Do You Know Your Niche???

Published On: 11-18-2011 03:05pm

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I don't know about you, but I started my jewelry business because I had to have cataract surgery...Really! I had never worn reading glasses and after my operation, I needed them and I wanted an eyeglass leash.  Found lots of rubbery ones and found lots of glitzy ones on the web, but none that appealed to me and I remembered a local bead store and thought..."how hard can this be, I'll buy some stones and make one".  Before I arrived home, I was already thinking about the cool earrings I could make with some of the stuff I bought, and totally innocently, my jewelry busness was founded.

I progressed from eye glass leashes to earrings to necklaces and when they started to overwhelm my house, I decided that I needed to sell some, and therein lies the crux of this blog...who was I going to sell to??? As we all did, I started slowly selling to my neighbors and friends. Using my jewelry for presents and hostess gifts and I got allot of positive feedback, so I knew that it was time for my first craft show.  For two years I did several shows and none were overwhelming successes - I sold, but not as much as I would have liked. My jewelry was becoming more expensive and the demographics in my area could barely accept my original pricing and I knew the better metals and stones that I wanted to use were going to be even more costly.  I had a man at one show ask me if everything would be half price after lunch - I knew then that I was going nowhere fast with this audience.  There are some excellent high end shows in my area, that run several days and are very pricey to sell at. But, my husband and I decided that at this point in our lives though, we didn't need, nor want, to be schlepping tents and jewelry cases around. That alone put these shows out of our plans.

I decided that I needed a web site to reach a larger audience and worked really, really hard to get it up and running, and I did fairly well with it, but I was not fighting customers off at the door. Then nine months later, the web site was sold and I was up sh...t creek without the proverbial paddle.  Luckily, I found Artfire and found out why people weren't beating down the bushes to buy my jewelry on the web - they couldn't find me - and when they did, my photos were a step up from pitiful.  That old live and learn adage was knocking me over the head.

During the nine months that I was on the other web site, I decided to try my hand at selling my jewelry at boutiques, and in less than a year, I have picked up several outlets. That too has been a learning experience and I am still picking up tidbits.  I told my husband the other day, that I think that I have finally found my audience - very hi end shopping areas and that we now lived in the perfect area to be a jewelry artisan for those shoppers.  Not only am I within driving distance of Tucson for my unique stones and goodies for my jewelry, but we are very close to Scottsdale, Az., a hi end mecca and Palm Springs and environs is only about four hours away.  I really am lucky because I love making jewelry that appeals to the women who shop in these areas.

I think that I have found my niche and I know how fortunate I am.  As I have stressed in previous blogs, I am very careful with adhering to my pricing formula and I can live with receiving only 50% of my retail price if it allows me to move my jewelry quickly and I can make the big, exciting pieces that I want to make, but would never move at a craft fair in a gazillion years.

What I give up by deciding that this is my niche, is a web presense.  I still have my web site and will continue to do so, because it is my catalogue for new retail shops and I think that it is a neccessity in todays' business environment, just so you appear up to date, but since I can not undersell my shops, I have to price at full retail and it seems to me, that very few people who sell jewelry on the web do that.  The good part of this is, I no longer go to the trouble of putting everything that I make on the web.  I show things to my shops and what they don't take, then I enter it in my on line shop which is a huge time saver for me. It is also a great way for my out of town shops to see what they might like and then I mail to them.

Selling retail has other advantages too. First and foremost being that you don't have to mess around with sales tax, reporting or collecting.  I cancelled my credit card account the other day, because that is handled online by Paypal or Amazon and that saved me quite a bit a month. I get really current and upfront critiques on my jewelry from my shop owners. Unlike a retail client who doesn't owe me any kind of explanation about why she didn't buy, my owners will tell me exactly why they aren't interested in a piece and that is very important to me as both an artisan and a business woman.

I think that it is very important for every artisan to find their niche.  Whomever we are trying to sell to will ultimately decide what we make and what price range we can use.  If you don't know who you are trying to connect with, it is very hard to sell anything. You cannot be all things to all people, especially in this market economy, much as we might like to be.

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