Ever since falling in love with bead weaving I’ve often wondered how difficult it is to create the same design over and over again - by the time you’re finished with one pair of earrings or bracelet you already have a design in your head for another - but is there a market for these one-of-a-kind (OOAK) bead art jewelry designs?
Initially I thought no and that if bead art jewelry designer’s wanted to make a living from their creations they would probably have to figure out a way to mass produce their creations or figure out how to create a market for their OOAK bead art jewelry designs.
After following many of these artists I started realizing that for the OOAK artist the demand is in the design and not necessarily how many of one design is produced.
Since mass production is not the objective of bead weaver’s and bead art jewelry designer’s it appears that in many instances these artists’ create and sell patterns based on their original designs – how clever!
But this still left me wondering is there really money and a following to be had from creating OOAK pieces and how is this determined?
Well, wouldn’t you know that just as I started researching this topic I came across an article in the Wall Street Journal and a show on MSNBC dedicated to small business.
The small business program in MSNBC highlighted five key areas which may seem basic, but are critical:
- Don’t compete on price.
- Share your story.
- Identify with your jewelry designs; your identity is tied to your designs.
- Stand out as the personality behind your brand.
- Niche, Niche, Niche.
Let’s elaborate a bit more on the above five points:
Don’t compete on price because when your only differentiation with the competition is based on price it’s ultimately a losing game and someone will always be cheaper. Those that pay your price are ultimately the customers you want.
Share your story because everyone loves a good story, especially when it comes to how you got started in your said business.
Identify with your jewelry designs; your identity is tied to your business. This I believe is all about branding-the more we identify with something, especially when it’s a part of us the more passionate we are about sharing it with others; and it makes it easier for your target customer to identify with your bead art jewelry designs because, basically, they like your style.
Stand out as the personality behind your brand is closely tied to the previous point but after branding you need to market and often times it’s not so in-your-face-marketing that’s required but more about the personality behind the brand – think Martha Steward; not everyone’s crazy about her personality but it really is what made her brand successful.
Niche, Niche, Niche of all the points listed they couldn’t emphasis this one enough I personally like this point best. As I stated I’m no expert in the area of jewelry design, but I do know that supplying your niche is what it’s all about regardless of what you are selling. Too, if there’s enough of a demand for something and there’s only one or two available sources and you’re a one of those sources, well, you’ve already have a niche without even trying.
I learned this in an interesting way when I started selling beads - which I knew absolutely nothing about, BUT my customers, the beader’s knew exactly what they were looking for–Quality.
Now coming from a Quality Control background in the food industry at first I couldn’t reconcile the two I thought a bead, was a bead was a bead.
Clearly there were and still are top-notch bead suppliers; but apparently there was enough of a void and inferior product being sold that those in the know, knew.
So in helping to fill a void for my customers they helped me create a niche which I had no idea even needed to be filled.
I lost the link to the Wall Street Journal article, but it focused on a OOAK jewelry designer who obviously has a thriving business and she only makes one of a kind items, very rarely will she make the same design twice. So I think she answers my question about whether or not it’s possible to make not only a living, but a success of creating OOAK bead art jewelry designs.