Harnesses, & Fossils, & Beads! Oh My!

Hi, glad to have you back. I’ve got more for you from my beading table.

Harness

The purple, netted necklace I’m working on is coming along fine. I’ve completed what I’ve come to call the “harness” and started the netting. 20160729_225156I picked “harness” up from another person’s tutorial (http://biser-master.ru/27-zhgut-ndebele-na-2-biseriny.html), which was in Russian. I don’t speak Russian, but Google can translate pages. The Russian word for “necklace” gets translated as “harness”. I like this because it describes what this part of my purple necklace is designed to do. It is holding the netting. That means it is a harness. The harness holds certain key beads in the netting pattern (clear crystal). I’ll hang my netting on these and the netting will maintain it’s shape.

Fossils

If you’re from Michigan, you’ll recognize these beauties. What are these stones?20160801_130349They are my all time favorite “rock”. That’s probably because I used to collect them and polish them and they are the Michigan state fossil. I do have a bunch of my own, but they are too large for jewelry, and I don’t have the equipment to change that. I (gasp!) bought these. The minute I saw them, I knew they were mine. I will be making some pendants with these. Check this blog to see how they are coming along, and maybe reserve one for you!

Beads

I’m working on a video tutorial to teach my readers how to do the Nepal Chain Stitch. It works up quick and is easy and looks good. The perfect candidate for a video. I have a sample in sliver, blue, and black.

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Come back next week to see what’s beading!

The Color Purple

I accidentally bought a 500 g bag of seed beads.It was a clicking error on my part. When I got my shipment from the bead company, I thought, “Wow, 35g is a lot of beads.” Duh! Reading the packing slip cleared that up.

The pencil is there to help you with scale.

How many beads did I get? Think of a square plastic container, like those from Ziploc or Glad with the blue lids. Imagine it full of tiny beads. That’s 500 g. It didn’t occur to me to return them. They are what beaders call AB. They are “frosted” so that they change from their first color, A, to their second color, B, when the light shifts. I adore them, the little lovelies of lilac with a pale shimmer of blue.

 

What should I do with that many beads? Let’s just say you’ll be seeing alot of lilac in upcoming projects!

fringe1
Here’s the first project, already availble for sale (https://www.artfire.com/ext/shop/product_view/CBeadedDesigns/13286204/fringe_japanese_seed_beads_and_bugles)

What’s on my beading tray now? This will be a netted necklace with amethyst drops. I’ve taken the last few days to work out the stitching scheme. This is the very beginning and I’m making the top row of the necklace now.

The start of project 2!

My little sketch may help you imagine what I’m planning.

 

That’s all from my beading tray for now. As I work this up, I’ll keep you posted. You can watch how this develops.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drum roll please…

Scrollwork Locktamer – Jeffrey Praski

Dreamweaver (with stick) – Bonnie Durgin

You are wondering why there are two names. I had a hard time deciding AND I needed a name for the smaller version of Thing 1 that I was calling Thing 2.

  • Large hair keeper, formerly Thing 1 = Scrollwork Locktamer
  • Small hair keeper, formerly Thin2 = Dreamweaver

Congratulations Bonnie and Jeff P.! Your prizes will ship at the end of this week. I’ll send you an email with tracking info.

Thanks for your participation everyone!

 

Thing 1 Contest

I rather like calling my hair holder Hair Thing 1, but that name doesn’t match my tagline “elegant beaded jewelry and accessories”. I need a new name, so I’m having a contest. Here are the rules.

  1. Anyone can participate (gentlemen, I expect some creative ideas from you!).
  2. The name should mention, or allude to, hair so that customers know what Thing 1 is for.
  3. Nothing insulting or vulgar is allowed.
  4. The more creative, the better!
  5. I choose the winner. If there are no winners, then I’ll run the contest again at a later date. Once I have a winner, the name is mine, but in the details section of my shop I’ll mention who gave me the name.
  6. Your prize will be the fabulous Hair Thing 1! Gentlemen, I know you may not wear it, but I’m certain there’s a lady in your life that will.
  7. Contest starts July 6 and runs until July 14.
  8. Type your entry in the reply box below, or send me an email at cbd@cbeadedesigns.com

Making a Handmade Business – Keep the Risks Low

You’re starting a new business, which by its very nature is high risk. Of course you want to keep the risk as low as possible. I refer to a business plan here, and you can read about writing that in my previous post “The Business Plan”. In this article I discuss basic topics to keep risks low that I think are important.

