Running a small business

I thought of writing a post on how I’m finding running a small business a while ago, and was undecided for a long time about whether to actually write it or not. But I wanted to be honest with you all, so here it is. I hope you’ll forgive the slightly negative tone.

Negative tone? So things aren’t going well? Well, to be honest, I really shouldn’t complain. After doing my taxes a couple of months ago, I realised that I made a small profit in the last financial year (despite having spent a small fortune on supplies). I get a slow but steady stream of views on my Etsy shop and a few people favourite my designs. I have some lovely friends who keep buying my jewellery and I’ve made a few sales from people I’ve met through this blog.

Thank you to everyone who reads this blog and looks at my Etsy shop by the way. Thank you even more to all the lovely people who actually buy my jewellery!

Little Koo - Cushion style earrings

I just got a bit downhearted after making very little (if any) profit from the last few craft shows I’ve done. Although, to be fair, the weather at two of them was horrendous. So I’m having a little break from craft fairs for a while. I just don’t know if I’m doing something wrong or if it’s just that the people at the craft fairs weren’t looking for my style of jewellery. Is my style of jewellery the problem? Is it my display style? My prices? My own demeanour? (I find it very hard to know how to interact with people at these things!)

Little Koo craft fair stall

And then in between the craft fairs it’s not a lot better. And I think a lot of it is the fact that I just have very little time for the business these days. I’m lucky if I spend a couple of hours on it a week. I read all these articles about setting goals and how to improve certain areas of my business, but I just don’t have time to do the work required.

I do worry that the jewellery itself isn’t good enough either. One thing a lot of these articles tell me is that I need to have a target audience in mind when designing and marketing, and to be honest, I don’t really know what that is. Women with similar taste in jewellery to me? Is that good enough?! I just make things that I think look pretty, but I don’t know how to reach people with the same taste as me. Or should I try and follow more of the fashion trends?

handmade sterling silver charm bracelet - shell

To be honest, I thought about jacking it all in and making something completely different. Mobiles for children’s bedrooms! I really like the one I made before and I have some ideas of what I could do for different designs. But then I get real and realise the amount of work it would take to even just get ready to launch a new business, and remember that I just don’t have the time.

Moravian star mobile

So anyway, running a small business is hard and I’m certainly not going to make a living off mine any time soon. But I’ll keep going with it and have fun making new jewellery designs. I’d love to hear from anyone else who runs a small business and how they are finding it. And also any tips on how I can improve mine!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

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Little Koo Jewellery sneak preview

I’m very excited because the Little Koo Etsy shop is in progress and I hope to have it up and running by 1st March (that’s the deadline Tom has given me)! There’s loads still to do but in the last couple of weeks I’ve been working on my photography. I’ve read loads of articles on how to take photographs of craft items (and especially jewellery), but this video was definitely the most useful. I know very little about photography but am learning so this is very much a work in progress!

Anyway, as my lovely blog readers, you are privileged to get a sneak preview of some of my jewellery items, and some of the photos that will go on the Etsy shop. I would love to hear any comments and criticisms (preferably constructive) about both the jewellery and the photography.

The jewellery is made from semi-precious gemstones and Swarovski crystals, with sterling silver clasps and ear hooks. The aim of the designs are that they are simple enough to wear everyday with any type of outfit, but will add a little colour and sparkle to your day. I use wire-wrapped loops throughout to avoid the risk that the jewellery will come apart, I want it to be durable and something that you can come back to time after time.

Tiger’s eye and Swarovski crystal earrings:

Tiger's eye and Swarovski crystal earrings

Blue Tiger’s eye and Swarovski crystal earrings:

Tiger's eye and Swarovski crystal earrings

 

Shell pearl and Swarovski crystal earrings:Shell pearl and Swarovski crystal earrings

 

Crystal and Swarovski pearl earrings:Swarovski pearl and crystal earrings

 

Crackled glass and Swarovski crystal earrings:Crackled glass and Swarovski crystal earrings

 

Coral-coloured shell pearl and Swarovski crystal earrings:Shell pearl and Swarovski crystal earrings

 

Crystal and crackled glass earrings:Crackled glass and crystal earrings

 

Chrysocolla and Swarovski pearl earrings:Chyrsocolla and Swarovski pearl earrings

 

Rose quartz and Swarovski pearl bracelet:Crackled glass and rose quartz bracelet

 

Coral and striped jasper bracelet:Jasper and coral bracelet

 

Coral-coloured shell pearl and Swarovski crystal bracelet:Shell pearl and Swarovski crystal bracelet

 

Blue shell pearl and crystal bracelet:Shell pearl and Swarovski crystal bracelet

 

Blue Tiger’s eye and Swarovski crystal bracelet:Tiger's eye and Swarovski crystal bracelet

 

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

Lessons from a craft fair

If you have read previous posts in this blog, you will be aware that I am in the process of setting up a jewellery business called Little Koo. And that I first presented that business to the world at a craft fair in Wanchai last month.

I wouldn’t say that it was a resounding success; I made some sales but not many. But I did learn a lot, and I thought I would share some of those things with you today.

1. It’s all about the presentation

Little Koo craft fair jewellery stallI think I managed a fairly decent presentation of my products – my stall looked nice and uncluttered… but perhaps a bit too uncluttered. All of the other jewellery sellers had a lot more on their stalls to sell than me. And looking at the photos now, I can see that it was difficult for people to see the jewellery. My tags were too large! And the earrings somehow blended in with the background! When I next sign up for a craft fair I will definitely put more effort into how I present each type of jewellery item in such a way that it is really easy for the customer to see it and how it is worn.

2. Be unique

Little Koo blue Tiger's Eye and red Swarovski crystal braceletReflecting on it now, I realise that people come to craft fairs to find products that they haven’t seen before. Otherwise they would just go to a normal shop and buy a mass-produced item. The stall next to me had a range of bracelets that looked like they were made from measuring tape and this definitely attracted the attention of a lot of people who walked past. Whilst I am proud of the jewellery designs I have, I have realised that they aren’t unique enough to attract this sort of passing attention. I will definitely continue to launch the business online with the designs that I have, but I have lots of ideas for jewellery designs that are a little more unique! Watch this space!

3. Look the part

Little Koo business cardI have read a couple of articles which suggest that new businesses need to project the type of image that they hope to have when they are more established. I realise now that this also applies to craft fairs! All the other jewellery stalls at the craft fair looked a lot more professional than me, with proper display stands, printed tags and professional signs. I had picture frames with buttons sewn onto fabric and oversize tags (that I already had at home) with handwritten prices on. I also failed to get business cards printed in time. Next time I do a craft fair, I will definitely try to project myself as a professional business, which will hopefully give potential customers more faith in my products.

Thanks for reading!

Rachel