Saturday, October 13, 2012

Listening to My Customers

Listening to your customers can often breathe life into a shop's bottom line. My Etsy shop sales were rather disappointing. My inventory had stagnated, views were low and there was really nothing happening with my jewelry. Rather than just continuing on with my current inventory lines and hoping for a positive holiday sales season, I chose to try to figure out how to turn my sea glass inventory into new product line.
Several customers requested sea glass anklets and these creations proved quite challenging. Trying to avoid making something similar to my bracelets, I eventually decided to take a few pieces of sea glass that were marble and egg-shaped and drill through them length-wise. We had a few casualties along the way, losing a few gorgeous pieces of sea glass that suffered blowouts, but some pieces (like the image above) came through the drilling process perfectly. In hindsight, I'm not sure if I will create many more anklets with this type of drilling, but I will still make them like this...
I also had a few requests for necklaces that were a bit more subtle. I have made custom pieces for customers using smaller pieces of sea glass and people who visited my table displays last season showed quite a bit of interest. So I delved into my sea glass collection and pulled out several tiny pieces- all measuring 1/2" to just short of 5/8" in length and wrapped several. The "Petites" have really turned the momentum around in my shop... my views have increased and my bottom line has improved.
Both of these items came to fruition after listening to customer suggestions. They have allowed me to expand a stagnate inventory and give customers that visit my shop, a few additional options. When it comes to sea glass, you can't always give the customers what they want, if the ocean isn't providing the needed "gems". But in these cases, I'm glad my collection contained what was needed to make my customers happy! 'til next time... R

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Sea Glass Anklets & New Creations

For quite some time, I have received many requests for sea glass anklets.
Creating them didn't seem like a big deal, but my first pieces, like the image above, resembled some of the sea glass bracelets that I made in the past and I wanted something different for the anklets. I wanted to "introduce" a new line, with a new look. I wanted a bigger piece of glass, something bold. Most of the sea glass I find in the US is flat and rather than drill two holes and connect the sea glass on two sides to the sterling silver, I wanted something different.
I have several gorgeous pieces of English sea glass that are just too big for me to consider using them as the focal bead of a necklace. These pieces resemble marbles or are egg-shaped and would be very tough for me to wrap. I decided to drill these thicker, bulkier pieces right down the middle, from top to bottom and use them for my anklets. English sea glass, for those of you that aren't familiar, is also referred to as end-of-day glass. Before plastics replaced glass in many commercial uses, there were many glass factories in the UK and several were located near the ocean. At the end of the day, all the excess was dumped into the ocean. Several different jobs might get mixed into the same barrel and into the sea it went, where it would spend the next several decades, tumbling about and turning into some of the most beautiful examples of sea glass. It is truly amazing how mother nature can take man-made garbage and turn it into something so very beautiful.
Some of my customers are loving my new anklet creations. And some of them want to wear them as a bracelet, while others say they will wear it both ways. I think they look great as an anklet, and that is how I wear my piece. And I'm now on the hunt for an knock-out piece of English sea glass to create another one-of-a-kind treasure for myself. While I'm posting images, check out this bold and brilliant piece of dark red sea glass....
'til next time... R

