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Coraal Robinson  - June 5th 2021

5 things you need to know

MHELLO ALL! MY NAME IS SERENA, I AM A SELF-TAUGHT JEWELRY-MAKER AND SMALL BUSINESS OWNER. I STARTED RUBYTOBLUE ABOUT FIVE YEARS AGO AND AM BEST KNOWN FOR CREATING THE WORLD’S FIRST BIKINI SCRAP EARRINGS. IN THE SPAN OF THESE FIVE YEARS, MY BUSINESS HAS GROWN IMMENSELY -- BUT IT WASN’T EASY. WHEN I WAS TAKING THE FIRST STEPS WITH RUBYTOBLUE, THERE WERE VERY FEW ONLINE RESOURCES AND USEFUL TIPS ON HOW TO RUN A HANDMADE JEWELRY BUSINESS. SO, I AM HERE NOW TO SHARE THE FIVE MOST IMPORTANT LESSONS I’VE LEARNED ALONG MY JOURNEY BECAUSE I GENUINELY WANT TO HELP GROW YOUR JEWELRY BUSINESS AND PROVIDE ADVICE EVERY STEP OF THE WAY SO THAT YOU TOO CAN TAKE THE LEAP, QUIT THAT BORING 9-5 JOB, AND MAKE MONEY DOING WHAT YOU LOVE! 

#1 PROGRESS IS SLOW AND GRADUAL 

IT IS SO EASY TO GET DISCOURAGED AND CAUGHT UP IN COMPARISONS WHEN YOU START YOUR OWN SMALL BUSINESS, ESPECIALLY IN THE CREATIVE FIELD. I HAVE SPENT WAY TOO MANY DAYS DWELLING ON IMPRACTICAL GOALS AND ULTIMATELY ENDING UP UPSET AND DOWN ON MYSELF WHEN THEY AREN’T MET (OF COURSE MY COLLECTION DROP WASN’T GOING TO SELL OUT IN MINUTES WITH ONLY 200 INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS). IT TAKES TIME TO BUILD YOUR BRAND AND ESTABLISH CUSTOMER TRUST. ENSURING YOUR WEBSITE IS PROFESSIONAL, YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS ARE CONSISTENT AND REPRESENTATIVE OF YOUR OWN UNIQUE STYLE, AND YOUR BIO DRAWS POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS IN ARE EASY WAYS TO INITIATE TRUST AND IMPROVE ENGAGEMENT FOR YOUR BUSINESS! AGAIN, IT IS IMPORTANT TO BE PATIENT WITH THE PROCESS AND PUT IN SOME SWEAT (AND TEARS, LET’S BE REAL) INTO YOUR BRAND TO SEE REAL PROFITS AND EXCEL IN THE INDUSTRY. 

#2 DON’T COPY THE WORK OF ANOTHER JEWELRY ARTIST

THIS ONE IS HUGE! I WILL ADMIT, I STRUGGLED WITH ORIGINALITY WHEN I FIRST STARTED MY JEWELRY-MAKING CAREER. I WAS INSPIRED BY A WOMAN AT MY LOCAL FARMER’S MARKET -- I ADMIRED HER SUCCESS IN A CREATIVE CAREER AND WAS OBSESSED WITH HER HANDCRAFTED PIECES. SO OBSESSED IN FACT, THAT I CREATED ALMOST THE EXACT SAME EARRINGS BASED ON ONE OF HER DESIGNS. AT THIS TIME, I WAS SO NAIVE THAT I WENT AND SHOWED HER MY CREATION WITH THE IRRATIONAL BELIEF THAT SHE WOULD BE PROUD. ULTIMATELY, THIS WASN’T THE CASE AND I LEARNED A VALUABLE LESSON VERY QUICKLY -- INSPIRATION AND BLATANT COPYING ARE TWO VERY DIFFERENT THINGS. SELLING OTHER PEOPLE’S DESIGNS AS YOUR OWN IS NEVER OKAY. I NOW HAVE SMALL BUSINESSES BEGINNING TO COPY MY ORIGINAL BIKINI SCRAP EARRING DESIGN AS THEIR OWN AND I UNDERSTAND HOW THE WOMAN AT THE FARMER’S MARKET MUST HAVE FELT. IT IS EXTREMELY DISHEARTENING TO SEE MY WORK BEING CLAIMED BY OTHER BRANDS BECAUSE THE UNIQUE PIECES THAT I CREATE FOR RUBYTOBLUE ARE SOMETHING I TAKE GREAT PRIDE IN AND THAT FEEL SO TRUE TO ME AND MY LIFESTYLE. IN THE END, I AM TRYING TO TAKE IT AS FLATTERY AND HOPING TO SPREAD THE WORD ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN INSPIRATION AND COPYING. DESIGNERS (ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO OWN SMALL BUSINESSES) PUT SO MUCH TIME AND ENERGY INTO INNOVATIVE DESIGNS THAT ARE UNIQUE TO THEM, AND STEALING THOSE IDEAS AS YOUR OWN NOT ONLY DISCREDITS ALL THEIR HARD WORK BUT ALSO CREATES A DISHONORABLE IMAGE FOR YOUR BRAND. 

