Sunday, June 6, 2010

Every sale brings affirmation

It has been a month or more. I have changed job. Finally. I have been trying to leave my past job for a year now. Didn't get far with that as the economy took quite a toll on job opportunities. Thankfully, I found something that offers a career future.

In the midst of this change, I honestly thought that I would be making and selling jewelry left, right and center. Nope. Though I have gone from zero sales to 9 sales in the past two months, I didn't break any record. But every sale brings affirmation. The joy I derive when I see that email notification makes it all worthwhile. I have learned a few tricks of the trade, so to speak. But the most important thing I seem to have learned is that I have to continue to believe. Believe that I can do this. Believe that I do have something to offer in a platform where there are so many jewelry sellers.

The initial months of no sale was painful. I did spend many a days doubting myself. One day, I was in the critique forum in Etsy where another newbie posted about how sad and disappointed she was for not having a single sale after a few weeks being in Etsy. Two types of people responded to her lament. One type clearly shared her pain. They were disappointed and frustrated that their talent was not immediately a success in the world of Etsy. I think they expected to be making top sales overnight.
The other group on the other hand, was positive. They were confident. They were sure that if you do the right things and hang in there, the sales would come.

I checked out the shops of both types of people. I noted a significant difference in the sales. The disappointed ones obviously were not doing well. So the question was which preceded which? Did they end up disappointed because they didn't have sales or did their general persona define their success? I know that many would argue the former. Most people are not pessimistic by nature. I am sure they did set up shop with positive images of success. So then why is it that one group did extremely well while the other didn't? Did the successful group offer a distinctive product? Did they cater to a niche market? All these questions were raging in my mind. As a new entrepreneur I need to hear success stories. So I have made a vital decision. I am not going to be disappointed. I am going to learn. And one thing I have already learned is this. Don't post in Critique forum in Etsy unless you really really want to be critiqued. That doesn't help your moral nor your sales. Promote all you like. Critique forum is not the place to do it.

Since this lesson was learned, I have made 3 sales. Not in quick succession. I acknowledge and accept that sales will come. Slowly at times. But I have to be positive. I have to have faith. More so in myself than anything else.

So this journey continues.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

OH MY GOD I was in the treasury in ETSY!

Funny thing is, I found this out line today. It was on the Treasury on March 7, and it's April 6 now. One month! Well, I am still happy about it! I found it on the HOST blog. They are a fantastic group of sellers in Etsy who came together for a common goal. The goal is to help others in the Etsy community. A shoutout to them!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Bhangkok gem scams- Beware

Thankfully, just before I was about to embark on a search for some of the best gems Bangkok has to offer, I had the sense to find a internet cafe and research the topic. Check out this warning:

I was in Thailand for 10 days. I went to a cousin's wedding in Khao Lak. It was a fantastic colorful event stretching for a full 5 days. After the wedding I went to Bangkok for 2+ days. I consumed Durians after "Mao Tong" Durians. Durians are the kings of fruits. At least in Southeast Asia. No one can enjoy a Durian and than consider any other fruit equal to it's taste, texture or fragrance. That is indeed my biased view. Well, anyways let me get back to to point in discussion; gem scams of Bangkok.

As someone who does quite a bit of research on colored stones, I am well well aware that Thailand is the place to go to for some of the best colored stones on earth. It is considered the " capital of colored gem stones" by many authorities. Just Google "Bangkok gem stones" and see what you get. But when you do Google it, as I did that day, you would also come across warnings after warnings of scams that have taken place across the length and breadth of Thailand.

I didn't plan on going gem shopping in Bangkok. If I did, I would have done adequate research before leaving for Thailand. On that Monday morning (3/29/2010), I figured I would just take a look. I mean I am already in Bangkok so why not! I thought I would just ask a tuk tuk driver or a cabbie on where to go. Surely as locals they would know right? I must have been lucky that day. For some reason I thought I should just Google the places to go to as well. Can't hurt right? So I Googled. The results that came out completely boggled my mind. There were warnings after warnings of scams. I had the sense to sit and read through two of the websites thoroughly. I was amazed. I was determined NOT to let that happen to me. So I dumped the idea of buying gems and went to MBK for some shopping.

