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.


Recharging – Lori Anderson

21 09 2008

No matter what job you have, whether it’s CEO of a Fortune 500 company or mommy to three, you have take time to recharge.  Doing the same tasks over and over again, no matter how enjoyable, can cause some serious burn-out.  A lot of people feel guilty if they’re not constantly working — because working is what pays the bills.  But if you don’t stop for a second, your happiness might take a nose dive.

I love making jewelry, but there are days when I just can’t look at another bead.  My creativity dwindles when I’m overworked, and even if I have a show looming on the horizon, I have to take a break.

So what do I do?

I catch up on reading my favorite blogs, play a video game (yeah, I know I’m 39, but it’s a guilty pleasure), I read a book.  I take my son Zack to a museum, or spend a day at Barnes and Noble.  I do something, anything, that takes my mind off designing and beads and jewelry and craft shows.

My major burn out always comes right after the Christmas rush.  A week before Christmas, I put away all the beads and I don’t make jewelry for a while.  That’s the time when I turn to other business stuff, like figuring out my business plan for the coming year or preparing for taxes.  That doesn’t sound like much fun, but doing something related to my work (non-design-related) actually does help me recharge and re-energize.

Regardless of what your work is, you have to take a break to maintain your sanity.  If you don’t, your creations will get stale, and you’ll lose your drive.  So even if it’s a short walk around the block or a moment to eat a particularly decadent chocolate bar, take the time.  And enjoy it.


Lori Anderson sells her jewelry at craft shows, on Etsy, and on her web site. She creates and blogs from Easton, MD.