Baubles, baubles everywhere! The QuickBooks Community is proud to have many talented jewelry designers among our members. Here, ten of them share how they got their businesses up and running.
Elisha & Andreas Argentinis of Metal Pressions: Andreas says, “My wife was making jewelry and selling a few pieces on Etsy alongside her full-time job. She’d wanted me to get involved with the business early on, but I never had the time. But in 2008 after the economic crash, I started to look at what she was doing and saw massive room for growth.”
“There are thousands of custom jewelry makers on Etsy, so I knew that if we were going to turn this into a really successful business, we’d need to differentiate ourselves. No one else was offering full customization at the time, so it was this point of difference that convinced me it was a good business idea to run with. Everyone said we were crazy — I’d worked in web development and marketing and my wife was in pharmaceuticals — but no one said it was a bad idea. Eleven years later, we’re in a really strong position and the business is doing well!”
Read Elisha and Andreas’ full story: Jewelry Makers Elisha & Andreas Argentinis Use Customization to Attract Customers
Maggi Simpkins of Maggi Simpkins Fine Jewelry: “When I was working for other people in the jewelry industry, I was learning so much. But at a certain point, I started feeling like a part of me was dying. Every day, a little voice was telling me I had to honor myself and go out on my own.”
“I spent the first year of working for myself thinking I was going to create a collection, because I knew how to merchandize and develop a line. That’s what I was focused on when, as a side project, I designed an engagement ring for a friend. When I showed it to him, he was speechless. I saw how powerful it was to be part of this important moment in life -- the joy was palpable. I realized, this is why I create things. I want to make people feel love. Every piece of jewelry I make has a story to tell.”
Read Maggi’s full story: Maggi Simpkins’ Bespoke Engagement Rings Tell the Story of True Love
Funlola Coker of Funlola’s Workshop: “I moved to the US from Lagos, Nigeria in 2007 and I've been determined to take advantage of every opportunity since then. I spent every summer since 2008 working with polymer clay. When I graduated from art school, I kept working with it and improving my skills. It made sense to begin marketing my work as jewelry. I suppose I've always wanted to control my time. After working full-time for over three years, I jumped at the first opportunity to make my business a reality. It's been over a year now and I'm still here working away, making wearable foods and miniatures!”
Read Funlola’s full story: Bacon Earrings, Anyone? Artist Funlola Coker is Living Her American Dream Designing Funky Jewelry
Melissa Wallace of Little Pancakes Jewelry: “I started making jewelry as a hobby while doing early-intervention work with young children. It was a stressful job and I needed something to help me relax when I came home. I began with really simple pieces and sold them to friends before I launched an Etsy shop. I didn’t know how to craft with metal at first, but I learned so that I could hone my skills and improve the quality of my designs and finished pieces.”
“I started pitching my products to stores about a year later, and now I sell to several shops in the Boston area and beyond. I also do shows like Renegade Craft Fair and the South End Open Market. Taking my work to these events helped me get a lot of business with single customers, as well as boutiques and shops in other parts of the country. Doing craft fairs is what transformed Little Pancakes into a full-fledged business!”
Read Melissa’s full story: Why Profit Is More Important Than Overhead. A talk with Jewelry Maker Melissa Wallace
Corissa Colamartini of The Tamerlane: “I began by making jewelry for myself. People would ask me where I got my items from, and they would compliment them. It clicked pretty quickly that I should try selling my pieces! I first opened my Etsy shop just over ten years ago. It was a great place for me to get my start, as it was pretty easy to set up and not very expensive. Suddenly, I could reach a large amount of people who appreciate handmade goods.”
“It was such a thrill that someone out there would purchase something I made. It made me really happy to realize that creating and selling jewelry could be something I was good at, because I really love doing it. I thought I might be onto something when I realized I was making a decent number of sales and I needed to dedicate more of my time to filling orders.”
