My “Lost Earring” Policy

Yesterday I lost an earring, which is something I hardly ever do. However, when it happens, it can be extremely irritating. It’s these times that have made me establish my “Lost Earring” policy: if a customer loses one earring, I will sell them a single earring instead of making them buy a whole new pair. All they have to do is send me the lonely earring so I can match it. Does this sound good to you? Hint: your answer should be, “YES!!!”. Think about it for a moment. If you buy a pair of earrings at Macy’s, but then you lose one six months later, are they going to let you replace the lost one for half the price of the original pair? I don’t think so.  In fact, I have had customers send me earrings they purchased in Italy to see if I can find a match and quite often I can!

I instituted the “Lost Earring” Policy because I’m not Macy’s, and that’s the beauty of handmade. I want to make sure my customers get plenty of enjoyment from their purchases. It’s always a bummer when you can’t wear your favorite earrings anymore because you lost one, and I want to help my customers keep on wearing their stylish Venetian bling for as long as possible.

The value of one pair of earrings

While exhibiting at Art & Wine Shows, one question that I have been asked several times is “How long does it take you to make a pair of earrings?”   With a chuckle, I respond “After your first 500 or so pairs you get to be pretty quick.” This question makes me wonder, what is my customer really asking?  I suspect they are trying to place a value on that one pair of earrings.  So I thought I would share with you some of the steps that go into offering that one pair of earrings for sale.

My mission at Dolce Beada is to bring you jewelry that combines the traditions of Italian glass bead making with contemporary jewelry styles.  This means selecting authentic high quality beads handmade in Italy.  In doing this I am always researching new color trends and new styles with the best Venetian glass sources.  Choosing new designs is always a risk.  I want to offer a variety of choices but I also have to ask myself, “will this color appeal to my customers?”  “which colors look best in this new design?”  “Is this color going to be a classic or too trendy?”  At the same time I am offering new designs, I have to make sure that I have plenty of my most popular styles on hand as well.

Traditional Venetian glass square earrings

 After I have made my decisions about which beads to buy and how many, I have to make sure that I have the other pieces I need to make the jewelry.  So for earrings this would be the sterling earwires, the headpins and the small silver detail beads that I like to add to accent the Venetian beads.  I try to have plenty of these supplies on hand so I can make batches of earrings at one time.

Because each of the Venetian beads are handmade, they all have a little of their own “personality”.  So when I make earrings I have to hand match each pair.  I look at the thickness, the size, the depth of color, even how the foil lays under the glass in order to match up the best pair of earrings.  And sometimes a bead does not match well enough and ends up in my collection of earrings without mates hopefully to be used at a different time.

Venetian glass mateless earrings
Earrings without mates.

Once the earrings are made, they are put on a display card, priced and stored until they are ready to be presented at a show or they may need to be photographed to be offered online for sale.

Venetian blown glass earrings

Once I have put together a collection of choices, it is up to you to find the pair that you value the most.

My pep talk to show newbies.

Dolce Beada outdoor booth photo

‘Tis the season!

I know many of you may be doing your first ever Art or Craft show and I just thought I would share a few tips and thoughts I have for you.  (it’s the mother in me!)

BE Confident!  You know your product and you believe in it – share that with your customers.  One of the first few shows I did, a customer muttered under her breath that my prices are high and you can buy these beads at Michael’s and do this yourself.  This was an ah-hah moment.  I realized that my customers were not familiar with Venetian glass beads and therefore did not see the value in them.  I learned that I needed to educate my customers on what sets Venetian glass apart and now I hear, “oh, these are very reasonably priced.”

BE Flexible!  Things happen at shows – sometimes your set up is not exactly what you had envisioned.  Sometimes you forget something.  Maybe the weather is not cooperating.  I try to have a couple of different options for my setup.  I also highly recommend velcro, fishing line and duct tape.   These things have saved me on many occasions.  Also – don’t be afraid to ask your neighbors if you can borrow something – we’ve all had days where we forgot a mirror.  It’s okay to ask.  And that brings me to my last point…

BE Happy!  Even if you are not having the best day – pretend to be happy.  The attitude and energy of the show are set by those in attendance.   If you have your arms crossed or you’re bored and you don’t engage your customers, they pick up on that.  If you complain to your neighbor about your bad sales – it brings their attitude down.  So stay positive and always HAVE FUN!

Best of Luck!

Red Venetian hearts featured in Hey Handmade!

Now featured in Hey Handmade!

Hey Handmade is on a mission to encourage people to buy handmade this holiday season.  With that in mind Timothy Adam has produced an e-catalog with a variety of handmade items.  You can find unique jewelry, clothing accessories and home decor just to name a few.

Express your love with these small Venetian glass heart earrings.  The color is fantastic!  Gold foil is encased in red glass giving this pair of earrings a rich ruby red coloring.  They dangle from sterling silver fish hook earwires for a simple yet elegant look.  Many other colors available as well.  Check it out on my Etsy shop or contact me to request a color.

