Design concepts increasingly come “from the street up,” says Helene Fortunoff, and not just from elite society. From a home-based design and manufacturing workspace, independent designers can create and market fine and costume jewelry that can reach a global market. Fine jewelry design may require some knowledge of working with metals, such as silver, gold, and precious or semi-precious stones. Costume jewelry design media, however, are limited only by the designer’s imagination. Following are some steps for launching a jewelry line.
Educate yourself on the jewelry making process. Take a jewelry-making class at a local art school or extension class to obtain some basic know-how. Read books and subscribe to relevant jewelry-related magazines to find out industry specific information.
Set up a special area in your home or obtain a workshop/showroom to create and display your jewelry line. Create a showroom area with an effective and creative display. Store jewelry inventory in a safe, clean, and organized fashion.
Obtain the usual business start-up needs, such as business licenses and insurance; home office technology; and software and tools for managing bookkeeping, record retention, taxes, inventory database.
Purchase jewelry making tools and equipment and find reliable vendor resources for jewelry material. Unless the jewelry line will focus on one-of-a kind custom jewelry, use material that can be easily replenished to fill orders. A reliable source for beads and other jewelry stock is Fire Mountain Gems. Additionally, Rio Grande has supplied artisan and metalsmith jewelers with products since 1944.
Generate buzz. Spend time finding how to get the jewelry worn by those that can create buzz. This may include entertainment or sports celebrities. Wear the jewelry merchandise whenever possible and donate pieces to fashionable friends prepared to serve as soft marketers to generate interest.
Hire an account executive to develop hard sale leads with retail outlets, department stores, and jewelry shops. This person can be retained initially as an independent contractor on commission. Someone experienced in sales or marketing and with contacts in retail would be the best fit. The Fashion Industry Search Engine is a reliable resource for fashion business information.
Get your items directly into the hands of customers. Participate in arts and crafts shows that are appropriate for the jewelry line. Set up jewelry trunk shows at jewelry or fashion boutiques. These are great opportunities to generate media interest and justify sending a well written press release and photograph image of a sample from the jewelry collection.
Develop a strong on-line presence that is trusted by Internet customers. Hire a professional website developer. The money will be worth it in the long run. An on-line ordering system that processes electronic payments should have all the security features that an experienced website professional can offer.
Be prepared to fill order demands and set terms for any sale up front. Make sure production systems are in place to timely meet demands. This includes assuring that the raw materials and labor needed are readily available. If pitching to department stores, create jewelry lines with more than 100 pieces.
Check out Fashion Group International, a nonprofit, professional organization for the fashion business.