Read Corissa’s full story: Jewelry Maker Corissa Colamartini Creates ‘Wearable Oddities’
Krista Young of GemBlue: “I was working as an interior designer before I had my twin girls. Becoming a mom changed everything. I quit my job to spend more time at home and started making jewelry in my very limited spare time. I had no real experience, but I'd learned a little bit of welding from my Dad.”
“I picked it up quickly and became obsessed! I took classes in casting, gemology and metal work. It quickly became the only thing I wanted to do with my life and I was determined to make a go of it. I fell in love with jewelry making and I was determined to make it my sole source of income. When I set my mind to something, I'm highly driven and I think the only way I made it work was by devoting any spare moment I had to building my business.”
“A year and a half after launching my store on Etsy, I started getting wholesale requests from boutiques. At that moment, I realized I could no longer do it alone so I hired two people, one for metalworking and one for marketing, and that really helped me streamline the business and grow.”
Read Krista’s full story: Obsessed And Lovin’ It: Meet Krista Young, Busy Mom and Jewelry-Maker Extraordinaire
Cherie Somerville of Elksong Jewelry: “A few years ago, both my husband and I got laid off from our full-time jobs. I was making jewelry as a hobby on the side, and we'd been talking about turning it into a viable business for ages, so we just decided to go for it then and there. It felt like fate was pushing us off a cliff.”
“Now, running this business is all we do. I encourage anyone to pursue making a living from their art, but we've learned that you have to be willing to adjust your lifestyle to get yourself into a lower spending bracket. We’ve been living off the grid for a little over 15 years now in a home that we built on the border of Arizona and Mexico and our outgoings are minimal. Adjusting to life without modern conveniences or an excess of possessions can take awhile. However, not needing these things means you can rely on earning money in your own way. That’s how we make Elksong Jewelry work for us.”
Read Cherie’s full story: Jewelry Maker Cherie Somerville Makes Her Living While Living off the Grid
Angeline Crowder of by Angeline: “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."
“A few 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’.”
Read Angeline’s full story: Wholesale: Huge Opportunity or Big Mistake? Meet Jewelry Designer Angeline Crowder
Meghan Benson of Ellie & James: “I started Ellie & James as a fundraiser for our child’s adoption in 2014. It all started when my sister moved back to Barcelona and I made her a necklace with a map of the city as a going away gift. I started creating jewelry for other people and kept hearing that I should sell my creations. At the end of August that year, I opened up my Etsy shop. Then, a few months later I switched to selling from my own website. The business has grown from there!”
“There were a lot of word-of-mouth orders at the beginning, but it wasn't until I started going to events that my sales really took off. When I go to event, I try to choose the events where I'm most likely to find my target customers. I cater to a Christian audience, as many of my necklaces have Bible verses incorporated into their design, so I go to a lot of women's ministry events and handmade craft fairs.”
Read Meghan’s full story: Mom by Day, Jewelry Designer by Night: Meet Meghan Benson!
Michelle Chang of Michelle Chang Jewelry: “When I lived in New York City, my boyfriend at the time owned a successful company that designed custom watches, which were sold across the US. He had a good distribution network already in place, and he wanted to expand his business to include jewelry. He thought I had a good eye for design and asked if I’d start the jewelry section for his company. But before we could set up the business, we broke up.”
“I later moved to California and decided to go ahead and set up a jewelry design business on my own. That’s when when I opened Michelle Chang Jewelry on Etsy. After that first year, I had enough business on Etsy that I felt confident working strictly as a jewelry designer. In the process, I decided to establish my own website as well — MichelleChang.com — and now I get a fairly equal number of customers from both.”
Read Michelle’s full story: Jewelry Pricing 101 with Etsy Shop Owner Michelle Chang
Now It's Your Turn
QB Community members, share your insights on starting up a business so others can learn from your experience!
Want to weigh in but not yet a QB Community member? Click HERE to sign up in a flash!