Artistic entrepreneurs who also enjoy working with their hands may do well starting a home-based, handcrafted jewelry business. Handcrafted jewelry makers may work with traditional jewelry materials or they may work with unique and non-traditional materials to produce “alternative,” “junk,” or “costume” jewelry.
The United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) compiles occupational projections data on many occupations, including jewelry makers. However, BLS includes jewelry makers in the same category as precious stone and metal workers. This general categorization may skew the data concerning makers of handcrafted jewelry.
According to BLS data, 52,100 people worked in this industry in 2008. The number of available jobs in this occupation is expected to increase by 5.3 percent over the decade from 2008 – 2018. BLS reports that the median annual wages for this occupation are “high” at $32,940. 53.6 percent of people who work in this occupational category are self-employed.
Those who are already making jewelry as a hobby may have a good idea of what style of jewelry they like to make. Those who are new to jewelry making will need to study handcrafted jewelry making and experiment with different materials and styles until they come up with a style that is uniquely their own. Developing your own style or niche is essential to separate and differentiate yourself from other handcrafted jewelry makers and sellers.
There are many online tutorials and books available that cover the essential skills involved in handcrafted jewelry making. Classes are also available from other jewelery makers and from beading and jewelry stores. Participating in classes taught by experienced handcrafted jewelry makers provides an opportunity to learn real-world skills, to ask questions, and to practice with new techniques and materials. This is beneficial for those new to handcrafted jewelry making and to those who want to continually learn.
Most handcrafted jewelry businesses make jewelry at home and then sell it either online or at other venues. However, it is possible to set up a studio at home and to have customers come to your studio during set hours or by appointment.
Some jewelry makers also offer repair services as a side business. Repairs can be challenging and complicated though; consequently, many jewelry makers refuse to make repairs on any jewelry but their own. For those comfortable attempting repairs on jewelry this can be a profitable side business that can also produce new customers for your own handcrafted jewelery.
Craft shows have long been an important venue for makers of handcrafted jewelry. These shows provide a booth or table space in a mall- or market-type venue with many vendors and (hopefully) many customers. These shows can be an effective way of making direct sales to customers and of making contacts with potential future customers. This format also allows the handcrafted jewelry maker to see what pieces and designs customers are attracted to and to experiment with pricing to find the ideal price point for their jewelry. Shows will typically charge a flat fee for the booth or table space per day, though some shows employ different arrangements. This fee can vary considerably from show to show.
Private shows can be a great way to market your handcrafted jewelry business. Private shows allow you to interact with customers, make direct sales, and connect with potential future customers by raising awareness of your business. These private shows can be hosted at a friend’s or relative’s house, or at another location with adequate space. Private shows can be encouraged by offering a commission, or by providing free or discounted jewelry to hosts or hostesses. These shows can also be held as a fundraiser event with a commission being donated to a particular cause or charity based on sales.
The Internet has turned marketing upside down for many industries, including makers and sellers of handcrafted merchandise. Handcrafted jewelry businesses can now market their jewelry to a worldwide audience through their own website, online auction sites like eBay, and online stores like those available from eBay, Etsy, and Amazon.
Business cards and brochures are essential marketing tools for a handcrafted jewelry business. Always have brochures and business cards available at any show or event where you are displaying or selling jewelry. Business cards should also always be included with every order that is shipped or delivered so that customers always have your contact information to order more jewelry.
Direct marketing to previous customers or those who have asked to join your mailing list can be particularly effective. This list may be a postal mailing list or an electronic mailing list – or both. Building and maintaining a mailing list is a powerful marketing tool. Mailing lists should never be abused or overused; however, periodic mailings sent several times each year at key times, like in advance of Christmas or Valentine’s Day, can yield a large number of sales.
Selling your handcrafted jewelry through another vendor or wholesaler can also be an option. This approach offers the possibility of increasing overall sales, but will limit the profit potential on each piece since the wholesaler or retailer who is selling your jewelry will also need to make a profit on the sale. Research wholesalers or retailers who carry merchandise similar to what you are offering and then contact them about the possibility of carrying your line of handcrafted jewelry.
Starting a successful, handcrafted jewelry business will probably involve a lot of sales and marketing. Unfortunately, just setting up a website with a few pictures will probably not produce the sales needed to make this business profitable. Most handcrafted jewelry businesses spend plenty of time at various shows and events promoting and selling their jewelry. Complementing these direct sales with Internet sales and wholesale or consignment sales can result in a profitable business.
Starting a handcrafted jewelry business can be a perfect home-based business opportunity for the entrepreneur who is creative and likes working with their hands. This business will probably require a lot of face-to-face sales at shows and other events. Handcrafted jewelry designers who can create an original line of jewelry and manage direct sales to customers have the opportunity to build a successful and profitable home-based business.
United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. Site accessed on 7 October 2010.
Kay Laura. How To Start Your Own Handcrafted Jewelry Business. Men’s Jewelry Wedding Rings Blog. Site accessed on 23 November 2010.
How to Start Selling Handcrafted Jewelry, Handmade Earrings and Unique Bracelets. Murphys Two Online Store. Site accessed on 23 November 2010.
How to Start Wholesale Jewelry Business: Sell Handmade Jewelry, Earrings, Bracelets. Handmade Jewelry Blog by Copper Reflections. Site accessed on 23 November 2010.