Don’t quit your day job. You will need funds to buy supplies, set up your web presence, and maybe rent physical space. Keep your job until your business is making a profit. Estimates on the amount of time this takes varies. You should give yourself at least a year and asses your business at that time. If you don’t have a day job and the new business is going to be your day job, I strongly recommend getting at least a part time job to fund start up costs. This will have to be balanced with the amount of time required to make your product and the other responsibilities in your life. I discuss other possible funding below. The most important part of this step: be patient. Don’t drive yourself to the point where stress is destroying you. Remember, making your product is supposed to be FUN. If it’s not, you’re pushing too hard.

 

Work from home. If you’re a tile layer, you certainly can’t do this. Many small businesses can be and are started in the home. This is because there is no additional cost for work space, and is a way to save your precious start-up funds. If you choose this option, create a dedicated work space and be sure to make the rules clear to your family: don’t touch what’s here, don’t bother me while I’m here, etc. With a dedicated work space, you are able to leave your work-in-progress undisturbed. Do expect interruptions. It can’t be avoided if you’re working from your home. Plan your work day accordingly. Do the things that can’t be interrupted while the kids are at school. Other things that you can put down can be done when they’re home. You can also use this space as a tax exemption, but more on that in a later post.

 

Start with your mid-priced items. You don’t (at least I didn’t) have much starting funds. When it comes to supplies, find a wholesale company. You will probably need more than one supplier. I have found one supplier for gemstones and one for seed beads. Do the research before buying and find a good supplier. Google works well for this. Don’t spend all your allocated funds on supplies for a product that gives two pieces that cost your customer $75 each. The customers willing to spend $75 on an unknown are few and far between. Start with an item that has a low supply cost and a reasonable price for a customer coming to a new vendor. I started my business with earrings that started at $15 and went as high as $28. I’ll talk about pricing your items in another article. I chose these items because the price was something I’d be willing to pay if I visited a new store for the first time. You know your industry, so choose products that as a consumer you would find to be a reasonable cost.

 

Open a business bank account. You’ve saved up your start-up money, now get it out of your personal account and into a business account. Keep your ledgers separate. It’s less confusing and you can track how you spend your business funds. If something with the business goes sideways, your personal funds are separate and insulated.

 

Don’t take out a loan.I’m sure many of you disagree, but hear me out.

 Line of Credit or Loan?

Both options require you to be credit-worthy. If you know you have a poor credit history, take care of that first. Both options will charge interest. Shop around to find the best rate.

Loan – disbursed as a lump sum which you pay back in fixed monthly amounts; applicable to amounts that are known and well defined; you owe the entire amount; defined period in which to pay back

Line of Credit – may require collateral; upper limit given which you draw upon as you need it; if you’re not certain what your expenses will be, this is a better option than a loan; if you don’t draw out the entire amount, it is returned to the bank and you owe only what you’ve taken out (similar to a credit card); depending on the terms you’ve agreed to, the line of credit could be open indefinitely

The risk here is if you can’t sell your product, you now have a loan to pay off and no income with which to pay it. The advantages are reduced hours at your day job and more time to make your product and funds to buy your supplies. My personal choice, because I am highly risk averse, was no loan. Everything has consequences, and no loan means saving money. Take your time and save up money. You’ve waited this long, you can wait until you’ve reached the goal in your business plan. If you can do that, great! If not, the amount you need should be calculated and put into your business plan. A nice balance is to save part of the amount you need and find funding for the remainder. There are alternatives to loans and this is what I mean by “don’t take out a loan”. See the list below.

Those are my tips. Good luck, and please add comments that will help other
small business start-ups (and me!).
Cynthia

 

Making a Handmade Business – the business plan

You think it’s not necessary to write a business plan because you’re a craftsman/woman not a corporate type. Maybe you think no one will ever see this document, so why bother? I’ll tell you why:

  1. Your planning processes is clarified and focused and your time, supplies, and effort are not wasted
  2. You know exactly how much money you need and what you need it for now and in the future.
  3. If you need a loan or other type of funding, you have a plan when the lenders ask for it

Start writing. Right now, don’t worry about format too much or about what is “supposed” to be in a business plan. This is for you right now. You’ll make it all “business” proper later if you need to (there are many free templates out there). Start off with why you want to start this business. It’s time for specifics. Do you expect to earn enough money to support your family? Or earn enough to pay off your new car? Maybe you want to earn enough to support your “habit”. That last reason is why I started. I found that creating beaded jewelry was expensive, and I thought if I sold a few pieces that would pay for more.

