Angeline Crowder is at a crossroads in her business. After receiving tons of international acclaim for her beautiful, handmade gemstone rings, she's now getting requests to wholesale her products. But is it the right move for her business??
Read on for the full story, and tell us your thoughts in the comments below!
Name: Angeline Crowder
Business: By Angeline
How did you create your awesome job?
I’ve been selling rocks ever since I was five, when I collected agates from my family’s farm in Oregon and took them door to door.
When I was 24 and a single mom in need of a little extra money, I started making belly-button charms and sold them to local beach stores. I was also worked as a raft instructor at the same time, near where I lived in Colorado.
While out on the river one day, I was crushed by a raft and I broke my back. During my recovery, I took a jewelry course in Portland, Oregon. The instructors noticed my entrepreneurial spirit and I was given a grant for purchasing enough casting equipment to start a larger-scale jewelry business on my own.
After that, my jewelry business was born!
Who was your very first customer? How did you find them?
My very first customer was a lady named Judy who bought a silver charm bracelet from me on eBay.
That was 12 years ago, but she’s still my friend on Facebook. Back then I traded under the name Earth Enchanted and I sold jewels and gemstones on eBay, in addition to my handmade jewelry.
When was the exact moment that you knew your business was going to work?
Two-and-a-half years ago I decided to make the switch to only selling gold jewelry and I rebranded my company as By Angeline. To make my first five rings, I melted down all of the jewelry that anyone had ever given me – gifts from my mom, everything.
Within an hour of listing the rings on Etsy, I was contacted by Vogue UK asking if I wanted my products to be featured in the magazine.
I couldn’t believe it!
I said yes and, naturally, the good news spread. I only had five items, but they appeared in 12 magazines off the back of that feature – Tatler, GQ and Glamour all displayed my products and Vogue Italy put me on the front page of their website as one of their "loves of the week."
What has been the biggest surprise in starting your own business?
I was shocked at how quickly my products got noticed. To be honest, I was thrilled to be featured in so many magazines, but I was also a little embarrassed.
I couldn’t believe it had happened so quickly, and I didn’t feel established enough to warrant that much publicity. I believed that when I started working in gold, people would start paying more attention, but I never expected it to explode on that scale.
Thanks to those magazine features, my business grew by over a thousand sales in the first year, and it continues to grow now.
How do you price your products? What has been your biggest lesson learned in pricing?
When I started out, I looked at how other people working in the same genre priced their products and I looked at the jewelry market in general.
Now I have a better understanding of what my products are worth. If it’s a custom order, I carefully note how much time I put into it and pay myself for the hours spent. The price of the materials I use also has to be taken into account. "The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to not price myself too low. If I don’t value my time or my products, others won’t either."
What does a typical day look like for you?
I get up between 6am and 9am, depending on how late I stayed up the night before. I make a cup of coffee, respond to emails, see if I’ve had any new press and check my Etsy stats.
After the admin stuff is done, I’ll spend a bit of time listening to music and mentally preparing for my day before I need to sit down with waxes and create new pieces.
I spend a lot of time working with the rocks that I use. I put them together to see which combinations are best, and I work out which metals would complement them.
Then, I carve out wax for each setting and put ten at a time in my kiln to harden. Once this is done, I melt down the metal with a big torch and spin it into shape.
My son helps me with my shipping and website updates. Before he started working with me, I used to spend half my day working on social media and re-listing unsold items on Etsy. Now that he helps me with a lot of this, it gives me more time for creating new products.
I usually take a short break in the middle of the day because I work best in the evenings. I’m most inspired between 7pm and 11pm, so that’s when I like to really focus on creating my jewelry.
My daily output depends on how inspired I am. I can create up to ten new waxes in one day, but sometimes I only make ten in one month!
If you could go back in time, what is the one thing you’d do differently when starting your business?
I’d start my gold collection sooner. I’d also tell myself to spend more time creating what I want to create and less time trying to make items that I think people will want to buy.
I’ve learned that if I put enough passion into my products, and make what I love, other people will love them too.
I would still be doing this today even if nobody was paying me!
What would you like to learn today from a network of other small business owners and self-employed professionals?
I’d like to know whether I should wholesale my products or not. I don’t wholesale now, but many businesses have asked whether I'd be interested in creating a line for them.
Just recently, the Four Seasons in Hong Kong asked if they could carry my work, but I turned them down. I never accept these offers because I feel like what I’m doing is working for me right now.
But am I making a mistake?
Let's help Angeline out!
Do you think Angeline should explore wholesaling her jewelry? Is she making a mistake by turning down offers from larger businesses that want to carry her work?
Share your experiences below!
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