Lisa Cottone has a PhD in science, but now uses her talents to create a gorgeous line of jewelry by her company, Franjuli. Here’s her story.
ABI: How did your science background lead you into making jewelry?
LC: When I was on maternity leave with my first newborn, I was crocheting with yarn just to pass the time, and then I started experimenting with metal wire. Somewhere between yarn blankets and fine silver jewelry, I spent a great deal of time creating wire sculptures that were inspired by the neural networks I missed researching.
I gradually adapted these network-inspired silver creations into the fine jewelry that I crochet today. While most customers are attracted by the aesthetic of my work, I find that many experience an extra spark of excitement when they learn that my jewelry is inspired by my work as a neuroscientist. Some say “I thought it looked kind of neuronal.”
ABI: What type of customers does your work appeal to?
LC: I’ve designed my collections to appeal to a variety of clientele, while maintaining a cohesive theme. For example, my Delicate Hints collection generally attracts a young adult customer, while my Captured by Rope collection appeals to my more mature customer. I’ve found that it works really well to have items that appeal to both a mother and daughter browsing my line . . . they can each have a special piece without being too matchy-matchy.
ABI: In what ways would you like to expand your business?
LC: While my Lady Sophisticate collection is a best seller for women looking for evening accessories, I kept hearing: “How beautiful would this be for a bride?” So, after hearing this feedback enough times, I realized that I do need to develop a bridal collection and I am happy to say that such a collection will debut to the trade this winter at the Buyers Market of American Craft.
ABI: How did the ABI workshop help you get started in your business?
LC: I was doing craft shows for quite a few years and I found that the lifestyle and demand of doing the retail circuit was very difficult with my two children in tow. So, I started researching wholesale opportunities, but found it to be quite an intimidating animal (at least if one is to do it right). Then I came across the Art Business Institute and thought it would be a good way to find out if wholesaling was right for my business.
I have to say, that it was actually the smartest business decision I’ve made to this point. ABI took the intimidation out of wholesale. In one weekend, I learned the ins and outs, dos and don’ts, about how to do wholesale effectively. This preparation made a HUGE difference in the success of my first wholesale show experience. Other exhibitors and buyers couldn’t believe that it was my very first wholesale show, and this I credit to ABI for sure.
ABI: What strategies have you used to land wholesale accounts?
LC: In addition to exhibiting at wholesale shows like the Buyers Market of American Craft, I found that supplementing with mailings to targeted prospective buyers and advertising in well-circulated retailer magazines has significantly enhanced the landing of prospective accounts.
The majority of the buyers who placed orders at my last trade show had sought my booth out after receiving an attractive mailing. In terms of advertising, my first ½ page advertisement received a much more substantial response than smaller previous ads I’ve run.
I also do social media, but am still learning how to use it effectively without getting too enveloped that I am distracted from my other business duties, the most important of which is creating.
Follow Franjuli on Facebook here.
Photo credit: Kronus:Photo