 Let’s Discuss the Obvious

Name your business. Take your time with this. You can even wait until you’re done writing the business plan, but you need to think about it now. Everything you do with this business will be branded, and you want that name to stand out.

While this is running through your head, you also need to consider your target buyer. If you’re making expensive clothes and targeting college students, your business will fail. Think carefully about your ideal customer. Mine makes me nervous. I’m targeting women that like elegant jewelry and can afford it. These women have good taste and an eye for details. What if their eye for detail picks up an error in my work? Will they still buy it? Will they tell the world I’m a horrible artisan? Maybe, and so that puts some pressure on me. However, the right people are SEEING me. My business is less likely to fail because my target customer can afford my product.

State where you will sell. You can have a brick and mortar location or one option available in the 21st century is an online cart. Places like Etsy and ArtFire provide digital storefronts for your goods. All businesses (or at least all with smart owners) have an online presence (a topic for another article). You should too. You will need a brick and mortar location because you will need some type of workshop. Craft fairs are a great place to sell. Check your community to see what’s coming. Many small businesses start at home. I have a corner of the basement that a friend calls the Jewelry Station. You’ve probably already decided about your workshop, don’t neglect your online presence either. Write step by step what you want (a bulleted list works great). This is your time to write a wish list. Examples of things on the list would be a table to work at, stands for tools, an ergonomic chair, new tools, and you get the idea.

Determine what you will sell. So, I’ve decided to sell jewelry. Done. Not really. Earrings? Bracelets? Necklaces? All of that? How many of each? Which ones? There is a lot to decide here. Make another wish list of all the designs and ideas you’d like produce. Be clear and specific and include drawings or photos of prototypes. How many of each? Well, that’s something you’ll have to research for your industry. Storage room may be an important consideration.

Prune your lists. You’ve made your lists and now it’s time to see what can be supported now and what will have to wait until later to be upgraded. Do not delete any items, just move them to a list that is for future projects. In my case, my wish list included tools. It became clear that with the startup funds I had, I had to choose between new tools and supplies. My old tools worked, they just hurt my hands. My plan listed new tools as future purchases. I chose 5 earrings to produce. I had a lot more designs and plans than that, but I had to be realistic about time and costs. I ended up with 2 lists: one with what I could do with my start-up funds, the second with what I’d do once I was making a profit.

Develop a timeline. Be specific. List due dates for yourself. I had a goal to build inventory of my 5 designs. I wanted 5 sets by June 19, and I was starting May 16. Why did I choose those dates? I wanted to officially launch my business when I got back from vacation on June 27. There is nothing magical about those dates. They are what worked for me. Choose what works for you. At the same time, I was setting up my online presence and included deadlines for that work as well. Do not create difficult to reach deadlines. There is no purpose behind “pushing” or “testing” yourself. What you’re actually doing is setting yourself up for failure. Instead, set yourself up for success. Create deadlines that can be met with a minimum of stress. Remember, making your product is supposed to be fun! Keep in mind that this document will also take time to write. Depending on demands on your time, it could take days. Don’t sweat it, “just keep swimming”.

Explain your funding. Once again, be specific. Are you going to use your savings to buy supplies? Do you have money already set aside? Pull out those lists I mentioned earlier. Everything on the final list needs to be paid for. If your workshop is your home, then that’s already paid for. Your list of future projects and needs should be examined. Will you pay for these things with the profits from what you first sell? Or do you want it all now? If you want all it now, you’re going to have to convince someone to give you money. Will you get a loan? What institutions will you research? Maybe you can get a grant and need to do some research. I found that a table works well for organizing these ideas. Make deadlines for yourself and include them on your timeline. Up to this point, writing this document has been just for your benefit. If you’re going for a loan, then your business plan becomes something even more important.

Plan your marketing strategy. I’ve noticed that most artisans like this even less than procuring funding. I fall into that group. I don’t have the luxury of ignoring this. I’m selling most of my work online, and some at craft fairs. I have to find ways to get people to visit my ArtFire shop. Below is a list of what I’ve learned. This is an on-going process, so I will post updates in this blog.

