Once upon a time, long ago and far away, I decided that I would like to develop my own look as a designer, and promote it wholesale, to stores and shops.
I hadn't really been making jewelry that long; I started back in the late 80's when I was actively dealing in vintage costume jewelry. A few people who were instrumental as mentors in my life encouraged me to make jewelry....I'm really not sure what made me think I could. But having already a love for vintage pieces, it seemed like the natural next thing to do.
So I did it. By 1993 I was doing trade shows and by 1995 I had a 300 piece line, seven assistants and around 500 store accounts.
One thing I realized when I was pulling my line together to offer for sale, is that I would have to choose a style that was not only true to myself, but could be reproduced.
From the few crafts shows I had done, I saw that people liked to buy things that said something about who THEY were....for friends and relatives, that said something about who THEY were. So I developed a line based on themes, with a Victorian look using brass stampings and charms (I could get more), bisque ceramic roses (ditto) glue (plenty of that) and old pearl shirt buttons (VERY plentiful at the time, I used to advertise and people would sell them to me by the pound!)
The central part of my line, besides all of those aforesaid things, was that I could engrave short words in pretty script, freehand, using my Dremel. The shops loved that personal touch. I got a lot of custom orders and ideas from the shops and businesses I worked with, as well. So I could still stay true to my look----and keep it cohesive---yet make it their way, too.
I continued to produce that line until around the year 2000, and I quit wholesaling it all together in 2001. Shops had come away from selling jewelry for awhile (most of my clientele were gift shops and florists) and it just seemed it had run its course.
After that I went back to vintage jewelry for a bit as well as began to make large, one of a kind, over the top glitz collage/assemblage pieces which I sold on Ebay, in its earlier days. It worked out very well. I had a certain look about my pieces, but something I lost was the cohesive element.
I've noted that many artists today who are self-supporting do quite well BECAUSE they maintain a cohesive element. They are not trying out every new technique that comes around the bend. They may incorporate a new finding or change size or style a little, but the look remains theirs. I have also noted that they have a specific way of showing/staging their photos that draws the eye and just MAKES you want to buy the item.
Another amazing element is that I sometimes see is that very simple designs that are marketed this way.... sell for higher prices than the norm.
Gotta tell ya....it's because it all goes together. The style identifies the artist, and the artist has been clever about branding, packaging, marketing. The jewelry is 'in line'......you can buy it a piece at a time and collect the artist's work. The pieces are signed, either by hand or by special tag.
It's really the same thing I did, once upon a time. And it's the same schtick that large, commercially successful fashion designers have employed. They come up with something that speaks to the customer. Love it or hate it, think Pandora, Troll, Alex and Ani, Brighton.....why do people buy it?
It's all a certain style.
You can add to it.
It makes an easy gift when you know people collect it.
The branding is impeccable.
Pieces can be added or taken away.
At the B'sue Boutiques Creative Group we're planning our biggest challenge so far. Myself and my Design Team are brainstorming a THREE MONTH JUDGED CHALLENGE, where participants will develop their own line in a cohesive way....a way that stays true to form, has low and higher pricepoints, can be added to both by the buyer as well as the designer, and that can be marketed in a practical way.
The challenge is called BUILD YOUR OWN LINE.
2. You must have a typical, standard blog where you can make entries. We will be sharing what we are doing via blog hops at intervals during the challenge.
3. Pieces from the B'sue Boutiques product line must be visible and prominent in the participants' lines. Because I have done this already and have maintained a line that sold thousands of pieces over a decent period of time, I feel I am qualified to offer guidance and advice. At the same time, there is no administration or class fee to enter the challenge.
It will increase my workload, however, so help me out a bit, use some things from the website. When you do, I freely promote them and will be promoting this challenge on my website, here at my blog, in my newsletter and via Pinterest boards.
4. Those who sign up need to be ready to put on their thinking caps and dig in. Life happens, I understand: yet if you sign up to this challenge, I'd like for you to be serious about seeing it through, even IF it doesn't go easy, even IF it's a stretch, even IF you have trouble with the deadlines. IT'S A DISCIPLINE. Those who join us and use this discipline will re-route their thinking as designers, will grow, and will learn things about their process that they never realized before. And, they'll probably make changes to the way they approach getting work done---positive ones.
5. Each line must be at least five pieces. You may choose a style, a palette, a theme. The pieces in the line should be able to be swapped out for other metal colors.
FOR EX: Some folks may want silver metal, some may want antique brass. Can you make your line so that it can be changed up?
Also, you must be able to reproduce your line. Repurposing won't work here....repurposing is for one of a kinds or is offered as a re-design service. You need to be able to make repeat pieces that, while being handmade may have subtle differences, will still look much the same.
These are just the beginning basics. At this time there are no sign-ups, but to keep things manageable, I think I will limit it this time to 60 participants. My hope is that we can get that many! Yet if we only had 20 who were dead-dog serious about doing this, it would also be enough to keep it interesting, worthwhile and something from which others who are not participating, can still learn.
Signups will begin first week of January after the holidays are over. There will be a limited window to sign up and you will have to sign up at the beginning; it won't work out for you to join us 'in progress'.
Feel free to comment or ask questions here or at the Creative Group We still have two challenges to complete before we do this challenge; this month we are doing Cameo Jewelry......next month we are doing anything you want that is Metallic/Pearl/Crystal combination.
For now, ruminate on the possibilites. Make lists, take notes....and get yourself a blog and get yourself in the habit of using it.
This is gonna be a BIG one!