How to Start a Jewelry Line – 12 Mistakes Designers Make When Starting a Business

You’ve got a talent for jewelry design and making. Now you’re thinking about starting (or may have already started) a jewelry business.

Awesome!

You LOVE making jewelry. Hey, you even have a talent for handmade custom design!

Now, you might be thinking about turning your side hobby into a money making business.

Awesome!

If you are an artist like me, you might not naturally think about how to launch a jewelry business the right way. When I started my first jewelry business in college, it was an afterthought.

I’d been selling jewelry to my family and friends and my client base was expanding beyond my personal network. At that point, it made sense to start a legit jewelry business. Yeah, sounded good on paper but my creativity got in the way and I made some big mistakes along the way.

Let’s face it, speaking from personal experience many creative types struggle with the business side of things. Even though that may or may not be the case, make sure you avoid these 12 common mistakes when starting out.

Today, I wanted to share some of the biggest mistakes designers make so you can learn how to set your business up the right way.

Mistake # 1: Mixing personal and business bank accounts (or credit cards)

Yep, I made this bad mistake. When I was in college, I was buying supplies on my personal credit card and when tax time came around it was challenging to show which expenses were personal vs. business. 

Open a separate account for your business so you can easily separate personal and business expenses. In the US, it’s frowned upon by the IRS to mix personal and business expenses and you might be setting yourself up for an audit if you don’t fix this stat.

Mistake # 2: Don’t know who they’re designing for

For years, I only designed what I like instead of understanding who I was designing for. If you are having a hard time selling your collection it might be because you don’t know who your DREAM Clients are and quite possibly that you think everyone is your customer. I hate to break it to you but trying to sell to everyone is the death of your small business.

Mistake # 3: Don’t design cohesive collections

One of the biggest mistakes a designer can make is to just design a bunch of random pieces of jewelry that don’t merchandise or work well together. Regardless, If you are wholesaling your work, selling online or direct to consumer, if you don’t have a collection that creates a story and makes sense, you will probably have a difficult time making consistent sales and creating an unforgettable brand. Learn how to create collections that sell from the get go.

Mistake # 4. Don’t price their jewelry correctly

Pricing! Yes, it’s a tough thing to nail down. You might just be doubling your materials thinking that’s enough and then feel defeated because you are trying to compete with companies from China on Etsy. Remember, you can never compete on price so do yourself a favor and price your jewelry the right way.

Mistake #5: Inconsistent or bad photography

Visual images of your designs are your best marketing tool. Consistent, quality photography is a key in looking not only professional but also making more sales online and off.  Having great photos is the first gateway to get a buyer to notice your work. Enough said. If you can’t afford hiring a pro, learn to photograph your jewelry yourself.

Mistake #6: Don’t have a branded website

Third party websites like Etsy can be an awesome place to get sales and traffic. However, nothing beats having your own branded website. It provides legitimacy for your brands, allows you to capture prospects or leads and creates a place for people to learn more about the brand resulting in more sales over time. With website platforms like Shopify and so many others, it’s easy to DIY and create a beautiful looking website without a huge investment up front.  

Mistake #7: Avoid marketing themselves and magically expect to be found

So you had your amazing collection manufactured and you put it all up on your Etsy shop or your website. But..Crickets! No one is buying. Now what? In the words of my mentor, Marie Forleo, “you must always be marketing.” If you aren’t putting your jewelry brand out there, you can’t expect to get sales. Create a strategic marketing plan and always be marketing!

Mistake # 8: Don’t take action or manage time properly

As a designer or maker, learning how to start a profitable jewelry business is very important. But if you just learn and don’t take the right actions to achieve your goals, then all you’ve really got is an idea. The key to getting results quickly is to manage your time properly, focus on the right activities that will move your business forward and take daily steps towards your goals.

Mistake # 9: Finance their business without a plan

Using credit to invest in your business can be very helpful to get your business off the ground quickly. Yet, using credit cards blindly without a plan to get out of debt is a terrible idea. If you need to use credit to ramp up your business, be certain that you have a plan to pay off your debts with cash flow from your business.

Mistake # 10: Participate in Trade Shows without doing research

Trade shows can be a great way to meet new buyers and expand your market. However, doing a bunch of trade shows without walking the show, researching the buyers and the market or doing a cost analysis on your ROI is a terrible idea. They are very expensive and we’d only suggest investing in shows that attract your DREAM buyers. Additionally, consider tradeshows a marketing expense. If you were unable to make any sales from the show, would that be financially devastating to your business?

