Blood, Sweat, and Tears
Being a handcrafted business is a labor of love. And sometimes, love hurts (at least financially).
As I sit here writing my 57th product description, I am slammed in the head with a thought …
How much time, money and effort (or blood, sweat, and tears) actually goes into making a single, affordable pair of earrings? Well, it turns out it’s a lot more than I thought. I’m pretty sure it’s way below minimum wage. It’s a good thing I enjoy it. ?
Below you’ll find a step-by-step accounting of the effort. It sure opened my eyes up and gives me a lot more appreciation for handcrafted items. If you’d like to join along…
Now, many people have their favorite thing to shop for. My passion is shiny objects from a craft store, but I am also addicted to online beads and baubles. That may sound fun (and it is), but there’s a lot more to it than that. Here’s a rundown:
- Drive to the nearest bead store (20 miles away).
- Pick a string of beads (and another, and another … and charms, findings, pendants, wire, etc.).
- Wait in line.
- Hope I have a coupon.
- Use my credit card ? (I keep forgetting I’m retired. ?)
- Drive my new goodies home.
- Run my fingers through their shiny goodness and dream of all the possibilities.
I can’t leave the beads sitting in a pile, right? (Although I’ll admit, sometimes I do.)
So I have to:
- Count the number of beads on the string.
- Make a label that includes the price, the number of beads, and a description of the beads.
- Put the beads in a tiny plastic bag.
- Enter the beads into a database (with the 7700+ other beads), so I can price out the piece of jewelry that I make later.
- Put the beads (organized by color) into one of the tiny warehouses covering my wall. Include a string of beads to the front of the drawer for i.d.
- Pay the credit card bill. ?
- Regret buying more beads in the middle of the night. ?
Lights … Camera … (In)action!
It’s pretty easy to pick out the focal point for earrings (or necklaces). Fun even. I go through my containers and get inspired. Okay, more beads need to be added.
So now I:
- Stand in front of a wall of beads. And stand there. And try to pick a color that complements the focal piece.
- Yay, I found something!
- I cut the craft wire to 4″.
- Using the Wubbers (roundy pliers), I prepare an end for wrapping up the focal piece. Bend. Twist. Wrap. Cut. Crimp.
- Damn, I forgot to add the focal piece. Got distracted. Start over. (Luckily, that doesn’t happen too often.)
- Add the complementary beads. Yuck. I don’t like it. Start over.
- Yay, I found something!
- Finish up the ear wire side. Bend. Twist. Wrap. Cut. Crimp.
- Add an ear wire.
- Now do the other earring. Can’t wear just one! Well, I guess you could.
- Keep track of all the part numbers (bead identification) and how many I used. This goes on a 3×5 card. The earrings get a name (not always easy). Place them in a snack-size Ziplock bag for safekeeping (and to keep them shiny) until I can price them out.
Price It Out
One of my least favorite things to do. There are so many suggestions out there on how to price jewelry. I try to be systematic about it. Like any other product you buy at the store, some beads are expensive, and some are not. I use a database (that I designed) to enter all the information.
- SKU number.
- Name of the piece.
- Type of piece.
- Length of the piece.
- Then I have to call up each bead, crimp, wire, etc., that I used.
- From there, I get my cost. Then I have to figure out the price.
- Get out an earring card and label it with the SKU, name, and price. Add the ear nuts.
Lights … Camera … Photography!
Oh, my gosh. This has been the hardest part! I bought a nice Canon DSLR. I bought a fancy light umbrella and a boom to hold it. I watched webinars and classes on jewelry photography. The hardest part? Getting the white balance correct so the jewelry comes out the correct color.
So I have to:
- Get out the camera and make sure the battery is charged. Charge the extra batteries, as well.
- Set up the boom with the light source.
- Iron the backdrops.
- Hook up the camera and computer to each other.
- Shoot the product pictures.
- Then, set up the props and shoot the lifestyle photos.
- Edit the pictures in Photoshop:
- Rename the images
- Crop the images
- Resize the images
- Save as .jpg
- Load up on my server
Add the Created Jewelry to my Website
I thought this was going to be the easy part. Until I started doing it. I need to:
- Add the tags, categories, main image, gallery images, related product images, attributes (color, length, materials used, price, etc.).
- Write a catchy short description (the hard part).
- Write a long description that includes describing all the beads and charms used in the earrings (the harder part).
And Then do Some Marketing …
… and advertising. Perhaps I should …
- Post on Facebook.
- Post on Instagram.
- Post on Pinterest.
- Email my Bead Wild Tribe.
- Hope they open the email.
- Hope they are happy and like my new products (and buy some!).
And if I Sell a Piece of Jewelry …
… that’s awesome! And THEN I get to:
- Wrap the jewelry in a box with tissue paper, business card, free gift(!).
- Put it in the shipping box; tape it up; address it.
- Drive to the post office.
- Email the purchaser.
- Hope it gets there.
- Hope they are happy.
And that’s probably not all there is … but you get the idea.