Sunday, May 4, 2014

Less Effort, More Sales?

Two years ago I posted about my jewelry business and my "five-year plan". 

After trying to turn my jewelry design business into a full-time career for six years, I came to a realization.


I had spent SO much time trying, doing shows, promoting, with next to zero results. What started out as a passion had turned into a stressful and frustrating "job". It became depressing to even think about making another piece! Not to mention that after six years, I really needed to do something that was going to show more than a 3 figure income.

It took me some time to "let go" of the thought that I was a failure. However, after doing some research, I found that a lot of the etsy shops I had "favorited" in the years prior were not in business anymore. A couple of boutiques that had carried my pieces had also closed their doors. I realized that my lack of jewelry sales was not a reflection of me or my talent. It was simply the times, the environment, the over-saturation of the market.

About the same time I was preparing to change course, I had begun shopping at Goodwill, buying and reselling a few items on Ebay to maintain some cash flow while I figured out my plan. In the summer of 2012, a Goodwill Outlet store opened in my area, and I decided to check it out. After one shopping trip, my course of action was decided. At 79 cents a pound, and literally 50 bins full of discarded clothing, I knew I had stumbled onto a potential gold mine. 

I have been selling name brand pre-owned clothing on Ebay now for almost two years and I am making money. Not a fortune, but I am able to contribute financially to our family and I am having FUN again. It's not for everyone...those bins can be quite smelly and unsightly, but I have learned to never, ever breathe through my nose. It's amazing how many clothing items are discarded by people after one season of wear, or not worn at all! I frequently find items with tags still attached. I still work very hard, laundering, inspecting clothing, shooting it, etc., but it is becoming a profitable business for me. Seeing my labor generate income has been a welcome sight after struggling for so many years in the jewelry design business.

Although my jewelry design has taken a back seat, I still whip out new creations once in a while, but only when I want to, and without that nagging thought of having to sell a piece to justify my effort. I contemplated closing my etsy shop, but couldn't bring myself to completely abandon it. I'm glad I didn't, because, ironically, I made more etsy sales income in 2013 than in the two prior years...without any effort! Go figure.

If you are in a similar situation, perhaps at a crossroads, lacking the sales to justify maintaining your business, believe me, I feel your pain. Don't give up, but do open up to other opportunities and other avenues of income. Sometimes, stepping away for a while can be a good thing!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Five Year Plan

I started dabbling in jewelry design five years ago. I didn't expect much to happen for the first three years at least. I read that most businesses don't turn a profit the first five years. I told myself I'd give it five years. So here I am...I don't feel like I have come any closer to turning a profit than when I started doing this five years ago. It has been ultra hard during this recession to convince people that, yes, they should buy a new piece of handmade jewelry even though they lost their job and their house is about to go into foreclosure.

I have seen other artists who have had sales...numerous sales, actually. Artists whose work is no better than my own. Why is that? What makes the difference? Well, I'm not entirely sure. I think a lot of it is luck, honestly. I know that there are some things that I need to do better, though:

1. Marketing. I have to get into the habit of doing some marketing every. single. day. I have a short amount of patience and often I will go full force on marketing myself for a week, see no results, then give up. I have to remember that it doesn't work that way. It builds up over time. I read Jack Canfield's The Success Principles, which was a great read. He talks about doing five things every day that help market your business. I think about that every day, but don't follow through. That hurts my business because if I don't hit the market with my name every day, people will forget who I am.

2. Hustling. If I had the courage and confidence to really hustle my product, I could sell it. I'm sure of it. The problem is I don't. The confidence is coming along, but the courage? I get an anxiety attack just thinking about it. I prefer to do shows and tell people "hello" and "let me know if you have any questions." The other day I was browsing at a Swarovski store. The saleslady was trying SO hard to make a sale to me or my mother. It was so annoying, I just wanted to get out of the store asap! It was like she didn't even really "see" us, she just saw a potential sale. I don't want to be that sort of person, always pushing a sale. That said, I miss great opportunities when I'm out and someone says "I love your necklace." and I simply say "Thanks." I know what you're thinking. Believe me, I know. I'm working on it.

