Many times, a person has walked into my booth at a craft show and said, “Oh, I just took a jewelry class — this job would be so much easier than my real job”, or “It must be nice to have a hobby”. Well. I’m here to tell you, that yes, it’s a wonderful job, but no, it sure isn’t easy.
Making jewelry is the fun part. However, it’s the things that go on behind the scenes that make it challenging, difficult, trying, and often exhausting.
If you decide to go the show circuit, there’s paying application fees, turning in applications to shows by the deadline, waiting to hear back (and having a back up if you don’t get in), building a booth, constantly tweaking said booth to keep it interesting and fresh, and putting in some long days on the weekends. You sleep in hotels, eat out, and drive long hours on the road. If the show is outdoors, you worry about the weather — will your booth get destroyed, will your work get destroyed, will you get destroyed by the heat?
If you decide shows aren’t for you and go for a presence on the internet, you still have hours of work. I take lots of photographs, PhotoShop to get them right, resize, insert into the web site, write the text — for each piece of jewelry.
Then there’s the accounting side — entering every single receipt (mine are currently in a huge stack, backlogged three months), entering all the invoices, printing out shipping labels, packaging, and mailing. There’s researching new suppliers, keeping inventory, and don’t forget paying taxes, including sales tax in every single state you do a craft show in.
These are just the basics. I also teach classes, write tutorials for magazines, and am trying (TRYING) to carve out time to hone new techniques. I have a family with an active five-year old who is first in our lives. So often, all of my work gets done in fits and starts and late at night, and there is no such thing as an eight-hour day, five-days a week — it’s ALWAYS.
That being said, it’s my favorite job of the varied ones I’ve had. I’ve been in the Air Force, I’ve been in sales, I’ve taught aerobics. But I love being a jewelry designer. And I’d encourage anyone who wants to make it their living to try it. Being in business for yourself can be incredibly rewarding. Make a plan, and tackle it. Seek out mentors. And above all — even when you’re eating at McDonalds with three hours on the road still until you reach the show location — remember that you’re your own boss, and that, I’m telling you, is priceless.