Thursday, April 12, 2007

New Terrain

No sooner do I start to feel a bit comfortable with what I am doing and where I am going with my business, and boom....I have to go add some new challenges. Right now that is getting ready for my first wholesale show.

Challenges are good. They help us grow and learn new skills. We learn more about ourselves.....okay, enough with the platitudes already, right? :-) Those things may be true, but with challenge comes stress. The bigger the challenge, the greater the stress. Right now, the Stress-o-meter is right up there near the red zone.

So what is new and different. First off, just doing a wholesale show. I have done enough retail shows now that I feel relatively comfortable with the process. I know the drill, and have most of it down to a routine. A wholesale show means re-thinking so many things that I have done in the past. From my products, to pricing (yeah, that again), to displays....and this time, the added bonus of doing a show across the country. Then there is the marketing and sales materials...catalogs and order forms for instance. Things I have happily ignored, or come up with temporary solutions to, have to be addressed. I can not bury my head in the sand any longer.

I started with rethinking my jewelry designs. While the basic designs have not changed dramatically, I am thinking more about repeatability. Not exact carbon copy duplicates. Each piece will still be one of a kind. But when I sit down to do my drawings on a piece, I will have some set designs, and colorways. I will not be reaching into the ether each time for new inspiration. When I am faced with deadlines and too much work, that ether seems pretty thin! This will simplify my life and make ordering easier for wholesale customers. They will have a better idea of what to expect now, and in the future. Over time, I can add and subtract designs.

I have been selling wholesale through for over two years now. It was a great way to put my toe in the water and see if wholesale was right for me. And I found that there were many benefits. But I was able to ignore this design issue for a long time. I would just post pictures of what I had to sell. When it sold, I would put up new ones. Eventually, I got tired of how often I had to be updating images. Taking pictures, editing them, and then posting them to the site was time consuming. If it was a pair of earrings, or a small, simple pendant, I was not really covering my costs....and of course, those items were what sold most quickly.

Doing the show made me face this head on. What was I going to bring. How was I going to show a gallery what they could expect to get from me? How could I take orders? It was time for me to take the next step. I had to think about repeatability. I did not want to do transfers of my images for several reasons. The main one being that I love to draw, and doing a transfer is far less satisfying for me. And, I have never been satisfied with my results with a transfer. So, I had to come up with designs or images that had some degree of repeatability. It was far easier than I thought. I have learned which designs seem to disappear as fast as I can make them. I know what I like to draw, and can draw easily. And I have a better understanding of how various ink colors react to heat. I was ready...even though I hadn't realized it.

Here are a few images from my Night and Day series:

Luna Phases, and Sunshine.

After making up some pendants in a design, I have begun to make up some samples of that design in other forms:

What you can't see in these images are how the leaf and glitter incorporated into the translucent clay really catch the light.

Next time, the catalog thing...


Wanda said...


I've been doing quite a few wholesale shows in the last 7 yrs(except for when I had my son) and I do alot of work that's not 'duplicated' but varies in colors and patterns. Just tell the buyers that your works are made individually and will vary slightly because of it. I group my bugs and dragonflies in colors for ordering, but I also offer 'artist's choice' which is what the buyers choose anyways. So, most buyers will realize your work's hand done and will not get upset to find that pieces don't match. They'll actually order from you because of that unique quality.

That's my two cents on wholesale handcrafted works.

Judy said...

Hi Wanda,
Thanks for the input...especially about the "artist's choice". I like that phrase! I am comfortable with each piece having variation, but I love the freedom of "artist's choice"!