Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Bead Biz: Shocking Statistics!

The Onion

80 Percent of U.S. Populace Now Selling Handmade Jewelry

WASHINGTON, DC-According to a Department Of Labor report released Monday, four out of five Americans derive at least a portion of their income from the sale of handmade jewelry.

Ok, Ok, if you know the Onion you know it is satire and fake news, but there is often a grain of truth to the articles. In this case, if you are a jewelry designer, it may seem like 80% of the people you know are also selling jewelry. A quick google search for handmade jewelry gets over 3 million entries, and the jewelry categories on Ebay and even smaller online markets like Etsy are full of artists making jewelry to compete for customer dollars. So how does one a new jewelry maker stand out in a sea of handmade beaded jewelry? Here are a few suggestions:

Excel in your craft.

One of the best ways to stand out is to focus on one or two techniques that you can do really well. Especially when you are new to a craft, it is a good idea to buckle down and practice to get your crimps perfect or your wire wraps consistent. Don't try to tackle too many techniques at once, as you excel in one or two techniques, others will naturally become easier to master later. Stay aware of techniques that you will want to try later, but try to stay focused on the basics first.

Choose excellent, unique materials.

Beautiful jewelry is made of beautiful materials. Use the best materials that you can afford, especially when it comes to metals. A unique centerpiece or accent in your jewelry can become a signature of your unique style. Art beads are perfect for bringing a touch of personality to your work. Find artists who make beads and components that speak to you and inspire you, so you can share your inspiration with your customers. Jewelry is personal, and people love to have jewelry that tells a story or shares a history. Use this to your advantage when selling and marketing your work.

Find unique sources of inspiration.

Try not to spend too much time looking at other artist's beaded jewelry. It is too easy to find yourself copying something that you have fallen in love with, and no one likes a copycat. Instead, search for inspiration in non jewelry sources. Love color? Look at pictures of gardens, sea life, and nature. Love texture? Look at fabrics and textile design. Love to keep up with trends? Look at the fashion industry and imagine what kind of jewelry would look best on the clothing you love. Love words? Be inspired by your favorite poems, literature, and music. If you must look at jewelry, consider being inspitred by art history or jewelry and art of other cultures.

I hope these suggestions are helpful in thinking about how to stand out in jewelry design. I would love to hear more suggestions of how to accomplish this, from new and seasoned designers. If you have an idea to share, post your suggestion here!

Thanks to the Bead Circle Blog for finding the article in the first place. Read their post about it too!

Melanie Brooks Lukacs is the ceramic beadmaker of Earthenwood Studio, who blogs from her Metro Detroit, Michigan home.


Jean Katherine Baldridge said...

Love the Onion--excellent suggestions! Jean

Anonymous said...

Excellent post! This sort of goes along with excell in your craft, but I think the idea of trying to work on a signature look is important as well.

Margot Potter said...

Drew and I laugh about this often. Everyone who ever strings a bead on a wire thinks not long after that they should sell jewelry. I guess because people say...oh necklace...will you make one for me?

It takes more than putting a few beads on a string to be a real designer, but there are ways to excel. Like all things, practice, passion, vision and as you so aptly explain developing your own unique approach, this is how one goes from stringer to designer.

Good post!


Diamond Virginia said...

Nice post!!! Its an unique and excellent piece of jewelry. Creativity plays an important role in the jewelry designs. Imagination makes jewelry beautiful.