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, October 20, 2011

New Blog Discovery

I was perusing my Etsy Stats (which I never do, because it's depressing,) and I came across a blog that apparently mentioned one of my pieces.  So I immediately clicked on the link, and voila!  There was my Jane Eyre necklace!  The blog is called  younotnaked .  I know what you're thinking, but no, it's a fashion blog.  Each post has a theme around which the author designs outfits.  The theme of this particular post was, naturally, Jane Eyre.  I love the way the blogger presents clothes and accessories this way.  I wouldn't normally look at a fashion blog because most of today's trends in fashion typically don't flatter my body.  But younotnaked is more like a fantasy shopping trip.  She describes her blog as "the grown-up version of Barbies," and "what I would wear if I was rich and skinny."  Love it! 

I was so excited that someone else saw my work as "fashion" that I took my laptop around to all my colleagues to show them.  And, she called me an "artist" Tee-hee!

Check it out here.  It's the August 17th post, titled, "You Transfix Me Quite."

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Thanksgiving Sale

Bead Planet is having a Thanksgiving sale.  I'm clearing out a lot of older stock, making way for new stuff!  Many, many items are marked down, up to 20% off.  Click on the link below to check it out!

Some Thanksgiving Sale Items

Fall Jewellery Sale

This weekend I took part in a fall fair in Markham.  I paid $150 plus tax for two days in a booth in a pavilion called "Just Crafts."  I was excited about my prospects at this fair because the Markham Fair is a very popular fair here in Ontario.  I myself have been many times as a visitor, but this was the first time I would be participating as an exhibitor. This was not a juried show.  I applied late, and it took the coordinator about two weeks to let me know if there was any space left.  I sent in my application and fee, and she confirmed my booth space about one week before the sale.  I was pretty sure I had enough stock, but I had a lot of last minute pricing, display sprucing up, etc. to do.  I stayed up until 12:30 a.m. on Friday night getting myself organized.

Saturday morning dawned, grey and cold.  Since the coordinator had gotten back to me so late, she didn't have time to mail me my exhibitor passes, so I was worried about how I would get in.  I needn't have worried, though.  When I arrived at 7:30 Saturday morning, there was nobody at the entrance to stop me.  I managed to find the picnic shelter in which the sale was to take place, despite a discouraging lack of signage.  I parked next to the venue and my daughter and I began to unpack.  The picnic shelter was small, with space for only 7 exhibitors.  There were huge open doors at both ends, and two more huge open doors on one wall.  I chose a table in the corner and began setting up.  Two eight-foot tables and three chairs were provided, which was really convenient.  As other exhibitors began to arrive, I was dismayed to realize that of the seven exhibitors in the picnic shelter, three were selling jewelry.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

New Stuff from Bead Planet

It's true I haven't been blogging, but I have been making a ton of new stuff.  Check it out!
Secret Garden Necklace

Salt Water Taffy Necklace

Mountain Crevasse Necklace

Silver Bubbles Necklace

Tax Time

Bless me, readers, for I have's been a looooooong time since I blogged.  I know people who blog a couple of times a week, or even every day.  What the hell do people talk about on these things every day?  Anyway, I mentioned last time that I was submitting my income taxes to an accountant this year.  I've always done my own taxes with one of those tax software packages, but this year, since I've got the business, I wanted to make sure that I did everything right and that I got all the write-offs I could get.  The accountant I used was recommended to me by a friend.  She did my personal income taxes along with Bead Planet's taxes, since Bead Planet is a sole proprietorship, and since I don't have a separate bank account for it.  She also did my husband's personal income taxes.  Our personal taxes are straightforward, so she ended up charging me only $150 for all.  I ended up being able to write off my internet bills for the period since August (when I opened my Etsy shop.) We're both getting refunds.  Yay!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

