending on what you want your business to be and your life circumstances.  For me, it meant that I sold online, at craft shows, in a retail space, at home parties and in shops.  For you it could be a different combination.

Part 1 is here.  (An overview of multiple income streams.)

Part 2 is here.  (Selling online.)

Part 3 is here (Craft Shows)

and today is Part 4 (Consignment)!

Jewelry Business Tip - Multiple Income Streams Part 4, Consignment

Selling in shops on consignment can be a great way to get into stores and get your product out there, but it can also be very frustrating if you choose the wrong shop.

What is Consignment?

You’ve probably seen or been in a clothing consignment store.  That’s not what I’m talking about here exactly (although the idea is the same.)  These are usually boutiques or gift stores that sell handmade goods.  Often it’s a store that sells not just handmade, but a lot of different things.  Oftentimes it’s a jewelry store or another specialty store of some kind.

Instead of purchasing your items on wholesale, you’ll place your products in their shop for them to sell for you.  You get a percentage and the shop gets a percentage of the sale.  Typically, you will get a higher percentage than if you did wholesale.  (A general idea, and this varies greatly, is 60% to you and 40% to the shop.)

When I first started jewelry I didn’t even realize that it was possible to sell in shops.  I thought I’d sell online and at craft shows and that would be it.  Then as I did more and more shows, I started meeting people who sold handmade goods in their stores.  In fact, they came to shows to find people to sell in their stores.

Pros of Selling on Consignment

Selling this way is great if you’re just starting.  A lot of times it’s difficult to get wholesale accounts and this is an alternative to that.  There’s no risk to the store since they don’t have to put out any cash upfront.  It’s also a great way to get in more locations and thus find more customers.  Typically you’ll have your own tag on your item, so that tag could have your business name and website on it.

The split varies quiet a bit.  It’s normal in my area that it’s 60 for the artist, 40 for the shop, but I’ve also done 70/30 and I did 50/50 in shops that were very popular and I knew it would be helpful for my business to be there.  I also do a 50/50 split with a gift store that raises money for charity.  You have to figure out what shops are the best fit for your items and decide from there if it’s a good idea.

(By the way, I hear all the time, “If I would do that, I would lose money.”  If that’s the case, you’re not charging enough.)

Cons of Selling on Consignment

Your inventory is held up at a store and may or may not sell.  You could be selling it yourself.  (Of course, you don’t know.)

Someone else is taking care of your products.  They may not display it where you would like it to be displayed or caring for it the way you would like.  Your pieces could get damaged or stolen.

It may not sell at all and then you have to decide if you want to pick it up or let them try to sell it for longer.

It’s out of your hands as far as promotion and marketing of those specific pieces.  (This can also be a big pro for selling consignment if the person is good at promotion because you don’t have to do it!)

Some shop owners are really great about paying for sales.  Others are terrible about it.  I have one shop that would not pay me until I called and emailed a few times.  It was a terrible situation because the store was so cute and in a great location and the owner was a super sweet person, too.  It just was so frustrating dealing with the getting paid aspect of it.  It’s a business, so it’s kind of important to get paid.

How to Deal with the Cons of Consignment

1.  Have a very clear contract.  If the store doesn’t have one, find one and make it yourself for you and the shop owner to sign.  In it you should include how long the products will be there, what the split is, who is responsible for stolen items and damage (which should be the store since it’s completely out of your hands).  It should also be clear how often the store will be paying you for sales.  Commonly it’s monthly, but biweekly is pretty common as well.

2.  Always include an inventory sheet listing every single thing you’re dropping off when you drop off your products.  Take two copies:  one for the store and one for you.  Have the store owner sign your copy for your records.

3.  When you pick your inventory back up, check it against the inventory sheet and what you’ve been paid for to make sure everything is accounted for.

4.  Switch out inventory that is not selling with different inventory.  (Make sure to keep your records straight when removing and adding new products.)

5.  Check in at the store as often as possible.  Don’t stop in daily, but every couple of weeks would be fine.  Make sure your products are clean and in a place that they can be seen and sold.

6.  Keep accurate records of everything.  Know what you have where and for how long it’s been there.  Know how well your products are selling and what exactly is selling.  Keep stores stocked up with what is selling well.  Pull out things that are not selling well.  Check in with store owners to make sure everything is going well.

7.  Promote the shop as well.  I said above that the shop would promote themselves, but it’s nice to have a page on your website listing where people can find your products in person or to do a little blog post if you’re in a new store about the store.

