Sunday, January 13, 2013

Flourish & Thrive Academy Laying the Foundation Volume 1

I’m usually the last one to admit that I cannot achieve something alone. But every now and then, something shows up in my inbox that makes me genuinely excited to ask for help. That’s how I felt when I got the email about Flourish & Thrive Academy. Have a million-dollar jewelry business, without going bankrupt, in this economy? Yes, please! Teach me how! Below is my entry for the scholarship they’re giving away, as the $495 price tag is just not in my business’s budget right now.

Where are you in your jewelry business now?

I started my chainmaille jewelry business, Do Bats Eat Cats?in August 2009 and have been pursuing it seriously for about a year and a half, when I quit my stressful day job in publishing.

Currently, I sell on Etsy, at consignment stores, on my own website, and at events, and I recently got my first wholesale account. I vended at 33 (!) events in 2012, and I am proud to say that I am profitable, though by a small amount. Everyone always tells you that it takes 3-5 years before a business stops losing money so I am amazed that I have beaten those odds in a poor economy.

What’s holding you back in your business and your life?

There are two main things that are holding me back:

1. I’m worried that I chose the wrong niche, but am not sure how to choose a different one without making pieces I hate. I make goth chainmaille jewelry — adorned with skulls, bats, spiders, creepy sea creatures, and other spooky stuff. Partly because that’s what I like, and partly because there are a LOT of chainmaillers out there, but I didn’t see anyone who was already making pieces like that. 

spider necklace
I LOVE making big gothic over-the-top pieces like this necklace....

While I have plenty of admirers, it seems that people who like goth jewelry are starving creatives who don’t have the income to afford it. I also have found that my goth pieces will get me rejected from larger, higher-end shows and stores because organizers think I’m “too weird.” In response, I started a simple line of pieces, which have sold pretty well — but they’re not terribly different from what every other mailler is doing out there, plus I hate them! I am not sure where to go with this. Do I stay true to niche and make unique pieces that appeal to me, or do I sell out and make pieces that others will buy but do not feel AT ALL like “me” or reflect my point of view as a designer?

.... but most of my customers would rather buy something simple like these earrings.

2. I have a large mortgage. Most decisions I make, in business and in life, revolve around one question: “Will this help me make the mortgage payment?” And if the answer is no, I don’t do it. This severely curtails my ability to take risks and invest in my business. I have a hard time thinking about spending the $495 for Flourish and Thrive, though I know it would be good for me, because I might need that $495 to pay the mortgage if my sales are low (which, in January, they typically are). 

What is your vision for your business? Where do you want to go? What are your biggest dreams and desires?

I want to be able to support myself doing ONLY work I love. The freelance work I’m doing to make ends meet gets in the way of working on my business because it is a sure thing (work X hours, make $Y) while my business obviously is not (work X hours, possibly make $0!). So it's hard to convince myself to step away from the paying work to build my business sometimes.

I don’t need to be famous, or to be worn by all the hot A-list celebrities. (Honestly, I probably couldn’t even tell you who they are!). But I do want to be comfortable, able to invest in my business without putting my mortgage or bills in jeopardy, able to take time for self-care without worrying that if I stop working, my business will tank. And, I’d like to be able to give back to other crafters, and support their businesses and dreams, so that we can all be successful.

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