Sunday, April 08, 2012

The Economics of Making Jewelry

As Salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatu and Hello!

Yesterday, my husband and I went to Philadelphia.

We had a great time: went to an Islaamic book store, ate lunch at a terrific Turkish restaurant we discovered, and also had the opportunity to visit a bead shop there.

Man, did I get sticker shock looking at the beads in that store!

It's not important to name the store, because I am pretty sure that most small, independent, brick-and-mortar bead stores, especially those in large cities like Philly and New York City, experience the same struggle - rising costs and high overhead.  Can't imagine what it costs to rent a storefront in South Philly, an area which is gentrified and quickly being taken over by the yuppies, their baby strollers, and their little dogs.

The strand of opal glass in the crappy image above is about the cheapest strand of nice beads I could find in this particular shop.  At $14.00 a strand, 33 beads to the strand, these beads cost approximately 42 cents a piece.  Not "too" bad.

She had a FABULOUS strand of rough black diamonds which I was really, really, really tempted to buy - at an eye-popping cost of $95.00 for the strand.  I was proud of myself that I could muster the discipline to walk away ...

I don't know how these little bead stores stay in business.  Some of them can't.  The independent bead store I frequent in Lewisburg, PA, is going out of business at the beginning of this summer.  They just can't make it in this economic environment.

There is nothing like a personal visit to a bead store where you can look at the beads, feel them, etc.  It's a whole different ballgame from internet bead shopping.

But it is becoming necessary to buy beads from internet wholesalers or others who offer beads and supplies at very affordable rates. 

I also buy beads and sterling silver supplies at Michaels, which is a craft store.  If you spend enough money in Michaels, they offer great discounts.  And they always have sales. 

I've become a pretty fussy shopper.  I compare bead prices, and won't buy something expensive unless it is really, really unique.

Like I wrote before, Insha Allaah, I intend to start selling my jewelry soon. 

A few things I do to save money and keep track of jewelry finances are:

1.  I save all receipts for what I buy.
2.  When I cut the strand and dump the beads into my boxes, I also put a little slip of paper in there with the individual bead price.  This strategy helps to price an item after I complete it.
3.  I buy practically nothing at regular retail price.
4.  I wait for 40% and 50% off sales at Michaels.
5.  I wait for 30-50% off your total order.
6.  I patronize web sites that offer free shipping.

Insha Allaah you can find some benefit from this if you make jewelry.  I am learning slowly what works and what doesn't.

I am also going to start storing beads in containers by colors.  This helps in the designing phase, and you don't have to schlep out all of your containers when you begin to design.

I am also investigating how to make this venture a real business.  I'm researching "hobby tax" and small business tax.  Will let you know, Insha Allaah, when I process and understand it all :)

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Jewelry Making ... And Other Things

Crazy Jasper and Magnetic Hematite Bracelet, originally uploaded by Shaalom2Salaam (Safiyyah).

As Salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatu!

Wow, it's been a few month's since I've written something here.  Days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months, and so on ...

What have I been doing?

Well, things are starting to settle down here some after all the initial buzz from the launch of the "Love InshAllah" anthology.  I'll be contributing a blog post, Insha Allaah, later this month, so look for it!

I'm still taking pictures.  The camera on The New iPad is fabulous!  As a matter of fact, the image above was taken with it.  I still have to get used to it, and get better with the photo editing, but I'm happy with it.

I also turned my garden over.  Everything is ready for planting in May.  The challenge now is to keep it weed free until then :)

The biggest news is that I've returned to making jewelry after many years away from it.  It's been a real yin and yang for me.  I've written before here than I have a host of physical problems, including Arthritis and MS, Alhamdulillah.  I put a lot of things on hold after the initial MS diagnosis, trying to get used to living with MS instead of giving in to it.  Making jewelry is a bit difficult because fine motor control is a challenge for me, and then my hands occasionally shake.  And don't forget the arthritis!

Earrings are the biggest challenge of all due to all the fine motor control work, but I'm practicing.  I've made a slew of bracelets, nothing intricate, but simply bead design/stringing.  I think I'm ready to get more creative with the bracelets, and perhaps venture into necklaces.

But, Alhamdulillah, I've been doing it!  Above is an image of a bracelet I recently made.  What do you think?

Insha Allaah, I'm going to set up an Etsy store soon.  And perhaps Zibbett, too.  I plan to sell the better stuff (sterling silver and gemstone) online, and sell another line, less expensive (silver prices are through the roof!).  My friends and my sisters at the mosque can also go to my Etsy store if they want to buy some of my better stuff, but I'll have other stuff available for local flea markets, etc.

So, that's what's been up with me.  Stayed tuned for more jewelry images!  Insha Allaah!