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.

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.
 After July 1, 2010, these two types of tax were harmonized into one tax, HST, and lo and behold, the new rules stated that for those businesses that expected to make less than $30 000.00, collecting and remitting HST was optional.  Hallellujah! As I hadn't made any sales at this point, filling out the forms every month wasn't that big a deal, but who wants to fill out a form? Naturally, I opted not to collect it.

Next, I needed to figure out how to go about setting up my Etsy shop.  I had never even heard of Etsy before a friend suggested I sell my jewellery there.  I had to research numerous topics before I could open my shop.  For example, what price to charge for my stuff, how to create a banner and an avatar, and how to use Photoshop to make the banner and avatar the right size and resolution. Huh? Resolution? I don't even have Photoshop.  Upon investigation, I found that Photoshop is really expensive! Undaunted, I downloaded a free trial version, and set to work amending my banner and avatar.  Remember how I mentioned that I'm technologically challenged?  Well, it took me a looooooooong time to figure out how to use Photoshop. At this point, I've figured out how to use only those features that I absolutely need, like the image size and number of pixels.

Another aspect that I had to work on was my photography. I have a point and shoot digital camera, and that's all I knew how to do--point and shoot.  Even then, my subjects would often be headless, hidden in darkness, or so small you needed a magnifying glass to find them.  More experienced sellers on Etsy couldn't seem to stress enough how crucial good photos are to your sales, so I needed to amp up my skills in this area.  Unfortunately, the instruction manual for my camera disappeared about an hour after we brought the camera home--probably went into the recycling bin with the wrapper and box. Still, I was not about to give up after coming this far.  After what felt like twenty thousand deletes, I started to get the hang of positioning, using appropriate props, finding the right light.  I find a shaded area, outside, on a sunny day the best light for photographing jewellery. Through trial and error, I figured out how to use the features on the camera to get the best shots.  Some of the little pictures are still Greek to me, but I've memorized which little pictures I need to use, kinda like a non-native speaker in a foreign country figures out which bathroom to go into, or which collection of symbols indicates "restaurant." I bought a variety of scrapbooking papers, and a slate tile to use as backgrounds, and I make use of natural materials that I've collected on camping trips as props.  This year, I found a great hunk of driftwood that works perfectly for hanging earrings from as I photograph them.  With a folder of decent photos on my desktop, it was time to figure out the next puzzle--how to use Canada Post. More about this next time.


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