For those who are dexterous or who like to make something, making handmade accessories and jewelry is a business that can be started as an extension of your hobby.
Easy-to-manufacture and online-sell able accessories are among the most popular in the handmade world. And even if you’re not good at making things, if you have ideas about online business and you have existing customers, you can creatively make money.
In fact, the global jewelry industry has a market size of 348 billion dollars (about 36 trillion yen), and fashion jewelry has the largest share, but new entrants are still possible. This article is perfect for those who want to make handmade jewelry and accessories, or who want to outsource jewelry. Please read it to the end and learn from manufacturing methods to marketing together.
Table of Contents
How To Start a Jewelry Business
This article is perfect for anyone who wants to make money by selling handmade accessories and jewelry or wants to start a business. We will explain in detail from the start-up of the jewelry manufacturing business to the design, manufacturing process, and marketing. This guide covers a wide range of topics, including professional advice, strategic importance, and inspirational stories from renowned designers and business owners.
Here, we asked two jewelry designers to share their personal experiences of starting the brand from scratch. The following two people cooperated:
- Colline Anest Poros, Founder of Biko
- Jillian Johnson, Founder of Hawkly
Starting a Handmade Accessory Business: The First Step
As a first step, you need to ask yourself whether you are dealing with fine jewelry or fashion jewelry. Or maybe some people want to aim in the middle. These categories have different materials, manufacturing processes, price ranges, and customer bases.
- Uses precious metals / precious stones, semi-precious metals, and semi-precious stones
- High price range
- It is not mass-produced because it is manufactured using advanced techniques.
- For luxury/wedding / special occasions
Fashion Costume Jewelry
- Trendy design
- Uses cheap and low-cost metals and materials (beads, wires, plating, plastics, artificial gems, etc.)
- Low price range
- Mass production is possible
- For everyday use
Other / Jewelry belonging to the middle
- Jewelry that falls under other than the above. From jewelry using intermediate materials (textiles, metals, semi-precious stones, wood, 3D printing, etc.) to jewelry that corresponds to art (collective value, custom-made, one-of-a-kind items, etc.), jewelry that requires advanced manufacturing techniques, etc.
- Original design
- Each price range is different, but the middle price range is common
- For special occasions, statement items, high design, collector’s items, gifts
Once the category is decided, it is necessary to find a niche market to sell the product. First, define your ideal customer base (classic, trendy, bridal, socially conscious customers, etc.) and determine what kind of scene your product is suitable for (wedding, party, everyday use, etc.). This will determine what kind of marketing you should launch for your audience.
Trend research can help you identify the category you have chosen (and determine its relevance). Read fashion and jewelry blogs, follow influencers and stay on top of the latest trends of the season. With Google Trends, you can see a wide range of worldwide searches for a particular item.
Other than that, it is also effective to investigate related trends and consumer behavior such as customized services such as engraving and materials procured by ethical methods.
However, you don’t necessarily have to keep up with trends. You can even create trends from your own accessories. That’s exactly what Biko’s founder and designer Colline Anest Poros did. She has successfully presented a collection based on her own style. “It wasn’t what I intended, and it happened that my taste matched the niche market,” she says.
At the time of the collection’s announcement, Colline had a dull brass finish on her jewelry. “The trend at the time was shiny silver. No one else was doing the same thing as I was,” she says. The current collection is changing according to the trends of each year, but the basis is the brand’s unique look that has characterized its own brand and secured repeaters.
Find Inspiration For Jewelry Design
In every area of the fashion industry, the key to the success of new entrants is their striking look, creative design, and consistent branding strategy. Before hiring a designer to start designing a product for brand development, it’s a good idea to establish an overall signature style for your brand.
There are many ways to get inspiration. You can also set up a Pinterest board to create a digital mood board, take advantage of mobile apps for jewelry design, and even paste photos and crops into real-life bulletin boards and sketchbooks.
“I always have an antenna so that I can be inspired wherever I am, and I always collect inspirational images.”-
Biko, Colline Anest Poros
Collect images, colors, textures, and more that impressed you while traveling in nature, architecture, fashion, or traveling. I’m sure various themes will come up from there. “Don’t stop your quest for inspiration. I always keep my antenna up so that I can be inspired wherever I am, and I always collect inspirational images,” says Colline.
