If I Had Only Known

20 02 2009

As I’ve mentioned before, I got into the jewelry design business completely and totally by accident.  I didn’t take a class, just jumped in with both feet and started messing around and figuring things out for myself. 

Almost immediately, I took my hobby into a business.  Looking back, there are so many things I wish I’d known:

1)  Beads will take over your life

 Do not fight this.  So from the start, get a huge storage system in place.  It will be full sooner than you know.  The quicker you allocate studio space, the quicker you’ll be able to find things when you need them — and know what you have so you don’t keep buying the same supply over and over again!

2)  Take some classes early on. 

I don’t know how long it was before I learned how to make a perfect wrapped loop, but at first, I had no idea how.  And it showed.

dream-2a13)  Explore different mediums

Right now, I’m a stringing/wire work jewelry designer.  I know traditional metalsmithing and lampwork bead making, but I’ve gotten so involved with keeping inventory up for the shows I do that I don’t have much time to look into other things, or hone new skills.  If I’d started exploring new mediums sooner, who knows what I’d be making now … altered art?  Woven wire?  PMC?.  It also would have helped me figure out what direction I wanted to go with my jewelry — what did I want my primary market to be?  I didn’t allow myself enough experimentation time before starting to sell.

4)  If you’re going to sell your work, use the best beads you can afford. 

I should have been pickier when I first started selling my work.  I cringe now at what I was using.  This doesn’t mean you have to start with AAA London Blue Topaz, but if you’re going to be serious about selling, be serious about your beads.

5)  Get a handle on your pricing structure right away. 

I quickly learned that my retail prices weren’t going to support a wholesale after-the-storm-2business.  I also learned that because I started with such cheap beads, it was a little difficult for my customers to get used to prices once I discovered beauties like handmade glass.  (Another good reason to make sure you’re happy with your craft before you start selling it!)  Additionally, decide right away if you’re going after the wholesale or retail market.  Each one has its own peculiarities, and it’s often a good idea to choose one or the other.

 

I feel pretty lucky that five years later, things have turned out as well as they have.  But it sure would have made a difference if I knew then what I know now.

 

Lori Anderson sells her jewelry at craft shows  and on www.lorianderson.net, taking time to write on her blog, www.prettythingsblog.com.  She creates in her studio in Easton, MD.





The Journey – Lori Anderson

19 06 2008

When I looked at my given topic this month and saw it labeled as, “The Journey”, I thought of several ways this article could go.  I thought, WHICH journey?  The journey I take each day when I sit to design?  The journey that it takes to find my creative self in the midst of a chaotic day?  Or the journey I took to get to this point in my life, where I make pretty things for a living?

I thought it might be interesting to try the latter — how I ended up where I am now, where I have the absolute joy of actually making a living making jewelry.  It’s a strange, convoluted journey, with lots of twists, turns, and almosts, and it will tell you a little more about me, and in the end, why my jewelry is so eclectic, and doesn’t adhere to one given style.

chem gearI’ll start with my first real-world job.  It’s as far from jewelry design as it could possibly be — four years in the US Air Force.  Joining right from high school, I spent a year in California learning Korean, and then off to Osan AB, Korea, to work an intel position.  Lots of fun, except for chemical exercises (see photo for the reason why!), but no beading.  I never even thought of it. 

After four years in Korea, I left the military for the civilian world, and held a few different jobs, mostly in marketing.  While marketing didn’t have a thing to do with making cool things, it DID give me a solid background that I now use everyday in how to market myself and my company. 

A quick jaunt to Italy occured when I realized I was never going to quite be complete without a college degree.  I spent the three months before classes started living in Italy, teaching aerobics for spending money. I fell in love with Venice and, of course, Murano glass.  I spent my time admiring the vases and large sculptures, never dreaming that glass beads were going to become an integral part of my future career.  Oh, if I’d only known then what I know now, and had a bunch of money to spend on beads!