New Line from Bead Planet

Okay, I know I haven't posted in a long time, but I just can't think of anything new to say.  Pitiful excuse, yes, but there it is.  Anyway, I've been busy actually MAKING STUFF, which is something I rarely get time for anymore what with all this promotion rigamarole.  Take a gander at some pieces from my new line of jewellery named after literary heroines. 
Elinor Dashwood Earrings
Anne of Green Gables Earrings

Elizabeth Bennet Earrings

Jane Eyre Necklace

Holly Golightly Earrings    

You can see from these pics that I've been working a lot with antique brass.  I like the vintage look of it.  I love Trinity Brass Company's components.  They have a gorgeous chocolate patina that they get through a special process involving oxidation; then the finish is protected with a non-toxic lacquer.  I buy my Trinity Brass components through a fellow Etsy seller, Fab Beads .  I also love Vintaj brass components.  I can buy Vintaj components at my favourite local bead store, Bead FX , but they're not sold at all bead stores.  I signed up as a wholesale buyer from Vintaj's website, and now I can order right from their website.  You have to be a registered business owner.  You fax or email in your business number and tax number, or vendor's permit, in my case, and you get a password and username.  Then you have access to wholesale prices on the website, and can order from them.  Your first order has to be a minimum of $200, though.  I haven't ordered from the website yet. 

Anyhoo, that's what I've been up to lately.  Night, all!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Dealing With Canada Post

Here's something that makes me wonder--When I ship my orders via Canada Post Small Package Surface to buyers in the U.S., I am asked to fill in a customs slip which sticks directly on the package.  On the slip there's a section in which I'm supposed to write what exactly is in the package, and how much it's worth.  Now, if I were shipping pencil sharpener parts, that wouldn't be a problem, but I'm shipping my painstakingly, lovingly handcrafted jewellery.  I might as well write, "Look here! Expensive, handcrafted jewellery in here! Help yourself!"  Perhaps this is a jaded, suspicious view of the world, and I certainly don't want to suggest that the people who work in the postal services are especially suspect, but I've heard of many situations where stuff was waylaid in transit and never arrived at its destination.  That's why you can't send cash in the mail, right? 

So, how does one get around this?  I understand that U.S. customs wants to know, especially after 9-11, exactly what is coming into the country, but geez!  I finally came up with a plan.  Instead of writing "jewellery" on the package, I'll write "beads."  That's what the jewellery is made of, mostly, anyway, so I'm not misrepresenting what's in the package, and "beads" aren't as attractive as "jewellery" to potential thieves.  As for the amount, so far I haven't had any orders over $45, so no big deal.  I wonder what would happen if I got a big order, and didn't put the entire value on the package?  How does knowing the value help customs or Canada Post, anyway?  Do you, readers, have any insight on this issue?  I'd love to hear from you.

Yours, Diana

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Beading Birthday Party

Today I worked my first beading birthday party.  It was at the home of a student in my class.  She had five other girls, aged from seven to thirteen, plus herself at the party.  I'll describe my setup and equipment.  Each girl had a beading board (found at a local bead and jewellery store for $1.00 each!) a beading mat, and tools.  Since there were only a few girls, each could have her own round-nose pliers, chain-nose pliers, and flush cutters.  A few days ago I went through my bead inventory, and organized them into beads for my use, and beads for beading parties.  All the beads designated for parties were kept in clear round plastic stacking containers, and the findings and silver accent beads were in a flat, compartmentalized container.  The beads and findings were in the middle of the table, where everyone could reach them.  Each girl could make two items, necklace, bracelet or earrings.  I had pre-strung some bracelet-length and necklace-length beading wires with either a toggle clasp or a lobster clasp.  I talked briefly about using different textures, contrast, and accent beads, then let them loose on the bead supplies.  The girls made some beautiful things, and when they were done, I put each girl's creations in a beautiful organza bag, into which I had slipped a business card and a flyer.  With cleanup, I was there for a total of 85 minutes, which was about 15 minutes longer than I was supposed to be there, but that's because I let them make two things instead of one.  I did that because the girl is a student in my class, and I wanted to offer her some kind of bonus gift.  I also gave her a pair of earrings that I'd made, as a birthday gift.  I think the party was a big success, and I hope that there'll be more parties.  Here are some pics of the party.

