I have known many people (all women, as it turns out) who make their own jewelry at home. Without exception, they consider this hobby to be just that – a hobby – even if they make an occasional sale. Because many people prefer homemade jewelry to store-bought items, your hobby can become a serious business if you take a few simple steps. Here’s how:
Calculate Your Costs
Find out whether you need to pay for a license or permit to run a business from home in your location; if you do, then find out how much this will cost.
Next, calculate how much each piece of jewelry costs you to make. Initially, you might want to identify a small number (e.g., five) of pieces that you will produce for sale, so that you do not have to price hundreds of different items. Your cost calculations should include both the cost of raw materials (e.g., beads and string) and the value of your time. For example, a bracelet that uses twenty-five cents of material but takes half an hour to make has a significant cost in terms of time; quantify that cost by estimating how much your hourly rate should be, and applying that rate to the amount of time required.
Finally, calculate how much each piece of jewelry would have to sell for to make this business worth your while. You might think that making 10 or 15% sounds all right, but you really should be aiming for a very high mark-up (i.e., at least 75%, but prefereably over 100%).
Name Your Business
If you are required to buy a business permit, you will need to provide a name for your business. Even if that requirement does not apply, though, you should choose a business name as a form of marketing. Your business can be named after you (e.g., Julie’s Jewelry) or can be completed arbitrary (e.g., Xenon). Eventually, you will want to use this name on advertising and mailings.
Create Some Merchandise
At this point, you can go ahead and make some items to sell. Don’t go overboard, because each item you make costs you money. Think about where and how you will sell your items.
If you intend to sell jewelry at a farmer’s market or at a fair (i.e., from a vendor’s booth), you should make enough to cover your expected sales for the event. If you intend to sell your items on-line through a website, you might be able to make the items as orders come in, depending on your order volume.
The real test of your homemade jewelry business comes when you start offering items for sale. Conducting your first sales from a vendor’s booth at an event (e.g., a farmer’s market or flea market) can provide you with valuable market research, because you can watch people’s reactions to the various pieces of jewelry you offer, including their reaction to the prices you have selected.
Alternatively, you might start by selling your items on Craigslist, eBay, or another on-line sales site. Later, once you have gauged the demand and proper cost for your items, you could set up your own website to handle sales. For on-line sales, you will also have to figure out how to handle shipping, which involves additional costs (e.g., packaging materials and postage).
A homemade jewelry business can be successful if you are diligent, flexible, and creative. Good luck with your new business!