Friday, September 11, 2009
I have had the hardest time managing my 'time' lately! I have gotten a tremendous amount accomplished but it seems the more I do, the more I need to do.
Since my last posting, I have; removed my pieces from the boutique I was selling out of, opened an etsy store, started a facebook fan page, run a two week advertising campaign, taken approximately 100 photos of my pieces, sold and shipped 2 pieces(!), and created some 30 new pieces!
So lets break these down: Removing my pieces from the boutique. Why would you do that is the question I get the most on this one. Most jewelers are trying to get into a boutique. There were really more reasons to leave than to stay and I had been riding it out for some time hoping the situation would improve but, unfortunately it never did.
If I could give you any advice on this I would say; be sure of who you are working with from the beginning. The boutique owner that I dealt with was questionable from the start. Initially he said that when I brought my line in he would, examine it, decide if it was in keeping with the theme of his store and then buy my entire line at wholesale. I thought this was wonderful! Then, REALITY CHECK! It turns out that he has just returned from a buying trip to China where he had purchased ten thousand dollars worth of high end, mass produced jewelry! Now he wants to enter into a consignment agreement. Okay, no problem, I can still do this. When all is said and done, I am only getting 50% of the sale price, I have to provide my own displays, I have to drive an hour, each way, twice a month to inventory, clean, and add to my collection and I have to "recruit" clients for his store. Then I start noticing the way he deals with his employees and vendors. It is not uncommon for me to go to the store and listen to him screaming at these people the entire time I am there! While I was making money, the situation was growing increasingly uncomfortable.
The last trip I made to the store, before removing my items, was especially bad. He started complaining to me that my system of inventory was too complicated and that I needed to come up with something else. This is when the idea of an etsy store started to appeal to me. I could receive the majority of my own profits, which would, in turn, allow me to lower my prices. I would save myself a four hour commute each month. I could store my items in a controlled environment where they would require less cleaning. I wouldn't have to listen to someone screaming at other people. This was a win, win, win situation! Then the phone call came. I was supposed to go in to do my bi-weekly inventory and the store owner called to say that I needed to come pick-up my items. The employee that he had charged with dealing with my line was leaving for college and, since he didn't like my inventory system, he was discontinuing my line. The ironic part is; earlier that week I had started setting up my etsy store!
The etsy store: http://AlexSharDesigns.etsy.com
This is a constant undertaking. Initially I intended to add to my shop every other day.....well, you know what they say, "We plan and GOD laughs". I am still managing to add about three items, once a week. The problem was photography.
Taking approximately 100 photos: I have bemoaned my photography issues before.
I started out trying to take my own photos but was so disappointed in the quality that I wouldn't list any items on etsy. Then I decided to call a friend who is a portrait photographer. Yes, the photos improved, but there was so much editting to do that I might as well have taken them myself. That's when those wonderful folks at etsy put out an article on photographing jewelry! I tried their techniques and they worked!!! Unless my camera battery was almost dead...as happens so often when you have teenagers in the home! I can not tell you the number of times I have done all the shots for my latest listing, only to open them on my computer and find that every one of them is blurry! Can you say, "re-shoot"?
I guess the greatest benefit of taking my own photos is that I have very little editing to do now.
Selling 2 pieces: One was sold from my personal facebook page and another from my etsy. One went to Canada, the other the U.S. Let me just say, I got a quick lesson in packaging and shipping, both domestic and internationally.
Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Alexandra-Shariff-Designs/139148430664
This was an idea I came up with to increase my shop name recognition. As of today I am at 41 fans and growing!
Running an ad: I did this in conjunction with my fan page on facebook. This was one of my better ideas. I will have run the add for a total of two weeks, at a cost of $14.00. I wasn't trying to get people to come to my site yet. I was trying to get people to see my name. Next campaign I will work on getting them to my page. As of this morning, almost 55,000 people has seen my add, and as an added bonus, 35 people have visited my site!
And finally, Making 30 new pieces: I am completely self taught. People ask how I am able to make some of the things that I do and all I can say is, I guess I am a good reader! I am in a new learning phase right now. I am trying desperately to improve my soldering skills. I don't mind admitting that some days are totally frustrating! I have had to start over more times than I can count, but when a piece comes together right.....well, that feeling is hard to describe!
Now, any of you who are there just getting started are going to begin to feel like I have lately...overwhelmed! I need a computer expert who would deal with all of the internet issues; ads, forums, listings, etc. A photographer to handle the pictures and editing. Someone to blog for me! Someone to twitter for me! Someone to clean my house and take care of my family! Someone to package and ship for me! Then I would need a few people to handle all the other obligations in my life and then I could spend all my time at my bench!!!