Midway this year I evaluated the progress and future goals of Pretty Cheap Jewelry. Sales have always been modestly successful, an admirable achievement in the very competitive jewelry market I admit. The ledger is in the black, and has not been in the red for the 6 years of my small business. That is a result of balancing expenses with income, as well as a great deal of hours on-line promoting and nurturing customers, not to mention hard work in vending as many in-person shows as could possibly fit around my day job and family obligations. Whew.
But my future goals were to have enough increase in sales to show a bit more profit. Enough to let me feel less pressure about obtaining higher end supplies and perhaps design more upscaled refined styles.
The good news? Sales this fall have been up. Just yesterday two things were bought on my Etsy page
The bad news is it's hard to dissect why sales are up.
How does a retailer reach goals to increase sales? Normally the strategies are pretty easy:
1. Increase the number of things for sale.
Over the past years I produced a variety of non-jewelry work, ie handmade books, dried flower cards, embroidered cards and picture frames. In fact I have a line of Winter 2011 beaded gloves right now (see below). The sidelines were fun, but I want to streamline and reduce the variety of things I make in interest of focus and concentrating on more complex jewelry.
Answer 1: Sales of the gloves made a big difference! HOWEVER! I think gloves are a temporary fashion hit and will fade away in a year or so. Sales were modest in my other non-jewelry categories. I think I will continue with the types of things that sold better and that I enjoy to make, such as the gloves and flower cards and drop the types of things that got less attention, such as the books and embroidered cards.
Hand Beaded Sparkling Heart Gloves
A modern take on an antique look. I've taken brand new knit gloves and sewn an original design of sequin hearts, pearl and crystals to make a sophisticated style. See more details HERE
2. Increase the price of each thing.
I definitely wait much longer between a sale when prices are higher and see more attention and sales when prices are decreased. It's a tough call. After figuring the cost for materials and commissions fees I try to allow compensation for my time and design skill in the price. If an item languishes too long, I reduce the price and see if that makes a difference.
Answer 2: Lately I ask myself if an item were to sell will I have a positive or negative feeling. For example, if the price is too low, "Do I regret selling at this price?" or if it is too high "Do I want to keep this piece around another year, another two years, etc.?" No better answer unfortunately right now.
3. Increase the places the items are available.
Right now Pretty Cheap Jewelry is sold on-line and in 2 shops, as well as a number of live events over any given year (average once a month). Having jewelry in shops is the ideal but the hardest technique. It is a big investment to get a store to sell your things, you must be professional in marketing and providing your goods. A good alternative is to sell at live events, which is dependent on your personal time but is more flexible.
Answer 3: I have an idea to try next year which will increase the my number of live events without greatly impacting my free time or family time. Being a member of my local art association, I can have a 'demo' table on the weekends whenever I choose. People usually are interested in jewelry making and I will have a table of things for sale. Two Sundays a month are probably do'able for 2012 and I'll try it out.
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