Today, I made a decision to close my Etsy shop, Carol’s Jewelry Orchard. It’s been open for ten years! Ten Years! Wow! I seriously do not know where the time has gone. During the ten years of making affordable, handcrafted jewelry, I progressed as an artist. What started as a need to have something of my own – as a stay at home mom of three young boys – stealing away to my walk-in closet to make my first pieces, I gradually grew a customer base.
Over the last ten years, I have sold my pieces in a number of different retail establishments and craft shows. They include:
- The Omni Center Craft Show – 2 times
- Cabin Chic in Osseo Wisconsin – 3 years
- Coaches Corner in Holmen Wisconsin – 4 years
- Perfect Gifts in Onalaska Wisconsin – 3 years
- Myrick Hixon Eco Park Gift shop – 2 years
- McGregor Marquette Center for the Arts in McGregor Iowa (juried), 6 years
- A.K.A. The Left Bank Shop and Gallery
- ArtZ in Amery Wisconsin (juried) – 1 season as a featured artist
as well as hosting several open house jewelry parties by invitation only to my home.
During this time, my jewelry making evolved, progressing from simple traditionally styled beaded pieces to more complex multi-stranded pieces and unique, funky, artistic, pieces of varying mediums. Glass has always been a favorite, but in recent years, I started to explore leather, and metal more frequently.
As anyone who has made a saleable product knows, one can never count on what the public will like or want to buy. There is a balance that needs to be struck between satisfying your own need for creativity and uniqueness with what the public will want and purchase. Trends come and go. They are hard to keep up with. Just as one might order supplies and gear up for a trend, it is already on the way out! I experienced this more than once. I combated it by making some staple products that were my hobby’s bread and butter….those that earned me enough to continue my craft and experiment with some new designs that might or might not sell.
I learned that display is a huge factor in whether a product sells or not. There were a couple of venues in which my items were not displayed nicely and this definitely impinged on my sales. Those items that are thrown together and not maintained in a organized pleasant presentation do not sell! Sterling silver is a great metal but it tarnishes when oxidizing. Tarnished metal does not sell. Crookedly hanging necklaces do not sell. Uneven earring displays or displays on low shelves do not sell.
It is difficult to combat the problems of display as a consigned artist. Over the years, I made efforts to assist in organizing my displays and checking on them periodically. But, aside from being a regular visitor to the retail establishment, it is a hard factor to control.
Many of the retail establishments where one can consign are not concerned about advertising YOUR business, so your display and your packaging, which might be VERY important to success are not closely attended to. In addition, many do not even allow your business card to be displayed. The exception to this was ArtZ Gallery in Amery last summer. There, I had to speak about my craft as a featured artist for the month of July (2018), and there they wanted to connect customers with artisans. It was an entirely different experience – one that made me really feel like an artist who was proud of my work.
I also take pride in the packaging of my product, so this is one disadvantage to dismantling my etsy shop. I was always proud when I shipped a product out to a customer. I do not receive that same sense of pride from being a consignee. Again, ArtZ was an exception to this experience because they did take and use my packaging and business cards.
Custom orders are another area that surprised me. Although, I aspired to provide these and even actively sought them for a while, they are time suckers. Almost always, there is no profit to be made in making custom pieces. I did make jewelry for several wedding parties which was fun and worked out fine. I also made some pieces for friends that were satisfying because they worked with me in determining what they wanted. Those custom pieces I enjoyed making. But, there were others that just seemed to be too demanding of my time and/or talents. My most satisfying custom order was a bridal jewelry set for a Russian Bride who found my shop on Etsy. I made a matching necklace, bracelet, and earrings for her out of clear swarovski crystal that she wore on her wedding day! Very cool!
My sales included places around the world, as well. I sold to customers in Australia, New Zealand, France, Spain, Finland, and Canada as well as many states in the U.S.. Shipping is expensive and in the most recent years, I kept my sales to the U.S. and Canada only.
Jewelry making brought out the creative side of my spirit. I do not intend to stop, just change gears. In fact, I just ordered over $100.00 of new supplies. And, I still took inventory to The Left Bank Gallery and Shop for the tourist season. It’s just that Etsy ran out of steam for me. The web-based retailer has ventured fair from its grass-roots, handcrafted only platform to a system much like eBay. I find I am paying fees for things I cannot even account for using. Etsy has proclaimed that sellers/shop owners can no longer have a stand alone paypal account but must have payments processes through them. I do not see this as beneficial for me, as a seller on their platform.
So, this week, starting today, my Etsy shop will be having a Shop Closing Sale. It will run through May 10th. I will close, after ten years, on May 11th. Thanks to those who have been loyal customers.