3. Patience. I have realized that five years is nothing. It has gone by in a flash. I may not be making a profit, but I have come a long, long way since 2007. This dawned on me when I created a board on pinterest recently. The things I have accomplished in five short years made me proud of myself. It's not all about the money, anyway. It's about the journey.

So what's my five year plan now? I'm not sure. I think I'll just focus on one year at a time.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Bizarre Bazaar 2011

This was my second year selling at the Bizarre Bazaar in Lawrence, KS. I was told about this event from a fellow artist a couple of years ago. It is not advertised as far as the application goes, yet over 400 people apply for the show every year. It is a first-come, first-serve show. Once you get the application mailing, you have to pop it right back in the mail with your entry fee the same day, as they fill up usually within a couple of days. I am amazed at the quality of artists in this show, especially as it is non-juried, but all items are expected to be hand made by the artist. It is truly a pleasure being surrounded by so many great artists.

Unlike last year, the event was held Friday evening in addition to all day Saturday. Last year I had my two tables set up side by side and only had room for a small stool to sit on - that made for a long day! This year I set them up one in front of the other and added a backdrop. Not only did I have room for two chairs, the backdrop really helped bring attention to my booth.

I also took advantage of the electrical outlets available. The extra lighting makes a world of difference when it comes to jewelry.

Sales were good. Not amazing, "oh-my-gosh I can't believe how much money I made" good, but they were up slightly over last year. I even had a repeat customer from last year search me out to purchase more of my designs. That was the best! I also sold to one of the founding members of the Kansas City Artists Coalition. She purchased almost all of the cuffs I had for sale.

I feel like I am gaining a following. I also feel exhausted. It takes every bit of energy I have to get through these shows because I hate the actual "selling". I don't like standing there talking to people all day. It is simply exhausting. That said, I do love that most people had really good reactions to my collections. That makes the physical and mental exhaustion worth it.

Before doing this show, I had been suffering a severe lack of motivation. A period of "why am I even doing this?"..."do I really like doing this?"..."why isn't it fun any more?"...this show bounced me out of that, somewhat. I am more inspired to create than I was before. It's hard at times to just focus on the creating and not think about the bottom line. However, at the end of the day, if this is going to be a business, it has to make money. I can't survive on simply looking at my pretty creations. I have to SELL them. That can be a tough task in this economy and especially in this field, which is SATURATED with designers, as well as cheap imports.

SO...I am going to spend some time pondering this task...brainstorming...and hopefully coming up with new collections that will blow people's minds.

I don't have any more shows scheduled the remainder of this year, but I do have items listed on etsy, and I will be listing some new creations. I am really looking forward to spending a lot of quality time with family and friends. That is always a great way to re-energize. Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Anatomy of an Arts and Crafts Fair Booth

Since I began seriously designing and selling jewelry, I have struggled with the idea of doing outdoor shows. I have heard all of the horror stories of booths getting flooded or blowing away, along with half of the merchandise. However, I have also come to realize these fairs can be an excellent way to get your product in front of the public, and great practice in selling yourself and representing your product.

A few months ago, I decided to take the plunge and began planning my booth design. Of course, being the perfectionist that I am, I looked for hours and hours online, searching for good booth designs that not only looked professional, but caught my eye in particular. If I am going to spend hours upon hours in a 10 x 10 space, it has to be warm and inviting, and it has to all fit in my '98 Nissan Pathfinder.

During my search, I found a really helpful site that covers many aspects of jewelry display, and, lo and behold, I found a compact booth design that blew me away.

This booth is from Patty Lakinsmith, a lampworker who creates amazing glass beads. I absolutely love her use of space in this booth, so I chose to use some of the same elements in my own.

This is my booth design, following some of the lines and features of Lakinsmith's booth. I picked up the same reed fencing at Home Depot and framed the outer edges with some simple black fabric from Hobby Lobby. I splurged on some enlargements of some of my model shots (I used and highly recommend them). The model photos (by Vicki Smith) really capture the feeling of my designs and I think they add an indispensable element of elegance to the booth. The tables I used are 4-foot folding tables from Target. I raised them by sliding longer sections of pvc pipe over the legs.

