WigJig Jewelry Tools Presents our Jewelry Making Newsletter -- AKA Boomer Sez:
Our Spokesdog: If an insurance company can have a gecko, we have decided that we can have a spokesdog. Boomer, shown at right, is our spokesdog. If you select Boomer's picture, you will be able to view Boomer at his work.
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Free WigJig Jewelry Tools Demonstration in September:
We have another WigJig Demonstrations scheduled for September. Gary Helwig, inventor of the WigJig, will be providing a presentation at the September 8th meeting of the San Antonio Bead and Ornament Society (SABOS). The meeting will be held at the San Antonio Garden Center, 3310 N. New Braunfels, in San Antonio. The meeting will begin at 6:30PM and our WigJig presentation is scheduled to start at 7PM. You can find a map to this location here. You can find information on the San Antonio Bead and Ornament Society here. If you have questions on how to use our WigJig tools, or want to see some of the jewelry we have made with our WigJig Tools, please visit us either at the San Antonio Bead Society meeting.
Birthstone for August: The Birthstone for August is the peridot. Please select here to view more information on peridot gemstones. This month we are discounting our 8mm real, mined from the earth peridot by 20%. Please select the picture at right to view this product. Please note that these are real, grade AAA peridot gemstones and were mined from the earth. Finally, we ask our customer's to remember that wearing peridot gemstones was considered, in European Folk-lore, to give the wearer success, peace and good luck. Who can't afford a little extra peace and good fortune right now?
Birthstone for September: The birthstone for September is the sapphire. Sapphire is the second hardest gemstone making it four times harder than most sand. For this reason, sapphire is a very good choice for making jewelry as they will withstand wear and tear very well. Sapphires can come in almost any color, but commercial sapphire gemstones commonly come in clear, pink and blue. We sell man-made sapphires are chemically identical to sapphires mined from the earth but sell for a very reasonable price. You can view information on sapphires here.
For the month of September, we will have a special sale on 6mm, man-made pink sapphires at a 20% discount from our normal sale price. A matched pair of man-made, round 6mm man-made pink sapphires (Item 3335) will be sale priced at $3.99 for the pair.
Input on Making Jewelry as a Business:
We try to solicit input from our newsletter subscribers and others on what is working for them in making a business out of their jewelry hobby. When we receive input, we post it here. It has been a while since we last solicited input from our subscribers so we are asking again. If you have any ideas that you want to share about how you have structured your jewelry making business, or what works for you in selling your jewelry, we request that you send us an e-mail with your ideas. Here are some thoughts of ours:
The toughest way to begin selling jewelry is to develop your own web site and store. This should be your last option and not your first. Right now if you search Google on Jewelry there are 110 million web sites that match that search criteria. Any new store goes to the bottom of that list and must then start working its way higher. WigJig has been on the Internet for over 15 years with a jewelry related web site including over 3,000 web pages. We rank number 125 on Google for the search term "jewelry". If you don't rank in the top ten, you won't get significant orders from a search engine. The bottom line is that selling jewelry via a web site is very, very difficult. (Fortunately, wigjig.com ranks number 1 or 2 for "jewelry wire" and in the top ten for many other jewelry making and jewelry tool search terms.)
Many people are very successful in selling jewelry on the Internet, but most of these people are using E-Bay, or etsy. Before you decide that E-Bay or etsy is the vehicle for you, do some market research. Try searching for jewelry on these sites. Right now there are 178,916 auctions on E-Bay for Chandelier Earrings. Most of the people who shop on these online stores are looking for values so this is a place where less expensive merchandise seems to do better. Making a real income from selling on E-bay or etsy is a matter of hard work. You need to post a lot of auctions over a prolonged time until you get a reputation on that selling venue. Don't go to any online selling venue and think that just because you make beautiful jewelry that you will be successful.
Craft shows can be a very effective way to sell hand made jewelry. The one thing to remember is that items displayed at a craft show rarely sell themselves. To be successful selling items at a craft show you have to try to strike up a conversation with every person who slows down as they pass your booth. "Selling" is an active verb. When you are selling at a craft show you are selling yourself as much as you are selling your jewelry. Many people will buy hand made items just because they like the personality of the person who made that item. Try to develop a question that you can ask people as they look at your merchandise. One example of a question that we have used showing our jewelry is "Can you guess what we call this design?" We use that when showing our Money Earrings because the Money Earrings look like a dollar sign. That simple question gets a conversation started with a potential customer. Once you have a conversation started you can find out what the potential customer likes and show them your products that might interest them. The bottom line is don't try to sell, instead try to engage people in a conversation about your products with the view that if a sale happens that is great; if a sale doesn't happen that is great also. If the customer feels that you are trying to hard to make a sale -- they will walk away.
Another thing to consider is that not all craft shows are created equally. Some shows will do well selling low priced merchandise, some shows will do well selling high priced merchandise and some shows won't sell jewelry period. Be selective in choosing shows that match your target customer. Once you find the show that does well for you, be consistent. Become a regular at that show. That way you will end up with repeat customers.
Finally, when selling at a craft show, you must have merchandise at many different pricing levels. Have some items that sell for under $10 as well as some of your better merchandise that sells for under $100. Sometimes a customer will stop to look at a $10 pair of earrings, but then find the $100 earring that they really wanted.
Some people can be very successful in selling jewelry on consignment. The problem with selling on consignment is that you will have to cut your margin and reduce your profit to pay the consignment shop their fees for selling your products. For products where you don't have a lot of labor tied up in the item, this is fine.