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Craft Show- Tips and Trends

At my most recent show, my hubby pointed out several things he observed during the show. Some of these observations were trends he noticed before and in the next few events they seemed to prove themselves as situations I wanted to create or avoid. Hubby is a people watcher and he'll often at shows, whisper to me that a certain person is going to buy something. The most bizarre thing is, he does it as the person is leaving my display and more often than not, he's correct because they come back and make a purchase!
The observation that he finds that often leads to a sale is- a crowd at the display and the bigger, the better! When I have several people standing in front of my display tables, it seems that more people see the crowd and get drawn in, like moths to a porch light. Others become curious and just have to see why there is a crowd at my display tables. Because two pieces of sea glass are rarely alike, my jewelry creations are essentially one-of-a-kind creations. And large crowds at my display make those right in front a little antsy, especially if they "love" one of my items. I have watched people have conversations with each other, almost justifying a reason why they are going to make a purchase... upcoming birthday, Put it away for a Christmas present, this is her color, etc. Sometimes it seems like the person feels that this could be there last chance to make the purchase and if they walk away and come back, "their" piece of jewelry will be bought by someone else. So crowds, especially a large and getting bigger crowd, will often facilitate a purchase and there is nothing better than a large group of people seeing someone make a purchase. I rarely make jewelry at a show. It's often just too hectic and I never liked the pressure of doing it in front of people. At my most recent show, I pulled out some jewelry-quality pieces of sea glass and decided I would try to wrap a couple. The foot traffic at the show was good, but sales were slow and hubby has always encouraged me to make jewelry at the show, "on-the-fly". With my hubby and two boys at the tables to talk with anyone who came to my display, I was able to start wrapping without interruption and just got lost wrapping jewelry. I had a nice flow going and after turning several pieces of sea glass into pendants, I looked up to find I had a large audience off to the side of my table, all watching me do my thing. Several inquired if I would consider making jewelry with a piece of sea glass they personally found on the beach, took business cards, and a couple of them made purchases. One person claimed that after they observed the process of how I chose to wrap a piece, it became more personable watching "the artist" create it right in front of them (wow, I'm an artist in somebody's mind!) Crafters, if you can preform your craft live at a show, seriously consider it- it goes back to my first tip- it draws a crowd to your display and that often results in something positive for you. Business cards are a must and if you feel comfortable, jot your phone number down on a few to hand out to those you feel may be a future customer. I went through a lot of cards in my last show and if only 10% of those people contact me in the coming months, that show will go from "above expectations" to "HUGE!!!" Credit Cards- I always accept credit card purchases and have only been burned twice in several years (both for small amounts, but it still gets me angry because sea glass is one-of-a-kind and I'll never find another piece like the one I just "gave away") This last show, I noticed that about 60% of the sales were credit cards, and that most of the mid-range price-point items were purchased via a cc. The lower end price points were cash purchases and the high-end items didn't sell. If you can, bring all of your inventory to the show. I sold a piece that I have had in my inventory for a couple of years. I know that there have been shows when this piece wasn't included in the inventory, but you can't sell what you didn't bring and luckily, this piece has found a new home...and the new owner was thrilled because it's her favorite color!
I'm happy that some people seemed to be in a purchasing mood at the show and I have made a couple of recent sales in my shop. But I am still pessimistic about the economy. I hope things are taking a turn for the better and that sales and future shows (for you and I) prove to be successful. Perhaps these tips will help you make a few sales and maybe attract a couple repeat customers for your products and business. Looking forward to see you on the show circuit! 'til next time, R

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Review- The 2012 Beach Plum Festival

If you haven't been following my recent blog entries- a quick catch-up... The economy has really affected my small handmade jewelry crafting business and with one of my favorite shows approaching, I decided to make a personal investment. Best case scenario, it would be a good show and I'd make my money back (and hopefully a decent profit) or worse case, I would have replenished my inventory and would put everything into my Etsy shop and gear up for holiday sales.
The Festival- for those that live in the NJ area, the Beach Plum Festival is held every September on Island Beach State Park (near Seaside) The park is gorgeous, the beaches very clean and one of the few beaches in NJ staffed with lifeguards after Labor Day. The Festival attracts several handmade crafters, displays featuring local non-profits and food vendors, along with many displays featuring the topic of the day...Beach Plums (the ice cream and jellies are outstanding, BTW) The show is very well run and receives quite a bit of local media attention. For crafters considering this event, the show always attracts a great deal of foot-traffic- many who plan to hit the beach and stroll in find a great festival in progress. If you have a beach-theme craft or business, this should be a must-do show. An overview of how the festival went for me personally would be- better than expected. I really didn't know what to expect because I was not selling much out of my Etsy shop and other crafters had reported below average sales over the summer. With many fellow crafters cutting back on shows, I didn't really know what to expect. The show started out slowly sales-wise. There was a large crowd right at the start of the festival (perhaps beach-goers) and I had a lot of foot traffic, but very few people looked to be making purchases anywhere. The traffic continued to pour in and I decided to find a few pieces in my collection to make into pendants for necklaces. I began wire-wrapping several pieces and that seemed to draw a small crowd and that seemed to change the "luck" for me, as I starting selling a few pieces. By noon, it was clear I would cover my expenses and make a little money. I'd love to say this was my best year at this venue, but it wasn't. But with the expectations I had coming into the show, I have to admit that I am so happy to have made the investment in myself because it seems that people are beginning to feel good about the economy. And they appear to be looking to buy something different and unique.
I'd love to find another show to do before the holidays, but realistically, I'm probably not going to find a better match for my product than this show. Island Beach State Park's Beach Plum Festival and my handmade sea glass jewelry just seem to be a perfect match for me. But I'll keep looking for the right spot. After the show, I sat with my hubby and discussed how the show went and realized there were a few trends on my sales and a things that helped me make sales that I hope to blog about soon. A few of these are ideas that I will continue to do at future shows and these thoughts might help fellow crafters make a few extra sales at their shows in the future. 'til next time, R

