You have an amazing talent. You are creative. You have a great idea for a product, or make beautiful designs. So why isn't it flying off the shelves? Why is your business barely scraping by?
Starting up a "Creative Business", has two parts. The "Creative", and the "Business". We as artists and creatives love the design and creation stages. We could play there all day, but this often leaves the business side of things neglected. As boring as handling the management and growth of your business is, without it you don't HAVE a business. Or at least you won't for long. So how can we balance the creative and business sides of your company in a way that allows you to do what you love, and still make a living?
STOP!!! Ask yourself this question, and the answer will help you make the decisions you need to make, to make the business you want to make. I know it's hard to slow down, but you NEED to do this. Trust me, you will thank me later.
1.Why do I want to start up a creative jewelry or beading business?
There are probably just as many answers to this question as there is chocolate at a Hershey factory (now I want a Milky Way), but the only answer that matters right now is yours. Knowing the reason you are pursuing this will help to make the decisions that will fuel your fire, and to shape your business in a way that is fulfilling to you. Without wasting time on a strategy that won't fit your needs.
Here are some examples
A * If you feel stuck in a dead end job that is unfulfilling.
B * You often feel torn between work and home and wish you had more time with your kids/Spouse/ Pets etc.
C * You just love creating and want to share your work.
D * You love collecting beautiful things, and just love the thought of gorgeous beads and jewelry coming into your life on a daily basis.
If your answer is A or B then bringing in income is your first priority. The fastest way to do that is simple buying and selling. You need to get the fastest return on your investment. Dropshipping (if done correctly) can be a good option for you. Auctions sites like Ebay are a great way to start as well. Finding great prices for your merchandise, and selling it quickly is the name of this game. You can do this, while at the same time building cash flow AND a brand name.
Think outside the box to source your products. Wholesale accounts are a great place to start, but don't rely on them as your only source. Craigslist, Letgo, Facebook Marketplace are amazing places to find merchandise. There's been a huge surge of folks trying to start up their own craft businesses, and with that there is many that end up closing shop. They have to unload their supplies and inventory somehow, and will often let them go for better then wholesale prices. Also buying closing craft business has the advantage of often having ready to go products for you to list, or enough quantity of an item to make it a permanent item instead of a one off listing or auction.
Here are some of the deals that Lilah and I have made that have helped us grow the business.
We bought a closing Bubblegum Necklace, Etsy store off Facebook for $500. We got all the beads, storage for the beads, and photos of all her products to use right from the start. The photos helped make this an instant profit. We didn't have to spend any time creating products, taking photos. We put the beads needed for each necklace in a bag and sold them as DIY kits using her product photos. We were selling the kits at the same price as she was selling the necklaces, but it took us less time, and left us plenty of wiggle room on the price to run discounts and sales.
On Letgo we purchased a collection of 5 CASES of fine, handcrafted Lampwork Glass Beads from notable artists, particularly Cassie Donlen for $200. The owner had passed and her daughter had no interest in continuing her bracelet business. We honestly didn't realize what an amazing deal we were getting at the time. The two complete Cassie Donlen necklaces and a bracelet she made sold for $800 alone. This is also what sparked our interest in Lampwork Glass Beads. The collection came with many completed jewelry pieces that we were able to list and sell very quickly so it was quick profits.
Now, if you answered C, or D you will be looking at a long game plan. Setting yourself apart, building something unique, and growing a following takes time. You can use some of the techniques to flip, or buy and sell from above, but in the end the ultimate goal is to build something that is yours, something that embodies who you are, and to connect with other people who are like you.
Building a brand is important not matter what type of business you want to have, but it's especially important when trying grow a creative or artistic centered business.
Start by narrowing your focus to a few simple specialties. You can always expand later, but trying to be an "Everything but the kitchen sink", Walmart type store will leave you overwhelmed with slow success.
For Lilah and I focusing on Lampwork Glass Beads, and Kashmiri Beads worked very well. This works because you will know exactly who your customers are and what they want. You could scrape by getting one time customers that buy one or two items here or there, OR you can offer so many options of a specialty item that when the right customer comes through the door they are excited and want to buy one of everything you have. And they will come back again, and again.
You can still use some of the suggested methods above to try to source great merchandise for great prices, you are just trying to be more specific in your search.
Building your business is a personal journey, but don't be afraid to get out there, learn from all the amazing knowledge available with todays modern media. Listen to successful business owners who have advice to share. Just DON'T spend $2,000 on one of those "Guru Classes". I really hate how they prey on people who dream big. But that is a discussion for another day.
Good luck. Have fun, and enjoy the journey.
Lilah and Sarah