Thursday, 26 February 2009

Another commission finished!

Oh so much to talk about! So after my previous post I put a lot of photographs of my jewellery up on facebook, and a friend commissioned me to make her a necklace and earring set- the metal swirlies. After a discussion with my best friend, we've decided to call them Miriam. So, here is Miriam In Blue:

As always, sterling silver wire and chain, paired with Sapphire swarovski crystals. Fingers crossed that Charli likes it!

I'm preparing the forms to become self employed, I'm looking at a start date of the beginning of March, so I'd only have to do a month's worth of accounts. Good practice for the full year I guess! I must get on top of the accounts and cataloguing. I guess the best part is that all my stock should count as opening capital, so I can't possibly lose out!

Seeing as I got paid recently, I had a wee spending spree on The Silver Corporation. I've decided to start making stud earrings. I've got some lovely, but tiny, cabochons and some epoxy glue, so I've ordered a few more cabs and some earring backs, can't wait to get started! Already got an idea for the packaging so all that remains is to actually make the things. Even if they don't sell, well I like wearing stud earrings so I'll just have lots of funky pairs.

I was ever so chuffed to see I have two followers this morning! Hello lovelies!

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Honestly, it's like waiting for a bus...

Two in one day hey! Well, I've been thinking a lot recently about how I can possibly turn this all into a bona fide business. It's something I've longed to do, meant to do, been preparing to do, for a very long time, but I never seem to get the time to make it all gel in one go. I know it's unrealistic to expect things to actually gel, but it's the way my mind works- if I can't work on something continuously until it's finished, I lose my way, and ultimately, my interest. So, in no particular order, my thoughts on this chaos:

Website: I need a website. There's no escaping it! I've had a friend offer to build me a site, but he seems to want to do it his own way with little regard to my style and the vision I have in my head for it. And that's the point really, isn't it? I have the vision in my head, and I'm notoriously bad at explaining what I want! I think what I really need to do is something of a collaboration with a graphic artist to design some of the things that I can't do myself, and then put it all together myself. To be honest, I used to be good at it and it'd only take a little time to resurrect the skill that I once had. It doesn't even need to be that complex really, but I'm worried over payment- do I take payment on the site, do I ask for e-mails? Asking for someone to send me an e-mail might put them off, but integrating paypal to a website might be too complex. I need to know if there's a simple way to do it without resorting to Mr Site, which I'm loath to do as the maintenance fee is so steep.

Tax: I need to register as self employed! I'm a little bit confused as to the national insurance regulations to be honest, but I think I'd just choose to pay them all at the end of the year if it turns out I do owe them. I'm also worried about keeping accounts- I'm fairly bad at keeping a record of things, although I really don't sell that much in the grand scheme. I do most of my work on commission now, and rarely buy in beads just because they're pretty (such a shame! I used to love doing that!) so on a general basis as soon as the beads land in my bead box they're gone again. Does this make it easier? Who knows. I need to talk to an actual accountant here, as the opening stock confuses me. I have so much stock stashed away in boxes that it's really rather overwhelming at times. Which leads on nicely to my next point...

Stock: So much stock! Everywhere! I need to sit down and catalogue it all, which could take hours. Although I guess it will allow me to root out the pieces I now don't think are up to scratch, which judging by my current standards will be quite a lot! I feel like going to a craft fair and having a sale just to get rid of some of it. I used to love all my pieces like they were my babies, but I've become so tired of lugging it all to craft fairs and carting it all home again. I feel almost like they're stifling my creativity somewhat- like if I have too much stock on hand I worry too much about the value of it just sitting there, and need to get some of it away so I can feel good about making yet more stock! I think to be fair the money I used to buy the beads to make them was out of my bank account and long replaced by earnings, so I don't really feel so bad about selling most of it off cheaply, in fact it would just be nice to see some money trickling in from sales. After registering as self-employed of course ;)

Marketing: So, what route do you go down here? I have many friends who are rabid about promoting me. My boyfriend always wears the chain I made him with pride and is the first person to tell people that I made it, and that I'm a jewellery designer. I keep tossing around the idea of making small catalogues, with details about myself, and my jewellery, and photographs of examples I've made so far. If they were small enough I could send Michelle off with one, my mother, leave one at work, seems like a fantastic idea to me but is it too much work for too little return? I always try to suggest to men that I can make them jewellery as presents for wives, girlfriends, sisters, etc, and that seems to prove a good return for the effort I put it. It shows how good actually getting out there and showing yourself off is! I not really very good at marketing myself, I'm very shy and I find it difficult to get myself out there and talk to people. Do I also need to consider posters, flyers, leaflets? I know I need business cards, but would a leaflet with a money off voucher work well? So many questions that go unanswered here!

Craft fairs and display: Craft fairs. The bane of my life, and all at once a joyous occasion, so long as the person selling bought in "handmade" jewellery isn't sniffing around my stall. I need to get some actual, professional looking display items sorted out! It's getting desparate now, I think one of the contributing factors to having done poorly at craft fairs before was the shoddiness of my display- forgetting table coverings is a favourite of mine. I need to have the stall planned out, know exactly what I'm doing and have it all packed into a big so when I go to a fair I can just pick up and go, not worrying about whether I've forgotten something or left something out. I haven't been involved in a craft fair since 2007, so I really need to get back into it, and use what I've learned about targeting my stock to the desired audience. Going to a school craft fair and taking lots of stock to sell in the £10-20 bracket isn't going to work. Going to a school craft fair and taking lots of children's jewellery that I can sell for under £5 *is* a good idea. To be honest it's pretty fun and relaxing sitting with a bowl of beads and making children's jewellery so I don't mind that aspect of it. I need to contact the place I get my boxes from to see if I can negotiate a deal too!

Last but not least... I may actually be able to get my jewellery into a shop! I decided I'd take the leap and make some basic enquiries, and they think it's a really good idea! It's in a holiday resort, so now isn't the best time for gift shops, but when the Spring and Summer finally drag their heels onto the scene, I think a sale or return basis could work out to be very profitable for both of us.

Anyway, I'm sure there was more I wanted to talk about but this post is now so much longer than I anticipated, so I'll sign off.

Thanks for reading,


Well, here I am again!

I'm not very good at this blogging malarkey am I? Although I did say that I'd post again either when I'd taken another decent photo or made something new...and I have! Made something new that is, not taken a decent photo, I'm starting to think that's beyond me!

I made this as a commission for a friend for- you guessed it- Valentine's day. I haven't been as up as I normally am on touting my skills around this time of year, but at least I've made something! There's some beautiful amethyst in there from B For Beads, a great little site I found on UKBeaders. I always shop with them when I can, they give great service and usually a little free sample too! Anyway, as you can see (or perhaps not in this photo!) their amethyst is beautiful. It's teamed here with sterling silver spacers, and light amethyst and purple velvet swarovski crystal.

I'm quite pleased with how the presentation came out too- the jewellery seems to really shine in a black box with a black insert. I had been using The Tiny Box Company's Kraft range, but next to the elite range the white foam looks pants and the black is really washed out! I don't know whether to see if I can negotiate a special price on the elite range (also handy and you can cut your own slots in the pad for the elite boxes, so it'll pretty much take anything) or try a different colour in the Kraft range. Ho hum, such are the trials of wanting to go into business as a jewellery artist! I think I'll go into this more in another post, I don't like to muddy the waters with these things all mixed up together.

I've been thinking about naming some of the more special pieces I make. Nothing fancy, maybe just women's names. This feels like an Alessandra...Yes, I think I'll stick with that!

Thank you for reading,