A friend of mine who teaches some classes on jewellery at one of our local design colleges in Vancouver, recently brought her group of students to my studio. It was their first time being in a working studio and I had the honour of sharing some of my knowledge with them.
I graduated from jewellery college in 2007 and spent awhile developing my style and first collection, so i usually say that my actual business started in 2009. This means that i've been making jewellery for some time now. I feel like I know a lot! But I often feel like I know nothing! Making jewellery and running a jewellery business is constantly challenging and I'm always learning something new. I think this is why I love it so much. I know that I get bored easily! So I feel pretty lucky that I get to do something where I am constantly learning and growing.
One of the questions that was asked to me during this visit was "What do you wish you knew when you were just starting out?" I think I told them the story of when I lost some sales. I of course have thought of a number of things that would be more useful to tell them since that moment, so I thought I would share them here:
Tips for New Jewellery Designers:
It's going to take some time to build your business. Be patient and don't give up. If this is something that you really want, you need to have perseverance.
People are not going to buy your jewellery based only on the aesthetics of your jewellery. Many people will buy because they connect with you. Be prepared to share pieces of yourself with your customers. Be real, be honest, be authentic.
Build relationships with people. I have some amazing stores that sell my work for me and I'm so grateful for them. I don't complain about them taking a percentage of sales, because I know they work really hard! I like to know the people who own the shops that I sell my jewellery in and I like them to know me a little. This relationship is very important to me. I couldn't run my business without these amazing shop owners!
Apply for things. Honestly, you will probably never feel completely ready to do anything but just start sending out applications for shows, exhibitions, books, etc. You will get a lot of no's but you will eventually get a yes and it will feel pretty darn good.
Don't compare yourself to other jewellery artists. I think this one is tough not to do, but it's pointless. You will start having successes, you just have to keep hustling and creating.
Stay inspired! Go and look at new things! Go to art galleries, take a road trip, spend the day on a mountain. We need to stay inspired and alive in order to continue to create beautiful things for the world.
Get peer mentors. Find other creative minds to connect with over art and business. These relationships will be invaluable for you.
Please don't cast a pinecone ;)
Please feel free to add to this list in the comments below!