How to Start a Jewelry Business at Home

If you are talented and love making beautiful jewelry for people to wear, you can turn a profit by selling your jewelry and designs. People who run small, home-based businesses can sell both directly to the public, known as retail selling, as well as to store owners, known as wholesale selling. To be successful, you must first find out if there is a market for your work by asking others for their honest opinion about your designs, and then obtain the necessary licenses.

To operate even the smallest home-based business, you need to obtain a business license. Contact your county offices about a business license. Complete the necessary form(s) and pay the small fee. The amount will vary from county to county and state to state.

Contact your state offices about a seller's permit, also called a resale license. A resale license gives you the right to sell jewelry to the public, and requires that you pay sales tax to your state. Sales tax is a percentage of the price a customer pays you for your jewelry. Most merchants simply add the sales tax to the purchase price. States set the sales tax, and some counties add a little more. Make sure you understand what percentage you will be required to pay, so that you charge your customers the right amount of money.

Set the wholesale and retail prices of your jewelry. For each piece or set of jewelry you make, add the costs of the materials. Multiply this number by 2 to get the wholesale price (Materials (x) 2 = Wholesale). A wholesale price is what you charge a store owner to resell your jewelry. You do not charge sales tax when you sell at the wholesale level.

To figure your retail price, multiply your wholesale price by 2 (Wholesale (x) 2 = Retail). Your retail price is the amount of money you charge the general public. Appropriate sales tax must be added to the retail price (Retail (+) Sale Tax = what the customer pays you). You will remit the sales tax to your state when you pay taxes.

Purchase a good quality, digital camera. If you are not confident in your ability to take pictures, ask a friend who is. You must have excellent photographs of your best pieces of jewelry. Design a one-page, color brochure that includes photos of your jewelry, price lists, and your contact information.

Choose a few of your favorite jewelry designs and make at least half a dozen of each one. Take these and your brochure with your wholesale price list to local shops in your area. Ask at the counter for the appropriate buyer's contact information. If you are lucky, she will be present and able to meet with you right away. Otherwise, you will most likely be given a business card. If the people in the store are encouraging, leave a brochure for the buyer and follow up with a phone call. Otherwise, mail the brochure with a cover letter and follow up with a phone call a week later.

Ebay is an easy and convenient way for small business owners to make their wares available to the public. Post photographs of your jewelry on Ebay to sell at the retail level online. You can allow buyers to bid on your jewelry at auctions, or you can choose to set a price using the "Buy it Now" feature on Ebay. You will need to charge sales tax only if the buyer resides in your state.

Check out craft fairs and gift shows. A craft fair in an event in which you pay a fee, set up a tent and sell your jewelry directly to the public. (The craft fair promoter handles the seller's permits for everybody at the show, so you never need to obtain more than one for your business address.) A gift show is the same idea, except all of the buyers are looking to buy your jewelry at wholesale prices and resell it in their stores. When you apply to shows, you may be asked to submit slides in addition to your brochure. Ask a photo developer to make slides of the best photographs of your jewelry.