How to start a jewelry making business


Everything that shines does not automatically lead to gold. Although it appears to be a glamorous industry, the jewelry business, like any other, requires a serious commitment of time on the part of its owners. In the beginning, you have to take care to assess the competition, study your target market, and learn as much as possible about your own product.

We spoke to several business owners who have taken different paths to launch their jewelry projects successfully. This guide will explore the intricate details of starting a business, from the capital investment required depending on the scope of your business, to deciding whether or not a brick-and-mortar store is right for you. Read on to find out how to successfully stand out in this area of ​​the luxury industry.

How to start a jewelry making business: jewelry education

Pamela Doyle, co-founder of Doyle & Doyle, an upscale boutique on the Lower East Side of Manhattan specializing in real estate and antique pieces, emphasizes the importance of receiving strategic education about your product, whether formal or informal. She apprenticed at a merchant, and her sister and co-founder Elizabeth Doyle studied at the Geological Institute of America.

David Gandy from eco-wrist, a New York-based company he co-founded in 2007 with his wife Marquerite Hamden, says, “It’s good to do a market research to see what kinds of trends are out there. We did not do it. We did it on instinct. “

A merchandising expert can help with the education process. Paola Delgado, founder of New York-based Mujus, hired a professional to help her learn more about marketing jewelry and show her how to organize items for display purposes. After that, she decided what would be her main materials and products (iconic pieces produced with biodegradable materials) and started to assess her competition around the world. “Then I defined my market – who I wanted to be my customer, what their price range was, how I was going to create an experience for her to buy my jewelry,” she says. “And on that basis, I started working on what would be a collection to satisfy my market.”

After you’ve researched the type of jewelry you want to sell and your target market, consider the other factors before you dive in head first. What will your start-up costs be? What are your material costs? If you don’t make the product yourself, how much will the cost of manufacturing cost you? Is it more profitable to manufacture your product in the United States or to outsource to another country? Should you open a physical store or are markets your best bet? Finally, are you ready to deal with vendor fees, licensing expenses, and other unforeseen costs along the way?

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How to start a jewelry making business: Identify your start-up costs

Jewelry can be made from a wide variety of materials, from the most precious stones to found objects. Thus, the material expenses will vary considerably. Likewise, some people may choose to aim for a large operation from the start, while others will choose to grow their business bit by bit along the way. Gandy, a voice over artist and actor by training, initially invested $ 2,000 in Ecowrist. This investment provided his company with its first 100 bespoke watches.

Carmella Ricciardelli, co-founder of the steampunk jewelry company Mom can’t sing, started his business in Brooklyn in 2008 with nothing. Ricciardelli, previously a housewife, says she has expanded her inventory of jewelry made with antique watch parts and typewriter keys by frequenting tag and goods sales. Initially, she only allowed herself a weekly budget of $ 30 to spend on materials. Jewelry she sells at Brooklyn chip, it reinvests the profits to reconstitute its inventory.

Doyle & Doyle also started out as a small scale operation. During their first three years in business, the Doyles operated as resellers, not yet selling to individuals. “Basically, we were raising capital by selling it and putting it back into the business. Even after starting the store, I had a second job for three years, ”says Doyle. “We didn’t get any wages from the business or anything like that. We put everything back into the business.”

Of course, some designers will aim to enter the market at full speed, requiring a much larger capital investment to get the ball rolling. Delgado, a former financial analyst at Goldman Sachs, estimates that $ 20,000 is a conservative estimate of how much one will need to open a jewelry business, even without a physical store. “I’m talking about setting up your website, creating your merchant account, purchasing your machines, [the] risk[s] sales inventory, [putting together your] fixed packaging, paying a photographer… ”, she says. In addition to these expenses, along with the ability to employ additional help, jewelry sellers should also have a budget and plan in place for the costs and travel associated with making the product itself. .

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How to start a jewelry making business: Manufacturing Expenses

While some designers like Ricciardelli design and manufacture their own products, more often than not jewelry designers leave the work of building their physical product to other artisans. However, this expense in itself can make or break your profit margin.