8.  Communication is key.  If a shop owner has stopped communicating with you, it’s a bad sign.  Take it from me, go get your stuff.

Misunderstandings happen all the time.  You’re an artist, they’re a shop owner.  It’s really two different personalities in most cases.  I had a huge misunderstanding with a shop owner once who was very friendly and very pushy.  She didn’t listen to what I was saying and just kept pushing forward with what she wanted.  When she finally heard and understood the situation (which I had been telling her all along) it turned into a huge mess with hurt feelings and her taking it to the internet.

I am much more assertive now then when this situation happened.  I don’t think I did anything wrong, per se, but if it were happening now I would speak up and make sure she heard and understood me.  It was almost like we were speaking two different languages.

As long as you are clear, have a clear contract and check up and communicate with the shop owner, consignment can be a very rewarding way to bring in another stream of income.

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Jewelry Business Tip: Multiple Streams of Income Part 2, Selling Online

Jewelry Business Tips

I wrote a post about How to Be Successful Selling Handmade Jewelry about a year ago.  That post gave an overview of some tips.

Each Friday I’ll be bringing you a free tip right here on the blog or you can sign up to get a weekly Jewelry Business Tip in your inbox below.

Jewelry Business Tip - Selling Online

Last week was Part 1, which was an overview of multiple streams of income and you can find that post here.

This week is Part 2, selling online.

Before we even start, let me say that this could be the subject of an entire class or even an entire website.  This is just an overview.

People come to selling online in different ways.  Some people start at craft shows and in person selling then then go to online.  As I mentioned last week I actually started online first on eBay and then switching to Etsy when it opened.

Etsy

Etsy is a great place to get started, especially if you don’t have much technical website knowledge.  It’s pretty simple and you can get started right away with very little cost.  However, I know that a lot of people think they can just pop their stuff up on Etsy and it will sell.  Etsy is a platform, which means like any other website you have to promote it and make sure people can find it with things like keywords and SEO, etc.  We dig into that in my Intro to Jewelry Business eCourse.  (Sign up below to be the first to know when this eCourse is running again.)

Etsy can be a place where you can refer your customers and then you have a website to put on your business cards and things like that.  You can use social media and have email updates (like my Jewelry Business Tips Newsletter) and refer people to it.

Etsy isn’t the only place online to sell your handmade jewelry, though.  ArtFire is another place similar to Etsy, but with different options.  And there are others.

Your own website

You can have your own website and sell your jewelry there.  Even if you don’t have a shop on your website, I think it’s still important to have your own website.  The great thing about having your own website is that when your customers come to it, they’re not distracted by anybody else’s products for sale.  They are there just to look at your handcrafted jewelry and that’s all they will see.

I’ve been blogging for a long time.  I blogged about things I knew my customers would like and then also showed photos of my work and work in progress.  I would let them know when I had new jewelry and different events and venues where they could purchase it.

How do you figure out subjects for your blog?  Well, you have to first figure out who your ideal customer is.  If you haven’t sold anything yet, you can guess.  If you have you can make a customer profile from what you know about that person.  Think about what you sell and why your customers buy it.  (I’ll be offering a free mini workshop on all this to my newsletter subscribers soon, so make sure you get on the list below.)

Photography

When you’re selling handcrafted jewelry online (or really anything) photos are very important, maybe the most important thing.  If you’ve sold in person you probably know it’s pretty easy to get a sale when people are picking up and trying on your jewelry.  Online you have to give them a similar experience through photos.  It’s so important that we spend one whole week on it in my Intro to Jewelry Business eCourse.  In fact, I will be re-releasing my eBook all about photography for handcrafted jewelry soon!

Descriptions

Another very important aspect is your description of your work.  Does your customer feel like they are there in person?  Have you provided all the important details?  Do they know why they should purchase your jewelry pieces?

I hope this overview has given you some ideas.  Make sure to sign up for my Jewelry Business Tips newsletter to get weekly tips in your inbox.  (Plus the free mini workshop that I’ll be sending to all subscribers soon!)

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Jewelry Business Tip: Multiple Streams of Income (Part 1)

Jewelry Business Tips

I wrote a post about How to Be Successful Selling Handmade Jewelry about a year ago.  That post gave an overview of some tips.