MBK is the equivalent of Far East Plaza in Singapore or certain shopping malls in Johar Baru or KL. I am sure every city has shopping malls like that. It's supposed to be cheap but not really. So somewhat disappointed I decided that I will check out the Chinatown in Bangkok. I have been there before and I loved it! So I tried to hail a cab. My husband was with me. Just as I read in the warnings on the internet, the cab drivers and tuk tuk drivers were all determined to get us into their cab for ridculously cheap fares- 20 Batts to Chinatown, when it would have easily cost me 150 Batts. They all had one condition though. We need to make one stop before proceeding to Chinatown for a few minutes. Good lord, this is exactly what I read about on the internet!!!!! I refused to get on to any of these cabs. There were at least 30 cabs and tuk tuks demanding our attention. It was so annoying. I had to put my foot down and downright tell them off. Another driver approached us and asked us if we want to buy gems. I told him no.

There have been so many scams and the Thailand tourism authority is doing it's level best to increase awareness. Had I not seen the warning that very morning, I would have been a victim too given how keen I have been in acquiring quality gems! Even if I didn't buy the stones to sell at profit in the US or Singapore, I would have purchased the stones to include in my pieces. Had I done so, I would have sold as genuine gems, colorful and well cut glass to unsuspecting buyers. Worse still is I too would have become an unwitting accomplice. A very important lesson was learned. Do your research. I got lucky but from what I have read it seems thousands weren't.

Bangkok is still the place to go to for Gems, but DO NOT ask the tuk tuk drivers or taxi drivers where to go. Know exactly where you want to go. Go to the well established places. Use only credit card to pay. Tell them that you will get the stones certified in the USA by gemologists and cancel payment if the stones are not genuine. Precaution is your only safetly against these unscrupulous schemers.

Other than this, my trip was fantastic. I met lovely people and participated in one of the best weddings I have ever been to!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I love semi precious stones-Peridots

I must have inherited the love of precious and semi precious stones from my father. I know he loves all kind of precious stones. Although, like me, he was an accountant, he spends all of his free time reading up on the properties of these stones. He does extensive research on where to buy the best stones and how to identify them. He is the one who told me that untreated ruby, on a wholesale price, should cost approximately $4k for approximately 0.75 carat.  I have been on a quest ever since to get myself an untreated Burmese pigeon red ruby!

Although I do love the luster and brilliance of diamonds, colored stones do have a large place in my heart. Of all the stones I have seen Peridots and Blue Topaz are right at the top on my favourite list. Blue Topaz, admittedly because they are my birthstones. Well faceted Peridots are beautiful. See the pieces below:
These stones come to live in both florescent lights and natural light. Although sunlight lays claim to be the best for all natural stones, the ubiquitous light bulb does justice to the Peridots. I can't say the same for other stones light Blue Topaz or Garnets.
The second picture of the two pendants set made of Peridots  was taken under direct sunlight. It doesn't look worse than the picture of the necklace taken under florescent light. In comparison, the mystic pink quartz earrings comes alive under direct sunlight. Picture paints a 1000 words goes the saying. These earrings sold almost immediately after I put up these pictures. Maybe I should take more pictures under the direct sunlight.

I plan on purchasing more Peridots as I am very much partial to them. I am going to make myself a complete necklace, earrings and a bracelet set!

Tell  me which stones appeal to you. Was there a time you bought stones to make jewelry and ended up keeping them for yourself? I think I might do the same with these.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Is this business making sense?

Bought some beautiful bags to sell a few months ago when I went to India. They are intricately designed and expensive. I am still contemplating starting my own business selling imported tops and accessories in addition to selling handmade jewelry, I don't know if starting along the lines of Etsy is the way to go. It has been a good 3 weeks since I listed my first item. No sales. At all. I have been active in forums, blogging, facebook and pass-the-word advertising. Still no sales. Is that an indication that I should not proceed with a full blown website? It is very hard to persevere in the face of possible failure. Is it a failure? Yet? That is the true question bothering me. Am I being too hard on myself? Am I doing all the right things? Maybe the market is saturated to the extent that there is absolutely no room for more. Or my designs and products are not attractive enough to bring in sales. I have to keep asking myself if this is true. Being honest is difficult. But to truly succeed, I have to be honest.

Had I opened a proper store I would still advertise. I would also need  a website. I would have attracted walk-ins. I might have made a sale or two by now. The crowd I am truly trying to attract is sprinkled across the globe. So I can't deny the benefits of having a website. Is Etsy the way to go is my major question.

