…A Guide For The Aspiring Bead Artist
by Warren S. Feld

Excerpts From This Ever-Evolving Tale.....

I don’t mean to drag a poor Elephant by its tail, kicking and screaming, into our bead world against its wishes. Nor do I perceive the elephant to be a threat, like you might see an Elephant in the boudoir, or the fine china store. And I don’t want you to shut your eyes and pretend not to notice that this Elephant is here, standing shoulder to shoulder with every beader and jewelry maker around.

The Elephant is not a joke. And the fact that it is “Rogue” makes it more important than ever to figure out why it’s here, among size #10 English beading needles, and Czech size 11/0 seed beads, and Austrian crystal beads. It seems so worldly, yet other-worldly, our Elephant. It’s not our muse. It’s not our Cassandra. It has no secret plan or strategy. It does not depend on its size to make its point. It does not hesitate to stomp and chomp and clomp because the beads before it are raku or glass or gemstone or crystal or metal or plastic. But a Rogue Elephant in the middle of our craft room forces upon us a completely different logic, so that we can make sense of it all.|


Customer and Student Successes And Failures At Business

A good 25-30% of our customers and students are in the hobby to make some extra money. Some see a way to supplement their current income. Some see it as a retirement strategy. Others see it as a career transition.

Cindy saw it as a career transition. She made and sold jewelry, went to craft shows and church bazaars, put her stuff on consignment all over the metropolitan area, did home shows, whatever. After about two to two-and-a-half years, she took the giant leap and quit her full-time legal aid job to be a full-time jewelry artist/entrepreneur. She was successful because she knew how to promote herself, and was very comfortable at this. Her designs were fashion-current, but not bizarre. One business that had her stuff on consignment told me how great she was to work with. My only concerns were that she often short-changed some of the quality of materials, and perhaps pushed the pricing a bit too high. But I marvel at her success. If you stick to, and are confident in yourself, you’ll get there.

Mona refurbished old pieces into new. She took old brooches, fixed them up, restored missing stones, polished or colored damaged edges. She turned them into pendants, and then created necklaces with the same sensibilities, colors, textures, bulk, and patterns to go with them. Sold like hot-cakes. She took old, gaudy belt buckles, glued on Austrian crystal rhinestones, found leather belts to go with them, and viola! She had great stories to go with each piece. She also was great at self-promotion. She was very confident. And she got her pieces into all the major stores in the area. She also formed great connections to “power-fashion-players”, including many people in the music business.

Sharon made lampwork beads, and turned these into necklaces and bracelets. She was shy. She tried to sell them to friends and family. She tried to get them into one store on consignment. She tried selling them on EBay. She’s still trying.

Debby made beautiful, elegant, dainty jewelry from bracelets to necklaces to eyeglass leashes. She put them in a few stores. She had been an airline stewardess, and frequently brought her jewelry with her to sell at get-togethers and conventions with past and current airline employees. Everyone loved her pieces. Everything she made sold. She was reluctant, however, to place them in many stores. She was afraid people would copy her designs. One person, in fact, had copied some of her designs. Debby wanted to mass-market her pieces to high end boutiques and department stores. She spent years making contacts and connections, which she was very successful at. But she couldn’t reel in the opportunities. Her fears overcame her – people would copy her designs, or they would not manufacturer her pieces to her quality expectations, or the manufacturers wanted to make pieces with more mass appeal. There’s was always something that got in the way of her making a living by making jewelry.

Larry approached Barneys New York about his line of jewelry. He had a personal connection there. He had a marketing strategy for them, which included explaining why the lines of jewelry they currently carried, were not working for them. He showed them a very full line – jeweler’s tray after jeweler’s tray after jeweler’s tray of jewelry. With each tray, he showed them photographs of jewelry displays of their major competitors in New York, as well as fashion spreads in major magazines. He kept making the point: His jewelry is better, and this is why. His jewelry is better, and this is why. His jewelry is better, and this is why. Success!

Kiki wanted to sell on-line. She knew she needed a web-site with a shopping cart. But she shied away from the $50.00 per month price tag. She knew she would have to hire someone to design her website, but again the $500.00 quoted price seemed daunting to her. She spent year after year researching “web-hosts” and “web-designers”, each time finding something that made her more and more uncertain. Virtual jewelry, virtual business.

Rosie lived in the wealthy part of town – Belle Meade. She custom made jewelry for the rich for them to wear at special occasions. She made a necklace and earring set for someone to wear at the Swan Ball. She made a very unattractive, yet very appreciated by the customer, necklace to wear at a horse race. The colors had to match the specific colors in the horse’s blanket – navy, white and rose. The rose was a special color rose associated with some Queen’s rose somewhere. On the face of things, navy, white and rose don’t usually result in something rich, elegant and status’y looking. But Rosie did a fabulous job. She would not, however, have ever worn this particular necklace herself. Rosie’s willingness to adapt to the peculiar needs of her customer base made her a success. And to her customer base, money was no object.

You don’t necessarily have to discover, seek out or bead a Rogue Elephant to be successful in business. But it helps to be able to know how.



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