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So you want to be a jeweler?

Lisette Fee

Over the past several years, I've seen some of my best and favorite customers turn into burgeoning jewelers.  And some have contacted me with interest, asking for advice and insider tips on how to become a jeweler.  And it got me thinking, why not give you, my dear readers insight and thoughts on what it is to be a jeweler and what our world is like. 

In my old studio at Art Avenue.

In my old studio at Art Avenue.

Have you seen that Portlandia episode, ages ago where she decides she's going to make jewelry and then realizes it's a whole lot more work than it appears?

Often times I feel like that is how HUGE the profession of jewelry has become.  It's a very big market and it seems to continue growing.  Of course, that was sort of me ten years ago, however I knew that I wanted to be a long lasting and distinctly different jeweler.  So I made the big decision to go to a school and learn metalsmithing and jewelry.  In addition, I took the advice from my father, that once I made this career and life changing decision that there was no turning back, it was either all or nothing.  Because honestly, it was a big investment in my future (taking out student loans and debt).

With that said there are some points I want to make on what it is to be a jeweler and a small business owner.

  • It doesn't happen overnight or even within three years to five years.  It takes a long time to establish yourself, build credibility and gain a following of customers.  I used to get so frustrated in my first year because I wondered why I wasn't making as many sales as I hoped.  But if you preserve and constantly work hard you will be successful
  • LEARN, LEARN and LEARN some more, not just from jewelers but from other small business owners and those that are successful. 
  • My no. 1 biggest piece of advice in regards to jewelry is to hone in on what you love and what you're good at and make that your centerpiece of your jewelry/business.  Whether it's beading, casting, working with wood or whatever it is, make yourself an expert in that. 
  • Learn as much as you can about running and maintaining a business.  My favorite place to get this information is from podcasts and business blogs.  And if you're not good at accounting or marketing, hire someone, it's well worth the money.
  • Talk to jewelers and those that you admire, ask them for advice.  I am always super honest and frank about my struggles and success, so feel free to ask me if you want!
  • LOVE and nurture the supporters and customers that buy from you.  These are your cheerleaders and they will share your work with their friends and family.  It's all about quality versus quantity.  Your first customer is likely to be your second customer. 

I could write a book on this...but I'm not a writer! I hope this helps and you enjoyed my brief post on the life of a beginning jeweler.  If anything, I hope you love the clip of 'She's making jewelry now'!!

Happy Monday folks.