  • Get a custom domain name; and I’ll say it again Get a custom domain name
    • Yes it’s that important, it’s the 21st century and the best way for customers to find you is through the internet and the best way for them contact you is through email
    • If you have a custom domain, then you have a custom email; for example my domain is cbeadedesigns.com so my url is www.cbeadedesigns.com and my email is cbd@cbeadedesigns.com
    • I used Google Domains because it was cheap and easy, but there are other providers out there
    • GoDaddy
    • SquareSpace
    • If you’re not happy with what these guys offer, do a google search and you’ll have many more to choose from
  • Use Facebook
    • You’re either on it already or avoiding it like the plague (you can’t avoid it any longer)
    • Social media is an integral part of 21st century society, so use it to your advantage
    • I can only stomach a limited amount of social media; that’s my personal hang up. I’ve chosen to stick with just Facebook and Pinterest and am willing to pay for some of the advertising capabilities as a trade off for not being on other social media, but you choose your media (and it can be everything!)
  • Marketing Tips from Entrepeneur.com
  • Write a blog
    • Uh, oh the cat is out of the bag! The more places you are present online with your business name and branding, the easier it is for potential customers to find you
    • Follow other blogs and discussion groups and post good comments
  • Link your online sites to each other
    • Get your blog on Facebook, get your Facebook on your blog
    • Get your website on Facebook, get Facebook on your website
    • And on and on
  • Business accounts are available for most of these media
    • Facebook: do not make a whole new profile; instead from your current profile, make a business page
  • Enter a contest
    • Beading suppliers frequently have design contests; if I win, it’s great publicity; if don’t I’ve got a new design; win-win, right?
  • Create email lists
    • One is family and friends and your messages will be something like “I don’t expect you to buy, but I really need your likes/favorites and comments to improve my visibility and dependability ratings”
    • Another is potential (or past) customers where you’ll give them your Facebook page, web page, email address and a featured item that you have in stock or something special coming down the line (like a craft show you’ll be at)

That’s all for this article. I look forward to seeing your comments and my next article will be about keeping risks low when starting out.

Cynthia

One year ago today I was recovering from head trauma. I could not safely walk the path pictured. I thought I would never be able to do something like that again. Yesterday I walked it with ease. It took a year to get here, but my brain healed itself. Amazing.

Huron Harbor Lighthouse, Ohio

Last year was a year of restrictions and frustrations. Some of which I thought were permanent. I’m looking forward to this year, and being reminded that none of the symptoms are permanent. This will be a year of discovery, of feelings, that I haven’t had in a long time. Wish me luck, and I’ll see you along the path!

…just keep singing your song

It’s late and I should be sleeping. Instead I’m writing my first post. Why give up sleep time to do THIS? I’m not giving it up, it is eluding me.

I should backtrack here and introduce myself. Cynthia, owner of CBeadeDesigns, a newly minted small business that produces handmade, beaded jewelry and accessories (www.cbeadedesigns.com). I’ve named this post after a story I read to my daughter about Pete the Cat. He just keeps “walking along and singing his song. It’s all good.”

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I tell this to myself so that my “song” doesn’t drown in the mundane activities of business building or become forgotten during my sleep deprivation. I’ve been putting together the nuts bolts of my business. I’m sure you don’t have any difficulty understanding why sleep won’t come to me. You’d be wrong. My problem is that I haven’t told anyone I’m starting a business. Well, I did tell my husband. I do share everything with him (Jeffrey Bolognese).

I didn’t start off by saying to myself, “This is a secret business.” I just didn’t tell everyone. These are two different things. Oh yes they are. I didn’t keep it secret. I just worked on it and didn’t talk. See, two different things. I really did do the latter. About 90% of the not talking was that it truly did not occur to me to go out and tell everyone I know about what I was doing. The other 10% was that I didn’t want anyone telling me how I should do things. I have always been fiercely independent and, God bless her, my mother has always supported me. She was the first I told about this. My mother-in-law was the next. So, both of my moms knew before anyone else, even if they didn’t know right from the beginning. This is where my sleep deprivation comes into play. I shouldn’t feel guilty, right? I didn’t hide anything from them. It just diOdn’t occur to me to say anything until I got things ready. You know, don’t call the guests to the table before the meal is cooked. I guess I’ll get over it. Hopefully my moms will too. After all, I was just walking along and singing my song.

I told everyone else after that. I sell at craft shows and with an online cart. I got it all set up and running without any fuss. I’ll give you the gory details in a later post. My stress was minimal, almost non-existent, and when I launched it I got great compliments and will hopefully have a successful business. The advice I have for you entrepreneurs out there and those thinking they’d like to start their own business, do what is least stressful for you. Don’t worry if it’s “not what other people would do”. If telling the whole world you’re doing this gives you the support to “keep singing your song”, then do it. Trust yourself to make the right decision, and start now. You’re going to be making a lot more.