This blog is meant to be a record of my adventures as a new home-based business owner. Starting my jewellery business was one of the most daunting things I've ever done, next to giving birth. Especially since I was (am?) pretty technically stunted. In this blog I will describe the trials, tribulations and, hopefully, eventual successes I experience while navigating the world of (really, really, really small) business. I also plan to use this blog to talk about all the aspects of jewellery design that fascinate me, keep me addicted, and cause me to spend thousands of dollars (What, honey? No, I didn't say thousands...) on gemstones, beads, findings, etc. I welcome your input, ideas, and stories of similar experiences in beading, jewellery design, or running a handcrafts business.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Preparing for My First Beading Party

Four days left until my first beading party.  In the interest of giving me a little nudge (kick) to get the word out about the party service I offer, my friend has offered to host a Girls' Night Out beading party at her house.  She's providing the place, the food, the mimosas, and invited her work friends, neighbours, and cousins. We were planning on six guests.  As of Monday, only two people had confirmed, so she suggested I invite my friends from work.  I felt really uncomfortable because I felt like I was asking for money from my friends. I felt like I was selling Amway or Tupperware.  But, my friend had gone to a lot of trouble to plan this thing, so I bit the bullet and asked.  And to my surprise, several people accepted, and even seemed to be happy to be invited.  I felt encouraged, even excited.  I guess, if I think about it, I'd be happy to be invited to a party where I'd be taught a new skill and provided with the materials and tools to make something for myself, and at the same time get to eat nibbles, drink, and socialize.  I'm looking forward to this Saturday, and I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, September 20, 2010

My Jewellery Booth

The first craft fair I participated in was organized by my neighbourhood Lions Club.  It was a Christmas craft fair at the community centre.  The table cost $35.00, and the sale hours were from 9:00 to 5:00.  I spent three weeks before the sale furiously making inventory, not sure how much I might sell, or even how much inventory I would need to cover my table.  A 6-ft. by 3 ft. table and two chairs would be provided.  My booth design left a lot to be desired.  For a table cover, I had a piece of black felt that I'd liberated from one of my bulletin boards at school.  I didn't know until it was too late that black felt is a magnet for lint, hairs and fibres.  I fashioned a necklace display from a huge piece of plywood that I covered with a layer of cotton batting and some black and green crushed velvet.  The plywood was propped up on the table with another piece of wood behind, like a picture frame.  I pinned necklaces to this display.  I also had a matching black and green velvet bracelet t-bar sort of thing, and a silver hand towel holder, from which I hung more necklaces. Finally, I had a copper rotating earring rack with holes for the earrings to be put into. The rest of my jewellery was strewn over the table. Even with a friend helping, it took us a good hour to take all the jewellery pieces out of the little plastic zip bags in which I was storing them, drape them onto the racks, and pin the necklaces on the necklace display. Repeat at pack-up time. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Dealing With Rejection

I just got an email in response to an application I made to a juried craft show a couple of months ago.  Unfortunately, it was not the response I wanted.  The coordinator was nice about it--she said that there were 7 applicants for every one spot, and they had had to turn down work they didn't want to turn down.  I don't know if that's true or not, but it made me feel better, anyway.  This was the first juried show I've applied for.  On the one hand, the rejection smarts.  On the other hand, I know that for most craft shows, there are dozens of jewellery applicants for every one potter or stained glass artist who applies.  I also take comfort in the fact that even the most talented artists and writers experienced their share of rejection. I'm in good company.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Eternal Question - What is My Stuff Worth?

When I first started selling my jewellery to friends, co-workers, and at a couple of small local legion craft sales, I used this formula for deciding what to charge for my work:  What would I pay for this?  The problem with this method of pricing is twofold. First, I'm extremely frugal (read cheap.) Secondly, I tend to undervalue my work and my time.  When I decided to register my business and really make a go of it, I began reading other jewellery designers' thoughts on the matter of pricing your work, and I began to realize that I was selling myself short.  I used to concern myself only with covering the cost of the materials, and maybe make a little bit of profit.  I didn't consider all the other costs of running a jewellery business, like marketing costs, website fees, packaging, shipping, displays, show fees, a tent for outdoor shows, tables, replacing and upgrading tools, computer software for accounting and tweaking photos, and classes for learning new skills.  If you're not pricing your stuff to cover these costs, and making a bit of profit on top of that, you're not going to be successful.

