Thursday, January 14, 2010

Adventures in Starting a Small Business Pt. 1

I thought I might start recording my journey on the road to having my own jewelry business by starting with how I came to the conclusion I should become a "legit" business with my own domain name, pay sales tax & all that good stuff. So, I've been a Stampin' Up! demonstrator for a little more than 3 years now & I've enjoyed it immensely. I started doing it to earn enough to pay for all the supplies I wanted because I was pretty much a beginner stamper & wanted the good stuff from the start. I've had a small core group of loyal customers and did the occasional class or workshop. I also started doing craft fairs almost immediately. That said, this area of Northern Virginia is pretty saturated with demonstrators so I was realistic to know I'd never be a big business demo.

About a year ago, I came across Scrabble Tile pendants on & thought to myself--"I could do that." If you look back at my postings then, I tried my own versions for the first time. It just kind of grew from there as I found more game pieces to use, then tried stamping on them, then discovered using waterproof resin instead of Diamond Glaze. I'd thought I'd make them for my Christmas fairs but then people started buying them right away! Then I just couldn't turn my mind off & I added rings, bracelets, earrings, etc. & by the fall I had a full line of jewelry. This kind of craft is a great fit for me because I get to use ALL my supplies and browse thrift stores, which I love :-)

During this past Fall/Christmas craft fair season, I made an interesting observation; all the paper items I'd made in the past didn't sell as well as in previous years while my jewelry was very popular! By the end of the season, I'd made more than twice I had the year before, so I had to ask myself--what am I doing when I was able to get these results in even this economy? I could actually make some extra money doing this (besides just paying for my supplies) & the feedback I was getting was that besides the Scrabble Tiles, people hadn't seen stuff like mine. That & seeing people wearing your creations is VERY cool. Besides, not everyone lives to stamp like me, but pretty much everyone wears or knows someone who wears jewelry!

I've never had a business class in my life (hello, English major), but I've learned the cliche where there's a will, there's a way & decided to investigate next steps. Luckily, I already had some basic items in place--like business cards, this blog, facebook group, a newsletter list, etc., so I could build on my own brand as a demonstrator (because we're "Independent" from SU!, we choose our own "business" names when we sign up). I'd tried etsy but decided I wanted my own site where people can not only find me again, but aren't easily tempted to go browsing around other stores. I also wanted a lot of flexibility to make the store my own (more on finding the right venue later).

Next, I'll go into the decisions that needed to be made (website, credit card) & the documentation hoops to jump through....


  1. Thanks for sharing your journey!

  2. Just what I was going to say. It is very interesting reading about your growth! Keep up the great work!