Jewelry designer Candace Stribling shares her collection and offers excellent advice to other small creative business owners.
ABI: How would you describe the concept behind your collections?
CS: It has taken a few years for me to determine the direction of Candace Stribling Jewelry. My new direction has come out of my own personal journey of juggling the demands of building my business while being the primary caretaker of an elderly parent. Becoming a better person, daughter, business owner has influenced my vision, skills, and motivation.
My new jewelry lines reflects that growth and rebirth. The concept behind my design is the recognition that everyone undergoes a journey of self-discovery and acceptance of who they are and where they are going. My jewelry tends toward contemporary art jewelry using sterling silver and semi-precious stones with the common elements of a undulating lines and spirals because each represents life, growth and continuity.
I hope that when women wear my jewelry they will feel confident, empowered, strong and beautifully unique and not afraid to stand out from the crowd.
ABI: What have you learned through entering the wholesale marketplace?
CS: My first year at a wholesale show was a learning experience. These are a several key takeaways that I learned that I am already applying for this year’s shows:
- Plan early if you are designing samples. Give yourself plenty of time to finish so you can spend time doing the other important activities to promote your line and business.
- Participate in the marketing opportunities offered to you. You need to get your name and images of your product in front of retailers early and often, especially if you are new, unknown, and untested.
- You must have great photos of your product for your booth display and your website. They are your visual calling cards.
- You may have to attend a wholesale show a few times so that buyers will trust that you are serious about your business and that you are in it for the long-term. Buyers need to trust that you can deliver when they place an order with you.
- Plan how you want to display your product to attract buyers to your booth. Make the booth attractive, accessible, and easy for you and the buyer to interact. Display your product as if it is in a store or gallery so that buyers can see how it might work for them.
- Have your marketing materials such as linesheets and lookbooks professionally prepared; if you do them yourself, have someone else proofread and review for you.
- Follow up promptly with all leads that you receive. Don’t wait weeks or months to reconnect with buyers you met during the show.
The most important lesson I learned is that building relationships with buyers takes time, patience, communication and follow-up.
ABI: What is your best advice for other artists who are inspired to sell their jewelry?
CS: I have been in business for a short time since transitioning to metalsmithing. I am still learning my craft, honing my skills and now learning business fundamentals to help my business be successful. It is important to have a compelling story. Let buyers and customers get to know you and let them know why you create. The why is what allows them to connect to you. Learn to be a sponge and absorb all you can about your craft as well as learn from the successes and failures of others. Learn how to market and effectively use social media to grow your business.
Take the time to identify your target market. I created Pinterest boards of my target markets – who they are, what they look like, where/how they live, their interests, etc. This allows me to treat them as living, breathing people which has greatly influenced my designs and allowed me to develop a cohesive line that would appeal to them. Make sure that you have great photos of your product for your website and to apply to shows. Try to have some lifestyle photos as well that show your jewelry on live models; make it easy for them to see how your jewelry will fit into their lifestyle.
The biggest fear of artists/crafters is pricing. Adopt a pricing strategy that ensures you can make a living. You are in business to make money and be profitable, otherwise you have a very expensive hobby. Learn which retail/wholesale shows will work for you. If you can, walk the shows prior to applying. If you do a show and it fails, chalk it up to a learning experience and strike the show off of your list.
Most importantly, you need to be committed, passionate, patient, have a thick skin, and don’t let yourself fall victim to negative thoughts.