Here in Cincinnati, OH, we are fortunate enough to have a monthly celebration for our incredible local artisans. The City Flea boasts dozens of spaces filled with jewelry artists (YAY!), woodworkers, bakers, natural beauty specialists and other creative geniuses sharing their passion with the world. We also noticed a lot of great trends, including bright colors, raw gemstones, minimalist metals and pieces with their own special touch.
We quizzed some of our favorite jewelry business owners about their tips, tricks and insider secrets about what it takes to implement and maintain a creative business in today’s evolving industry. If you are a jewelry artist and are looking to turn your art into a profitable business, keep reading for some honest, fun and downright awesome advice from your fellow makers. Enjoy!
Laura | ElleBrux
Fun fact: Her brand name began as her Instagram handle, where she sold her paintings!
How did you get your start in the jewelry industry?
“I graduated with a degree in painting in 2012, and I was doing the fine art/gallery circuit for 2 years. I wanted to keep mixing colors and expand my brand into other things. Wood beads are a really nice surface to paint on, and the wood beads allow me to do what I’m already doing, market myself more and offer lower-priced items. Paintings are expensive and not everyone can afford one, or they might want to see them year after year and then eventually get one, but jewelry can be a snap decision, so it also helps me afford to paint.”
What is your design style and how do you come up with your contemporary vibe?
“I really like natural materials and natural themes in my artwork. I paint a lot of mountainscapes and I like line and color. I really enjoy mixing different colors and saturations. My jewelry and my artwork really relate to each other in that way. The wood beads—especially the ones with geometric shapes—mimic the facets in my mountain paintings, so everything shares a similar aesthetic that was born out of my mountain art.”
Do you have any advice for someone who is just starting a jewelry business?
“I would say one of the most important things is to make a lot of friends. A lot of my work has been in different shops and businesses, and in the beginning they were contacting me, because they had seen my work in galleries and around town. A lot of the success I’ve had has been from knowing someone who owned a shop. I feel like networking isn’t even as important as just saying hi to someone out and about. Being social about it is super helpful—that’s probably the number one thing.”
Do you ever see people around town wearing your pieces?
“Yes, and my top favorite thing is getting a lot of return people to my booth who say that they wear their piece all the time and love it. It’s important to have a product that isn’t going to fall apart, and getting people to come back is the most important thing. It’s great knowing that they’ve had your jewelry since last season and they still wear it and get lots of compliments on it. That’s why I use leather. I know it will get soft over time and feel nice.”
Do you have a muse or a certain woman you design for?
“I’ve had people from tiny children to much older people wear and buy my jewelry, so in my head, I’m making it just for myself, because I want everything I make. I feel like it doesn’t end up going in any particular way. I do feel like creative people can appreciate my work and purchase it more.”
FOLLOW HER! @ellebrux
Lizz | Lily in Flux
Fun fact: Part of Lizz’s company name was inspired by her dog, Lily!
Can you tell us about how you got started in the jewelry industry?
“I’ve always made stuff. I had an art gallery for seven years, and I noticed that jewelry sells easier than a lot of other art forms, so I translated my sculpture and mixed media art to jewelry. That was in 2008.”
Can you tell us about your design style?
“I call it edgy and feminine mixed together. It’s sort of a rustic, artifact look. I try to make everything feel like an artifact.”
Do you have any advice to share with someone starting a jewelry or creative business?
“Just do your own thing. There’s so much jewelry out there that looks the same. Just try to be you.”
Do you have any favorite stones at the moment?
“I just go for whatever I find and whatever appeals to me.”
FOLLOW HER! @lilyinflux
Ashley | Chastina Designs
Fun fact: She attended school in LA!
How do you market your jewelry and what marketing tools do you like to use?
“Honestly, I’ve just been doing a lot of events. I work full-time as well, so it’s hard to keep up with social media. I do a lot of events, and it has taken a couple of years, but now people come here, they know the brand and they come back.”
Do you have any advice for someone just starting their own jewelry business?
“I would say for someone who is just starting out, do all of the research and you’re also never going to have it perfect right off the bat. I’ve been doing this for four to five years and I’m still learning stuff every single day. Don’t be scared to get out there and put yourself out there.”
How did you get your start making jewelry?
“I actually went to school for fashion merchandising, so I had that background. Honestly, why I started is right out of school I needed experience to get a job, so I started this as a hobby and it grew. Also, since I’m a buyer, it doesn’t give me that much opportunity to be super creative, so this channels my creative outlet and I can have that balance.”