Since so many people have asked, I have decided to teach an online Jewelry Business eCourse!  It starts on March 2, 2015.  It’s a 5 week course with videos, worksheets, audios and PDF eBooks designed for you if you’re wondering how on earth to get started selling handmade jewelry.  (Registration is open!!  More information here!)

Each Friday I’ll be bringing you a free tip right here on the blog or you can sign up to get a weekly Jewelry Business Tip in your inbox here.

Jewelry Business Tip - Multiple Income Streams Part 1

You might be considering starting a jewelry business or perhaps you’ve already started one but haven’t been making as much money as you want yet.  Is it because you’ve put all your eggs in one basket (as the saying goes)?

There are certainly people who are Etsy superstars or have a lot of success doing just craft shows.  However, I have found that most people reach the income they desire not in just one way, but by having multiple streams of income.

What does that mean?

It’s a combination of income generating activities.  It will mean different things for each individual depending on what you want your business to be and your life circumstances.  For me, it meant that I sold online, at craft shows, in a retail space, at home parties and in shops.  For you it could be a different combination.

I’ll be talking about each possible income stream over the next few weeks.  But today I’ll give you an overview.

Online

This is actually how I started selling my handcrafted jewelry.  I sold first on eBay and then on Etsy when it started.  You might have your own shop on your website.  It’s probably best to do that because you then have total control.  When you sell on Etsy, it’s simply a platform – someone else’s website.  They make the decisions on what your shop looks like, etc.

Having said that, Etsy is a great place to get started.  I actually help you step-by-step through the process of setting up an Etsy shop and your first listing in my Jewelry Business eCourse because if you are new to selling online, it’s an inexpensive and easy way to get started.  You can get started right away without waiting for a website designer or doing all the research you need to do to get started.  You don’t have any excuses to get started.

Plus the fees are very inexpensive on Etsy.

Craft Shows

I love craft shows.  I think they are such a great way to get started selling jewelry.  You get to meet your customers (and the people who look at your jewelry) face-to-face and get their reactions.

They are a lot of work, though, lugging your jewelry, displays and tent somewhere, setting up, selling all day and packing back up again.

Finding the right craft show for your particular customer is really key to being successful at craft shows.  That and being prepared.  I help you get prepared and come up with a plan for selling at craft shows in my Jewelry Business eCourse.

Selling in Shops – Consignment

Once I started doing craft shows I started meeting people who sold handmade goods in their stores.  They mostly did consignment when I first got started.  That means they place your items in their shop and they only pay you if it sells.  Your items don’t belong to them; they still belong to you.

You split a percentage with the shop.  60 percent to the artist and 40 percent to the store is the typical split in my area, although I have had 70/30 and have done 50/50 in shops that were very popular or if it was raising money for a charity.  The terms vary as well as far as who is responsible for theft, etc.

We tackle this subject in Jewelry Business eCourse.  At the beginning of the eCourse you’ll figure out who your ideal customer is and where to find them.  That will help you figure out what shops might be a good fit for consignment.

Selling to Shops – Wholesale

Selling wholesale is more desirable than consignment because when someone makes a wholesale order once you fulfill the order and get payment the transaction is complete.  The jewelry now belongs to the store.

Although I did have some wholesale orders at the very start of my business, I would say it’s much more typical that you get wholesale orders the more time you’ve been in business.

The key to being profitable is to make sure that you set up your pricing correctly from the beginning so you can offer your products at wholesale prices.  Typically you offer wholesale at a 50 percent discount when a customer reaches a certain threshold in their order.  You do not have to do the 50 percent discount, but it’s kind of expected in wholesale.

Co-ops

You probably have been to an antique co-op.  There are different vendors selling their antiques.  It’s becoming more and more common to have art co-ops as well.

I was involved with a co-op store for years.  It was similar to an antique co-op, but this store had art, handmade and antiques.

I paid a monthly rental for my spot and then the store took a small percentage of the sale of my products each month.

Some co-ops require you to additionally work there a certain amount of hours per week or month as well.

It is a wonderful way to get in retail with less risk.

Custom Orders

When you start selling you will likely start getting requests for custom orders pretty quickly.  Even if you haven’t started selling you might have already had these requests.

A significant portion of my income came from custom orders, especially around the holidays.  People love to give personalized gifts.

Remember, if someone asks you to do a custom piece you don’t have to do it.  If it’s not something you feel comfortable doing (or even can do) or they’re asking for colors or a style that you don’t think would work, you can say no or maybe even suggest something different.

