If you're looking for advice on choosing a business name, preparing for your first craft show, or dealing with folks who want a "deal" on your jewelry, you're in the right place! Today I'm sharing the answers to those questions thanks to Viki Lareau who writes the Bead Biz column in every issue of Beadwork magazine. Viki has been in the jewelry-making business for more than 20 years and is the author of Marketing and Selling Your Handmade Jewelry: The Complete Guide to Turning Your Passion into Profit.--Michelle Mach, Beading Daily editor
I'm having trouble deciding on a name for my business. Is it better to include my name in the name of the business?--Gerry
I would go so far as to say it's probably one of the least important aspects of this type of business. Whether you use your name or not will have no bearing on your success. But to give you some direction, base your decision on how big you see yourself taking this. Is it always going to be a small at-home business? If so, including your name is probably more appropriate. Do you hope instead to grow into a midsize or even a very large business? Then it's probably better to not use your name, especially when it comes time to sell the business so it's not solely tied to the owner.--Viki Lareau
I have my first craft show coming up. How do I know how much inventory to bring? I've never done the show, so I don't want to sell out. But I'm not sure how much I should be making just in case it's very busy. Help! Thank you!--Debbie
This is a great question. Whenever you sign up for a show, you are allotted a set amount of space--a 6- or 8-foot table, or maybe an 8 by 10 booth. Whatever size space, you need to fill it with merchandise or display props. It is a good idea to have a dozen or more pieces as back stock. As you sell down, you'll need to fill in. But when you're running out of jewelry (never a bad thing), you'll need to fill in with more postcards or business cards or mirrors or more display props. You can't afford to have the table look sparse, because that gives the impression that all the good stuff has been sold, and you won't sell the rest. Over time, you'll become an expert at making a 6-foot table look amazing no matter what your level of stock.--Viki Lareau
Everyone always says they love my jewelry, but no one in my area seems to want to pay for it. Everyone wants a deal. It's very frustrating. Help!--Sandy
You're just marketing to the wrong people. Often our friends, family, and co-workers are not our best customers just because we know them. You might need to approach stores or shows that are out of your area and are a better fit for your jewelry. Even though it's more work, it's often worth the effort to achieve bigger sales. Plus, these people will only know you from your business, so there is no expectation of special favors.--Viki Lareau
For more answers to your beading questions, check out the Bead Biz column by Viki Lareau in every issue of Beadwork magazine. In the October/November 2008 issue on sale now, Viki answers questions about sales tax and what to do when a store closes, takes all your consignment pieces with it, and disconnects their phone (yikes!). In the December 2008/January 2009 issue, she'll answer questions about protecting yourself from bad checks and dealing with returns. Subscribe to Beadwork today to make sure you don't miss that issue! If you're just getting started, you will also enjoy Viki's book, Marketing and Selling Your Handmade Jewelry which covers everything from building your portfolio and pricing to designing marketing materials and filing taxes. Buy a copy of Marketing and Selling Your Handmade Jewelry.
Michelle Mach shares beading news, contests, reader galleries, and other beady stuff every Monday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Michelle, please post them on the website.