Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Charmed Life!

My dear E-Friend, Gillian, -- from down under, Australia, sent me the most fun photograph! They have a charm swap where she lives.....what a blast. She's the most amazing about talented. I've got her blog posted in my "Fav's" and you must visit it to see all the many mediums she is skilled in.....awesome!

So she wrote and ordered 30 (I think) one-inch brass charms. I couldn't in my mind figure out what she'd want them for and she didn't tell me. Yesterday came the answer.....check this out!

I think these are so darn cute. She also embellished the inch ruler with metric markings?? Help me somebody!

What a great idea to have a group of people with whom you share a passion and have a swap of some sort: earrings, keychains, bookmarks, cookies, salad -- something not terribly expensive but lots of fun to see what others made with the same rules and goals.

Thanks so much, Gillian, for sending me the picture and sharing your life in the other part of the world! How wonderful.

In the Store:

I've added an Elongated, 6x11 mm chain. I've still got the 5.5 x 8mm fine oval (smooth & etched) coming next week, along with the 10mm round -- so hang in there!

I'm also starting adding a variety of religous/rosary pieces. I know there are some of you who make some beautiful rosaries and I hope to have pieces for you that you will find worthy of your work. I will have more coming in the next week or's a sample of one of the crosses.

Well -- not much more for today. Looks like we have a beautiful day shaping up in Oregon!

Until next time: Pay it Forward!


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email me about ANYTHING! and be sure to send in those photos!!!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Cleaning Up My Life!

I took a look at my stash the other day and almost fainted. How much money is tied up in those boxes of beads, charms, findings, doo-dads, lampwork beads.....oh I could retire on the investment in those boxes! I have five of these boxes in my studio and a large cardboard box in the garage....yikes!

I really must take control....get those beads and stuff and fluff and findings and all, bag them up into "serving" sizes and open a de-stash shop and start gaining some control over my life and my studio. There's got to be people out there who would love to get there hands on turkey leg charms, huh??? Turkey leg charms? What?? Huh? Yep, I've got 'em. And those enameled leaf charms and all that memory wire.....and, and, and...... alright, calm down. It's going to be ok.

But wait....look! There are those beautiful little coral beads I used to make a necklace for my friend about five years ago. She still wears that necklace.

There are only about four or five of those beads banging around in the bottom of this box, but they bring back some fond memories of planning the necklace, choosing the beads (these beads!), working on the necklace board and then adding an expensive real sterling silver was such a joy to create. And I was so proud of how well it turned out.

Do I really need to give these little coral beads away? I think I'll just put these beads in this box over here. And so it goes. Another stash box has been born. But I promise the other stuff has GOT TO GO! But wait...look! There's that beautiful pendant I bought to make a...........

Oh -- and the turkey leg charms? That was during my wine glass charms-making days.

That's about it for Monday.....hope you have a great day! And remember: Pay it Forward! -- Jill

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Send me your photos -- I'd love to see what you are up to.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Sale at the Brass Bouquet!

Yes -- Indeed! I've got a SALE going at the Brass Bouquet until JUNE 20TH! Get on over there for discounts findings, charms, filigree, chains and what-nots!

Full-Time Employment
Part 3: "Elegant Negotiables"

There is a term in the legal world called "Elegant Negotiables." When tapping out settlements and money is getting tight, but a settlement is not quite there, a side will put on the table an "elegant negotiable." It's not something worth a lot of money, not terribly fancy or important but it seals the deal.

In our business of dealing with shop owners and trying to get our foot in the door, or having a really successful booth at a craft fair, or an incredible Etsy store, we need to have an edge that nudges us beyond our competition. Sometimes an "elegant negotiable" might be what we need.

Example: I was in a gift shop once giving my sales pitch to the buyer and I was showing her a beautiful necklace I had made with lampwork beads, sterling silver, etc. She knew nothing about lampwork beads or how they were made. She was aghast at the wholesale price of the necklace (no doubt!) I was losing her and I needed to add this shop to my account list.

Then my brain kicked in. I said: "How would you like me to make up a nice little sign that can go in the jewelry case explaining the time and talent it takes to make lampwork beads. I can add a photograph of a lampwork artist, etc. And on my hang-tag, I'll even add a little explanation of lamp work? This will show your customers the value of a lampwork bead if they don't already know about it." She thought for a moment and said "I LIKE IT!" I was in the store as a vendor.....hoo raw!

The sign cost me literally nothing to make. My hangtags cost me nothing to change and print. Yet, she was getting some important marketing material which would help her sell an expensive necklace in her shop. And it did -- this was a very successful marketing tool. I sold lampwork necklaces, bracelets and earrings in her shop. "Elegant Negotiable!"

