Thursday, March 24, 2011

I'm starting to get why fashion companies do collections

So, I obviously haven't been blogging much lately. This week my parents are in town and I decided to work overtime to get ahead on my Etsy shop and bank a bunch of jewelry that I can list daily for a week or two. Which means I've been staring at my Etsy shop a lot, and thinking about what I mean to do with this thing.
You see, I started making jewelry purely as a hobby. It was a way to let off steam, burn some creative energy, and I really enjoy it. The Etsy shop started as a way to make a little money back, maybe make this a self sustaining hobby.

Then I started taking courses at London Jewellery School. It started with one, then another, then I finally took a deep breath and decided that since I loved it so much, I should just keep going. I stopped trying to pay for classes out of my jewelry income and instead dipped into my savings. I stopped trying to plan to earn the tuition cost back in the next few months or year, but rather decided to take the long view. Eventually I will earn it back, as it appears this isn't just a passing hobby. This is a part time job.

Learning new jewelry making techniques feels to me like I'm a kid in a candy store, constantly discovering new kinds of candy. I've experimented with all sorts of things and gone in so many different directions, and listed it all in my Etsy store. Then a new stress started. I could see that my store is so eclectic that I was hurting my chances of establishing a brand, but I didn't want to limit myself. I was having too much fun being eclectic.

This week, I sat down and rearranged both my store and my mind. I realized that even though I'm eclectic, my jewelry does fall into categories. I've got all my sparklies, or crystal and glass bead pieces, my minimalist chainmaille or wire roses and rosettes, my Jewelry Affaire featured lucite flower bead pieces, and my newest style, the sterling and fine silver. Then I've also been doing some wedding jewelry. That's still a lot of different looks, but at least I can actually pull together categories. Once I rearranged my shop into these sections, I had links to five differnt consistent looking sub-shops.

Now, many people on Etsy would literally open five shops. But if I did that, there is no way I could maintain my Folksy Shop, my Artfire Shop, and my Wedding Bliss Lane Shop. Odds are high that I won't keep all of these shops long term, but for now I want to get a feel for the different venues and see which other ones, besides Etsy, are a good fit for me.

While on one hand I do understand that it helps to have a strong theme and evoke a certain, focused response when people browse to my shop, on the other hand, I really felt that there is a place in this world for jewelry stores with several different lines by different artists, so why not a store with all the different sides of me in it? And then I had an a-ha moment that many established jewelers and artists and designers will mock me for taking so long to get to. Now I understand one of the main reasons why so many artists and designers work in series. You get the chance to be one way for a while, and provide consistency for your customer and all that, but then you get to change it up regularly.

Given that, I've figured out a new game plan for my store. I'm still going to do whatever I feel like, crafting wise, but I'll list and relist items daily in one category at a time. I.e. I'll do all glass bead and crystal for a while, then switch over to silver for a while, etc. This way whenever someone goes to my store, they won't be hit with a mishmash of randomness, but will rather see a cohesive theme and look. They'll be able to more easily decide whether they want to come back and if they stay and browse, they'll have an idea of what they're browsing for.

So, yes, all you visual artists out there can laugh at me now. I learn slowly :-) My next project, set up the release of the Magick Book pendant in April, when Kat, Incorrigible comes out. I'm having the master made right now and my goal is to get a pendant to Stephanie Burgis in time for a giveaway on April 5! So yes, there will also be a book jewelry section of the shop too. I have a short attention span when it comes to handcrafting. That's why I turned to jewelry in the first place, each project is small and I can finish it in a day.

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