Today I would like to feature my dear friend, Jolien, who is the owner and founder of the jewelry brand Tea-riffic. Many of you are interested in making a living by selling your handmade jewelry, and I completely agree with you! Making jewelry is fun. So this blog post will be all about making and selling jewelry as a hobby – which is the first step towards living full time from your creativity!
Jolien and I go waaaay back. We actually met in 2008, when we both started studying at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Antwerp. We were both admitted into the first bachelor of Goldsmithing and Jewelry design. After a year, I decided the course wasn’t for me, and I took up on Art History at the University of Ghent. We kept in touch through all those years (I’m so glad!) and now that I’m living back in Antwerp, we meet up regularly. I interviewed Jolien about her jewelry business and I’m very happy to share her story here with all of you today.
- Where does your love for jewelry making come from, and when did you start creating your own jewelry?
“It all started during my last year of high school, when I made some pieces of jewelry in fabric for my graduation project. It was a great experience and I knew I wanted to continue with this, so I started studying Goldsmithing and Jewelry Design at the Academy. I’ve been busy with it ever since!
2. Do you make anything else besides jewelry?
Actually, I create lots of things, I’m not confining myself to just one thing. I like to write, to do home decor projects, I like to experiment kitchen-wise or I like to work with fabric. I find that working with different mediums opens up the mind and works as an inspiration. I’m involved with so many creative things that the list is actually too long to describe! 🙂
3. How did you start selling your handmade jewelry?
At one point, I didn’t have enough room to store all of my jewelry anymore, so I needed to do something with it. The question arose: why not sell these in a store? This question came from one of my acquaintances, who admired my handmade items and asked me if I could make personalised jewelry.
4. Through which platforms do you sell your jewelry?
I only sell my jewelry through Facebook because I’m not looking for a lot of attention. Right now, I would like to keep doing this as a hobby; and also to avoid the tax-administration that is involved once you get started on a bigger scale. It’s still a hobby, which means enjoying myself. I don’t want to take the spontaneity out of it.
5. What is it like to sell your items on a creative market?
*In Belgium, small markets for creative people are organised on a regular basis. You can hire a stand and sell your stuff like a little pop-up shop*
If you are a social person and you like to chitchat with lots of different people, this is definitely something I would recommend. I really enjoy talking with all of the other creative people about their work, what inspires them, what their story is. I also like to help out my clients when they are choosing a piece of jewelry, or helping them picking the right colours etc. It is a great feeling to search for the right piece of jewelry for a particular person. This is an experience you only get to live if you go out and do this kind of thing.
6. How much do you have to pay for a stand? Do you sell enough jewelry to turn it into a profitable event?
The prices you pay for a stand always depend on the location of the stand, the city you’re in, how popular the market is, how many people are expected to show up. You can always check the prices beforehand on the website of the organisation.
It also depends on how big your stand is going to be, if you have a lot of items, if you would like to sell on a big scale or if you prefer to keep everything sober.
You can make a budget for yourself. If the price of the stand is very high, higher than your budget, it is preferable not to do it. You might not make a profit out of it. However, I’ve found that if you keep your prices low, you will always make a profit out of a creative market 🙂
7. How many people can you expect to show up?
This also depends on where the creative market is located and on how popular it is. Is it a new market? Do people already know it? Can you have a snack and a drink? Is it in the open air or in a building? One of the most important factors is the weather. It can be your best friend, but if the weather is bad, few people will actually show up.
8. How do you determine the price of your jewelry?
Mostly, I follow my gut. Sometimes, the price will be lower than it actually costs to make, but you’ll make a bigger profit if you sell more numbers of this item. Sometimes the cost of the material is low, but I will have been working on it for a long time and I’ve become quite fond of my design. In this case, I will ask a little more money for it. I also determine my prices on the originality of the design, because I know it will get replicated by other people.
In this case, I feel like my clients are also buying the idea, the creation.
But mostly, I try to enjoy myself when making my jewelry, and I try not to determine my prices on how much time I spend making said item.
9. Can you make a living from selling your handmade jewelry?
Currently, it wouldn’t be enough to make a living from it, but mostly that’s because it is not my goal. Maybe in a distant future, when times will be different for me, and I will have some money to invest and I’ll have a steady income, this could become a possibility. But mostly, I don’t want to feel the pressure of having to make things for a living. I just want to enjoy the freedom of creating.
10. Have you got any advice for people who are interested in starting their own jewelry business?
Just be aware that everything costs money and that you don’t necessarily get back what you put into it. That is why it is SUPER IMPORTANT to do this out of passion. If you keep this in the back of your mind, and if you get some help while establishing your business, you will get there step by step. Don’t rush into it, and don’t expect to be fully independent in the first two years. However, stay positive and don’t give up!”
I would like to thank Jolien for her inside information that she so graciously shared with us today.
I would like to add a couple of things to this topic. I do believe that it is crucial to factor in all of your working hours when determining the price of your jewel. If you give yourself an hourly wage of, let’s say, 10€ per hour, and you are working on one item for half an hour, you should add 5€ to the making cost of your item. I believe you should get paid for your work, your ideas, your input. I would also recommend that you build some audience through the use of social media, such as Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. So far I’ve noticed that Facebook is the most reliable medium for people to notice your brand.
I wish all of you good luck with your own jewelry businesses. If you would like to share your work with us, please hit the comment section below!
Happiness. Do it yourself!