Thursday, June 24, 2010

Selling my work through local shops

After having worked on an elaborate turquoise necklace, I felt the need to go minimalistic. So I put together this sweet little pendant. It's a lovely nugget of turquoise that I purchased long ago.   It's been waiting patiently in my bead box for far too long. Perhaps it can find an owner and finally feel loved.

Summer has really taken a bite out of my hours on the workbench. I used to have time in the evenings when my daughter was busy with her gymnastics, but during the summer she practices during the day when I’m at my full-time (non-jewelry making, corporate America) job. Plus my older daughter is back home from college and they both want attention from me when I get home from work.

Not only do the kids want attention, but my yard needs attention! Spring and summer is when I make my pathetic attempts at gardening. This year I’ve sworn to get the back yard in shape (I’m sure my husband is laughing as he reads this) although I doubt that I’ll be able to tackle my side yard. (Only one side of the house per year.  Neither my attention span nor my gardening abilities will allow for more!)

And, of course, there is the temptation to just enjoy the summertime. I was definitely doing some of that, this past weekend.  We have an artsy area of town and I was there checking out these  cute little shops that sell hand-crafted jewelry. And there were so many lovely pieces!

One of the shops I visited had some bezel-set pendants under the counter. There were ocean jaspers, laradorites, moonstones, and others. I thought the quality of the cabochons was pretty poor. (Not to brag, but the ones I've acquired put them to shame.)

I asked to see the pendants because I was curious about the prices.  I like to think that someday in the future I might try to market my work to some boutiques and I wanted to check out the potential competition.

Now the cabs were simply set in bezels - I like to think that I put some effort into customizing each setting to bring out the best in each cab.  Still,  when I saw the prices of the pendants I was a little disturbed. They were priced at almost half of what I would charge for my bezel-set cabs!

All were made in Indonesia.  Considering that the shop’s mark-up must be twice of what they paid for the pendants, and that the distributor was making a profit as well as the original shop, I can’t imagine how little the workers must be paid - although it's so likely that the wages they're receiving in Indonesia, although so minimal, are probably crucial to their families' well being and survival.

Right now, based on the cost of materials, equipment, and the amount I pay for taxes, I'm pretty much breaking even.  I can't imagine selling my works to a boutique/shop for 50% of what I charge on Etsy.  Nor can I imagine increasing my prices on Etsy just so that I can reasonably sell to a shop.

I guess I'll just continue to be an independent artist on Etsy for a while longer.

(Sorry for the rambling post.)


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  1. swisssidejewelleryetc said...
    Not rambling - very interesting!
    Love that pendant.
    Contrariwise said...

    I made a similar pendant for me out of prehnite a couple of years ago. I wear it all the time. I have no idea why it took me so long to make one for my shop.
    Amber Rose said...
    Wow, that pendant is gorgeous...I absolutely adore the color!
    hopestudios said...
    what a cute pendant and love the curly tail on it! i like to wear a simple necklace with other ones. love to layer.
    fishprincessdesigns said...
    I understand just how you feel. I just stopped by a couple of boutiques on my vacation in Cape May, NJ. I picked up a "handmade" sea glass pendant just to find a China sticker attached to it. Not only was the pendant not handmade, it wasn't even real sea glass, and the price they were asking for it was very pricey.

    I felt a bit cheated by the experience. This was one of the nicer shops that I visited. I just put it back on the display, now I wished I had pointed it out to someone.
    Unknown said...
    I agree. It's hard to compete with the work in stores. Sometimes it's just easier to be an independent artist selling at shows and online.

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