Building a Brand
“Brand” is different from “brand strategy”. A “brand” is your voice, your mission, your vision, and your brand story. Tell your customers how you want your product to feel through your brand. Purchasing fashion-related products that often appeal to emotions. In order for emerging brands to acquire customers, it is important to connect with them at the individual level. The brand story “About Us” page spelling, SNS with a lot of posts, the back of the design Why not try to share the process and inspiration in the scene with the customer.
Brand Strategy: Designing Packages, Logos, And Websites For Jewelry Brands
Brand strategy refers to strategic elements that visually represent a brand, such as logos, packaging, and websites. Once the product design is in place and you can target your target audience, you’ll be able to clarify the big picture of your brand. This is an essential step, even for small businesses, so don’t be impatient and work hard.
I think it’s okay to start small with Makepre at first, but when it comes to expressing your brand and seeking profit margins, opening your own online shop is the best option.
For example, you can keep costs low by opening a standard Shopify online shop with free templates or creating your own logo with a free online logo maker. Shopify also has tools to help you come up with domain name ideas, so if you need inspiration, take advantage of it. We also recommend that you always reserve a budget for professional product photography. The importance of photography in jewelry sales will be discussed later in this post.
If you can afford it, you can hire a designer to offer a comprehensive brand strategy proposal to reflect your brand’s vision, from logos and websites to packaging and marketing materials.
Brand Business Planning
You may not need a formal business plan unless you are selling a business proposal to investors to start a business or somehow soliciting loans from outside. However, creating a business plan can be a great help in understanding your target customers, your business goals, your business model, your costs, and your growth plan.
Online Sales Of Handmade Accessories!
Production: How To Make Accessories And Jewelry
What do you need to make accessories and jewelry? Whether handmade, factory-made, working at home or outsourced, how you make your product depends on design complexity, price range, materials, and technical level required. Here’s a deep dive into the four ways to make jewelry:
- Elaborate handmade jewelry production: high-quality one-of-a-kind
- Handmade Jewelry Production: Fashion & Costume Jewelry
- Factory outsourced jewelry production
- Jewelry production by on-demand printing
Handmade elaborate jewelry production: high-quality one-of-a-kind handmade
one-of-a-kind fine jewelry is one of the most original and versatile manufacturing methods, although it takes time and effort. Depending on the material and design, such a manufacturing method may require special training, certification licenses, or expensive equipment such as:
- Soldering (a type of brazing)
- 3D printing
- Jewel setting
If you’re not sure which one to use, start with a free online tutorial. If you know the field you want to learn in more detail, you can take a paid class, or you can train under an experienced craftsman to hone your skills.
Handmade accessories production: fashion & costume jewelry
Most handmade costume jewelry combines existing parts such as chains, wires, beads, and cast pendants, and requires no special training or equipment other than basic tools.
If you buy a lot of parts and use the assembly template, you can also leave the assembly work to the staff hired for the production. By doing so, you will be able to expand your business more easily.
If you want to design and produce your own, you can focus on your creative work by outsourcing certain processes or hiring staff. Colline, the founder of Biko, is looking for an intern from a local university with a reputation for fashion-related communication programs. “I’m not looking for people who are interested in design. What I need is someone who can do more than just design to devote more of my time to design,” explains Colline.
Outsource jewelry production to the factory
In fact, instead of making jewelry by hand, you can ask someone else to make your own jewelry. This method is not suitable for fine jewelry, custom jewelry, and one-of-a-kind jewelry, but it is a good and cost-effective approach for fashion jewelry that requires more production. There are two main options for outsourcing:
- You can appeal to the charm of “local production”
- Faster and more reliable delivery
- It is easier to verify the reputation of the producer and build relationships.
- Keep an eye on it (you can visit the factory immediately)
- Higher cost
- There are few choices (small number of production bases, limited materials)
- Limitation of production volume
- Lower cost
- There are many options regarding materials and processes
- Capable of handling larger volumes
- Limitations of communication (culture, language, time zone)
- Inadequate monitoring and management
- Minimum order quantity may be high
- Production and ethical standards may vary from country to country
If you outsource to the factory, you need accurate sketches of your design and 3D rendering. Choose the option that suits your skill level and budget:
- Hand Design Tools: Pencils, Sketch Papers, Jewelry Design Templates ($)
- Common 2D or 3D design software: PhotoShop, Illustrator, Sketchup ( $$)
- Jewelry-specific design software (ideal for fine jewelry): RhinoGold, MatrixGold ($$$)
Making accessories by on-demand printing
The easiest way to make it is to upload your design to an on-demand printing app and have your original design printed in 3D, or reproduce it using materials such as stainless steel, wood, plastic, gold, and silver. You will get it. It is also possible to have the product delivered directly to the customer after production.