Driving with my lights off

I was working on this post earlier and it was just too bland – then a funny thing happened as I was driving home.  I don’t normally drive in rush hour traffic but I was on the highway and it was beginning to get dark and it’s bumper to bumper and this man pulls up next to me and starts waving his arm around at me .  So naturally I think he’s a freak or he just doesn’t like my driving so I ignore him and pull away.  Well he ends up next to me again and still he had his window down and he’s pointing at my car and waving his arm around.  Oh my gosh, what’s wrong with this weirdo, right – oh wait, he’s trying to tell me that my lights are not on!  Okay, I would have figured this out eventually, but he has saved me some grief and now he is not a weirdo, he is my friend.

And that’s what my post is about.  As a sole proprietor of a small business I am always going it alone and trying to stay focused on what needs to happen next.  And sometimes it’s a lot of things!  Especially at this time of year because I am gearing up for the holiday season. This means I am making lots of pieces some new designs but also many of my most popular items as well to get ready for upcoming shows. I am also shipping orders to my retailers such as Delaney Street Mercantile and working on my online presence at my Etsy shop.

So I’ve got lots of things going and sometimes it is hard to stay on track – kind of like driving with my lights off!  So this year I have enlisted a couple of new friends to remind me to turn on my lights and stay on track.

I have enlisted myself in Etsy’s Holiday Boot Camp and it has been great. They have a checklist every week to get ready for the holidays and then my 2 excellent buddies SSMDesigns and ThoroughlyModernMommy and I check in every week to make sure we are doing what we are supposed to do. So far as a result of boot camp I have greatly improved my photos and the look of my Etsy shop and I am up to 90 listings now.   My goal is 100 by Saturday. Almost there Woo hoo.

I have also signed up with Tara Gentile to work on merging my website and my blog so I can communicate with you in a more cohesive manner – or something like that.  The plan is that you will see how that goes by December.

So bottom line, sometimes you think you are cruising along okay but you realize that maybe you could use a little input from some outside sources to keep you on track.

The price of sterling silver – ouch!!!

I just placed an order for sterling silver components.  How quickly $1000 can slip through your hands!

One of the many lessons I have learned in this jewelry making business of mine is that I have to stay on top of my inventory. Between the Venetian Glass Beads and the sterling silver components, the supplies that I use in Dolce Beada are pretty expensive.  Whether it be the supplies or the finished product, if I don’t know what I have already I end up spending a lot of money unnecessarily.  And I have had to learn this lesson the hard way.  For example last week I discovered that I have 1000 2″ sterling silver headpins – that’s probably 3 years worth – just sitting here.  Oops, how did that happen. When I order supplies, I try to think of my supplies as money – I wouldn’t leave $1000 just sitting under my desk right??  So I try not to over do it when I place that order.  The other thing I really try to be careful about is that I am really ordering the component that I need.  There is nothing worse than ordering a bead for a specific project and then discovering you ordered it in the wrong size!

I think it mainly comes down to being organized.  When I have a place for everything, it is much easier to see when and what I need to reorder.  The other thing that I did a few years ago was to put all of my inventory on Quickbooks.  This was an extremely tedious process but it has definitely helped me to track what I have and also how much each piece of jewelry costs.

Now, perhaps I should clean up my desk – I may unearth some more treasures I have forgotten about.

Ouch (or why I dont spend money on manicures)

Today I needed to make up some jewelry for an order and fortunately my Wholesale customer, I Candy, likes fun and unusual pieces. So I was working on some new designs and all of the sudden I look down and there is blood dripping on my desk. Apparently I had stabbed myself in the process of twisting and cutting my wire.  Who knew jewelry making was so dangerous.   I also broke two fingernails and accidentally hammered the tip of my finger. But the jewelry looks great so overall a successful and inspiring day.

trying something new

I am exhibiting at a wholesale apparel show in the San Francisco Bay area.  This is the first time I have done this show it is a beauiful Saturday in June and so far I am thinking that everyone is out enjoying the weather.  I am told that Saturday is the slowest day so we will see.  On the positive side my booth looks great althoug I’m posting from my phone and can’t figure out how to upload a photo.  Also there are some super cool clothes here.  Makes me want to go shopping but I guess i better stay in my booth and try to make some money instead.

So I am back in the full swing of running my Itty Biz  as a jewelry designer/manufacturer/seller – okay yes I do it all.   I decided to post today because I have had one of those action packed do a little bit of everything kind of days and that pretty much sums up running a small  business!  I got into business 0 those many years ago – because I liked to make jewelry and the entrepeneur in me cannot do anything just for fun so here I am. 

 I am getting ready for a trade show in Atlanta in July and I feel like I have no clue what I am doing which is how I feel on most days that I am not just making jewelry.  Today I cleaned out a dog crate which I am hoping to ship my stuff in (I am into that whole reduce, reuse, recycle thing) I am spray painting frames, building displays, faxing orders for a trade show – which is a job in itself in some places! Not to mention my kids are out of school so there is running them around/entertaining them, oh yes and I got a little exercise in there

recycled venetian glass beads and seed beads
Reduce Reuse and RECYCLE

 because mama has to take care of herself.  At the end of it all – I have had a great day!  And it’s the kind of day I can look back on and appreciate why I do what I do – I get to tackle a new challenge almost every day and I get to be around for my kids.  Perhaps tomorrow I will actually make some jewelry!