Monday, August 30, 2010

Learning about business stuff

We're having a laid-back day at home today.  Cleaning, laundry, and a little art for me, bike riding, playing, videos for the kids, and no deadline for any of it - I like it.  These beads will be fired in a couple weeks, and I'll use them to make some more necklaces.  I need to learn some more simple jewelry-making skills.  It's fun, but I don't want to compete with the serious jewelry artisans on Etsy.  These are just a another way to present my designs.  The beads look rather tribal or Bohemian to me, so I've been putting them on plain leather cords with minimal silver accents.  I'm sure more could be done with them, but for now this is enough for me.  I've sold one necklace already, and I hope to sell more around the holidays.  I may use some as gifts, too.  I have one I kept for myself, done with olive green swirls and black accent dots on a black silk cord.

One of the things I'd like to do in the new year is expand my designs to include multiple colors - designs in all the colors of the rainbow, as the mood suits me.  I think black/white/red will always be my favorite color combination for these designs, but I'd like to play with the idea too - brown swirls with pink, green designs with black, all sorts of blues and earth tones, pieces that combine all sorts of shapes and colors to form new pictures and designs.  I'd like to do tiles, plates, platters, and larger vases.  You could say I'm developing a broader vision for what I'd like to do.

Part of that expanding vision includes getting my own kiln, so I can control all aspects of production - especially TIME.  Working with The Clay Ground in Vestal, NY, and the Earth Paint and Fire studio in Corning, NY, has been good, but I don't live near them any more, and getting pieces to/from there has become a real logistical problem.   There's so much I'd love to try and do, but the cost of buying pieces through them, and either traveling to get them/drop them off or having them shipped is prohibitive.  I usually combine pick up/drop off trips with family visits, but it means I'm getting to each studio about once every 4 weeks.  That doesn't make for a very quick turnaround time to get things done.

I also have some ceramics and paintings at The Lemon Tree in Wake Forest, NC.   Stacey has been so nice to work with there, but I don't know how much longer I'll be sending stuff down there.  I've only had three sales through her shop in over a year, and I've got a lot of inventory tied up there.  The cost of the commission essentially negates my profit on the ceramics - to make a reasonable profit, I have to have really high prices on the items, but at that price point things aren't selling.  The shop is expanding to include a cafe.  My husband is urging me to stick with them through the holidays, since they're established now, and are likely to see more traffic this year.  I think his advice is good, but unless I have some serious sales this holiday season, I don't think I'll be able to justify keeping my items there.  Learning the ins/outs of running a business is taking me a while.  I've got a lot to learn, and a long way to go.

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