Home Parties

Home parties are a lot of fun and they are much more profitable than craft shows or selling in stores.  The people who come are specifically coming to buy your jewelry.  Most people will buy at least something small even if they don’t buy a lot.

I have had these in my own house, in my friends’ houses and in family member’s houses.  It’s just like the other home parties you’re used to.  (Like for Tupperware, etc.)  You have a host (or you can do this in your own home with yourself as the guest), they invite their friends and provide a snack/drinks and you sell jewelry.  You can do a presentation or not.  It can be a formal time or more open house/drop in.  I’ve done it all and it all works.

If it’s your close friends and family, they’ll probably do this for you at no charge, but I would still give them a thank you gift (or gifts) of your jewelry.  If it’s someone you don’t know as well, a friend of a friend, etc., you can set up a program where they can get a percentage of the night’s sales in jewelry.

(And of course this is something we cover in Jewelry Business eCourse)

Other places

Think about where your ideal customers are and then start showing up in those places.  At first you’re doing research, but then you can start to strike up conversations with people.  Maybe there’s a salon that would be a perfect place for your jewelry.  Ask the owner about it.  Maybe they would purchase wholesale or maybe it would be consignment.

I hope this overview has you started thinking.  I’ll get more specific in the upcoming posts!  If you’re ready to make a specific plan with help from me, I invite you to join my Jewelry Business eCourse!  Registration is limited so I can give one-on-one help and it closes on March 1st.

Jewelry Business eCourse

Jewelry Business Tip: Your Customers

Jewelry Business Tips

I wrote a post about How to Be Successful Selling Handmade Jewelry about a year ago.  That post gave an overview of some tips.

Since so many people have asked, I have decided to teach an online Jewelry Business eCourse!  It starts on March 2, 2015.  It’s a 5 week course with videos, worksheets, audios and PDF eBooks designed for you if you’re wondering how on earth to get started selling handmade jewelry.  (More information coming soon!)

Each Friday I’ll be bringing you a free tip right here on the blog or you can sign up to get a weekly Jewelry Business Tip in your inbox here.

Last week I wrote about Knowing Your Style & Mastering Your Jewelry Making Skills.

Jewelry Business Tip - Customers

This week:

Figure out who and where your customers are.

This is a big, huge subject that can be a whole book itself!  But I’ll give you an overview here.

If you have customers this is easier, but if not you can do some internet research and figure out where they are online and in the physical world.

{Some people suggest doing this and then creating your jewelry.  I think making jewelry is a form of art and should be based on the creator of art first.  I made jewelry for myself and as an expression of my creativity first.  However, I try to stay somewhat cohesive in style when making jewelry to sell so as to not confuse my customers.}

First figure out who your customers are.

If you have customers already, think about them.  “Women” is too broad.  What is their age?  What do they do?  How do they spend their time?  Come up with as detailed of a description as you can.

If you don’t know certain information about them, you can make it up for now.  As you sell more, you’ll learn more about them!

Now, think about how they are interacting with you and your product.  Are they buying it as a treat for themselves?  Is it a gift?  How do they use it?  Why do they buy it?  What need does it meet?  (There is a need that your product meets.)

For example, my jewelry is made from recycled and upcycled materials.  My customers like to feel a sense of belonging to a bigger cause:  the environment.  My jewelry was also pretty unique and people were purchasing it more as art than jewelry to match a certain outfit or dress.  My customers mostly were women buying it for themselves (and occasionally gifts for their girlfriends).  They were largely collectors.  (They didn’t typically buy one piece.  They typically either purchased more than one piece or kept returning for more pieces for their collection.)

This is just one example.  Start thinking about your jewelry and a need it meets for your customers.  Even if you don’t have customers, you can start to think about the need it could meet or how your customers could interact with it.

Lititz Rotary Club Craft Show

Once you know how they are, figure out where they are!

Where do they shop, online and in real life?

Where do they hang out online and in real life?

What forums or Facebook groups do they belong to?

What is important to them?

Are they in cities or more rural communities?  Small towns or big cities?  Are they located in a geographic region in particular?

You can use this information to make all kinds of decisions with your business from what craft shows to do to what stores to approach to sell your jewelry to where you should be selling and marketing online.

Jewelry Business eCourse

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Jewelry Business Tip: Know Your Style & Master Your Jewelry Making Skills

Selling Handmade Jewelry

I wrote a post about How to Be Successful Selling Handmade Jewelry about a year ago.  That post gave an overview of some tips.

