How to Start a Jewelry Line
Starting a jewelry line is easier than you think. Making it successful is harder than you think. You can design your pieces in a number of ways – CAD software, photoshop, illustrator or equivalent, or simple pencil and paper. You can also make your first piece by hand, fabricating it yourself. Once you have that design, communicate it to a manufacturer. You can find manufacturers in India, Thailand, Bali and China who will do very good work at a very low price. Each manufacturer has its benefits and pitfalls. All of them will be willing to make you samples in small quantities. Keep in mind when you receive their samples that they are showing you their best and you’ll have to constantly work on keeping their costs low and quality consistent. You need to be educated on your materials – precious metals and carat weights, gemstones (treatments, fakes, authentic and how to know the difference). Many manufacturers can cut stones or beads according to your design as well – an attribute which can contribute greatly to the uniqueness of your designs. Many people you will meet are just “brokers” and are not responsible or much involved with the execution or production – you should avoid them in every case where language interpretation is not necessary. Many factories have in-house reps who speak English.
When looking for manufacturers, consider their minimum orders – can you afford to buy 1000 pieces of one design? If your designs are “untested” – you haven’t sold much of them if any, you should not make very many pieces. It is likely you will end up doing something that is not exactly what you started out thinking you would do, so give yourself budget to make mistakes. There are factories which, especially after negotiating, will make you 5, 10 or 20 pieces of one design.
Start selling as soon as possible. Even if you don’t have your product ready – use pictures, drawings, anything and throw up a website or make a facebook page and start getting feedback. Get yourself into any kind of local event where you can sell things and make a booth. Put your product out there. Experiment with merchandising. If there is a big crowd, use the opportunity to test prices (re-price everything 2 or 3 times during the show) – see how this influences sales, evesdrop on what people say to their friends under their breath. Ask the people who love your jewelry where they usually shop (e.g. online, the mall, “--- ---“ shop, etc)