#3 YOU HAVE TO SPEND MONEY TO MAKE MONEY

WHEN I FIRST STARTED MY BUSINESS I NEGLECTED TO CONSIDER THE REAL EXPENSES OF GETTING IT UP AND RUNNING. I’M TALKING SUPPLIES, STUDIO EXPENSES, VENDOR FEES, AND SO MUCH MORE. AS A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER, YOU ARE INVESTING SO MUCH CASH BACK INTO YOUR BUSINESS THAT YOU REALLY DON’T START SEEING A PROFIT FOR A WHILE (SO, DON’T GET DISCOURAGED, THIS IS NORMAL!). FOR A JEWELRY BUSINESS IN PARTICULAR, MOST OF MY EXPENSES ARE MATERIALS, SUPPLIES, AND MY OWN TIME. IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GETTING INTO. A JEWELRY BUSINESS IS COSTLY, ESPECIALLY IF YOU WORK WITH QUALITY MATERIALS. HOWEVER, IT WASN’T UNTIL I STARTED PUTTING SOME REAL MONEY INTO MY BUSINESS THAT I STARTED TO SEE VALUABLE GROWTH. HONOR YOUR TIME AND DON’T UNDERVALUE YOURSELF!

#4 PRICE YOUR PIECES ACCORDINGLY

MAKING QUALITY JEWELRY BY HAND TAKES PRECISION, DEDICATION, AND SO MUCH TIME. AS WITH ANY CREATIVE CAREER, IT IS SO IMPORTANT TO VALUE YOUR TIME, HONOR YOUR UNIQUE CREATIONS (AND THE TIRELESS TRIAL AND ERROR IT TAKES TO TRULY BRING THE VISION TO LIFE), AND PRICE YOUR PIECES ACCORDINGLY. HERE’S AN EASY WAY TO BREAK IT DOWN AND ENSURE YOU’RE PRICING YOUR PIECES HIGH ENOUGH: GIVE YOURSELF AN HOURLY RATE AND TIME HOW LONG IT TAKES YOU TO CREATE A SPECIFIC PIECE OF JEWELRYKNOW THE COST TO THE PENNY OF YOUR MATERIALS FOR THAT PIECE & DOUBLE IT!SO, IF YOU SPENT ONE HOUR CREATING A PIECE, YOU BELIEVE YOU ARE WORTH $25 AN HOUR, AND MATERIALS COST ABOUT $5 FOR THAT PIECE, THE TOTAL COST WOULD BE $35. THIS ENSURES THAT YOU’RE NOT UNDERVALUING YOUR TIME AND YOU’RE ALSO DOUBLING YOUR PROFIT ON MATERIALS TO ENSURE THAT YOUR BUSINESS CAN SUSTAIN ITSELF AND YOU CAN CONTINUE PURSUING YOUR PASSION FOR CREATING QUALITY JEWELRY! 

#5 MAKE SURE THIS IS THE RIGHT KIND OF BUSINESS FOR YOUR LIFESTYLE

STARTING A BUSINESS FROM THE GROUND UP TAKES TIME, ENERGY, AND A SPECIFIC KIND OF PERSON. IT IS IMPORTANT TO THINK ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT YOU VALUE STRUCTURE OR A WELL-DESERVED CHALLENGE. DO YOU WORK BETTER BEING TOLD WHAT TO DO? DO YOU LIKE KNOWING YOU WILL MAKE X AMOUNT OF MONEY PER MONTH? DO YOU PREFER A SET SCHEDULE WHERE YOU CAN EASILY SEPARATE WORK/LIFE? IF YOU SAID YES TO ANY OF THESE, OWNING YOUR OWN SMALL BUSINESS MIGHT NOT BE FOR YOU. RUNNING A HANDMADE JEWELRY BUSINESS IS CHAOTIC, UNSTRUCTURED, AND YOU LITERALLY NEVER CLOCK OUT. PROFITS CAN BE INCONSISTENT (ESPECIALLY IN THE BEGINNING PHASES OF BUSINESS) AND GETTING SHIT DONE TAKES STRICT SELF-DISCIPLINE. HOWEVER, IF YOU FEEL YOU DO FIT THE PROFILE OF A PASSIONATE SMALL BUSINESS OWNER, I CAN ATTEST THAT IT IS ONE HELL OF A RIDE AND WHEN YOUR HARD WORK ACTUALLY STARTS TO PAY OFF, IT IS THAT MUCH MORE REWARDING KNOWING YOU DID IT ALL ON YOUR OWN! THERE ARE LOTS OF THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN MAKING THE SHIFT TO TURN YOUR HOBBY INTO A CAREER AND START YOUR OWN HANDMADE JEWELRY BUSINESS -- I HOPE THESE FIVE TIPS WERE HELPFUL AND MAKE THE TRANSITION A LITTLE SMOOTHER! REMEMBER, GETTING DISCOURAGED IS TOTALLY NORMAL -- PURSUING YOUR TRUE PASSION CAN BE THE SOURCE OF THE HIGHEST HIGHS AND LOWEST LOWS BECAUSE IT IS ULTIMATELY A REFLECTION OF WHO YOU ARE. DEDICATION AND PASSION WILL PAY OFF IN THE END AND I ASSURE YOU, YOUR VISION/GOAL IS ATTAINABLE! 

XOXO, RB IF YOU HAVE ANY SPECIFIC QUESTIONS OR YOU'RE A FELLOW JEWELRY-MAKER OR BUSINESS OWNER AND JUST WANT TO CHAT, PLEASE DON’T HESITATE TO REACH OUT! CONTACT: RUBYTOBLUE@GMAIL.COM

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