Angela Colasanti of Plum Blossom Jewelry is launching her new wholesale collection. She talks about inspiration and building a business.
ABI: What is the story behind your jewelry line?
AC: Every day, my daughter and I go out for walks along the trails in our community. As I would be hurrying along thinking about my day or what I was planning for dinner, she would often stop and linger, picking up little bits of leaves, weeds and rocks found along the way.
She would bring these found treasures home and place them into old boxes, trays or cartons she found elsewhere inside our home. The window sill of her playroom became filled with her treasures, which would dry and wither, and change color and shape as they sat in the sun.
As I was sitting and playing with her, fully engaged in the world as she saw it, I began to note the beauty and elegance captured at different points in time within her collected treasures. I began to see compositions formed in the overlays between these elements.
In those moments, I understood that the inspiration for my work was right in front of me the whole time. I decided to build my jewelry line around the idea of appreciating and preserving the details of small natural elements, and the quiet moments of reflection when we can fully see them.
ABI: What did you learn from attending the Arts Business Institute workshop?
AC: There were many lessons learned… new ideas and new approaches that I used to elevate the level of my work and my brand. Amongst the highlights was the need to tell my story and connect to my customers on a personal and intimate note. The story infused more value into my work, which was re-tooled with an eye towards the business end of artistic creation and perceived value.
The re-invention of my jewelry line addressed specific recommendations from ABI, such as offering an array of price points, achieving a cohesive style, creating entry and aspiration points for customers to buy into my line, and identifying niche sales markets for my line.
ABI: How did you build your wholesale line?
AC: Since attending the February 2013 ABI workshop, I have completely changed my jewelry line and my business strategy. After leaving the ABI workshop, I realized that I had to go back to the beginning and re-build from the ground up. Although I had a solid foundation of products and design concepts that sold well in a craft show setting, they were not profitable at a wholesale volume.
I took my basic foundation, and re-imagined it simultaneously considering cost, fabrication, design quality, materials, marketability, perceived value, and overall profitability. I developed new technical skills and prototyped each piece in my new line with new materials. It required an honest look at myself and my work, but it allowed me to distill each piece until I could stand behind it with complete confidence. In the process, some of my former designs survived and evolved. Others were dropped. Following ABI’s recommendations, the final line consists of pieces that represent both quality design and built-in profitability.
ABI: What are your future plans?
AC: Under my new business strategy, I have identified a handful of niche markets into which my new line will be introduced this fall. Additional shops and galleries have been identified for future marketing efforts. I have also developed conceptual plans for the first two expansions of my line in the Spring and Fall of 2014, and am now developing a branded booth design for entry onto wholesale trade shows.
In the meantime, my plans are to take each step with deliberate mindfulness, hopefully allowing my new business model to emerge and bloom. I remain open to learning new ideas, techniques, and possibilities by simply taking a slow walk each day, and appreciating that precious time with my daughter.