Friday, August 31, 2012

Upcoming Fall Craft Fairs

As you may have guessed from the lack of entries in this blog, it's been a quiet last few weeks of summer. I've had decent sales, but classes don't start up again until October. That said, I've been taking it easy and working on my jewelry catalogue with my dad. He's doing the layout for me and so far, it looks great. I'm hoping that it will be finished by next week so I can send it to some stores.

Now that September is just about here, my life is about to get much busier. The holiday season -- and yes, in retail, this marks the start of it -- always heats up when fall begins and the kids are back in school. I'm already seeing the upswing on HubPages, as I'm selling more Amazon products. Hopefully, Etsy will pick up, as well. It did last year when I wasn't putting as much work into the site, so I'm anxious for my efforts to pay off.

Meanwhile, I already have three craft fairs lined up for the fall! The first is going to be a charity event at my friends' house. I sold some jewelry at their place last May when they held a charity party for AIDS research. However, the party was at night and people were in the mood to well, party, not buy stuff. I only sold a few pieces. This time, though, it's going to be an afternoon event (for ALS research; they're doing a walk in honor of a friend who has the disease) where the whole event is centered around vendors. So people will be coming specifically to buy and then I'll give back a portion to the charity. At the end of September, I have another charity event -- this one for Autism Speaks. And then in October, I'll be selling my jewelry at a craft fair that's being held at a local temple. The event for Autism Speaks is the one where I was asked to create a children's line. I'm curious to see how my pieces will sell in person.

I'm pleased that so far, all of these gigs have been invites, meaning that I was asked to do the event and didn't just sign up. My goal is to do at least seven fairs during the holiday season, with most taking place toward the end of November/December. I want to get those last-minute holiday shoppers!

My next enamel class starts in October, too, so I'll have a chance to make some nice, new holiday-themed pieces. I'm thinking of making some enameled ornaments, which will be a nice addition to my collection.

In other exciting news, I'm going to be publishing a novel! No, it's not about jewelry, though I really should write something about a jewelry designer, right? It's a young adult novel called REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD and is kind of a Heathers-meets-Glee-type story -- a dark comedy with romance and some danger. I wrote it years ago, but it's finally getting published. I'm looking forward to sharing my story with the world.

So between my two jewelry lines, craft fairs, jewelry catalogue, classes and upcoming book, fall is going to be super-duper busy for me. But I'm not complaining -- I wouldn't have it any other way!

And now, I'm off to Florida for a wedding and a few days of some R&R before I return home to all of this madness...

To purchase my jewellery, head to Naomi's Designs. To purchase my children's jewelry, head to MayaGirl Creations.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Selling my handmade jewelry: getting my name out

One of the most important things that I'm doing in setting up my jewelry business is getting my name out. Word of mouth pays off and I want to make sure that people remember Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations. Obviously, this blog is a way to put my name out there and I also include business cards in all of my packages.

Well, today I took a little risk in getting my name out and so far, it was worth it. As you know, I've been working on making a professional looking jewellery catalogue so that I can sell my pieces to stores at wholesale prices. I'm not yet done with the catalogue as we unfortunately had a family emergency and things are on hold. However, I don't want to sit idle, either.

After meeting girlfriends for lunch at South Street Seaport in New York City, we went shopping in the waterside mall. We stopped in a boutique-type store that had little statues, bags and costume jewelry. I purchased a bag and my friend got a beach hat. On a whim, I then asked the owner if he ever accepts work from local artists. I gave a brief description of my jewelry and he was really interested! He gave me his business card, as well as all three of his e-mails and told me to contact him when my catalogue is put together.

I know that I was advised to not approach store owners; that I should instead e-mail them with the line sheets, but I didn't think that it would hurt to give this guy my name -- and it didn't. He was so friendly and open to the idea of selling my work. This obviously won't guarantee that he'll buy anything from me once he sees my inventory, but it did give me some confidence. And I do think that my stuff would fit right in with this store, which sells jewelry in the $20 range.

I don't know what will happen with this store, but I'm glad that I at least made an effort to get some sales going. It will be so exciting, though, if my work ends up at South Street Seaport!

To purchase my jewellery, head to Naomi's Designs. To purchase my children's jewelry, head to MayaGirl Creations.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Trying New Etsy Strategies

This week, I was invited to join an Etsy team that's into doing "Buying And Replace" (BNR) treasuries. Basically, the team leader creates a treasury that features 16 shops and in order to be featured in the treasury yourself, you need to buy one of the items posted.

It sounded simple and fun enough, and I was told that it could bring my shops more views and sales. So I figured, "Why not?" and signed on. I purchased some bath products and eagerly waited to be featured in the treasury myself.

Know what? Nothing happened. I was featured in two rounds and while my list of "favored" items went up, it wasn't a legitimate spike; it was simply team members favoriting everyone else's items in the treasury. But aside from that, my views stayed about the same and I didn't make any extra sales. In fact, I ended up losing money because I had to buy my way into the BNR.

The more I try things like the Tophatter auctions, this BNR, the more I'm realizing that you can't really *do* anything drastic to *make* people buy your product. You have to entice people with good craftmanship, quality, photos, prices, etc. -- but it's all up to the indvidual seller.

