Monday, April 23, 2012

First Impressions

I received a marketing email today from one of the online jewelry suppliers and was disappointed to read, “Each Wednesday, you have the oppertunity to save big….”.   Now, I know we all make mistakes from time to time, but this is the second instance of this same mistake, from the same vendor. 
First Impressions
The purpose of this blog post is not to call out a particular vendor but to emphasize the importance of making a good first impression.  What do you think about a company when their marketing materials have misspelled words, grammar errors, or terrible formatting?  To me it is a poor reflection on the company and I wonder what my experience will be like as a customer.  As the old saying goes, “You won’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” 
There’s a graphic floating around the Internet that is a perfect example of how one small mistake can be a game changer.  Imagine your first impression if you received the first sentence (below) in an email!
It doesn’t really matter that you are a one-person operation; a good first impression is how you make and retain customers.  I don’t profess to be perfect, and I cringe when I find a mistake that has slipped into a customer facing email, blog, marketing piece, etc.  To minimize the risk of this happening, I follow a few simple steps:
  • First and foremost – I run spell check on EVERY document, no matter how small.  I have spell check enabled in every application that offers it.  Spell check won’t catch everything but it will flag “oppertunity” as a misspelled word.
  • I don’t send or post my message right away.  I walk away for awhile and then go back and re-read it.  Does it still make sense?  Is my grammar correct?  How is the spacing?  Are my fonts consistent?  Do all of my links work?
  • I read and re-read my message several times to make sure it has the right tone. It is very hard to convey emotion and tone of voice in electronic format.  If possible, I will ask someone else read my document and provide feedback.
  • I ALWAYS print a hard copy of my message and read it out loud.  It’s amazing how different it sounds when read aloud vs. silently in my head. 
What are your thoughts on this topic?  What other things contribute to first impressions?  Do you have any great suggestions to share?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hosting a Craft Fair

Starting up a new business while working a full time job is challenging.  I continue to look for ways to market my business and would love to do jewelry shows and craft fairs, but I can't see myself spending an entire weekend doing a show and then back to work on Monday.  I just don't have the stamina for that and I don't want my jewelry business to become a burden. 

One way around this dilemma was to host my own craft fair at home.  I hosted one last November and it was a huge success.  I will be hosting another one on May 5th and hoping that it is even better than the first one.
Craft Fair
Get Your Bead On Display at the November Craft Fair

If you are thinking about hosting a similar event, here are a few tips:
  • Invite crafters who make high quality items 
  • Don't have more than two people selling the same thing (jewelry, soaps, art, etc.)
  • Have a good variety of vendors
  • Make sure the vendors are spaced far enough apart to allow traffic to flow
  • In lieu of a booth fee, ask each vendor to contribute a small item to be used as a door prize
  • Offer drinks and light snacks at your event (you might ask your vendors to help with this)
One concern with this type of event is opening your home to strangers.  I decided to only invite people I knew and asked the other vendors to do the same.  This way, we would have some connection to the people attending.  I found that people who attended were there to make a purchase -- I averaged approximately $20 in sales for each attendee.  

If you've hosted a similar type event, I would love to hear about your experience and any additional tips you might want to offer.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Doing It My Way

When I started this jewelry making adventure, I wanted to learn everything there was to learn, and try every technique for making jewelry.  I tried stringing, bead weaving, working with hardware, alcohol inks, wire wrapping, gem stones, glass beads, lampwork beads, copper, brass, silver, the list goes on and on.  I knew that at some point I would have to figure out “who I am” as a jewelry designer.  It’s hard to build a brand when one’s designs are all over the map.
That’s where I am now – trying to figure out what my brand is.  Brand is much more than just a logo or a graphic.  Brand is your product’s personality – What is it?  What values does it represent?  Who is the artist?  What is the artist’s style?  It’s a big undertaking but I think I’m beginning to get a handle on it. 

My first step was to figure out my style.  What materials do I like to use?  What techniques do I prefer?  What's unique about my jewelry?  I’ve narrowed it down to two very different styles that I will try to incorporate into one.  First, there is my beadweaving.  I love my beadweaving.  It gives me such a sense of satisfaction to work with those tiny beads.  On the other hand, I also love metal.  I love to saw, hammer, torch, rivet, etc.  I’ve got some ideas on how to use beadweave designs with metal components to integrate the two styles.  For the short term, I will work them independently.  I’m still not down to a single style but I’m a lot closer than I was six months ago.
The next step will be to develop a logo.  Still a long way to go on that front………. Another post for another day………..
I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.  What is your brand?  Do you even have a brand?  For those who know me, what images or words come to mind when you think of my jewelry. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Role Reversal

I've been talking about getting a torch for some time now and Sears just happened to be open today (Easter Sunday).  Lew and I headed over to the farmer's market to get some fresh strawberries and afterward, he suggested that we stop on the way back and get my torch.  He didn't have to ask twice - I was ready to go!!  While we were in Sears, I found a few other goodies and some were even on sale.  A pair of tweezers perfect for pulling pieces out of LOS, a pick and hook set that will be perfect for something, a nice 6" metal ruler for measuring wire, a rubber mallet that was only $1.99, and of course my Lenk LPT-500 Pro-Torch with 2 butane refills.
Lenk Butane Torch

As we were standing at the checkout counter, I asked Lew if he would have ever guessed that I would get excited about shopping in the tool department.  He laughed and said, "No, but who would have guessed that I'm the one who wants new kitchen counter tops?"  So I have my new tools and Lew is getting his new counter tops.  Role reversal indeed!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Collective Creative Canape Reveal Day

Reveal day is finally here for the Collective Creative Canape blog hop, and I can't wait to see what everyone made.  This has been such a wonderful experience on many fronts.  First and foremost, I've made some new friends and found a wonderful group of jewelry artists.  Thanks so much to Lori Anderson for running the Bead Soup Blog Party and to Keri Sereika for organizing this swap.

I also got the opportunity to work with different materials, including a great polymer focal and clasp made by my swap partner Beth Emery.   And finally, I had my first opportunity to take a concept and design jewelry around that idea. 

Hope Necklace
When I received my beads, Beth sent me an inspirational note about how she chose the beads for me with Spring in mind.  You see, Beth lives in Alaska and unlike most of us in the lower 48, Beth will not be enjoying spring weather for awhile.  With Spring as my inspiration, I set about making a necklace that would represent the season.  I used the seed beads Beth sent to make beaded leaves and hung them on the chain with her pretty focal.  I did take the liberty of adding some color to the birds and also added the birds nest and ceramic leaf dangles that were in my bead soup.  The clasp had to go on the front of the necklace, which I've named Hope.

Beth, I "hope" I've done justice to your beautiful polymer focal and clasp.

Beth also included pearls, crystals and some red coral beads that she said reminded her of cardinals hopping around in the snow.  With that in mind, I put together a bracelet that represents snow (pearls), ice (crystals), and cardinals (coral).  I dubbed this piece Snow and Ice.

Snow and Ice Bracelet
Snow and Ice

WOW!! I made it through my first swap and can't wait to do another one.  Until next time........

I hope you'll take a few minutes to visit the other blogs that participated in this swap.  Comments are always welcome.

Keri Lee Sereika 
Beth Emery
Niki Meiners
Karan Parker
Liz DeLuca
Lynne Bowland
Judy Turner
Erin Grant
Bryna Lumb
Rochelle Brisson
Linda Youkman
Carmen Lau
Cheryl Foiles
Kelli Jacobson
Elena Gianni
Tania Hagen
Cindy Muse
Stephanie Woods
Lisa Lodge