Mistake # 11: They don’t properly plan for business

Creating an actionable business plan and setting goals is a fundamental MUST in your business. No, I’m not talking a 30-page business plan here, yet a simple 1-page business plan that covers things like your goals and how you are going to get there creates something that you can follow and measure results.  

Mistake #12: They don’t invest in themselves!

The biggest mistake I ever made early on in business was not investing in my business or asking for help. I waited until it was too late. Make sure that you enlist in the support of mentors and educate yourself about the things you don’t know in business. Always be learning and growing. Learning from experienced experts also saves you precious time so you can achieve your goals even faster.  

If you’d like to become a successful jewelry designer or maker and start a passion business (even if it’s a home-based business), do the right thing and don’t make these mistakes. Create a plan, get your business-y stuff in order, and design collections that are cohesive and priced the right way. Learn how to start a jewelry business from those who have done it successfully.

Ready to build your own jewelry brand, but not quite sure where to start?

Grab our FREE guide for new jewelry designers who are ready to make a living by following their passion…

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Download the beginner’s guide now and follow the steps we’ve outlined to get on the fast track for building your successful jewelry brand!

In the comments below, I’d love to hear from you:

Do you have an at home-based or startup jewelry business? If so, what are your biggest hold ups for moving your business forward??

xo, Tracy

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48 Comments

  1. Leonor Heleno on September 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    Hi
    And thank you for these very useful tips!!

    I must admit the ins that I struggle more with us the objectives!!
    I mean, even if I want to sell 5 pair of earrings, how do I sell them?!
    Is it publicity, going towArds people?!
    I’d love to hear how in this case you get your objective done
    <3
    And thank you for sharing this with us.
    Xoxo

  2. Tracy Matthews on September 25, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Leanor,

    There are so many ways to sell. how are you currently selling? Do you have an email list? Are you marketing your pieces consistently?

    Are you talking about your work?

    Let us know!

    Tracy

    • Leonor on May 14, 2013 at 9:18 am

      Hi Tracy,
      I sell mainly on the web.
      My marketing is mainly twitter and Facebook.
      It works as I am selling but I am so far from the objectives!!
      It I decide ti have to sell 5 items, there is no way I can pay for the publicity to achieve this…
      Fairs are good before Christmas, but my jewelry is a bit pricey and doesn’t sell a lot on the spot.
      Any advices on how to engage more sells??
      Leo xx

  3. Lisa Lavado on September 27, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    I think I’m making mistake 2 & 3. I also think they are related, I’m trying to make something for everyone. This is my fourth year in business & I still haven’t figured this out. Mostly, my sales come from craft fairs. I think I have a good web presence, but nobody buys from my website.

  4. Lisa M Landers on October 6, 2012 at 4:06 am

    These are great tips, Thank you! I also find it hard to focus on one thing at a time….I’m always catching myself trying to learn something new, when I should be finishing what I have started. Again, thank you!

  5. Sarah on October 8, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Very helpful!

    That is so true, I experience a lot of them.

  6. jewelry on October 11, 2012 at 2:58 am

    I love jewelry for my use

  7. Nancy on October 1, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    So mistake # 7, fail to market self. So…how do you do that?

  8. Michal Yakar on November 18, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    I think it’s fair to say that all of us in this forum have the product but is there any way to elaborate more on how to EFFECTIVELY market the product. I personally have an ecommerce, Facebook page, twitter and Pinterest but what REALLY needs to be done for it to actually translate into sales???

    • admin on November 25, 2013 at 1:18 pm

      Hi Michal,

      What are you doing to grow a following? I ask this because there isn’t a one stop formula. Are your clients on these forums? How are you getting them to see your product?

      For instance some designers sell a ton of work off of Instagram and others don’t. The one’s that do have clients that shop of instagram but not other avenues. So where is your DREAM client hanging out?

  9. hadja.k on November 30, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    how do i price the jewelry correctly

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  11. Trish on January 24, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    Marketing is where I am falling way short, also cohesiveness {I like making eclectic pieces rather than same design}, I need to also fine tune my target market

    • Tracy Matthews on January 26, 2014 at 9:12 pm

      Trish, great to hear this. Yes, having a strong marketing and sales effort is very important to getting your jewelry on more of your DREAM clients. It’s also great to identify who they are as well.

