…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.|



What MORE does it take?

She paid me $20.00 for my necklace, and I went got an ice cream cone. And then a sub sandwich with fries. I was on my way. Success was in the air. I, in fact, was walking on air. I was so excited. Something I made got sold. Me. My hands. My first piece ever. The necklace was so pretty. It was hard to see it go. My baby. Precious. And now $20.00. I went out and bought $50.00 of beads online. And that was 4 months ago. I’ve made a lot of things, but haven’t sold anything since then. What MORE does it take?
--- Elizabeth, June 1998

Beth Shines Jewelry. That’s my new business name. I had some business cards printed up. And earring display cards. And gift boxes with my name on it. It looks so official. I am feeling very jewelry-designer-ish right now. My stunning designs with my stunning packaging and business card. I’m all set. I’m handing the cards out to everyone at work. My whole family has at least one of my cards. I told them to give these out to everyone they know. My phone number is on it. My email address is on it. I have a lot of pieces made up. And I’ve been waiting. Phone has yet to ring. Have had a few email bites, but nothing’s come of it. What MORE does it take?
--- Elizabeth, March 1999

I put up a site on Etsy. I paid a friend to take some uploadable pictures of my jewelry. Now for the big time. Just wait until all those internet orders come in.
--- Elizabeth, September 2001

No orders, just some email inquiries. Bought a book on internet marketing for dummies. This is going to take a lot of work to get noticed on the internet. Search engines, directories, webrings, specialized sites, portals, networks, business guides, jewelry sites, facebook, my space, twitter, forums, groups. I didn’t think I had to do so much work, to make the internet work for me. What MORE does it take?
--- Elizabeth, February 2003

With this much work involved, I decided to put up my own website, as well. I hired a website designer. My website is beautiful. But one of my friends said she couldn’t navigate it very well. She got to my home page, but didn’t know where to go next. Another friend said she couldn’t figure out how to order things. By email, I told her, but she was looking for a shopping cart system. I went back to my internet marketing book, and my web designer designed my home page wrong, wrong, wrong. It’s not searchable by search engines. It’s so beautiful and yet so useless. What MORE does it take?
--- Elizabeth, June 2004

I need to try out some more ideas. I’m selling a few pieces, mostly to friends and family, but I can’t get things to feel like I have some momentum. Plus, I’m spending so much time online that I don’t have enough time to design and make jewelry. I’m spending much more money than I’m making. What MORE does it take?
--- Elizabeth, December 2004

I’ve put in applications for several craft and jewelry shows this spring and summer. From another book, I found out that I need 4 times as much inventory as I hope to sell. I need to sell $1,000 (at retail) at each show, so I need to have prepared $4,000 (at retail) of jewelry. Need to get busy.
--- Elizabeth, January 2005

I’m standing behind a table under a not-so-water-tight tent, as I am now discovering, and buried somewhere in left field – where’s the traffic? Where’s the traffic? I’m wet, I’m cranky, and I’m looking over $4,000 of unsold jewelry on my table. How did I end up in this mess? The jewelry is great. I know it will sell. But from where they put me, I just don’t know. What MORE does it take?
--- Elizabeth, May 2005

I’ve done 6 crafts and jewelry fairs this spring and summer. Barely sold a thing. So I decide to do a home show for Christmas. I email all my friends and tell them to bring their friends. I set up in my house. Everything is perfect. I have refreshments. The first few people walk in – my best friends – and I look at the street to see the next folks. But no one else comes. I end up giving each of my girlfriends a piece of my jewelry. What MORE does it take?
--- Elizabeth, December 2005

I’m not a quitter. My jewelry is fantastic. Great style, great colors, great techniques. Now I have a lot of it laying around, so I decide to try to get some of it on consignment in some of the better stores and boutiques around town. I pack it up neatly in trays. I write out an inventory sheet, and some information about me. I get in my car and go.
--- Elizabeth, June 2006

My stuff is in six stores. Wow. I’ve told everyone I know to go look at my stuff. In one store, one of my friends told me my stuff wasn’t displayed right. And it was off in a corner somewhere. In another store, another friend said that when she asked to look at my stuff, the store owner showed her someone else’s. At Monica Monico’s, several of my pieces sold, including some very expensive ones. It’s been 6 weeks, and I haven’t gotten paid. I had called two weeks ago, and she said the check was in the mail. But no check. What MORE does it take?
--- Elizabeth, October 2006

