Tuesday, April 21, 2009

live and learn

Yesterday morning, I found out that I had to start another pearl hunt real soon because I was short on some pearl colors again. A lot of thoughts went through my mind and I was overwhelmed by them.

First, it suddenly occurred to me that it has been almost a year since I quit my day job as a piano teacher to sell jewelry on Etsy full time. Owning a small business had never been something I thought I would be doing until it actually happened. It is also nothing like what I imagined it to be. I didn't think it would be so stressful.On the other hand, it has also been extremely rewarding, especially when I receive good feedback from customers and know my skills and services can actually make people happy :).

If we add the one year I sold my jewelry on Ebay(before I opened my Etsy shop), I have actually been selling jewelry for almost 3 years now.I still remember selling the first two pairs of pearl earrings on Ebay for 99 cents each and I was so thrilled to know someone actually found my jewelry out of thousands of listings and liked it enough to pay $1 for it. ("Wow!I made$1 selling my jewelry!") It took me one whole year and hundreds of sales on Ebay to raise the price of my rings to $10 a piece, and then another one year and over 1000 sales on Etsy to start feel "maybe" I was a decent crafter.I am glad to say that now(after almost one more year and 1500 more sales) I finally feel "sort of" like a jewelry artist. I need a lot of encouragement to feel confident about myself, and I'm very grateful to have so many customers telling me how much they like my jewelry(it doesn't matter how many times I hear it--I still need to hear it!)

Other than my confidence issue, i also reviewed some business decisions I made in the past year(my first year in business full time).I did not make as much money as I expected, partly because of the economy, partly because I spent too much money on supplies, and partly because I over-estimated myself! Going to my first two gem shows last year was one of the reasons I spent too much money on supplies. I had never seen so many beads in my life until then ("BEADS!!") and there was just no way I could resist them.It was a bad, bad, bad addiction. I bought most of the beads because I wanted them, not because I needed them, even though it has always worked like that for me since I started making jewelry (my design ideas are usually inspired by the stones I have, and before I create new designs you would often find me staring at my beads for a long period of time as if there is some kind of secret code inside the beads).The outcome was that I accumulated a large inventory and had little spare cash.Fortunately I can always sell the beads..It's a lot of hassle, but at least I enjoyed owning them for a period of time and it's time to get my cash back. Oh those beads -- if you don't see them, you're fine.Once you see them, and especially after you buy them, it becomes very hard to part with them.

Last year I also spent a lot of travel expenses at two gem shows, so I decided to consolidate my business trips to just one this year.My parents live in Taiwan so it seems to make more sense for me to go to the show in Hong Kong. Unlike last year, this time I know what to do, how much to spend, and can make a better plan.I suppose this is what happens with most new business owners -- the first year is always the scariest and challenging. It's probably also the most exciting, because everything is new, everything is unknown, and you see opportunities everywhere.

While my first year as a jewelry designer is about to come to an end, I'm just starting my first year as a jewelry supplier. Believe it or not, I don't feel less nervous than one year ago.I told my friend Shelly, a seasoned jewelry supplier, how I felt, and her response really comforted me --

"It is scary and sometimes you will choose wrong. But hopefully, mostly you will choose right. Even when you choose wrong, you can usually get at least part of your money back out. I wish you the best of luck! Here's to prosperity! :~) "

I know part of my nerves come from being too critical about my mistakes.Unfortunately I did make some not-so-great business decisions last year, but I suppose there was no way I could avoid every mistake, because I just had no clue about what I was doing when I was a newbie!

Well, since mysupplyshop opened last Saturday, I've made 7 sales, and I'm VERY happy about it. I haven't had much time listing new items, but I'll try to add more items over time. Meanwhile, these new sales also made me realize I need some packing supplies for my supply shop..yeah, confusing, I know. Running a business is a little too complicated for my small brain.


mu-yin jewelry said...

tongue twister..."I need supplies for MYsupplyshop, my supply shop"-- why did I give my supply shop such a strange name? lol

Meghann said...

You are a real inspiration - yes you make mistakes - we all do, but you have come out of the first year knowing how to improve and THAT is invaluable. I wish you much continued success and happiness in your journey :)

by Patricia Wood said...

Thank you for sharing:) Love your work.

Izile said...

Your stuff is so amazing, you deserve all the confidence and reassurance you can muster!

Meekiyu said...

I hear you it takes a lot to build up confidence and to learn the ways of anything you do. Glad you're doing so awesome and learned so much! I'm wearing the ring right now =D. All my coworkers and friends have said how wonderful it is! =D

Anonymous said...

I think your jewelry is very beautiful! Two things to remember before you step out and become overly critical of yourself are these:

As artists, we just crave to have beauty around us. So if you have to buy beads just because they are pretty, so what? As long as it's not too many.

We learn through making mistakes! If you don't make any, you probably won't progress and grow!

mu-yin jewelry said...

I think one reason it annoys me so much is that sometimes when you make a wrong decision it involves your hard earned cash..Just like when I paid for advertisements that yielded not results, it really upset me to see that I just threw my money away!But, owning a business
always involves risks.Even though i'm not doing any craft shows, I can imagine how frustrating it must be when you pick a "wrong" craft show and end up losing money and time.

Tammi said...

Your blog post was very inspiring and included a lot of great information for us "no-more-day-job" wannabees. Thanks for sharing and keep up the great work. :D

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