  12. Jessica Morgan on February 14, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    Hi there!

    I have created a jewelry design for necklaces that will strictly be used for charity purposes. Where can I go to find jewelry makers who will make the designs in bulk? They are very simple designs and need to be sterling silver? Any help would be appreciated!

    Jessica

    • Ozzy on July 31, 2017 at 12:58 pm

      Hi Jessica,

      I am wondering if you found your answer? I am also looking do the same. Thank you!

  13. Misty on November 26, 2014 at 3:25 am

    I’m JUST starting out. I don’t have a business or art background, but have an idea for a jewelry line I’d like to get going.

    I know I can copyright jewelry design ideas for very cheap. But how do I get the pieces made? Where do you go to have that manufactured?

    My thought is, if I can draw my designs and have the drawings copyrighted, then I could see about having some manufacturer make them. Then try to go about selling them.

    But that’s where I’m stuck. How to find a manufacturer?

    Thank you for all these tips! Wouldn’t have thought of most of them.

  14. Marina zavory on October 10, 2015 at 4:06 pm

    How would you create an email for selling purposes? Do you suggest compiling a list of your past customers and creating a newsletter or marketing news? I am trying to organize something like that but need tmfinetune the process. Thanks!

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  16. Shupi on August 8, 2016 at 8:23 am

    thanks for the advice the one point i took with me is defining your target market and the prcicing

    • Tracy Matthews on November 18, 2016 at 10:22 am

      Shupi thanks for the feedback!

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  19. Mae Gay on December 30, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    I am looking to start an earring business in 2017. I have already created about 30 pair of earrings within the last two weeks. My question is how many pair of earrings should one have in inventory before putting the jewelry on market?

    • Tracy Matthews on January 9, 2017 at 7:21 pm

      Hi Mae! You can start anytime! Why don’t you join us for our Jewelry Makeover Bootcamp? It free and starts today! It will really help you start your biz on the right foot! Here’s the link to join http://www.flourishthriveacademy.com/brandmakeover-2/ xo, Tracy

  20. Caleb on February 13, 2017 at 8:31 pm

    Hello,

    I am in my third year of my residency as a surgeon and I no longer want to do it. I’ve loved the idea of diamonds since I was little but never really understood how I could start up a business selling them. I know nothing at this point other than the fact that I want to see what it’s all about. I have a decent amount of equity and I’d like to invest it in this business. Can someone offer me any pointers as far as where to begin? Where to get the stones from? If I am looking to sell them, could I learn to cut the diamonds myself (don’t worry, I have a steady hand already 😉 and sell those? Where would I get uncut diamonds from? How much would I need when it’s all said and done if I’m looking to compete with higher end quality jewelers and their products? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    Caleb

    • Tracy Matthews on February 28, 2017 at 11:31 am

      Hey Caleb! I would start your hunt with the best game in town for diamond and gemstone info, The Gemology Institute of America! Good luck in your venture. xo, Tracy

  21. benzocity on April 19, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    I’d like to start jewelry online business. How do I do online marketing?

  22. Joanna on May 28, 2017 at 7:38 am

    Hello, I am starting a jewellery line and have made all my designs. I’m now looking for someone to make my designs, can anyone recommend me someone?

    Thanks

    • Tracy Matthews on June 12, 2017 at 11:55 am

      Hi Joanna, I would start by asking in out online community, Jewelry Business Incubator. I know our community will have some great answers for you. http://www.flourishthriveacademy.com/JBI xo, Tracy

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  26. Indian Fashion on August 3, 2017 at 7:47 am

    These are great tips, Thank you! I also find it hard to focus on one thing at a time….I’m always catching myself trying to learn something new, when I should be finishing what I have started. Again, thank you!

  27. Rajni on August 9, 2017 at 11:35 pm

    Hi I want to know how I get jewellery material means I hv only design jewellery on paper yet how to imlipliment on..

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  30. Meg Carter on September 3, 2017 at 9:01 pm

    I don’t have an art background but I want to start a jewelry line. How and where can I get the pieces made on a budget. I can draw my designs and how I want them made. Need your expert advise. Thanks.

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