Sunday, May 10, 2009

Nurturing the Baby - Part 2

I grew up on a farm, and I’ve always had a garden – so I have long understood the concepts of nurturing and patience. (They also came in handy as we raised our kids!) Once the seed was planted to start a jewelry business, things began to happen. I began to develop designs and started looking for supplies. I told the ladies at church about my interest and a couple of them started watching for ads for craft shows. I was a total rookie about this stuff – and somewhat like the gardener needs a little rain at just the right time, I was learning a little here and a little there – just when I needed to learn it.

I have to tell ya ... those first craft shows were a little rough. I only had about 7 styles of earrings. My “display” was a foam board covered with white lace, propped up with plate easels. Earrings were on homemade cards and the cards were tacked to the board with clear push pins. In each show, I had a board full of sterling earrings and a board of silver plated. As I look back now, it was NOT pretty. But it got me through my first few shows and in spite of the terrible presentation, people liked my work – and I made a little money.

Our youngest daughter went to work for a small Midwest chain of jewelry stores. Unfortunately, the stores failed and she was out of work. But when her store was closing, she was able to get some of the displays for me (for free!). So I graduated to spinners for my earrings, put my earrings on real earring cards and I had a couple busts to display a necklace or two. I felt like I was in the big time! As I made the transition to the new displays, I also decided to go exclusively with sterling silver and eliminate the cheap plated stuff – it was a good move. By this time, I was also up to 18 or 20 earrings designs. My craft shows were stepping up and business was improving.

At one of the craft shows, I met another vendor who was VERY sweet! She had a nice business card and had a web store on a site called “Etsy”. I’d never heard of it, but as she explained it, I found myself intrigued. Etsy is an online marketplace for artists and crafters to set up shops – kind of a web based craft show. This gal, who was selling children’s items, was enjoying quite a bit of success. I signed up! But there was a lot I didn’t understand about doing business online .... and I made quite a few mistakes. More to learn. (Sigh)

As I look back at taking those first baby steps, I’m amazed the baby learned to walk!! And like any baby, once they learn to walk, the next thing you know, they’re running! More later...