How to Start Your Own Jewelry Business

How to start a jewelry business / Getty Images 

If crafting your own bracelets and necklaces has gone from a hobby to an obsession, it might be time to figure out how to sell handmade jewelry to offset your supply costs or earn some extra money. Maybe you even hope to quit your job one day if the business takes off.

Unfortunately, the handmade jewelry industry is a bit oversaturated thanks to sites like Etsy that make it easy for anyone to sell their wares online, but these tips will help you get started on the right track for the best chance at success. 

1. Decide What You're Selling and Who You're Selling To

It's tempting to want to start up a business right after you complete your first jewelry making tutorial, but a few handmade jewelry pieces does not make you a master. Take a second to slow down and hone your craft. Perfect your jewelry making style so your pieces are cohesive, unique to the brand you want to create, and well-made.

While you're working on refining your jewelry making skills, take the time to decide whether your business will focus on fine jewelry or costume jewelry. Fine jewelry requires a larger upfront investment, as materials like precious metals and gemstones are costly. Costume jewelry is trendy and inexpensive; it's cheaper to make, but because costume jewelry is less expensive and sells faster, you'll need to keep a larger inventory on hand.

As you work through the beginning stages of setting up your jewelry business, also think about your ideal customer avatar. Conceptualize the type of person who will be purchasing your wares. This will help you in choosing the types of pieces to make, where to sell them, and how to market them. Find a customer avatar worksheet online to help you through the process.

2. Set Up the Business

If you aren't sure whether a jewelry business is for you, sell your handmade jewelry locally at a craft fair to test the waters. Hold back from starting your own online store until you have solidified how your brand is going to look, how your accounting will work, and have all the necessary paperwork filed. Your first impression as an online business should be a professional one. 

Once you're confident in your jewelry making skills and you know that you want to start a business, thoroughly plan the business side of it. Write a business plan, create a brand storyboard, and sign up for a tax ID. Pick a fitting name and register for a DBA. Consult with other professionals to perfect your business model before you go to market.

3. Pick Your Selling Venue

Figure out if you're going to sell online, in person, or both. Do you want to open a brick and mortar shop? Do you want to only do craft shows? Do you want your own website built with a service like Squarespace or Shopify or do you want to sell on a site like Etsy? Determine where you want to sell and how your inventory will be managed. 

Conduct market research on other jewelry businesses that have had success selling in these venues to gather insight.

4. Establish an Inventory

Even if you only want to sell online, you'll need more than just a few pieces to sell. It's common to think that you can just make pieces here and there as the other ones sell. However, in order to gain forward momentum, you need to start with a healthy inventory. Then make sure you continue adding pieces regularly for the first few months. This will help potential customers take your business more seriously.

As you work on your inventory, keep on top of jewelry trends by checking fashion blogs and Instagram accounts daily. Part of keeping a fresh inventory is making sure the pieces you're selling are fashionable.

5. Master Photography

To have your jewelry business stand apart from others, photography is important. Well-composed, properly lit photography is an important skill to perfect even if you plan on selling locally. You may plan to sell at craft shows exclusively, but you'll still want to maintain some online presence to connect with previous and potential customers. Having professional-looking photos for these platforms will help.

If you're taking photos yourself, the easiest option is to photograph each of your pieces on a white background. Use a photography light box to ensure that your photos are uniformly lit and look cohesive. It may be tempting to get creative with setups or use models, but if you're not a professional photographer, it's best to keep it simple.

6. Get Social for Free Marketing

Take some online courses to learn how to take your social media presence to the next level. While a fantastic website and blog were once the primary ways small jewelry businesses marketed themselves, nowadays, you can get away with not having a website and just maintaining an active social media presence. Become your own PR person and reach out to bloggers and influencers to see if they're willing to share your jewelry with their followers.

The two words to remember here are consistency and cohesiveness. Keep your feeds consistent with your brand and limit personal posts. Make sure you post at least a few times a week so you don't lose touch with your target audience. Schedule posts in advance and take advantage of free tools.