Friday, February 18, 2011

In Which I Try Something New

I'm a silver lover, no doubt about it.  My friend Rita tries to convince me to make and offer gold jewellery in my shop, but I stubbornly resist.  I really don't like gold.  So far the only metals I've been willing to work with are silver and copper.  Recently, though, I've been learning to appreciate antique brass.  I ordered a bunch of antique brass charms, chain, earwires, and beadcaps from Etsy suppliers, and I've started making some earrings and pendants.  Check out my new earrings made from Swarovski crystals and antique brass wire.  I love the extra-long fishhook earwire!

Ruby Drops Earrings

Cyclamen Drops Earrings

Tanzanite Drops Earrings 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Second Beading Party Booking!

I just got my second beading party booking!  This time it's for a girl's birthday party.  One of my students is the birthday girl.  I'm really looking forward to it.  I need to buy some colour-coordinated collections of glass beads in various sizes and styles.  They sell them at Michael's, but it's kind of expensive there.  I'll also get some charms; one thing I've learned from doing beading club at school is that kids love charms.  I've already got the tools and extra workmats from when I did the Girls' Night Out beading party at my friend Rita's.  The girls can choose to make either necklaces or bracelets, and I'll pre-string the wires with toggles and/or lobster clasps to save time.  Each party guest gets to take home their creation in a beautiful organza bag, and the birthday girl gets a free pair of earrings or bracelet in her favourite colour.  Wish me luck! This time, I'll take photos (hands only for privacy, of course, unless the parents agree to faces.)

'Night all!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Slacker Blogger

I haven't posted in sooooooo long!  Just another thing to feel guilty about, I guess. I'm finding it hard to find inspiration these days.  I haven't even been creating new stuff.  I keep meaning to make stuff, but I seem to be suffering from creative constipation these days, and my jewellery supplies are intimidating me.   I just bought a whole whack of supplies at Arton Beads last week, and I can't think of one thing to make.  Just look at them over there, mocking me...bloody cheerful purple flowered bag!  Even the mindless tasks, like making earring wires, are too much for me right now. I need a cup of tea, but I'm too lazy to get up and make one. How do you deal with the February blahs, fellow crafters?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Small Business Accounting circa 1885

I've never been a math person.  I failed math in grade 11, and never looked back.  The most complicated math I ever use is to calculate my students' term marks, and for that I use one tried and true formula.  I don't really have a household budget, I don't know how to balance a chequebook, and although I have RRSPs, I have no idea how they work.  I let the bank manage those for me.  This is sheer laziness on my part, because I know if I had any interest in learning about it, I would be able to figure it out.  How, then, you may ask, do I manage my small business finances?  My accounting methods are similar to those one might have found employed in many frontier general stores in the 1800's.  I use a ledger-book type sheet, with six columns--Date, Purchase/Sale, Type of Payment, Amount Debited, Amount Credited, and Balance.  When I buy jewellery supplies, office supplies, or pay Etsy fees or craft show fees, I write these amounts in the Debit column.  When I make a sale, either on Etsy or at a craft fair or just to a friend, I write these amounts in the Credit column.  I keep a running tally of the balance.  So far, the Debit column seems to get much more use than the credit column. I keep all receipts for everything I buy for my business, and I write out bills of sale for all my sales.  All of these documents are kept neatly in an accordion folder.  That's it.  That is the extent of my small business accounting practices.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I'm on Flickr!