Due to the high manufacturing costs in the United States, many jewelry companies, even small ones, choose to use foreign labor. But, using this workforce incurs travel costs and time commitment which may or may not be beneficial to your business in the long run.

Ecowrist is currently produced in two factories in South America. Regarding production costs, Gandy says Ecowrist’s cost of producing overseas is probably “400-500% lower” than he would have at home. “We tried to do things here, but it got so expensive that it didn’t make sense to us,” he says. “It would have been a hobby for us.”

While manufacturing costs are undoubtedly cheaper in the South American factory the company uses, trips to monitor the production process, which take place on average once every two months for a week, entail significant travel costs. As a result, Gandy and Hamden seek to bring Ecowrist production back to the United States.

Delgado, originally from Peru, manages his manufacturing operations in his home country. “Although it is relatively ‘cheaper’ to travel to South America, there is a long way to go in terms of quality control,” she says, describing how she often has to train her Peruvian team in terms of quality control. rudimentary aspects of doing business, including sending emails and opening PowerPoint presentations. “It costs a lot of work hours.”

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How to start a jewelry making business: Is a store necessary?

In 1995, Stacey Ford opened her sterling silver jewelry and fashion boutique, Amaya Drawings, in Philadelphia with a partner. Eleven years later, it is definitely closing its doors. “In 2006 we really started to notice a drop in sales. People were really, really struggling, trying to make ends meet,” she says. She has since chosen to focus her attention on selling at outdoor markets and jazz festivals. It is currently based in New York City and continues to supply its products to businesses in Philadelphia. “I would say, in the current climate, I would do more deals [instead of opening] a store. The cost of renting a space, especially in New York City, is outrageous, “she said.” I don’t see how anyone sees a profit when you pay $ 5,000 to $ 6,000 a month for it. rent only. “

While a brick and mortar institution is undoubtedly more expensive, markets and fairs carry their own respective price tags. Ecowrist’s stand in Manhattan Columbus Circle Holiday Market earning Gandy and Hamden about $ 4,700, which Gandy explains averaged about $ 200 per day.

Delgado says that in some markets, the location of your stand depends on how much you’ll have to pay, if your request is even accepted. “If you organize street fairs, for example, it’s much, much more competitive because there is a lot of jewelry. Sometimes you can’t even have room because it’s like: ” [anymore] space for jewelry. ”“ When it comes to trade shows, Delgado says that space for exhibiting in the handmade division is very competitive in New York City due to the high number of supplier requests.

Delgado has chosen not to open a store for Mujus. She intends to start a business based on selling at fairs while focusing on supplying the wholesale market. “The marginal dollars you get basically I think are a little more reliable [in terms of] business, and you don’t have as many small day-to-day running costs, ”she says.

Doyle, who has run his store for 10 years in one of Manhattan’s most expensive real estate districts, is warning entrepreneurs against outright opening a store in today’s economy. “I think you need to keep your fixed expenses as low as possible. Rent is a huge fixed expense. You have to learn what your market is, which you don’t necessarily know,” she says. Doyle attributes the success of his storefront in part to the fact that rents were cheaper when it first opened and the cost of gold was less than half of its current rate.

In the absence of a storefront, having a strong online presence becomes essential for entrepreneurs. Mujus’s website is currently under construction due to Delgado’s desire to create a unique online image. “My challenge with my website is that I wanted something perfect and my quotes were between $ 10,000 and $ 15,000.”

Ricciardelli bought a domain name, but his Etsy store, which was free to set up, is currently the preferred location for Mama Can’t Sing online. Ford maintains a website for Amaya Designs as well as a Facebook page and claims that these two web entities facilitate around 20% of its total sales.

While Ford’s company has done well without its old storefront, it believes that a real store should be the ultimate goal of jewelry store owners. “My suggestion would be to market, get your name out there, and grow your mailing list and customer base,” she says. “So jump into a store and let people know, ‘I won’t be [at the fair]. I have my own brick and mortar. ‘”

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