Here we are!
After three months of diligent work, the members of the Build-a-Line Master Class are finally ready to share the lines they have created with the world! Not only that, doubtless many have reached some conclusions about where they are going and what they will do, going forward.
Some have found they are quite content where they are, enjoying jewelry making as a hobby and perhaps selling a bit of work here and there to help defray costs. This class has helped them to understand what is really required to build and sustain a line of jewelry that sells well, and it might be more work than they wish or need to do. There's nothing wrong with being a hobbyist; honestly, I think that's a wonderful place to be.
For these ones, the class helped them to understand the arduous process, make a decision, and at the same time, how better to pull their work as artists together.
Others are ready to go to the next level....really diving into jewelry making, being ready for shows, home parties, and consignment opportunities. They've learned how to clean up their online selling presence and make their brand more visible. Some have learned for the first time what a brand really IS.
I daresay we also have a few students whose intent to make a solid business plan, and then, become very serious makers with their eyes on that elusive brass ring. They wish to be jewelry designers, build what they do into a solid sideline business or even their primary business.
There was a time when that was all a dream for me....
I was 29 years old. As you can see, I had a young son to care for, at this time about 8 months old. I was very poor. We lived in a small mobile home out in the country. Being out in the country was our big luxury, for we did have a very large piece of ground and every year I made a wonderful garden.
I was always business-minded, so after toying around with a few secretarial jobs I decided to be my own boss. For eleven years I had a very successful cleaning business. I was a hard worker. I worked on my hands and knees for working women and a few quite wealthy ladies, scrubbing floors....even until I was eight months along in my pregnancy and my blouse also wiped the floor along with my scrub rag. Jordan was a very large baby! LOL But he was with me in my work, even then.
Not very long after he was born....about the time this photo was taken, I began hunting flea markets and yard sales, mostly for things for him. I began to find some things of value and was able to sell them to supplement my meager cleaning income. It wasn't long before Jordan and I were scouring every flea we could on a weekly basis, and I was growing an antiques/collectibles by mail business. Off we'd go, me with a large market basket and him in his stroller.
Eventually I parlayed that income into what eventually became my own designer line of jewelry that in time, sold to over 500 store accounts. We sold about $100,000.00 a year of that jewelry....by no means were we any big shakes in that industry. But I did all the same things that others who WERE big shakes in the industry had to do to sell their lines. I had no one to teach me but some great networking and my gut. I learned as I went along. We lasted doing that for the better part of a decade, I was able to make an income at it, and cleaning was a distant memory.
Jordan was with me every step of the way. He hung out with me in the workshop, did little chores down there, helped me schlep packages to UPS and the post office. The most wonderful thing about it all is that by the time he went to school, I was able to stop cleaning and be there to put him on the school bus every day and be there when he got off. I have no regrets! If for that ALONE, it was all worth it.
By 2001 that line was completely over. I sold off my manufacturing inventory and had already begun to sell supplies. B'sue Boutiques as you might know it now began on the internet even some time before I completely phased out that line. Our first website was in 1997 and we sold basic things for people who were repairing jewelry, mostly. But it wasn't long before I began to really develop us as a supply company. All the things I had learned about old jewelry, all the things I had learned about business and making a line of jewelry sure came in handy!
And along the way, we have had seven stand alone websites, 14 years as powersellers at Ebay, almost five years now at Etsy (I think!) and we are always looking for ways to improve what we do....for you.
Jordan is still quite involved, as you know. He worked for me all through home school (he home-schooled 10-12th grades and finished early) part of the time he went to college for business administration, and here and there as needed when he got his job in the bakery at Giant Eagle, which is a huge grocery chain in these parts. He moved up to managing a fuel store with food service and grocery and worked for 'the big bird' as we call it, for six years.
One day he said, "Mom, it's time for me to come home and help in this business. The bird's not for me, but B'sue Boutiques is."
So he handed in his resignation and we have never looked back, not he, not me.
We are a TEAM, along with his wife Lauren, my best friend Shelley, my niece, Javi, and sometimes here and there her husband, Rob...and Rob's mom, my sister-in-law, Donna (or JewelryDonna which is her brand, she is developing her own line, too!)
Part of the deal for this year's class is that I would be creating a line of jewelry along with the class. It's been a very long time since I have done this; I feel I have the cohesive thing down as I am a designer of many years and my stuff goes a certain way that says B'sue. But...BUILD A LINE???? What WAS I thinking? Was there not enough to keep me up late at night already?