I read the other day how one Etsian's best promotion vehicle is her Flickr account.  I'd used Flickr before to download photos for the yearbook committee at school, but I'd never considered signing up.  After reading this Etsian's post in the Etsy forums, I decided to take the leap.  Now, I need another thing to maintain like I need the proverbial hole in my head, but, in for a dime, in for a dozen, might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb, and all that.  (Please excuse me, my name is Diana, and I'm a habitual proverb user.)  So I signed up and now I have a Flickr account of my own.  I haven't joined any groups yet, or created any galleries, (which from the FAQs seems to be similar to Etsy's treasuries,) because it's taken me three days to upload, name and describe all my photos.  I'm still not done.  I didn't go all out in describing, but I did put the Etsy listing number under each item, and I included lots of tags.  Have a look at my Flickr account!  The empire is growing! (insert evil laugh here.)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Best Backgrounds for Jewelery Photos

Experienced online jewellery sellers will tell you that the quality of your photos is the key to selling lots and lots of jewellery.  It's not necessary to have an expensive camera or to be a professional photog to get great pics of your work.  My photos really sucked when I first started out, but with a little research, and a LOT of trial and error, my photography skills have improved, and so have my photos.  Check out these before photos of my Trinkets bracelet.


These pictures are too dark.  The one on the left has uneven light that is unflattering, and there are too many things going on, which makes it distracting.  The background colour takes away from the colours in the bracelet.  Now here's the after photo.

This picture was taken outside, on an overcast day. I zoomed in, used the macro lens, and took several shots at different angles.  The background is a piece of driftwood that I found on the beach while camping last summer.  It doesn't distract from the bracelet, and it reflects the natural theme that I am trying to make part of my branding.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I Found Help!

I tried, I really tried to participate actively in the Etsy community.  I convo'd three different team leaders to try to join selling teams because more experienced Etsians said that joining teams was a good way to get your shop discovered by other sellers and buyers.  Not one of the three leaders I contacted answered my convo.  Fine!  I really didn't want to join anyway.  Some teams meet in person, and though I don't want you to think I'm anti-social, I kind of am.  Sorry, but I've got two jobs, besides running this new jewellery business, as well as trying to raise two kids, and I'm neglecting the friends I already have, so I really don't have time to meet.  Other teams have expectations about how often you will promote your teammates. I hate expectations, don't you?

I also tuned in to a few chats.  They were kind of interesting, but I found people asked the same questions over and over, or people asked questions that weren't relevant to me, and you have to listen to all the questions before they get to yours, if they do.

One area of the Etsy community that I do find useful is the Forums.  In the Forums, people ask other Etsians questions about many different topics.  The topics are divided into eleven categories:  Announcements, Site Help, Business Topics, International, Ideas, Bugs, Critiques, Techniques & Materials, Teams & Events, Promotions, and Etc. The headlines are listed, and you can pick the threads you want to read about.  I really like reading the questions and answers, and I've had so many queries answered that have been floating around in my head for weeks.  I posted a question yesterday, and got five helpful responses right away!  People ask questions that I want to ask, but am too embarrassed to.  I feel comfortable putting in my two cents' worth, too.  Participating in the Forums is addicting!

Well, time to wrangle Rampaige and Helliam into bed!  Good night, readers!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

S*#@@! Shipping Delays

In a past post I vented about a shipping delay that caused my Etsy customer inconvenience and cost me any hope of profit from the sale of a bracelet.  In a nutshell, I shipped the bracelet on Dec. 6th, way before the Dec. 13 deadline for shipping goods to the US in time for Christmas, but it still hadn't arrived by Dec. 18th.  I ended up shipping another bracelet, by ExpressPost, at a loss.

Recently, though, I was reading the Forums on Etsy, and came across a post about shipping delays to the US.  Apparently, many sellers have been experiencing delays in shipping, caused by increased security at the border.  Some shipments have taken up to 60 days to arrive!  As I searched further, I found many more posts about the delays.