She said she had heard about my jewelry. Someone I hadn’t met before had heard about my jewelry. And what she heard had been good. A few of her friends were wearing my stuff, she said. Where could she find it – online? in local stores? brochure? I handed her one of my business cards with my website address on it. You can see what I have online, and order it online, or call me, and we can meet for lunch and I’ll bring some with me for you to look at.
--- Elizabeth, February 2007

I’m getting to have a distinctive style – so distinctive, so me, in fact, that my brochure and business card and website and Etsy site and jewelry labels no longer reflect what I’m doing now. I can’t believe I have to re-do everything. What MORE does it take?
--- Elizabeth, July 2007

One of my friends reps jewelry for a wholesaler out of Atlanta. She asked if she could represent my line. Of course, I said Yes. I wasn’t sure how to negotiate a deal with her. She handed me a standard contract – percentage, guaranteed sales, discounts, terms, repeat orders. I needed a lawyer, but she was my friend, so I signed off on all the paperwork. I forgot, however, to build in the commissions and discounts into my pricing. I kept the prices as if I were selling the pieces myself. Stupid me. What MORE does it take?
--- Elizabeth, February 2008

One of my pieces is going to go into the gift baskets for the Oscars. The Oscars. I’m so excited. I need to be sure to be able to buy a lot more beads quickly, and have people lined up that can make up my necklaces quickly. I’m all set for the orders to come in.
--- Elizabeth, October, 2008

Not one order from the Oscars. I got a call from someone representing some star, but no one returned my returned call. What MORE does it take?
--- Elizabeth, March, 2010

My jewelry’s on American Idol. Two of the contestants were wearing my jewelry. I saw them on TV last night. Three necklaces, a rosary and two belt buckles. On TV. And two months ago, a country music artist wore my jewelry on the Country Music Association Awards show. And I’m sure the judges on American Idol saw my stuff. But everything has been so slow. It’s up and down. Comes in waves. Got no response from the CMA’s. Hope something comes up with the Idol stuff. What MORE does it take?
--- Elizabeth, March, 2010

An investor has given me $500,000. to start, allowing me to get ads in Vogue and Cosmopolitan. With this, I’ve also been able to schedule meetings with buyers at Barneys and Nordstroms. Was able to get some key people in Beverly Hills to wear my jewelry – I sent it to them free, or worked with local hair stylists to give away some of my pieces for free to key clients. Have lined up a group of women in Mexico to assemble my pieces, and a California distributor to handle the order process. I’m flying back and forth across the country. So tired. Still don’t feel that enough parts of the puzzle are clicking for me. What MORE does it take?
--- Elizabeth, February 2011

Success in business isn’t the same as climbing a mountain and reaching the peak.

Elizabeth, although muddling through, does end up having a progressive series of small successes. She learns some things from things which haven’t worked, and goes on to the next more involved step in her business.

Her frustrations and disappointments result from this muddling through. She would have been happier, and probably more successful faster, had she researched and educated herself about business in general, and the jewelry business in particular. But she was successful. How many of us get our jewelry into the Oscars or the CMA’s or American Idol? How many of us get substantial financial backing?

And she is too focused on selling that One-Piece-At-A-Time. She needs to understand her business and her business goals from what is called a Systems Perspective. Part of that perspective is focusing on how to maintain the velocity of your sales – that is, how to maintain a constant flow rate in how you buy-make-sell-profit-reinvest-buy-make-sell-profit-reinvest. Another part of that perspective is re-defining your business as a set of inputs, thru-puts and outputs. In this way, you are forced to understand all it takes to make a business successful. You are forced to understand how all these parts are interrelated. And you are forced to understand to what degree each part affects another.

Success is an on-going, never-ending process. It takes self-confidence. Persistance. Connections and networking. Follow-up. Leveraging. Creative renewal.

You can frustrate yourself terribly if the only measure you use is some artificial idea of making enough money to never worry about having to make money again. Business isn’t really like that. And because the world always keeps changing, you are always having to adapt, conquer and control.

When you sell that first necklace, congratulate yourself and be proud.
And when you launch your business with a formal name, business cards and the like, congratulate yourself and be proud.
And when you gain some recognition of your talents, again, congratulate yourself and be proud.
You have been successful.

And you keep moving forward.



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