Do you think about trends when making jewelry?
“I do pay attention to trends, but I feel like my style is West Coast meets Midwest. I get inspired by Art Deco from the Midwest, but then I like to add pops of coastal colors, including turquoise and bright pink.”
What is the most rewarding part of owning your business?
“I would say meeting people, and making their day when they get excited about a piece. I think that’s really rewarding.”
FOLLOW HER! @chastinadesigns
Lindsay | Moss Opal
Fun fact: Lindsay is originally from San Francisco.
Do you design with a particular woman or muse in mind?
“Yes! A lot of my work is actually inspired not by people, but by places and architecture. I’m really into Art Deco design and really minimal pieces that you can wear every day, but also dress up. I would say my average customer is going to be 18, all the way up to 60, sometimes even older and people who like something that’s really simple, but it (the jewelry) is also different—there’s something really funky about it.”
What is the most rewarding part of having your jewelry business?
“For me, it’s actually more of a hobby—I’m a graduate student, and I’m getting my doctorate. I’m always reading, always on the computer and always studying, so this allows me to do something creative and get outside. It gets me to interact in a normal way, and being artistic, it’s really important for me to have an outlet. I like creating beautiful things, sharing them with others and spending time outside at these shows.”
How did you get your start making and selling jewelry?
“I’m originally from San Francisco, and I was between grad school programs. There’s a group of artists called San Francisco Street Artists—they’ve been there for like 30 years. I walked by it my entire life and there’s a building with a farmer’s market, and every Saturday we would walk by all of the artists who have been there for years. I had started making jewelry and decided I should try it just for fun and to make cash to go to grad school. I started doing it (selling jewelry) there and taking it more seriously, and I loved it. I thought it would be a temporary thing but it became much more of a part of my life.”
Are you drawn to any particular stones or metals?
“You’ll see patterns. There’s a lot of moonstone—I love labradorite and lapis.”
FOLLOW HER! @mossopal
Jill | Circle Circle
Fun fact: Jill had her logo professionally designed by internationally-renowned design firm, Landor.
What piece of advice would you give to someone starting a jewelry business?
“Follow your heart and make what you like!”
How would you describe your design style?
“It’s very simple and delicate everyday jewelry.”
Do you design with a certain muse or woman in mind?
“Yes—me! It all goes back to following your heart.”
How did you get started making jewelry?
“I was a funeral director, but jewelry has always been my passion. I’m obsessed with jewelry—always have been.”
Do you incorporate any trends in your jewelry, and do you see any trends starting to emerge?
“The bars are a huge trend. I do follow trends, but I love circles and always go back to them—it’s my thing. I combine the trends and classic elements.”
How do you market your business?
“I use mostly Instagram since it’s very visual.”
FOLLOW HER! @circlecirclejewelry
Anne | Océanne Jewelry
Fun fact: Anne is originally from France but currently lives in Cleveland, traveling back and forth to Cincinnati for shows.
How long have you been creating jewelry?
“It has been about eight years full-time and probably 10 (years) all together. I moved to the states maybe 15 years ago.”
Who do you design for? Do you have a muse?
“Everyone! I have many different styles, and I go from very dainty styles to statement pieces. I design what I like, to be honest, while incorporating some of the trends and try to make collections based around that.”
Can you tell us about any upcoming jewelry trends you love?
“This year for our new collection, we did some bolos—very classic, minimalist bolos. They have always been a thing on the West Coast, but this year, fashion has become more sophisticated and you see a lot of shirts with collars. If you go on my website (Oceanne.net) you can see the unisex bolos—they are really fun.”
Do you have any advice for someone just starting a jewelry business?
“Go with what you love and stick to your style. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. If you stick to what you like and who you are, then there is never a lack of ideas, because it’s all coming from your heart.”
FOLLOW HER! @oceannejewelry
Here at Bead Fest, we want to not only support your jewelry art education and provide you with the tools you need to succeed, but we want to watch you accomplish your goals and help make your dreams a reality.
Chatting with the wonderful jewelry artists at the City Flea helped us discover that there is no perfect age, time or place to start your business. You just have to follow your heart, create what you love and share your efforts with others!
We encourage each of you to explore the artisan festivals and markets in your area—especially if you wish to start your own business. We hope this post has filled your mind with the inspiration you’ve been searching for. Make sure you join us August 16 – 20 in Oaks, PA for Bead Fest Philadelphia! It’s the East Coast’s largest jewelry arts experience, and it’s your destination for the best in education, shopping and inspiration. We’ll see you in a few months!