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.
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.
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…
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??
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