Since so many people have asked, I have decided to teach an online Jewelry Business eCourse!  It starts on March 2, 2015.  It’s a 5 week course with videos, worksheets, audios and PDF eBooks designed for you if you’re wondering how on earth to get started selling handmade jewelry.

I have lots of experience selling jewelry.  I started making jewelry when I was a child, started making jewelry again many years ago for my friends, started selling to people I know and then officially began my jewelry business in 2005.  I started online on eBay (and then Etsy) and then started doing craft shows.  I’ve sold in shops all over the place (all over Pennsylvania where I live to Chicago.)  I even had my own retail space for four years.

I think that most of us start by giving our jewelry to our friends and family because we start making more jewelry than we could possibly wear ourselves and eventually start charging people for pieces.  Then people start asking for custom pieces and it just grows from there.

To have a business, though, you need to be organized and have a plan, regardless of how you started.  My Jewelry Business eCourse will help you with that!  Click here to get on the list to be the first to get information on the Business eCourse and to get emails with free jewelry biz information!

In the post I mentioned before, I gave an overview of some of the steps you can take.  Today we’ll dig into Step #1 deeper.

Knowing your style and mastering your skills.

First off, you want to make sure you master your craft.  I don’t think you need to go to art school or you need to be a master metalsmith by any means (I didn’t and I am not), but you should have a firm grasp on what you are making.

Suggestions for Mastering Your Skills:

  • Practice, practice, practice and practice more.  The more jewelry you make, the better you will get at it.  If you’re just starting, don’t worry.  Everybody was new at some point.
  • Take some classes if possible.  Learn from people who know what they’re doing.  I offer several jewelry making eCourses throughout the year.  (Rediscover Your Creativity & Make Jewelry is a great one if you’re creatively blocked or are looking for your own unique voice) or Wire Wrapping for Beginners is a great book to start with as well (it will be an eCourse later this year, too!)
  • Use inexpensive materials while you’re learning so you can make mistakes without worrying.  And so you can experiment more freely.  Then switch to more expensive materials when you feel ready.
  • If you’re not sure how to design your own jewelry yet, learn from other people until you start getting ideas.  You can get individual patterns or you can try some eCourses like I mentioned before.  Read books and magazines.
  • Every time you make a piece of jewelry, make it the very best you can.  That loop not quite right?  Try it again until it is right.  Keep practicing.  The only way you get better is to keep at it.
  • Wear the jewelry you make.  See how it holds up and how it feels to wear it.  If it’s not quite right, work on it some more.

Knowing Your Jewelry Style:

Know your unique style and try to stick with it in.  Your style might be specific like you make jewelry based on a certain type of movie or your style might be earthy.  You might make jewelry themed around a cause.  Picking a specific niche will help you particularly if you are going to be selling online.

Think about your experiences and your passions and consider how they could related to jewelry pieces.

Let’s take my jewelry business for example:

I have always been really passionate about the earth, nature and recycling in particular.  When I first started making jewelry it was sort of all over the place.  I was learning my style.  Once I started selling my jewelry and decided to have a business, I had to clarify my style.  I realized that I loved using recycled materials in my jewelry.  So I focused on that.  I decided that all of my pieces would be based around an upcycled material.  I used other materials with the upcycled piece as well, but the main focus was on recycling.

Not only is it easier for your customers to find you when you focus on a niche, but it’s also helps you with jewelry design.  You might think of it as limiting, but it really makes me feel much more creative to narrow it down.

Do not pick something that you are not passionate about because you’ll grow tired of it quickly.  Don’t make Dr. Who jewelry just because that show is popular right now.  If you are a fan of the show maybe it would work for you, though.

So what are you passionate about?  Does your jewelry already have a theme or a style?  You may not realize it, but it probably already does.  How can you combine your passion and your jewelry?

I hope this has been helpful!  I have a brand new mailing list just for Jewelry Business Tips!  You can sign up below.  If you’re at all interested in the possibility of a Jewelry Business eCourse, sign up.  I’ll send you information about it soon!

There are tons of people on the internet who talk about business.  There are a lot of really great people with lots of wonderful information.  Here’s the thing, though, by and large the people who are teaching about business never actually had a business.  Their business is teaching about business.  It’s always confused me.  I had a successful jewelry business.  I want to share my knowledge with you so you can do it, too!

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