Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Updating my Etsy shop again!

After the last post I updated my White Oak Jewellery site so that it links into my new White Oak Jewellery Etsy shop.

That made me see just how many mistakes I had made in the listings on Etsy - I was trying to speed things up and keep listings looking similar so I had been copying one listing to make a new one! Not a big mistake really, but if you copy an "earrings" listing to make a "necklace" listing it's probably best to try and make sure you change the category of the listing from "earrings" to  "necklace" too otherwise the listing appears in the wrong category. Doh!

Anyway, I fixed the mistakes in the listings I had already made, and linked my website entries to the relevant Etsy listing using a "Buy Now" button. Then I uploaded the site to the web and thought it all looked good.

Of course, it turns out I haven't finished with updating the site - I forgot a couple of pages had prices on them. So now I'm working on a new set of listings for the Etsy shop. I'm trying not to let the same mistakes as I made before happen, but it's slow going.

I will get there in the end, then finish the links on the site.

Then I would really like to spend some more time making jewellery. Having recently bought a Dremel 3000 with flexshaft so I can more easily polishing sheet metal - I plan to play around with some sheet copper/silver. I have so many ideas floating around my head and sketch pad.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

As expected - so many months since last post!

It is now November (as seen by the date on the computer today) - where has the time gone!

My last post was about a pamper evening I went to in March, by almost happy co-incidence, I was at a pamper evening type do on Thursday 1st November.

Again it was an evening where I expected not to sell anything while spending my time enthusing about my hand made jewellery to anyone that would stand still long enough for me to open my mouth. In the event, not only did I enthuse to a lot of lovely ladies, but many of them picked up a business card or a postcard (both with pretty pictures of my work and the website address on them) and one lovely lady bought a bracelet from me.

I enjoyed the evening apart from one factor - I had a hacking cough! I'm sure the other people in the room just loved the sound of it but everyone seemed happy to chat, or listen while I talked anyway.

It also pushed me into doing something with my White Oak Jewellery website that I've been meaning to do for the last 2 months.

As I mentioned a few posts ago (which makes it round about Jan 2012) I was looking at setting up a shop on Etsy. Well, I've done it. Very early on I had set up the banner, and the basics of the shop, e.g. terms and conditions, basic description of me etc. But, back in July 2012 I actually listed 5 items in my new Etsy shop! And people have been viewing those items too. No sales so far, but it's early days yet. As you might expect, my Etsy shop is called "White Oak Jewellery".

At the pamper evening on 1st November a number of people asked if I had a web site and having said "yes" I also pointed out that I have a recently opened Etsy shop too and that the web site links to the shop.

This link means that I only have to put the prices in one place, which will please the Etsy team as their conditions do say "don't list it elsewhere" and it means if the price needs to change for any reason (i.e. increases in the cost of materials) I only need to change one place. It does mean that the White Oak Jewellery website needs to have links to the listings on Etsy but it also means that I have to keep the listings on Etsy active - they are only listed for 3 months at a time. I'm hoping that this needing to keep listings in my Etsy shop active means I'll keep a more pro-active interest in the business.

Anyway, I started last Saturday by making active a set of listings on my Etsy shop for the items also listed on the web site (not everything being listed is available on both yet). Then I spent a few hours changing my White Oak Jewellery website to have links to the Etsy shop listings under "buy now" buttons. It was a very interesting exercise, and slightly nerve racking as I realised a few of the listings on my Etsy shop contained errors in the text, doh! So those errors got fixed and my White Oak Jewellery website now links to my White Oak Jewellery Etsy shop. Job done!

Now I just have to list everything I've made and have for sale on Etsy at least, and then link to as many of the listing from the web site as I can be persuaded to do.

I hope you'll drop into both the website and Etsy shop and have a look around.

Until next time


Saturday, 24 March 2012

Pamper evening - Update

Just ove a week ago I attended the pamper evening I mentioned in my last blog entry. The night wasn't as busy as the last event we held at the same location back in September, but then that night was a gorgeous 18 or 20 degrees in temperature! This pamper evening was much cooler.

Again I didn't sell anything at this event, not that I actually expected to, but the real down side was how much I managed to spend while there! Mind you, I did wine a bottle of wine in the "Wine or water" challenge and the cake was just soooo yummy I wish I'd more some more when they lowered the price to 50p each. It was the other items that cost the money, but I'm not going to go into the details of those here. Suffice to say, having access to a "float tin" is not always a good thing!

Anyway, on to the evening, I laid out my stall and decided that this time I would take a few photos - see below for them. The layout is not the most "professional" display, but as I said in my last post it's cheap and made up from things I generally had in the house. The only things I bought to use on the stall was the mirror (helpful in the house too) and the smaller boxes now covered in gold paper. This is a full view of the stall:

These are some close ups of it layout too:

I did get to enthuse about my sterling silver chain maille jewellery to a few people so that was fun - I did warn them it would happen but they let me go ahead anyway! And a number of people picked up a postcard or business to take away, so you never know, that might just lead to something.

