This is it. The year I start my own jewelry business. It’s something I've said I want and someday would do, but someday has got to be today at some point. For years, decades maybe, I've fancied myself as “crafty.” I enjoyed making friendship bracelets in fifth grade--even started a little "business" where I made a handful of bracelets, taped them onto a cardboard display, then sold them to friends during recess for 50 cents apiece. But that's about as lucrative as my handcrafted items have ever been for me. Nowadays, my creations only enter the public domain as a gift to a family member or friend.
But not anymore. 2012 is the year I kick off my micro, internet-based jewelry business. So as an amateur jewelry designer with no real business experience to speak of, I set to the task of opening shop (so to speak) via Etsy, no matter how daunting.
I registered on Etsy (which was surprisingly simple), uploaded a few items to my store, then clicked "Publish" to make the items go live. The moment I clicked that button, I officially transitioned from jewelry hobbyist to jewelry entrepreneur. What I experienced was something unexpected--an empowerment and a creative drive to make new designs, to try things I've never done before, and to finish projects I could never quite find the inspiration to complete. It was something like joy mixed with a little healthy fear of the unknown. That's what I think possibility feels like.
Taking the step from jewelry as a hobby to jewelry as a business (albeit a small one) was daunting to me at first, but now I can't believe I put it off so long. As someone completely new to the business side of jewelry making, I encountered a few incredibly helpful things on this adventure that'd I'd like to share with fellow aspiring hobbyist turned pros:
- Etsy is easy--seriously. Just get on the website and register. The folks who run the site do an excellent job of making it effortless to get started. You will need a valid email address and credit card (and, of course, something handmade to sell), but that's nearly all you need to get started. They give you detailed information on all the steps: how to determine shipping costs, how to write your store policies, the dos and don'ts of the site, how tos of selling, just to name a few. There is an entire handbook on Etsy dedicated to being a successful seller that contains valuable, business building information.
- Advanced photography skills are not needed, but it helps to have solid photo-editing software. Items on Etsy don't have to be professionally photographed, but they do have to be clear, in focus and representative of the product. Being able to crop and resize your images is a must to make sure your items are accurately and attractive represented.Don't worry, Etsy has tips on this skill as well. I used my iPhone and a Photoshop-like program called Pixelmator, and it was a fine start.
Paypal is also easy. And it’s a great way to set up easy-to-manage, secure payments for your store. As your business grows, you can add more payment options, but with as little as an email address and a credit card (the same requirements to sign up for Etsy) you can set up a secure money transfer system to help your customers feel confident buying from you.
- Don't forget taxes. A friend of mine who just recently starting making her living as a photographer said she was proud to pay her first batch of gross receipts taxes to the state because it meant she was making money. I thought that was a really positive way to think about it. No matter your take, taxes are a consideration and you should plan for them right from the beginning. Your state's taxation and revenue department should be able to provide you with the appropriate percentage to include in your item price.
- Start small, but start! I put only three items up for sale on my store, but three is 300 percent better than none. I won't be quitting my day job anytime soon (and maybe I never will), but it is the first step in creating a business that is all mine. And as it grows, I will also grow as a businesswoman.
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