Many Etsy sellers are putting a warning about possible shipping delays, along with this link which explains further, in their policies sections.  This is what I put in my policies section:

****NOTE - Recently, many sellers and buyers have experienced frustrating delays in shipments coming into the U.S. from other countries, including Canada.   Apparently, the delay is caused by increased security at the border, and shipping can take up to six weeks in some cases. If your order has been affected by this delay, I do apologize, but I cannot be held responsible for replacing your package until the six-week period has elapsed.   Here is a link to Royal Mail's website, where the problem is explained further.  

Again, I do apologize for this delay.  It is extremely frustrating for me, as a seller, as I make it my mandate to ship immediately upon order, usually the next day.  I am hoping that this delay at the border is a temporary situation, made worse by heavy holiday shipping traffic. 

Since the last shipment, I got another order from the US, and it reached the customer in 7 days, so I'm hoping the shipping delay was temporary.  We'll see.

Later, readers.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Ultimate Guide to Your Profitable Jewelery Booth

The Book's New Look
I recently purchased this book from Rena Klingenberg's website.  I had the option to purchase it as a paper book or an e-book.  If I had purchased the paper book, the order would have been placed through, and sent to me by mail.  It would have cost $39 plus shipping.  I ordered the downloadable e-book (PDF file) so I could get it right away.  The e-book cost $39, and it was the best $39 I ever spent.  This book is a practical, easy-to-read user's manual for jewelery artists who want to sell their work at retail events like craft fairs, art shows, trade shows, seasonal fairs, bazaars, etc.  I've done a few small local shows, and I've definitely learned from my mistakes! Rena's advice allows me to circumvent some of these newbie mistakes.  The book covers everything about running a jewellery booth, from taxes and insurance, pricing, smooth transactions at shows, finding good shows, applying for shows, practical tips for managing your booth, displaying your wares for maximum profitability and selling tips.  Rena includes comprehensive checklists for what to bring, and timelines for stress-free show preparation. I found these tips and checklists really helped me prepare for and do well at my last show.  After the show, I used the self-evaluation checklist to reflect on how I felt I did, and how I would improve things for the next event.

Klingenberg's writing style is accessible, supportive and down-to-earth.  Her anecdotes about her own growth and experiences as a seller are comforting and inspiring.  I've referred back to this book time and time again while preparing for my next show.  I would absolutely recommend this book to newbies to the craft show scene, and even jewellery designers who have many shows under their belts will find valuable tips and things to try in this book.  I plan on purchasing Rena Klingenberg's other books, Social Networking: Selling Your Jewelery Online, and Secrets of a Handcrafted Jewelery Shopping Service.  Check out Rena Klingenberg's website, and sign up for her monthly e-newsletter.  I look forward to receiving mine each month.  Here's the link:

Later, readers!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Etsy Finds

Although I have been a seller on Etsy since August, I haven't made a purchase on Etsy until today.  I was looking for brass findings and bead caps, as I'm working on a new line of brass pendant necklaces and earrings.  On the Etsy site, I went to the Shop Local section, and typed in Canada.  I found two shops I really like.  One was CL Beads, based in Toronto. This shop has tons of findings in silver, sterling, copper, brass, gunmetal, and gold finishes, as well as all sorts of wire, thread and chain varieties.  They have a huge variety of charms, in many cunning shapes, like antique French Louis XIV chairs, little baby carriages, scissors, and even little buses!  They also carry glass, crystal, CZ, porcelain and lucite beads.  Their prices are very reasonable.  I ordered about $12 worth of supplies, but that was just tonight, so I can't vouch for their service yet, but they have thousands of sales, and 100% positive feedback, so I'm sure it'll be great.

The other shop I visited was called Fab Beads, who are based on Vancouver Island, B.C. This shop also has a huge variety of findings, charms, bead caps, chains, and filigree elements, at very reasonable prices.  They have a line of lovely antique brass charms, clasps, and bead caps with a gorgeous chocolate brown patina.  Fab Beads has also had thousands of sales, with 100% positive feedback.  I spent about $25 at this shop.  I can't wait for my packages to arrive!  Buy handmade, it's fun!

Adieu, readers.