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 :)


EphemeralMe said...

InshaAllah, hope to see your jewelry art.

Anonymous said...

I looked at your Etsy site; I like your style. Thanks for sharing your jewelry-making habits and philosophy. You've inspired confidence.

May Allah support you and bless you through this project.

Anonymous said...


Happened upon your blog, which is nice by the way. Shoot me a line if you get a chance and are so inclined. I am not one for soliciting. However, I have a cache of beads from my once beading empire.

If you are not interested, no offense taken. May your endeavors be blessed and prosperous (and enjoyable) ameen.