Good Morning All ... We're in for a few days of rain and cloud here in TO. I find these kinds of days great for creativity when the landscape and environment change. Everything is so grey and damp looking but get's even greener and more colorful so the contrast is quite inspiring.
Today's interview is with Jo of IDREAMICANFLY from San Diego, a talented and wonderful silver and gold smith. Enjoy ..
Tell us a little bit about yourself...
I'm Jo Hollingsworth and I currently live in San Diego, California, USA. I've lived all over the United States as well as in Germany and Canada, and my husband is from England and has lived in more countries than I have. We both love to travel - I think my favorite trip to date was spending Chinese New Year in Shanghai, China, although hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru was fantastic. I'm fairly introverted, so working from home in my little jewelry studio with just my dogs for company suits me perfectly. In my spare time I practice Krav Maga, which is a very practical martial art.
How long have you been in business?
I opened my Etsy shop in October of 2007.
Did you start your business full time? if not, what made you take that leap into running your business full time?
I had taken what I thought would be two months off between contracts to get some insurance repairs done on our condo after we had a flood. There were an incredible number of complications and the entire repair ended up taking 9 months. I was general contracting the repairs, so I couldn't even get in to my sculpture studio. Out of desperation I pulled out my old jewelry tools, ordered some silver wire, and started making jewelry again.
People started asking me where I got my jewelry. When I started selling my earrings right out of my ears, I decided to try opening an Etsy shop. I opened it in October, and it really took off during the Christmas rush that year. By the time the repairs on our condo were done, I was making a decent number of sales. My husband and I sat down and figured out that we could afford the drop in income as long as sales kept coming in. My sales have continued to grow, so I've never gone back to Corporate America. I don't miss it a bit!
Did you write a business plan? or do you set regular goals to achieve?
I never have written a business plan (I'm not sure I'd know where to start!). But I have a pretty good head for business, and I keep tabs on my profits and expenses. I don't have the next 10 years in my head, but I can generally see the next logical steps in the progression of my business. For example, I moved from gold filled to solid gold last year when I realized there was a gap in the market. Even though the pieces are more expensive, I see a lot more sales now that I work with solid gold.
My next step is to get my own website up and running. Although my sales on Etsy are quite good, I think diversity is key in any business, and depending completely on Etsy for my income makes me nervous. So I plan to have my own site up and running by the end of the year. I no plans to close my Etsy shop, though. My Etsy customers are wonderful!
What selling venues do you use? (please tell us the ways you bring your product to the marketplace)
Most of my sales are from Etsy at the moment. I have a 1000 Markets shop as well, which brings in sporadic sales, and I do the occasional Trunk Show, which I really enjoy. I've turned down all of the wholesale inquiries I've gotten to date, because to take the wholesale route would require me to drastically raise my prices on Etsy, which I'm not interested in doing at the moment. I find that selling almost exclusively online keeps my overhead low, as I don't have to keep an inventory of manufactured pieces and I have no craft show fees, travel time, and setup expenses. I do make 10-20 pairs of earrings at a time for my most popular designs, and I have a selection of one of a kind necklaces, but everything else I make to order.
Give us one tip on how you stay motivated (to run your business full time)?
I always have a list in my head of things that I want to do, so I have no trouble staying motivated! If I have outstanding orders, I work on those first. After that, I work on whatever catches my fancy for the day. There's a lot a variety in running your own business. I may decide to concentrate on photography, or market research, or learning a new technique, or searching for gem shows in my area, or updating my Facebook and blog... The options seem endless. There's always *something* that I'm in the mood to do.
Where do you draw your design inspiration from to keep coming up with fresh ideas?
My ideas come from such a variety of sources. Sometimes it's a design problem I'm having with my own jewelry. I recently got a cartilage piercing, which isn't quite healed, but I need to take my jewelry out several times a week for my martial arts class. The captive bead rings are a real pain to get in and out, and the open hoops I found were catching in my hair (ouch!). So I designed a new spiraling open hoop that goes in and out easily and hugs my ear so it doesn't catch in my hair. I love it!
My one of a kind necklaces are generally inspired by the stones that I'm setting. Each stone has its own story, and its own sense of style, and that inspires me to design a setting in harmony with the stone. I also study other jewelry designs, both ancient and modern. I'm currently intrigued by Maori and Navaho designs.
What is your best advice on customer service?
Communicate, communicate, communicate! Answer questions quickly and thoroughly, both before and after you make a sale. When I sell something, I contact my customers to thank them and let them know that I got their purchase and to give them an estimate of when their order will ship. When their order ships, I contact them again with tracking information or estimated arrival times for international shipments. I also like to make a personal connection with customers when I can. I've lived in a lot of places and visited even more, so often I'll add in a little note about their home town if I've been there. People who shop handmade appreciate that personal connection with the artisan.
What is your favorite tip you received from a mentor or someone in business?
Take things one step at a time. If you try to do everything at once it can be so overwhelming that you'll quit before you even get started. Just concentrate on the next few steps.
If you could offer one piece of advice to someone just starting a business, what would that be?
Be true to yourself - you can only make your own art. If you spend all of your time trying to figure out what everyone else is doing, you'll always be one step behind.
If you were a tree what kind of tree would you be?
I think I'd like to be a sequoia. They live for such a long period of time - imagine everything they've seen!
I am all over the web these days. Keep up with me (if you move that fast!) on:
Thank you very much Jo! Your time and inspiration is appreciated.