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Economy and Crafting

"May you live in interesting times" is an old proverb that comes to mind when I think of the current economic unrest in the world today. I try not to dwell on it much, but there are many times that the economy has forced me to re-evaluate what is happening with my crafting business.
Rising costs in gas and silver directly impacted my business. People just didn't have money to spend on the pretty necklace they found on my Etsy website or show display. The "I want that" draw that often led to spur of the moment purchases, had turned into "I'd like to have that" and eventually to "I wish I could afford that". My business is not one of necessity. Seaglass jewelry is not an everyday, must-have item. But for someone that lives the lifestyle of using handmade items in their ever day life, they will find a way to purchase an item such as handmade soap- if only because it is better for their skin, or it's because it's eco friendly (or higher quality than many of the massed produced, chemical laden "stuff") So not every crafting business is affected the same way. Some will continue to flourish, while others face stagnating sales because of diminished purchasing power. My sales are way down. (as in WAAAAYYY down) I did a show recently and had to invest some of my own money into my business (a QE of sorts)to be able to afford the show. You'll have to checkout my next blog installment to see if it was a wise investment... but I'll leave you with a "it was encouraging". 'til next time, R

Friday, September 14, 2012

Back Again

Well, it's been a long while. Since my last post, my blog was removed for suspicious activity (guess no activity is I really had not been doing much with my jewelry-making. Last winter's storms wreaked havoc at the beach and the coastal towns were forced to rebuild the beaches and dunes. Great for the home owners and summer beach-goers, not very good for seaglass collectors. Not good at all The economy has also wreaked havoc on the crafting industry- at least in my area of crafting. For a while it seemed like people just didn't have disposable income for sea glass jewelry. When it comes to items that people "need" for everyday life, the money is there, but when it comes to a "want" item, I still think there are many people who can't afford small luxury items. I have several ideas for new posts. Some will touch on seaglass, some on my crafting, and on crafting in a shaky economy. My next blog entry will be about the show I did recently and how it's re-energized me to continue to do what I love - looking for, talking about and making jewelry with sea glass. 'til next time, R

Sunday, March 11, 2012

New Sea Glass, New Creations

It's taken a while for my first post of the New Year.

After a tough finish to 2011, I had decided to take it slowly going forward
in 2012. But several of my sea glass friends motivated me to jump in and
get started.

With some new sea glass- including a few gorgeous English blues from fellow Etsy member Penny Parker, my creative juices were invigorated and I found myself sitting
at my crafting table and things just started flowing.

After about 30 minutes, I had a few hundred pieces of sea glass spread out on
one table and I picked out a few jewelry quality pieces for wrapping. The next
thing I knew, I had finished 8 or 9 sea glass pendants, the sun was peaking out
from behind the clouds and there I was with my trusty camera, capturing images
my new creations.

One or two of my new creations will go into my Etsy shop. As for the rest, who
knows...but I think one is just to gorgeous to part with and it'll look great
on me this spring and summer.

There is nothing like some beautiful new sea glass to rid the winter blues and I
can't wait for my next trip to the beach- in search of some new sea glass for my

'til next time,