In the meantime, it must be spring as the tulips are out - it's the only tulip in the garden and I have no idea where it came from, pretty though:

Until next time

Friday, 16 March 2012

Pamper evening - tonight!

Well tonight I'll be in Pytchley at the primary school for a "pamper evening". This is the 2nd event I've done here, the last being in September 2011 (I blogged about it on 19 Feb 2012) and I'm looking forward to it.

Again like in September, I don't expect to sell any jewellery (although it would be nice to do so) so I plan to have fun talking to people. I'm taking a few lampwork beads and sterling silver wire in the hope I might be able to make some pendants, but I suspect I'll be too busy chatting etc.

One topic that is always of interesting to "makers of things" about doing events like this is "how do you present your things". People who do more selling than I do have no doubt learnt over time what works for them in terms of presentation and effort.

In September when I did my first event I did as much preparation as I felt I needed to do for it. I bought a piece of white material (long enough to cover a trestle table I thought) and a "cutoff" of pale green material to use as a center piece - I got both of these from a local material shop. I then hemmed both the pieces of material (very roughly you understand as using a sewing machine is not something I've had a lot of practice at). I bought some of those little white paper labels on thread as I planned to tie one to each piece and have the label showing the price. I also made up some small sticky labels with my company logo on, I thought they'd do for "advertising" on the pages of the "invoice" pad I also bought. I thought I'd be really professional and write "invoices" for the items I sold and then I'd be able to copy the details into my accounts spreadsheet.

What really happened at the first event was not what I thought! No surprise there I'm sure you agree.

The large white piece of material more than covered the table at the September event and I thought looked nice with the green piece on top. At the December event (blogged about on 23 Feb 2012) the white piece only just covered the table (it was much bigger) and had to be held on with masking tape to stop it sliding off, but again the green looked good on top of it.

The labels on thread turned out to be really fiddly to attach, especially where the item was a pair of earrings with nowhere to "attach" the thread, so I didn't attach them to anything, instead I just slipped them into the boxes that held the items after I'd written the price on the label.

As I didn't sell any items in September the invoice pad and sticky labels with logos got no use at all. When I sold the first item in December I offered to write an invoice, the buyer said "okay, but I don't really need it" and so that activity died too. I've kept the invoice book in case someone does one day want one, but I'm not going to push to use them.

The little sticky labels have ended up stuck on the bottom of the presentation boxes that all the items are in. On the labels I've written the code of the item inside it, this is so I can quickly tell which boxes hold sterling silver items, or gold plated items. I now plan to also produce a "brochure" folder of photos of all my items and have that out on my stall (not tonight as it isn't done yet) and to have all the items behind the stall. Then if someone wants to see the item in the brochure, it should (in theory) be easy to lay my hands on the box if the item is not already out on display. This use of the stickers will definitely continue. And I'm getting tempted to use the sticky labels inside the boxes with the price written on them, but I haven't done that yet either.

To help display the items on my stall and to add interest to the display by providing different height layers, I grabbed a couple of cardboard supply boxes I use in the house. These boxes have been around for years and at the time that I bought them I covered them in gold wrapping paper to hide the bright stripes they were printed with. So I thought the gold paper would do well on a jewellery stall too. Anyway, using the boxes worked okay but I thought they were rather large. Just before Christmas I was wandering around a local shop and happened to spot a couple of cardboard boxes that would make a lower level display box so I bought them. When I got home I then covered the new boxes with the same gold wrapping paper I used on the first boxes (luckily I still had some of the paper left), so the boxes I'll be using tonight are shown in the photo below, on the bottom is the original box I used with the new box on top:

Golden boxes

I'm going to see how the stall works tonight with these two sizes of boxes. I'll be taking four boxes with me, two of each size, and I'll see what I end up using.

Anyway, better stop there, I'll let you know how I get on (if I remember to, I notice that I don't always follow up on posts, I'm going to try and do better with that in future).

Until next time

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Still no mojo!

I came back from the second selling event (Dec 2011) feeling that I was getting back my enthusiasm back for the jewellery, but since then I haven’t really spent any time making jewellery, just thinking about how I go forward from this point. It’s taking longer than I thought it would to get my “mojo” back but I’m hoping it will come back soon.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to move away from just having my own website as a point of sale. Partly because I haven’t managed to get PayPal buttons on to my website. It is, apparently, very easy to do, but so far I have failed to make it work at all. I may have another attempt later in the year, but for now I decided to take another path.

I have looked at the prices for sterling silver chain maille bracelets on Ebay a couple of times to try and get a feel for the pricing that is out there. One thing I found was that if the sellers on Ebay really made some of these items themselves with the hours involved and the current price of silver, then they are selling the items for a serious loss. A bracelet similar to my own sterling silver byzantine piece

My sterling silver byzantine bracelet
was selling for £4.56 - mind you it was coming from Hong Kong so I'm not sure I'd believe that it really was "sterling silver" as the advert claimed.