Friday, September 10, 2010


It's been a month now since I opened my Etsy shop, and I've had no sales as of yet. I read on the Etsy community blog The Storque that the average time before the first sale is one month, so I won't take it personally yet. In the meantime, there are other things I'm doing besides my Facebook page and this blog to promote my shop. I made a business card on Publisher. Now that's a program that takes some time to master. If there was ever a reason to buy a Dummies book, that program is it. But I managed to figure it out, and the business card turned out really nice. I got 500 made, and I'm handing them out to anyone who comes near enough. Since I'm a teacher, I work with mostly women and have access to many moms, so I've been able to give away tons of cards. My business card also has info about the beading parties I do. I had my first booking recently, for a Girls' Night Out beading party with a bunch of women. I charge $30 per guest, and the guests can make either a necklace or a bracelet and earrings. That includes your choice of beads, gemstones, spacers, findings, use of tools, and instruction. The hostess for this party is providing the munchies and drink. If this were a regular booking, I would offer her a choice of some of my inventory, or maybe something custom made for her. I wonder what percentage I should offer? I would appreciate feedback on this, and any advice or hints anyone can offer on this topic.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Back to Work

First day of school today, for the kids and for me.  I've got a nice bunch of kids this year--it should be a good year.  The disadvantage of going back to work is that I now have less time to build my business, to make jewelery, and to develop my "web presence". 

I must confess, I've never understood the appeal of social networking sites.  I can see the value for those who live far from family and friends; it's a good (and free) way to keep in touch.  I always said that if I wanted to keep in touch with people from high school, I would have kept in touch in the first place.  Also, I don't want to know what my acquaintances are doing during every waking moment.  But every handcraft guru whose books, articles or blogs I've read says that you have to build your "web presence".  So, I bit the bullet and created a Facebook Fan Page.  In order to do that, I had to create a personal profile first.  Maybe I'm just from the wrong generation, or maybe I'm doing something wrong, but I just don't see how this is going to help my business.  To add insult to injury, I'm now hopelessly addicted to Farmville..

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Store is Born--Part III

I didn't manage to take any photos today.  I normally set up my portable photo studio (point and shoot camera, patio table and slate tile) on my balcony, but today we seem to be experiencing a bit of Hurricane Earl.  Winds are gusting strong enough to blow the BBQ cover off, it's raining, and it's damn COLD!  Try taking pictures while your earrings are shimmying to beat the band.  I don't think the motion stop feature is THAT effective.

Last time I blogged (I love that verb--it sounds like a euphemism for clogging the toilet by vomiting into it too much) I had figured out the ins and outs of Canada Post, written my shop policies and a bio, and signed up for PayPal.  As luck would have it, my kids, (I'll call them Rampaige and Helliam,) were being spirited off to the ancestral family home in rural New Brunswick by the grandparents, bless their misguided souls, for two whole weeks!  That meant I would have extended periods of uninterrupted time to concentrate on setting up my Etsy shop.  Pure luxury! 

A Store is Born Part II

Classroom finally ready!  Bulletin boards decorated, deskplates on desks, lockers assigned--all ready for Tuesday.  I'm hopeful that I can get some photographing done this weekend so I can list some new items on my Etsy shop. 

Back when I was preparing to open my Etsy shop, one of the things I had to research was shipping. Before I could write my shipping profiles, I had to figure out how I was going to ship items to the buyers.  Up to this point, my experience with Canada Post consisted of sticking a stamp on an envelope and dropping it in the mailbox, or opening my crammed mailbox and struggling to extract the bills without destroying them.  I needed to know how to wrap the packages, how long shipping would take, and how much to charge buyers.  I tried to navigate Canada Post's website, but it was about as easily navigable as a meerkat family's den.  Instead, I went to the post office with a sample of a typical package, and asked the clerk how much shipping might cost to mail that package anywhere in Canada, the U.S., or internationally.  Apparently, the package has to fit into a 2 cm plexiglass slot, or it costs more.  Armed with this knowledge, I was ready to fill out my shipping profiles.  All that was left was to sign up for a PayPal account, write a bio, hammer out my refund and exchange policies, and write some descriptions for my jewellery.

I'm falling asleep at the wheel here, so I'll continue this thread next time.  Good night, all.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Store is Born

Hello, blogreaders.  Just got home from work, where I spent twelve hours moving my classroom, organizing my stuff, and setting up for the first day of school.  I don't understand why, despite the fact that I've been doing this for fifteen years, this process never gets any easier or quicker.  I must be working hard, but not working smart, as they say. 

Last I blogged, I had just done a business name search and chosen the name Bead Planet.  I paid for and received my Master Business License, Business Registration number, and Vendor Permit.  Now everything felt official.  The next step was to figure out sales tax.  Before July, 2010, Ontario businesses had to collect and remit 8% sales tax as well as 5% GST on taxable goods, such as jewellery.  If your annual sales will be less than $30 000.00, (ha, ha) you are exempt from the hassle of collecting and remitting GST, but not PST.