Building An Atelier or Workshop
Working space is required to make accessories in-house. To secure a workplace, consider the following:
- Mobility: Ensure the flow of space. Creating a rational space is especially important when assembly requires multiple steps.
- Safety: Sufficient ventilation and safety measures are essential when dealing with chemicals and special equipment in jewelry making. Be sure to check the local laws governing these chemicals and manufacturing processes.
- Storability: In order to organize small parts, an easy-to-understand and subdivided storage space is essential.
Gillian, the founder of Canadian jewelry brand Hawley, said, “Workplaces require production benches, flexible shafts (rotary tools), and safety. Flexible shafts are used for jewelry drilling. It’s a great tool for finishing, polishing, etc. It’s also recommended to use a face mask and safety jewelry, and for long-haired people to keep their hair from getting caught in the tool. ” I will.
If your production team is growing, or if your work requirements are more complex, such as metalworking or silversmithing, you may want to consider moving to a commercial space other than your home. If you don’t have the budget at the beginning of your business, we recommend renting a shared workspace or sharing the cost of your workplace and equipment with other creators. Hawley’s Gillian shares his atelier with the other two companies.
Sharing space with others also helps dispel the loneliness of entrepreneurs. “For a while, after I launched Biko, I felt lonely when I’m alone in the atelier, so I worked at another apparel store once a week,” agrees Biko’s Colline.
Jewelry Making Equipment And Tools
The equipment, tools, and materials such as rough stones and raw materials needed to make jewelry are also wholesale online.
“We rely on word-of-mouth when it comes to wholesalers,” says Hawley’s Gillian. She says, “You shouldn’t hesitate to talk to other designers about where you’re finding the material.”
In addition, Gillian goes to exhibitions and industry events, constantly expanding his network and trying to discover new materials. “My favorite place to procure new stones and silver is the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show. It’s a big event with thousands of sellers from all over the world.”
Photography For Jewelry Brands
As mentioned many times in other posts, product photos can make a big difference in the success of online sales. In many cases, even a smartphone can take great product photos with simple lighting. But jewelry does not do the same because of its fine details and importance, as well as its surface reflecting light.
“It’s important that your photography budget isn’t stingy.”
-Biko, Colline Anest Poros
Even if the budget is small, it is important that the budget for photography is not stingy, says Colline of Biko. Professional photographers are accustomed to handling models and are also good at setting complex lighting. You can add stylists, makeup artists, and assistants to your shooting team.
Hiring a model doesn’t cost you that much. “There are a lot of people who want to enrich their portfolio and want to get involved in product photography. That doesn’t mean they’re going to take advantage of them. If you’re just starting a business, you’re interested. If we recruit people and work together, we should be able to create great things from them, “says Colline.
When it comes to product photography, it’s important to take two categories of photos, such as different perspectives and angles:
- Detailed product photos were taken in front of a simple background: Minimize unnecessary things, highlighting the fine details and different angles of the jewelry. Provides a clean, consistent look for collection pages.
- Lifestyle photo of a model wearing a product: You can show the size when a person actually wears it, and at the same time, you can make styling suggestions (multiple items in one image). Because we can propose, it is ideal for upselling). It is recommended to use it on the product page or lookbook. Effective even if posted on SNS.
If you don’t have enough budget for photography, you can work with a good apparel brand to reduce your photography costs. Alternatively, by renting out jewelry for fashion magazine photography, you can not only get product photos but also increase the exposure of the product.
Accessories: Build a Website
Now that you know about jewelry making, brand building, and photography, let’s put them all together. At this point, you’ll soon be able to open an actual Shopify online shop. Before that, sign up for a free trial and try Shopify, which is used by many handmade writers and entrepreneurs around the world!
Let’s Open An Online Shop!