I'm sure if you think about it, you can come up with some yourself: Gift Boxes, complimentary sizing, special orders, changing out wires for clips, printing up information about the type of jewelry findings you use (many customers love to know what the artist is using in their jewelry creations), a freebie of some sort with every necklace or bracelet purchase (look in your stash, you must have something you'd love to get rid of.)

The point is, you can make seal a deal or make a sale and make someone feel really good about it for not too much extra expense or trouble. It's a win-win for both you and your customer or shop owner. Kinda cool, huh???

Another Quickie Jewelry Piece:

I made this for my sister, Kim, in about 10 minutes. I've taken my Large Swallow Connector, some Best Everyday Chain, some Pearl Chain, and a Swirl Clasp and made the CUTEST necklace! Then I took some of the small swallow connectors, some freshwater pearls and some of my Everyday Earwires and made matching! How simple and easy.

These are very easy projects to make and you can sell them either wholesale or retail and make a nice little profit. You can change them up and make them your own. I don't mind you using this design -- but hopefully you'll use this as a jump board for designs exclusive to you!

That's about it for now! Please write me -- share your ideas and experiences. I'm sure all of us would like to see how your business has grown by the ideas you've used.

Write me:
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And until next time......Pay It Forward!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Wanted: Full-Time Employment -- Part 2 Thought of Having a Trunk Show?

The term "Trunk Show" has been around for a hundred years or more -- probably back to the haute couteur days when new fashions were being released and sales people were travelling around the world with trunks full of the newest fashions. Here's the definition: A "trunk show" is a special sale in which vendors present merchandise directly to store personnel or select customers at a retail location or another unique venue. In many cases it allows store personnel to preview and/or purchase merchandise before it is made available to the public. It is particularly desirable to have the actual designer present at the event. Most small businesses do this to get more buys.

More defined by today's standards -- it's when an artist, craftsperson or specialty salesperson comes to a store, sets up a sales environment within the shop and sells directly to the public/patrons of the shop. Usually, the "trunk show" vendor gets 60% and the shop gets 40% of the sales receipts. (that's what I ask for when I have done trunk shows.)

It's really that simple. You must know of some nice shops in your area which carry a nice line of clothing or gifts with or without a jewelry line? Get dressed up, put on some of your best jewelry creations, take a handful of business cards, a small portfolio of your jewelry photographs and hit the streets.

Usually shop owners do not like "cold calls." What I do is drop into the shop and check it out. Look around, see what is on the racks and shelves -- what sort of jewelry is already being sold. Scope it out!

Once you feel this is a shop that might be right. Walk up to the salesperson and introduce yourself. Say that you'd like to make an appointment with the manager or buyer about hosting a trunk show in their shop. (give them your business card as you are introducing yourself and SMILE!) This way you are not putting anyone on the spot and it's not a cold call.

They are probably going to be curious about what you sell and very well might want to talk with you right then and there if someone in authority to buy is available. That's why you should always go prepared to show and tell. If they would like to see you come back, they'll tell you.

If you are lucky enough to be seen right on the spot -- you've got your foot in the Proverbial door. Congratulations! Don't say you can't do this: YOU CAN DO THIS!

Sometimes people have no clue what a "Trunk Show" is. Explain you'd like to come in, take a small corner in their shop and spend an afternoon showing and selling your jewelry. You'll schmooze with the customers, help them try on jewelry, and sell as much as you can for them: the shop. In return they get 40% of the proceeds without having to buy merchandise up front, stock it, tag it, or anything -- it's effortless for them and they make out like bandits (so do you, but don't tell them that!) Plus if it's a clothing shop, they may make a clothing sale after someone has bought a beautiful necklace or pair of earrings. Or vice-versa.

MORE TO COME......I'll continue this thread more. Please write in with tips, hints, suggestions or things you've found to help your business grow. I know everyone can use help in this area and we'd love to hear from you, including me! Write me at:

Quickie Earrings for Quickie Wholesale Merchandise: Here's another pair of earrings that are a breeze to make. I wholesale a lot of this design as well. I use 8mm Swarovski crystals in a rainbow of colors. My Jolie Beadcaps, 2" headpins, baby brass beads and my hoop earwires. I also make these with 8mm colored freshwater pearls -- they sell equally as well. They are fast to make and appeal to the full spectrum of shoppers. Keep thinking about what sorts of quick inventory/low cost wholesale items you can work into your line so you can generate income with minimum wear on your time and resources (money!)

On the Home Front: My Fridge-Freezer broke down yesterday! Yep...I've got sister countdown in motion....she arrives today at 7:00 pm. I've got a dinner party for 8 on Sunday afternoon, a freezer full of brisket, chicken, fish, burger, you name it, and the Fridge-Freezer goes Ka-Ploooee on me! Water everywhere, drip, drip, dripping on my kitchen floor....meat defrosting in my freezer.