Next came college — two years at community college, then finishing off a four-year degree at the University of Virginia, majoring in Biology.  I’d taken nearly every microbiology and teeny-tiny-things bio class I could, and was in pre-med, so I’d had lots of time in chem labs.  THAT gave me an attention to detail that I use now in each piece I make — it has to be JUST so, down to the ending bit.

After self-imposed poverty while getting that degree, I decided to take a year off to make some money before med school, and ended up in the IT world, smack-dab in the middle of the dot.com explosion.  Once again, I found myself working in sales and marketing, and gained more skills that would eventually serve me well when I owned my own little company.zack

Another twist in the road — meeting my husband!  Deciding to have a family rather than spend up to age 40 in internships, I happily got married, and discovered while making wedding programs, table cards, and favors that I had a bit of a creative side.  I very nearly took the tests to become a wedding coordinator but then, oh joy, we were expecting a baby!

While I was pregnant, I spent part of the time on bed rest, and my friend brought me some beads to keep me busy.  Uh oh.  Kinda got hooked.  I didn’t have time until after Zack was about 8 months old to really play around seriously with the beads, but it was addictive.  I sent some things to my mom, who took them to her office, and they sold — and all of a sudden, I had a business! 

Now I do about 16 craft shows a year, have tutorials in magazines and a book, have been a mentor to a few new crafters, and have never had a job I loved more.  I feel so lucky.  All of those twists and turns in my life could have led me anywhere — a career military sergeant, a PeopleSoft IT professional, a doctor, a wedding planner.  Each of those stops along the way gave me something to take with me to this part of my Journey.  And I couldn’t be happier.

 

 

You can see Lori’s work at www.lorianderson.net and www.lori2.com.

Her blog is at www.lorianderson.blogspot.com

 

 





Style – Lori Anderson

25 05 2008
necklaceStyle. When I think of style, I think of what makes a person unique, what makes them special, what makes them THEM.
Some people express their style by their hair style (or color!), clothing, or mannerisms. My personal clothing style is pretty bland. I own a short-sleeved and long-sleeved t-shirt in pretty much every color available, plain and unadorned, and wear that with jeans. My personality, and my style, comes through when I wear all kinds of jewelry with those plain, boring t-shirts. The shirt may be ordinary, but the jewelry is anything but!
When customers visit my booth at a craft show and pick up an exciting, whimsical necklace, or an elegant, glittering bracelet, they often say, “I love it, but I don’t know what I’d wear it with.” I always have to chuckle and say, “See what I’m wearing?” Yep, it’s jeans and a t-shirt, and that necklace they just complimented me on five minutes ago. They didn’t even notice the clothing — they zeroed in on the jewelry. And that’s my style. I’m “The Jewelry Lady”. To heck with the latest fashions. It’s all about the jewelry I choose to wear each and every day.

Pick your own style. Make it your own. Have fun reading up on “the latest” but don’t stress over it. Your style should be like your signature, unique and YOURS.

Discover it, explore it, and celebrate it!

 

 

 





Motivation – Lori Anderson

29 02 2008

Motivation is one of those intangible things that I can’t really define as it pertains to ME.  It seems to change all the time.  So I’ll give you some “for-instances”. 

  • I’m motivated when my design table gets overloaded with beads, to the point where I can’t see the table top any longer.  I start picking up whatever’s on the table, and I MUST make something with it.  That way I clear the table and have a lot of new things made, too – but wait, now what do I do with all the beads I took out to accent the beads that WERE on the table……

Messy Studio  

  • I’m motivated when I have a show coming up.  I always like to have new things at each show, and it seems that the couple of weeks before a show I go into overdrive.

  • I’m motivated when I have the house to myself.  If I have no interruptions, I turn on TIVO’d programs to listen to (CSI, Cold Case Files, things like that) and go to town.  I so rarely get alone time that it’s a real treat, and I use it!

  • I’m motivated by some inner drive that keeps me going – the desire to constantly change, to constantly improve what I do, to every now and then make something that really amazes me.

    Motivation is such a personal thing, and it can take on many faces.  Whatever it is for you, I hope that it propels you into new and exciting ventures this year!  








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