From the beginning I knew that my designs and pieces are not going to blow anyone away. And based on what I have seen among jewelers in Etsy, very few really are good. So, being honest, I can't say I lose out in terms of the actual product itself. In fact, what I am offering is of a much higher quality than what is being sold in many of these stores. So why then is it taking this long to get a sale?

Monday, March 8, 2010

I have finally taken better pictures!

Finally, I have taken somewhat better pictures. I also downloaded the program called GIMP which is a free software. It is an excellent program that performs similar functions as photoshop. For some reason, GIMP is identified as a Remote Access Trojan by my firewall. I keep getting warning messages about this program being a RAT.I hope this is truly not the case. I downloaded the software from the original site. But these days one can never tell.

All that aside, my pictures have definitely improved significantly. Hopefully this is an indication of better things to come. Time will tell. I have to persevere.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

New friends on etsy

I have found new friends it seems among the Etsians. A group of Etsians have come together to join a group to provide help and assistance to fellow members. I am very happy and proud to have their support. I am trying to be a part of the team too. So hopefully, I can make this "Help Road" a two way street! Hmm.. I thought and thought of what I can bring to the table and I realised that the best I can contribute is in the form of my professional expertise. Isn't that a tad bit ironic. Being a CPA may indeed come useful! Funny how life works. Maybe I shouldn't despise my profession so much. I mean if it can help others why not! YAY!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Lessons learnt. on Day 1

What have I learned on the first day of setting up business? Ah.. the lessons are too many. Hopefully, not too painful.

Lessons as follows:
1. Everybody makes jewelry too. How am I setting myself apart.
2. Take close up pictures to show details. Pictures need to be much brighter.
3. If you want more people to see your products, you have to ADVERTISEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

I asked my fellow Etsians and was told the following ways to be the best:-

1. Buy a showcase spot in etsy to improve exposure.
2. Blog about it.
3. Create a facebook group.
4. Include the name of the shop and the facebook group in emails as signatures.
5. Get involved in forums, local craft workshops,etc.

Fine. all of these are good advise. But if I know this, doesn't EVERYONE else also know this? If everyone is ALSO doing this... how am I setting myself apart again?
Sigh.. This is going to be really difficult. However, I have to try.

So action plan:
1. Take brighter pictures this weekend.
2. Blogging.. hello.
3. Do have a facebook group- Jabeen's Asian Creation.
4. Can't do email signatures at work. Will lose job...Not quite ready for that! So private emails only.
5. Getting involved in etsy forums, craigslist and local maker's markets.

So let's see how this goes.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Day 1 P/L

Hahahaha.. the chances are if you are reading this blog you were searching for guidance on how to account for day 1 profit and loss. You are a trader, accountant, auditor or a true-to-goodness hardworking student... Sorry.. this blog is to document my journey towards my dream. My dream of starting my own business.

I LOVE making jewelry. No pure lapidary but more the basic kind: wire wrap jewelry, costume jewelry, semi precious stones -citrine, amethyst, blue topaz.. you get the drift? Yup that's exactly what I want to do. Make jewelry and sell. As I mentioned elsewhere, I ain't claiming to be the next David Yurman. I know where I stand in terms of jewelry design in the ocean of talented artisans who can put me in my place whenever they want to. I only claim that I can make decent jewelry that is affordable AND pretty. I source the world for the best material. I will walk the length and breadth of Singapore, Bombay, Bangkok or anywhere else I travel to in an attempt to get the best material I can afford. I take this material and make them into simple and elegant jewelry. This hobby has become too expensive to continue. I am like a junkie with a serious addiction she can't break.

So it has come down to two things. Either I start selling what I make to continue to afford doing this or stop this altogether. I can't seem to stop. In the past 9 years since I have been working as an auditor I have been trying to stop. NO GO. I love making jewelry. I want to own my own business. So.. perfect combination ain't it? Time will tell.

I have truly come to the conclusion that I am much better off being a jeweler than an auditor/accountant. I had to ask myself if I can do this. Should I study for the CFA or make jewelry. I have been making jewelry since I asked myself that question. I think I should at least give myself a chance to do this. So.. that's where day 1 p/l comes into place. I have set up shop in Etsy. Day 1.....when this day end, I would know if it is a profit or a loss.

Check out my shop.