One way for selling jewelry that we really like is jewelry parties. Think in terms of Mary Kay or Amway. If you have a lot of friends, parties may be the selling venue for you. Start with parties at your own home. This will allow you to practice what works in your party and at the same time control your expenses. Plan on having some refreshments, but hold the caviar. Remember every dollar you spend on Champaign is a dollar of profit lost. Find the happy medium between a lavish party and a frugal one. You need to spend enough to make it worth peoples time to come, but not so much that it seriously erodes your profits. If you are successful with parties selling jewelry at your own home, then we suggest that you grow the business by paying friends to have a party with their friends.
When you are having a jewelry party, consider it a craft show with a captive audience. All the advice for selling at a craft show will also apply to a party. Develop a speech to give to the party that will educate the potential customers on jewelry. Talk about interesting things about your jewelry. Which jewelry items use colors that match birthstones? What is the source for the materials? Explain Austrian crystal versus Czech crystal. Explain mined gemstones, and man-made gemstones versus CZ. Explain how mined gemstones are enhanced by heat or radiation. Explain gold versus gold-filled versus gold-plate. Have enough of a speech that it will help your potential customers to learn something about jewelry that they didn't know before they arrived at the party. If you are the type person who is good at telling a joke, then tell a joke. The bottom line with parties is you are selling yourself, just like at a craft show. If you can teach the people something at the party that they didn't know, they may feel indebted to you for that education and they will reciprocate by buying something.
Consider selling your jewelry as part of a yard sale. Just remember that you will need to sell more than just jewelry to get people to stop at a yard sale. Jewelry can be another item at the yard sale. With a yard sale it is more important that you have inexpensive jewelry in addition to some nicer, more expensive pieces.
Try to have a gimmick. Birthstones can be one gimmick to help sales. Many people who are shopping for a gift will by birthstone jewelry just because it is more personal. Try to have jewelry made in colors that correlate with all 12 birthstones if possible. Birthstones can be one way to help close the sale. We knew of one lady who had color combinations that matched the seasons. When she talked about her jewelry she talked about reds, oranges and browns being fall colors. White, crystal and black are winter colors, yellows and blues are spring colors and greens are summer colors. These combinations of colors are an example of another gimmick. Naming your jewelry as we did our Money Earrings is another gimmick. Our Interchangeable Earrings is another example of a gimmick. (These are earrings where the beads can be removed and changed out.) The bottom line here is to develop a gimmick that works for you and use the gimmick as a discussion point in every selling venue. Talk about your gimmick to anyone who will listen.
Develop a mailing list. Even if it is only an e-mail mailing list. Try to get the e-mail address of every customer. Try to get e-mail addresses of people who are interested in your jewelry even if they aren't customers. That way you can send out e-mails when you are having a party or attending a craft show or even having a trunk show or yard sale. Many potential customers will thank you for making their Christmas shopping easier by letting them know about your pre-Christmas sale. This takes work, but it also pays big dividends if you are really serious about making jewelry as a business.
When we display our jewelry, we like to put only one earring out on display and retain the second earring in our secure storage. We like to do this to avoid theft. In many venues, like a craft show, 99% of the people will be honest. 1% of the people won't. We have seen people who work as hard at stealing in a craft show as the vendors do in selling. One female (not a lady) in Milwaukee, at the Bead and Button show, had her clothing specially sewn so that she could drop items into the cuff of her sweater into pocket that was built to be hidden and hold her stolen swag. She got caught many times and had a police record of being arrested many times, but she was never prosecuted. It cost the vendors too much money to return to Milwaukee to prosecute, so this thief never went to court. People won't bother stealing one earring. Just one more thing to consider.
Remember that pricing is an ongoing task. You need to price your merchandise so that it will sell in the venue where you are selling it. What we have done is the past is decide what minimum price we would accept for an item before trying to sell it. If you have a lot of time in a piece or if you really like a certain piece, price that piece higher. Where you don't have a lot of time in a piece, or where you don't like a piece as much, price that piece lower. One general rule for pricing hand made items is to sell the item for three times the price of the materials. When you find an item that sells really well, then you can raise the price on that item. When you are getting started, it is probably better to take less money and sell more merchandise. Once you have some experience selling and begin to understand your market place, then raise the prices on the items that sell best. Always remember the third sub-paragraph to paragraph 3 above and have items to sell in a very broad spectrum of prices. Having inexpensive items to sell can help to sell your more expensive items.
The above ideas for selling jewelry are just a sample of what can work. The one common denominator for all suggestions is that selling is an active verb and requires lots of hard work. It may have been in the past that you could invent the better mouse trap and people would beat a path to your door. Unfortunately, it isn't that way in the 21st century. Having the better mouse trap, or the most beautiful jewelry design is not enough. You also have to find the best way to market and sell that product and in many ways marketing and selling are much harder than making the jewelry was.
New Jewelry Making Items:
We have one new item in our Internet store this month. The item is our WigJig Centaur Lite, Item 5003, shown at right. Item 5003 is sold at a new price ($34.95), with a new package and with fewer pegs (10 instead of 20) than our regular WigJig Centaur, item 2983. For item 5003, the plastic base for our WigJig Centaur is made in China. For item 2983 the plastic base for the jig is made in America. We intend to continue selling both items 2983 and item 5003 going forward. Our customer's can choose the Made in America product with 20 metal pegs for $46.95, or the product with the acrylic base made in China and with 10 metal pegs for $34.95. The quality of the product made in China is the same as the product Made in America. We fully inspect both products. This is an opportunity for our customers who have wanted a WigJig Centaur to pick one up and an excellent price. For those who want more than 10 metal pegs, you can purchase item 0115, a package of 20 metal pegs for the Delphi, Cyclops or Centaur.