WELL......I did it. The idea came right along; I decided to bring back our old chocolate ox brass and use that. We used to call it choxie! It looks like milk chocolate, no kidding. So, the idea of Sugar Shop Jewelry presented itself. I have even procured the domain name for it. It's a solid idea....
Sugar Shop Jewelry will have several facets, or sub-lines/collections. The first, which I am working on for the class, is called Chocolate Frosting. Are you ready to see that part of the line so far?
This is by no means all of it, but it is the primary part.....for now. I consider this a practice line; I am still bouncing ideas. I have indeed gotten a sense of direction from the exercise. True to B'sue, it will be a feminine, fussy little line, but not too fussy or too elaborate. I guess the best adjectives are sentimental and pretty.
Some better looks at some of the parts in this part of the Chocolate Frosting sub-line:
That's a variation of my bound-wire charm bracelet....and the parts that pull it together with the rest of the sub-line are the cameos and the choxie brass.
Brooch and earrings and cameo string necklace.....I love this style of necklace and have made myself many. Dunno if I ever made any to sell!
A longer length necklace with mini assemblage on a two-sided puffy heart:
And another, featuring lovely filigree beads and Czech glass in the neckline....
I made a series of brooches for the line as well:
The fussy little brooch in the center is deeply inspired by the line I had in the 90's. One of our most popular pieces was built a bit this way, only the top was engraved.
I don't have the pin backs on yet as it made photo a little easier. I see I need to do some clean-up. The front is ready to go except I see some glue strings that need pulled off, etc. That camera doesn't lie! You'll find it's your best friend when you go to check your work and see if there is anything you've missed!
Here is the back....I have a tiny signature on it but I see some glue bits and a bit of dirt on the back of the old buttons that are part of the base. A little Goo-Gone on a q-tip will make short work of them. After I do the Goo-Gone I will have to do a little alcohol on a swab, and let dry before I glue on the pin back. The trick then is to get enough glue on the pin back, but not make a mess and then, place it just right so that that pinback does not shift as it sets up.
Here are some of the backs of the other pieces, with signatures. I like to do mine by hand.
There is more to this line, though.
I made a lot of earrings, most with the cameos, but some with rosaline Czech glass and some pretty bead drops. So Rosaline is another collection, but still under Chocolate Frosting.
Those cabs are just luminous! I love the way this one came out. I do believe I will keep it!
I still didn't have a statement part to the line, so, I made this parure. It has a color add, so I guess this collection would be Chocolate Frosting with Sprinkles:
I put Chocolate Frosting Mosaic on it, but naaah. Should be 'with sprinkles' because of the color add. I used tiny looped robin's egg blue Czech beads and Czech fire opal stones.
All in all with some earrings I didn't photo, I have over 18 pieces.
Now, I need to spend a bit of time re-checking connections, adding pinbacks and doing that little bit of clean-up. Then it's time make some good photos for selling. I will put it on my regular website just to park it for now.
There is a ferocious mess up here in the office....I made most of it as I binge-watched most of eleven seasons of Frasier on Netflix. Well, during at least the last four seasons. To be honest, I have made most of this stuff this week!
That's why I haven't been on line much. LOL
Anyway.....now that I have this ferocious mess, I also have some more ferocious ideas. I will straighten this place up but I will continue working.
Let's see where this road goes, since I have plenty of things to use up!
And after our May workshop here in Columbiana, Ohio, Jordan and I will sit down and build a solid business plan for Sugar Shop Jewelry.
We do have some decisions to make, since our primary business is supply and taking care of other artists' needs....and those needs will not be neglected for jewelry making. First and foremost I have a commitment made to those who come to me for components and assistance....and new ideas! That commitment means everything to us.
Regrettably, I have had to come to the realization that there really are only 24 hours in a day and I should be sleeping at 7-8 of them. Perhaps he and I can figure out a better creative schedule for B'sue.
If nothing else it was a TON of fun and will surely lead to some new videos!
AND NOW.....THERE ARE LOTS OF OTHER LINES TO REVEAL! Hop along with me and check out all the other students' work! Below you will find the list of participants and links to their blogs. I surely appreciate their participation in class and all their creativity. Be prepared to be blown away!
If you can, stop for a moment and leave our class members an encouraging comment. It will do much to boost confidence and keep the juices flowing.