It’s a very practical book that you can read from cover-to-cover (in a couple of hours), or indeed dip in and out for many years to come.
If you purchase Setting Up a Successful Jewellery Business (Setting Up Guides) as a new jeweller, you probably don’t need too many other business books to get your business off the ground!
Angie is a well established jeweller herself, and she really shares a lot of very practical advice and insights in this book.
A great benefit of this book is also the inclusion of some very practical worksheets, such as how to calculate annual overheads, how to price a piece of jewellery, and how to do a Gantt chart plan and cash flow forecasts.
She includes a very good list of things to take to a trade show. Also included are examples and descriptions of a Sale or Return agreement, Sale or Return delivery note, invoice and pro forma invoice. All of these are really practical and you can create your own copies easily from these examples.
Setting Up a Successful Jewellery Business (Setting Up Guides) is aimed at the complete starter, but it also would appeal to many people in the first ten years of setting up as it gives so much practical information. The book is A5 size, soft cover, 111 pages (about 6mm thick).
What I really like about this book is Angie’s writing style, which is direct, witty and very clearly from her own personal experience.
She gives solid, realistic business advice.
The Design Trust invited Angie to do a talk this year at the New Designers graduate exhibition where she attracted a big audience. In a way, this book is very much written in her speaking voice.
To give you a good idea of this book, here are some of the specific gems of information and style that I wanted to share with you:
- On finding your niche:‘… have a sense of where your jewellery sits in the grand scheme of things. The jewellery world is vast and diverse, and knowing where you fit in will help guide your business decisions along the way.’
- On conducting market research:‘The term might sound dry and analytical, but market research can be anything but that. Going to see jewellery at exhibitions, galleries, and shops is crucial to maintaining an awareness of the field, and should become an ongoing part of your work.’
- Do I have to charge retail prices to the public? ‘Yes, you do.’
- On underselling that attracts the wrong customers:‘Who would you rather have as a loyal, repeat customer? The one who tries to beat you down on price, because she heard that you did a deal for a friend of hers? Or would you rather have a visit from the kind and considerate person who understands and appreciates the value of your work and is happy to pay the price that you ask? Each customer takes the same amount of your time; no doubt the latter will be not only more profitable to deal with, but more pleasant as well.
- On getting an agent to represent you: ‘It is rare in the UK for a jewellery designer/maker to have an agent, but common in the US. When you are exhibiting at a trade fair you may be approached by agents. As with any business transaction, do not agree to anything immediately; do your research. Ask who else they represent and contact these people to find out more about working with the agent.’
- On pros and cons of Sale or Return: ‘The mention of SOR is likely to elicit an exasperated rolling of the eyes from most jewellery designers. After all, life would be easier if we could all just get paid for our goods in 30 days like most people. As difficult as it is, however, SOR does have some benefits and should not be dismissed out of hand.’
- On working to commission: ‘The client may not be happy with your initial designs, of course, and you might be asked to make changes or to suggest alternatives. This is normal. Unfortunately, you can’t really charge any extra for this, as it is all part of the design process; the client cannot be expected to pay more in the event that he or she is not satisfied with your first concept. Once the design is approved, it is customary to ask for a 50% payment up front. This ensures the client is committed to the process and should allow you to buy the materials without being out of pocket.’
- On displaying your work at a show:‘Like a valuable oil painting, an exquisite piece of jewellery needs a frame – in other words, space around it. This lends an importance to the work, drawing the eye to the piece and allowing it to rest there. For this reason, you can be sparse with expensive or otherwise important work. It should make a statement.’
- On email marketing:‘Do not even think about buying lists of email addresses. The rest of the world hates junk mail as much as you do. Instead, collect relevant email addresses at every opportunity. At exhibitions, have a mailing list book. Better yet, have some sort of raffle or prize draw which encourages potential customers to give you their email addresses. Be careful that you do this legally, however. Currently customers need to opt in (in other words, to tick a box) to allow you to send them information by email.
- On essential time management:‘Although you might call yourself a jewellery designer/maker, you are actually much more than that. You are finance officer, marketing director, salesperson, cleaner and tea maker. Managing these very different tasks is a skill in itself, and there are many tools out there, digital and otherwise, which are designed to help you manage your time more effectively. My personal favourite is the Gantt chart.’
- On essential money management: ‘Whenever I am asked what my one piece of advice would be to jewellery start-ups, my answer is the same: do a cash flow forecast. It sounds boring, but it is extremely important. If you fail to complete this relatively simple task, you have no idea if your business even has a chance of staying afloat.’