The corner "table" covered with black fabric is created using two moving boxes from Home Depot, one of them cut down and stacked onto the other to create the height I wanted. The top box has a five pound weight inside to keep it steady.

Of course, the most important items (and perhaps the most boring), are the weights for the four corners of the tent to keep it steady in the wind. The EZ Up tent I purchased on Ebay came with a weight plate for each leg to set weights on, which is very convenient. I researched all sorts of weight options and what worked best for me was 8x8x8 cement cinder blocks, which I filled with cement, anchoring in an upside down u-bolt, which functions as a handle. The finished weights are roughly 35 pounds each. The size is perfect for setting on the weight plates and is not so bulky that it gets in the way.

Thankfully, my husband was sweet enough to help me set up. I admire all of the artists out there that set up their tents without assistance - I don't know how you do it!

Overall, my first official experience at an outdoor fair was a good one. The weather was beautiful with no storms that day or wind. Although sales were slow, I had an almost constant flow of people through my booth that day, received mostly positive feedback, and gave out almost all of my business cards.

Although this event, the Lawrence (KS) Fall Arts and Crafts Festival, was not juried, I think now I am ready to dive in further and apply for the juried shows!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Inspiration from Rodarte

Now that the flurry of activity from the West 18th Street Fashion Show has ended, and I have gotten a small, but necessary hernia surgery out of the way, I have had some time to brainstorm ideas for upcoming collections, and research current trends in the jewelry market. I absolutely love perusing my fashion magazines and surfing the internet, reading about jewelry designers, their perspectives on design, and their paths to success.

Recently, while browsing past issues of fashion magazines, I came upon some jewelry pieces that to me were simply amazing. After further research, I found the designers responsible for these incredible creations: Mark Walsh and Leslie Chin. The pieces I discovered were created for Rodarte. Some of my favorites are pictured here.

Oh, how I wish I could see the pieces in person and hold them, as the workmanship and materials look exquisite! And HOW, I wonder, did they get a screw to appear to go through a crystal when it doesn't? It definitely inspires me to push the envelope in my own work.

I love the pieces shown here because they mirror my own obsession with combining raw and industrial with clean and chic. In my own designs I am constantly experimenting with the clean look of clear resin paired with various metals. I think the combination is breathtaking.

I couldn't find a lot of information about Mark Walsh and Leslie Chin, except that they have been in the fashion field for a long while and have designed with Rodarte for at least four seasons. There is an interesting interview with the design duo here.

I will definitely keep my eyes open for upcoming pieces by this amazing team!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

West Eighteenth Street Fashion Show

Deanna Burasco Designs is honored to be a part of this year's West 18th Street Fashion Show in Kansas City! I will be collaborating with designers Steven Chau and Dominique Karwoski.

Steven and Dominique have some amazing ideas that will take this year's "Summer in Spain" theme to a new level not seen before at this annual event! I cannot wait to incorporate my jewelry designs into their vision!

See more about this event and its history here!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sarah McMullen

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Sarah McMullen, a beautiful and talented singer who has graciously worn my designs for various photo shoots and events. Sarah has just won Pop Artist of the Year at the 2010 L.A. Music Awards. If you listen to Sarah's music, you will understand why!

I have really enjoyed working with Sarah and her mother Bonnie, on coordinating jewelry shots. They are some of the most down-to-earth people you could hope to meet. Sarah was featured as a Young Achiever on Kansas City's Fox4 News: (to hear this segment, pause the music player at the bottom right of this page)

Sarah also has incredible management:

Jonathan George runs JJPZ Talent Development and Jonathan George Entertainment. Jonathan was Grand Champion on Ed McMahon's Next Big Star in the early 2000s and has made big waves in the entertainment industry.

Sarah's album will be coming out soon, and I am so excited to hear it! She is wearing some of my pieces in the cd photos, which is also exciting for me! Thanks Sarah!!