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How to be a Jewellery Designer

Having great product design is just the start of your journey, these are my tips of the trade tips for turning your jewellery making dream into a reality.

Based on my own experiences these questions are designed to help you create your own business plan.

1. Are my jewellery designs original enough?

To have a chance at getting sales and being noticed your designs need to stand out from your competitors. You can still let your design concepts be guided by trends without being copycat.

Tip: Always design to your strengths, create using only techniques that your are competent at. Only follow a trend if you can produce good quality work. If you can't do it well, adapt or learn skills and be prepared for the next trend.

2. Who is my customer?

To be successful you need to design to a specific market area. Consider who might buy your work, where would they buy from, what they would like to buy and who would they be buying for.

Tip: If your design range is trying to hit too many types of customers you may find your work is not specific enough to attract any of them.

Tip: Do some research about who you think your main competitors will be. Compare their design style, product range, materials and price range compared to your own.

3. Is my jewellery competitively priced?

Costing and pricing are always difficult, but it is important to make sure you have a profit margin. Regardless of how many hours a piece takes to make, there is always a limit to what someone is willing to pay.

Tip: Work out your making method costs. To do this add up the materials cost of each piece, the cost of any other expenses, the cost of your making time, and add an amount for your profit margin.

This total will give you a wholesale price which is the minimum price your work should be sold at.

The retail price is usually the wholesale price x2 or 3 which allows the shop or gallery to take a selling commission for showing your work in their retail space.

Tip: Selling price too high? You may need to consider tweaking your making method or costs to be viable and competitive. Try researching other methods of manufacture. Read What is CAD.

4. Is my jewellery well-made?

Your hard work creating original and competitively priced jewellery will be wasted if it is not well-made, finished to a professional standard and easy to wear. You can't build customer loyalty or get work into a Gallery or shop if your work is not up to scratch and you may damage your reputation.

Tip: No-one is adept at every jewellery making technique - invest in yourself and do short courses to get better or learn new skills. Take care to ensure your tutor has jewellery trade experience, to be the best you need to learn from the best.

Tip: Consider out-sourcing techniques like stonesetting until you are competent.

5. Where should I sell my Jewellery?

Having your own website does not necessarily mean you get sales, it's a big google controlled on-line world and it can be difficult to be found by customers if you are not already known. Having a website does however you a base upon which you promote your brand. You can use it like an online business card by providing a link for potential customers, retails outlets or galleries and you can use it a platform to blog from and link your tweets back to.

Tip: You must have engaging content on your website 'About' page - tell your story and provide clear good quality images of your work on a white background.

Tip: Consider testing the market before selling from your own website by joining sites such as Etsy or 'Not on the High Street' to see if people are interested enough to buy your designs.

Tip: Before approaching a Gallery, do some research - Do they already have work similar to your style? if so they may not be interested in spreading their sales potential across two designers because Gallery space is in high demand.

Tip: When selling commit to 'Under promise - Over Deliver, every time. Excellent customer service breeds customer loyalty if the product is right, great customer recommendations are worth their weight in gold.

6. How to create ideas for new work?

Creative momentum is important for the success of your business. new ranges and products keep interest fresh and give loyal customers another opportunity to buy from you.

Tip: Consider learning one new technique every year. A short course will enthuse you and stimulate ideas for design possibilities within your work ethic.

Tip: Take a field trip to an Art Gallery or a historical site or other creative place.

Tip: Making a mood board from images seen on pinterest can generate new ideas.

Tip: Find a quiet place for contemplation and design and act on your ideas as soon as possible or you may loose them during the business of day to day life.

7. How to keep customers coming back?

Creative branding is essential, choose your company name carefull and design a logo that reflects the aspirations of your business. Read Blog post: Why is Creative Branding Essential

8. How to create the right business environment for success

Being successful requires a sound business foundation upon which you can rely and promote your creative brand. Being professional, business-like, and understanding your customers is important, these are the 5 areas you need to focus on.

1. Planning - Be proactive not reactive

2.Research

3. Business Enterprise - Create a good business model

4. Professional Development

5. Customer Relations

Additional Help

Blog Post: How to start Making Jewellery - Advice for complete beginners

Jewellery Making Experience Day - Find out if you have the aptitude to make jewellery

Is my website appealing to customers? - Find out if your website is working for you (NOT SEO)

One-to-one Mentoring (West Midlands area only) - Email me for details

One-to-one short courses - 1-Day courses of one-to-one tuition specially for jewellers and silversmiths

My advice is free if you need guidance on your professional development.

Best wishes,

Dawn Meaden-Johnson

-Founder The Bespoke Jewellery Training Company

-Jeweller & Silversmith

-Creative business consultant and mentor

bespoketraining@virginmedia.com

@jewellerymentor

#bebrilliant

About the author

Dawn Meaden-Johnson has over 30 years’ experience working in customer facing Creative and Commercial Industries and in Further Education, including at Birmingham City University School of Jewellery for 10 years, during which time she has worked extensively with national and international clients.

Dawn is a creative business development consultant and the founder of The Bespoke Jewellery Training Company which provides national one-to-one practical tuition for Jewellers and business enterprise skills training and enterprise mentoring for young jewellers in the West Midlands.

A Silversmith graduate of Birmingham City University School of Jewellery.

Dawn still creates jewellery under the brand Dawnstorm.co.uk which specialises in limited edition anodised aluminium jewellery combined with silver.

 

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If so please send me an email to: bespoketraining@virginmedia.com

 

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An informal  Consultancy is available for Jewellery Designer Makers in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter.

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