This has been a focused and fruitful month for the members of the Build a Line Challenge Group.
We've discussed so many topics!
First there was the discussion about VOGUE magazine and how to learn to read it for content that well MAY affect what you need to design in the future.
Then, we talked about managing your supply inventory, and how the business of supply works. Donna and I actually made a video about it....here's a link if you haven't seen it:
We talked about the pyramid of sales:
We also talked about pricing your jewelry for profit. There are are about as many ideas and pricing methods as there are ways to make meatloaf.
SO.....I will be honest: I dislike pricing threads. At the same time, this class would hardly be complete without one.
To be sure, we had a great discussion that benefited all! And we all agreed that in the long run, each part of your line and every piece is individual, and sometimes ya just gotta jiggle it!
We also spoke about the virtue of making pieces for our lines that could be reproduced, especially on the lower tiers. We realized that if we could do that, we could make more money and expand our brand.
All throughout the month we had updates on class members' progress. Some practically have their full line done! Those ones are chomping at the bit for the last hop so they can show you! No one is allowed to show their full line until the last hop.
Of course, this year I promised to create a line along with the class. At first I only intended it to be an example or prototype. I didn't really intend to do anything much with it. I was just going to be an exercise.
I had an epiphany: SUGAR SHOP JEWELRY. I got the idea looking at box of chocolate brass I'd gotten in. I did think I would use it for class. I just thought it would be something different as we don't actively carry chocolate brass anymore. But the more I looked at it...
The more it looked like CHOCOLATE FROSTING.
The structure of the Sugar Shop line came literally in minutes after I got the Chocolate Frosting part. Everyone that has seen and heard about the line has been nearly as excited about it as I have been.
The thing is....how to make it happen with so much going on in my life, already.
My head felt like this tangled mess of chain:
Eventually I realized that my biggest blow to progress at the moment, was that my workshop was set up for shooting video, rather than real work. It looks great and is very visual. BUT:
None of my pieces and parts were in logical places where I could easily find them! Until that could happen, this line could not happen. THIS WORKSHOP HAD TO BE PUT BACK INTO PRODUCTION MODE....just as it was, twenty years ago!
I won't kid you....at first, the idea of reorganizing this space blew my mind. Well...you won't get anywhere feeling like a nervous wreck. I had to move forward and find a place to start. I realized, okay, let's start with the surfaces. I quickly saw that I had a large space blocked by my big map chest. The ventilation pipe was coming right down through there.....the entire area was wasted.
Donna came over and we moved it to the other end of the bench. I got some nice storage bins for little parts from Walmart online (they have so many nice bins and if you spend $50.00 or more, they ship it to you free!) When they arrived, I began to set up that space.
I have new mats arriving for the benches, too, so they'll have a fresh start. There is still a lot of tweaking to do, but it's all good. At least I can begin working and I have a place to put bits and parts where I can find them quickly!
I cleared the other side of the L-shaped bench as well. This is where I have always done a lot of painting, resin and Swellegant work:
We shot a lot of our videos the first 2-3 years right here.
I also removed a lot of unnecessary items from the top of the large worktable at the back of the workshop. Every time we did video, Javi always had to take a world of stuff out of the road so she could get a clear, unencumbered shot.
Well, she won't have to do that anymore!
The biggest part of the work is that while the storage units fit nicely under the table and benches, nothing in them makes much sense. This is true especially for the units under the table, and under the bench on the back wall.
To make Sugar Shop Jewelry and have fun while doing it (rather than making it another work nightmare in the B'sue world) I HAD to dump out some of those bins and just ditch stuff. Yes....stuff I would rather have kept, good stuff. BUT! I needed the space for Sugar Shop and there was no point in keeping it. I pulled out what I would use, and the rest went in bags and on the storage shelves on the other side of the basement.
I'll deal with it later, probably make up some Muse packages.
All in all it was about getting done what is necessary for now and worry about perfection later. Just as it was every time before when I began a big project, I'd move stuff around as I began to work in the space. Letting go of perfection, I started to make progress!
Here is my drawer all ready with little pieces and bits I will use in beading and connecting this line:
That's by all means not all, but it's what I have now. I'm expecting shipments in the next week to ten days. I've got space cleared out now for that stuff, when it arrives.
Here are the stones I am most likely to use in this line:
That is all subject to change but it's a place to bounce. Everyone needs a bouncing-off space.
And here is a drawer full of beads I am mostly likely to use....with more on the way, still:
Hmmmmm.....will Pinky find a place in this line?
I don't know yet. ;-)
Here is a drawer full of chocolate brass:
I threw a few bits of brass ox in there for more bouncing....to see if I needed to blend something, could I? My jury is out on that for now. It's just nice to have a drawer to throw things into, for trial ideas.
All in all, I cleared at least six drawers COMPLETELY out. There will be plenty of room for the other things I will use for this line....a drawer dedicated to bead caps.....a section for ceramic roses and spectra beads.....a place for matching blanks. I have a lot of things out at the platers' now and they will be showing up over the course of the next few weeks.
I also re-discovered a lot of things I forgot I had, and *can* use!
There will have lots of room to continue 'building organized drawers' as I develop the other parts of the line....Vanilla Frosting, which will be a shabby whites line, Party Cake which will be very colorful, Wedding Cake which is a small wedding line, Cafe Au Lait which will be less fussy and done in neutrals. Of course Box of Chocolates is where I will have my random stuff and it could be ANYTHING. That's where I will still have room to play as an artist.
Now that I have this much pulled together, I feel like I can think clearly. I do need to get moving now! I know the basic look of the line, but no, I don't have anything completed. For the class I may just bounce a practice line off one easy peasy piece. That will get the ball rolling....
From experience, I know it will come. I can stop breathing hard over this. Looking back, I can't believe I had the brass to jump in the way I did, knowing next to nothing about business and supplying stores with a gift line of jewelry. What I had was tremendous drive and will to make it work. Nothing to do but dig in, and figure it out on the fly.
Cheeze Louise, I was so unaware of the work it would take that I didn't even know how to be brave about it! I just DID it.
I remember this girl.....
That girl had a bunch of creative energy and no knowledge of how to focus it. She didn't know anything at all about jewelry! She didn't have any....the pearl choker in the photo was borrowed....and no idea of what she liked. I guess she figured it out.
It took a long time and a lot of head-banging to reach my goals. Why should my friends and customers struggle as I did, when I can share my experience and knowledge with them?
In the long run, we all have to make it work by DOING the work.....
But a network of colleagues and mentors is essential for success. I had some back then, and I have many more now. In the class, we all have each other.
I hope you will take time to read down through the blog posts from all the students. You are going to enjoy their observations, and you will probably learn things that can help you in your own creative work. If possible, leave them an encouraging comment. You have no idea how much those comments mean to them....and to me. Thanks for taking time for us!
Here is the hopping list!