Choose a photo-based theme (template) that is suitable for your jewelry. The following templates are suitable for the jewelry business:
- Handy ($$)
- Editions ($)
- Showcase ($$$)
- Debut (free!)
A clean impression template will make your product or brand stand out. Also, on most templates, you don’t have to be a designer or software developer to customize the functionality.
On the site, you should write something that evokes emotions that reflect the voice of the brand, that is, what you want your customers to feel about the brand. On the other hand, it is also important to provide detailed and easy-to-understand explanations. Reflect your brand story in your product description, including size, material (important for people with metal allergies), and, if necessary, information about the origin of the material. On the “About” page, which tells the brand story, you can also talk about the production process in detail. In addition, please try to write sentences that shine the individuality of the brand on every page of the website.
App For Accessories Business
Shopify has a lot of extensions called apps. Shopify’s standard features are sufficient for basic functionality, but if you want to customize your store more, check out the apps below :
- Jewelfie: An app that allows customers to “try on” jewelry by uploading their own photos
- Loox –Photo Reviews: s apply that collects and adds customer photo reviews to your website
- Instagram shop by SNPT: An app that creates a gallery where you can purchase products from the Instagram feed screen.
- Kiwi Size Chart & Recommender: An app that allows you to create custom size charts that customers can purchase after they are satisfied.
Marketing Of Handmade Accessories Business
The fashion and jewelry industry is a saturated market. How can customers focus on your brand? Which part of the marketing you spend on depends on your product, your audience, and your budget, and requires some trial and error.
Biko’s Colline, who noticed intensified competition in 2011, decided to invest in the brand revitalization and hired a public relations company to focus on launching the new brand. “It costs money to hire a public relations company, but I think it’s worth it,” says Colline. “Thanks to that, we were able to launch the best ad ever. When a bracelet was featured, it sold for as much as $ 5,000 on its own.”
Colline also said she was successful in working with Instagram influencers to exchange one product for one post. To do this, you first need to carefully select your products and prepare effective Instagram hashtags before interacting with influencers. By doing so, you can check in advance whether the brand atmosphere is suitable for an influencer account. “Establishing a lifestyle image for your brand or product is paramount,” says Colline. Colline also says it’s important to bridge the gap between the product’s main post and the inspirational content. “After a while, you’ll find that you’re inspired by the consistent content that tells the story.”
Pop-Up Stores, Wholesale, Art Market
Note: As of 2021, it can be difficult for online brands to find face-to-face sales opportunities. If you find it difficult to try markets and pop-ups due to restrictions related to the new coronavirus, skip this section and proceed to the wholesale market description.
Colline’s career as a jewelry designer began when she was approached to share an exhibition space at a local apparel exhibition. Jewelry was one of the hobbies for Colline at that time. But on the first day of the two-day exhibition, she sold out all the products she had and said she was convinced that the idea of turning her passion into a business was justified.
“Places like the market give us the opportunity to meet our customers and get direct feedback.”
-Biko, Colline Anest Poros
For emerging brands, the art market is a great place to expose your brand, establish your audience, and validate your ideas. Colline also says that the art market is very important in building an online business. “Places like the market give us the opportunity to meet our customers and get direct feedback.”
Instead of participating in the market, you can also hold an event in your own atelier. “Sample sale is a great way to get rid of old products, get people together and see the production process,” says Colline. If it’s not feasible to invite people to your workplace, it’s a good idea to rent a part of a retail store to hold a pop-up.
Initially, Colline went to a local retail store and expanded her business by outsourcing and wholesale contracts. She says that going to market without warning carries the risk of being refused, but if you hire even one, you can start from there.
Wholesale still accounts for the majority of Biko’s sales. Colline also said she had operations at major retailers such as Nordstrom, Simons, and Hudson’s Bay Company. If you’re just starting out, it’s a good idea to modestly sell to small local boutiques.
Signs Of Hope
In a saturated market like handmade accessories, it can be scary to take the plunge. But the accessories and jewelry industry is also a slow-moving industry. Many designers have started their business from a corner of their home, starting as a side business.
The small amount of production means that you can design from home. There is still plenty of room for new designers. “To stand out from the crowd, follow your intuition, design honestly, and listen to your customers,” says Jillian of Hawley. Let’s take the courage and take the first step towards success!