I'm not really into joining forums, but I'll definitely check in with the team to see if anyone has some good sales advice. Still, I think I'm going to stick with the old-fashioned ways of selling my own items. So off to create for my two craft fairs in September...

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs. To purchase my children's jewelry, head to MayaGirl Creations.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Handmade silver earring hooks

When I began making jewelry and was still a beginner, I purchased as many parts as possible, including the findings. This way, when I made earrings I wouldn't have to worry about constructing the ear wires. As time went on, though, and I became more experienced, I made more and more parts for my pieces. These days, I make everything from scratch if I can (obviously, I can't craft my own Swarovski crystals).

Now that I know how to make my own earring hooks, they're actually fairly simple to design. The trick is to get them even so you don't have one earring that's longer than the other.

Given that I've made probably about a thousand of these hooks, I'm doing a little experiment and am seeing if I can sell a few supplies on Etsy. Until now, I've only sold finished products that are ready to wear, but many artists come to the site to look for inexpensive supplies -- like earring hooks.

This may not be my most exciting venture, but it's these little parts that are necessary for making jewelry. Where would a jewelry artist be without jumprings? Or a painter without brushes, for that matter. I'm always trying new things to improve my business, so we'll see how this goes!

To purchase my jewellery, head to Naomi's Designs. To purchase my children's jewelry, head to MayaGirl Creations.

Yet More Handmade Enamel Jewelry

My last enamel class at Fitzgerald Jewelery was on Monday. I really enjoyed this class and was sorry for it to end, though I won't miss traveling to Brooklyn! There were things that I didn't care for in the studio, such as the lack of equipment, but once I got into it (and bought my own supplies), I had a great time. I really liked that this teacher stayed out of our way and let us learn and make things without her hovering. In the six weeks that I was in this class, I managed to make many more items than I had in the six weeks that I was in enameling at the 92nd Street Y.

I don't know if this has to do with me simply being more experienced at this point or if it was because the other class was more instructional. Don't get me wrong, I loved that class, too, and am taking the longer version of it this fall. Hopefully, that teacher will realize that I've reached an intermediate level and will just let me do my thing.

In this last class, I managed to make three items -- a record for me! Even better, I did so without making any glaring mistakes. Here they are:

Blue butterfly pendant:

Abstract colorful pendant:

Red rose pendant:

My initial plan on Monday was to finish the rose pendant. I'd applied the fine silver cloisonne wire, but one piece had moved, so I needed to snip it off and then redo the enamel to cover the dent. Happily, it came out clean; I like the way this simple design looks. So far, it's my husband's favorite out of my enamel pendants. I like modern art, but he likes the minimalist design.

I then had some time left over, so I decided to just play around -- and that's how I came up with that multicolored pendant. There wasn't much thought put into it, honestly, but it's a fun and colorful piece.

When making the butterfly, I knew not to hand fire with the torch as that move turned out to be disastrous the last time. Instead, I fired it in the kiln. I then had about 10 minutes of class left so I simply sifted the blue and light blue enamel powder onto the pendant instead of painting it. And voila! I had a butterfly.

I can't believe that I have to wait almost two months until my next enameling class. Oh, well, it will give me time to come up with some great ideas for pieces!

To purchase my jewellery, head to Naomi's Designs. To purchase my children's jewelry, head to MayaGirl Creations.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Wire wrapped jewelry tutorial: make wire wrapped rings for children

This afternoon, I posted yet another jewellery tutorial on HubPages: this one shows you how to make a wire wrapped coil ring for kids.

The great thing about these rings is that they're easy to make, once you get the hang of it. It's even an activity that you can do with an older child. Artistic wire isn't expensive at all and comes in a lot of fun colors, and this project gives kids the opportunity to be creative. Making these wire wrapped rings is something fun that can be done on a rainy day and works as an activity for a birthday party. These also make great gifts to stick in a goody bag or stocking.

When I was a kid, I loved making crafts. I didn't get into jewelry making until I was an adult, but as a child I spent hours drawing, painting and playing with clay. I know that things are different for kids these days and many spend their time playing video games or chatting with friends online. Still, there's something to be said for simple, creative fun.

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs. To purchase my children's jewelry, head to MayaGirl Creations.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Jewellery Tutorial: How to make a wire wrapped bangle bracelet

I've just published another one of my jewelry making tutorials on HubPages. In this one, I teach you how to make a handmade wire wrapped brass and silver bangle bracelet.

As I've said before on this blog, I initially learned all of my jewelry making schools from watching videos and studying tutorials online. There are thousands of talented jewelry artists out there who've been generous enough to share their secrets -- for free. Taking in-person classes has helped me a great deal, but I would never be where I am today without having studied online first. For this reason, I feel a responsibility to pay it forward and share with others what I've learned so far.

This particular bracelet is one of my most popular designs. It's very simple and not to difficult to make, with some practice. My tutorial includes detailed photos so you can visual step-by-step instruction. So check it out!

To purchase my jewellery, head to Naomi's Designs. To purchase my children's jewelry, head to MayaGirl Creations.