So, rather than try to use Ebay, I’ll be using Etsy. Etsy was originally set up in the States for online selling of handmade, vintage or items supplied to make something from. Now there is a large British presence on Etsy, enough that they allow transactions in Pounds Sterling as well as US Dollars. I have an Etsy buyers account and have had for a few months as I have used it as a place to buy lampwork beads. I found it originally because I started following various lampwork bead makers on Twitter and started looking at some of the goods they made and were selling through Etsy. Anyway, I now think it is time to start looking to sell on Etsy as I think that the jewellery I make falls into the “handmade” items category quite nicely. I also know that some of the jewellers I respect and admire have Etsy shops as well as their websites so I’d like to think my work will be in good company.

I’ll keep you up to date with my progress, that is assuming my usual “procrastination” delays don’t get in the way too much.

Until the next post

Thursday, 23 February 2012

And some sales (in December anyway)!

At the pamper evening I attended at the end of September I got chatting to one of the other stall holders who said she was organising a charity evening for the girl guides group she works with and asked me if I wanted to be involved. I said yes of course, another marketing opportunity, and this one was in November so I was hoping to pick up some interest for Christmas.

Before the event I felt that although I had a number of bracelets and necklaces available, I did not have very many pairs of earrings and that earrings might sell better for Christmas. A handy factor in making extra earrings for the event rather than other items is earrings do not contain very much sterling silver so do not need to be hallmarked.

The evening turned out to be very quiet because it had been organised for the same evening as Children in Need, so turnout to our event was low. But, I made 2 sales so I was over the moon. My first sales to people who were not friends!!

One of the items I sold was my “Seaside sunset” lampwork bead pendant about which I blogged a while back (Sept 2010), this is it:

Seaside sunset

This sale produced an odd feeling in me – I guess that although I had set up my website with the intention of selling what I had made, I’d never sat down and thought about how I would feel selling what I make to strangers. It turns out I felt slightly uncomfortable, and had to stop myself pointing out the flaws I thought there were in the piece! I think part of the reason I felt odd about selling the piece was because I had made it so long before it was sold and I had worn it myself sometimes. Also, as I said earlier, it was my first sale to a person who was not a friend, my first sale to someone who was buying the piece because she saw it and picked it up and liked it enough to pay good cash for it! She said it was going to be her Christmas present from her husband which was fine by me.

The second sale was of a pair of sterling silver and green aventurine earrings that I had made especially for the event. Because I’d just made the earrings and never worn them myself, selling them turned out to be much easier than selling the pendant. Mind you, it was also the second sale of the evening so maybe I’d already got over the “selling panic” hurdle earlier making it easier the second time around.

I recently got asked if I want to do another "pamper evening" like the one in September, I said "yes" so we'll see how it goes, this time it is timed to coincide with Mother's Day in March.

Until next time

Sunday, 19 February 2012

It's been a long time coming!

Having just checked, I know that my last post was March 2011. I’d like to say that the gap has been caused by my just being too busy to blog – but that isn’t the true of course.

For a long time in 2011 I could not find any enthusiasm for making jewellery or even anything to do with jewellery making or my fledgling business.

Before my last blog posting I visited the Spring Fair at the Birmingham NEC in February 2011, while there I bought a number of new beads which at the time I fully intended to use in new pieces. But, although I have lots of unused sterling silver wire in the house I have not been able to summon up the enthusiasm to make any of the items for which I have drawn sketches.

In early September I visited IJL in London and again I bought more beads that I intended to use but still the lack of enthusiasm continued.

Then a friend of mine suggested that I join her as a stall holder at a “pamper evening” that was taking place at the end of September. The idea made me a bit nervous but I said yes to the suggestion. I didn’t think that I’d sell any items but I knew it would be good experience for the future, and maybe even a good marketing opportunity.

I had plenty of sterling silver pieces available to sell on the evening but since it was being held in a primary school I wanted to have more pieces made from gold or silver plated wire as I thought there might be an opportunity to sell to girls as well as their parents. So I spent some time making cheaper selling items. As it was, it turned out to be a parent’s only evening and my extra work was for nothing which was slightly disappointing.

But the evening itself was fun, I spent time talking to some of the other stall holders and trying to get the hang of selling my own goods. I’ve helped out at sales before but never when it’s been items I have made on the table so it was a whole new experience for me. Although I didn’t sell anything, I did get some nice compliments about some of my sterling silver items so that was great.

I found that suggesting people take business cards was hard to do, and not very rewarding as no one picked up a card. I had put out some postcards I'd had made, but again no one seemed interested in picking them up. So it did not turn out to be the marketing opportunity I thought it might. But it got me back into thinking about selling jewellery for the first time in months.