Last night I was cooking said raw, now-thawed-out chicken, burger, fish, etc., on the barbee while Randy was seal-a-meal'ing it as fast as he could while the Appliance Repair-God was fixing my fridge.

It could only happen to me, right??? This is just what I needed the night before company coming. Well, ok, let's look at it this way: I could have left for vacation and come home to said refridgerator-freezer having done its thing while I was gone, right?? Now, that would have been a nightmare....aaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!!! So, if it had to die, I'm glad I was home to get the paddles on it and get its heart back ticking.

Now, at least everything is already cooked and all I need to do for the next three weeks is heat and serve. Yahoo!

Ya all have a great weekend. Remember......Pay it Forward. -- Jill

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Wanted: Full-Time Employment!

How many of us dream of taking our art to the next step: Full-time employment. Making and selling jewelry (or whatever it is that we excell at) to generate enough income to live. Have I got your attention??
It's not about running around the house in our jammies and slippers, or sleeping in until 10:00 am while others are on the freeway of life. It's not about getting away from office politics or a rotten boss. It's about making enough money to pay the bills, keep the roof over our head, food on the table, get the essentials paid for and, hopefully, stash some cash. It is not easy.
If self-employment is your goal, if being a "sole proprietor" is your dream -- with a Tax Return to show for it, then you have to put your heart and brain into it.
I have worked for 20 years on my journey. It had and still has lots of rocks and ruts but it's a great path. However, I'm very proud to say I am a self-employed woman. And, yes, I pay self-employment taxes. Arrgh.....

Here are some ideas I came up with that helped me move along my journey. Some of them are no-brainers, some of them you may already know....hopefully I'll give you ideas that will help you see places you can generate more money, more quickly. And you certainly have your own great ideas too, upon which to build.

Keep Records! It's hard, I know. But you need to keep records of all the raw materials you buy. You need to keep records of how much a necklace, earrings, bracelet, etc., costs you to make, right down to a jump ring. If you can keep those records on a card, computer, notebook, this will help you calculate how much to charge for the piece in the future. This was one of my hardest ones to overcome. I'd look at a finished piece and say, "Well, I'd say it cost me $.... to make." Wrong! When I really sat there and took the piece apart and did a tally of material costs, I usually was off, by a lot. So get yourself a little calculator and do the math.

Production Work: I've added a photograph of a pair of earrings to show you something I have made for eight years....yes, eight long years. And I have made literally hundreds and hundreds of these earrings. I'm sick of these earrings. I could make these earrings in my sleep. I hate these earrings! However.....these earrings make me money. I sell them wholesale to a number of gift shops around the country. They sell like popcorn and they are a staple to my income. So I make these earrings in various colors of beads, in silver and gold. (Did I say being self-employed was going to be all fun and glamorous??)

Put on your thinking cap and create something that can be made fairly easily, that would be a popular item in gift shops or boutiques, and get to doing some wholesaling. Just remember -- you need to ask for about 50% less than what the jewelry will retail for. It's a hit but if you are wize about your material costs, you will do just fine. Besides, selling a dozen of something is better than selling nothing, right? This will also generate money for you to purchase materials to make the nicer pieces you really want to make and sell. You do not have to give up your passion of creating incredible jewelry pieces. But selling smaller, quicker items will enable you to do more gallery-quality work and still keep a steady flow of income moving into your check book at the same time.

Look at this clip of a really quick and easy pair of earrings to make. This may not be your cup of tea, but this is the sort of thing I'm talking about -- quick, easy and fairly inexpensive:

I'll keep adding to this string -- watch for more in the coming days. I'd also love to hear from anyone out there who would like to contribute to this string. Any and all ideas that you've come up with about making your business grow would be greatly appreciated! We all can use help in this area. Email me at: I'll look forward to hearing from you.

A Beautiful Bracelet to Share! Kathy Noda, from Miami, sent me this photograph of a new bracelet she made with some B.B. materials and I am just GaGa over it! She calls it "Violets in My Garden." It combines the 10mm chain (which is coming back in stock in the next couple of weeks), the Wilderness Leaf (love it!), lots of beads and those beautiful blue glass beads I have so few left of....sad to say! Vintage glass and so beautiful. Anyway, I think it's so pretty....I'm a purple fan anyway. Thanks for sending in the photo, Kathy.
Sister Alert! I have my sister coming in from Americus, Georgia, (that's in the USA, Gillian) on Friday. She's going to be here for a week. I've told my husband he should take a room at a hotel for the week as he won't get a wink of sleep while she and are together. We've not seen each for two years and we have oodles to catch up on. We laugh like a couple of crazy youngsters and swap stories until all hours. I think it will be like a week-long slumber party. Poor, poor Hubster!
That's about it for now. Send those photos in! I want to see what you all are doing......
Until later: Pay it Forward! -- Jill