Saturday, January 31, 2009

7 Reasons to Buy Jewelry Directly From a Designer

I came across this great article that I wanted to share with you. It epitomizes what I'm doing as a jewelry designer and why it is good for you, my customers!

© by Teri Baskett; all rights reserved

Why is it better to buy jewelry directly from the artist who designed it? Here are seven good reasons:

1. Price

OK, I could kid myself and not put this first. But let's be honest, we're all watching our money more closely these days.

Designer prices tend to come in well under retail. We aren't marking up our costs to pay for three or four layers of "middle-men / middle-women" to also make a profit.

Compare our pieces to similar ones in the better department stores or from most network re-sale public jewelry lines. Our prices are almost always lower.

Designers can also offer discounts for multiple purchases, or add earrings for free, when you buy more than 1 or 2 pieces - you won't see that in a department store.

In addition, designers stand behind our work and our pieces. If something breaks / unravels / etc. we will fix it or replace it.

And if you lose an earring - what store is going to help you get a replacement? Many designers can.

2. Quality

We make designs of high-quality components - not cheap, mass produced pieces.

When you buy from the designer, you will know exactly what you are getting, because we can tell you. And WE WILL. Any reputable designer is going to tell you up front if it is a reconstituted stone, if it is man made, and the story behind the stones / beads if there is any.

We may even know the lampworker who made the beads, and some of us kiln them ourselves.

We can talk about how the wire was wrapped to create the bail it hangs from.

If it's a piece with lesser quality items, or perhaps one of our early pieces when we were learning a new technique, we will be very honest about that too.

Designers have nothing to hide - we want you to know.

Yes, initially, some designers start using somewhat less expensive pieces as they are learning and building their inventory (yes, inventory - you should SEE the bead stashes we have!).

Then, as they work with pieces and learn more about stones and find better suppliers, their quality improves. It doesn't mean that the early pieces you buy aren't "worth" the cost; they are. If anything, most designers under-estimate the value of their work, so "newbies" are typically giving everyone great deals.

You may also learn about the inspiration that first gave us the idea to create the piece, and what we hoped the piece accomplished or "said" to the wearer, if any.

I try to learn about stones, where they come from, how they are mined or found, and any other particular "tidbit" so I can let my customer - YOU - know what you are getting.

3. Fit, Color and Customization

A designer can adjust the length of the jewelry to be exactly what you need, so it falls exactly where it needs to on the neckline of a certain dress - or because you don't want the earrings to be quite that long.

We can add stones, extenders, lengthen toggle clasps and really, literally, remake a piece to fit you. (Or fit even small girls - I made bracelets and necklaces for my 3- and 5-year-old nieces, with 5-inch wrists and about 12-inch necklaces.)

We can make something similar to a design we already have in another color. Just ask. If you HATE green but love a certain necklace, ask us! We can usually design something similar in the color you want.

Or maybe you really like the necklace you see, but it's just not "flashy". Ask us. We can remake that, adding more crystals and glass, rhinestones, or metal so it glints in light. We can add strands to make it bolder and more dramatic.

Or we can tone down a piece so it isn't as "bling-y" if you prefer.

4. Exclusivity and Distinctiveness

Designers don't mass produce anything.

First of all, we can't. None of us maintain an inventory that allows for making 200 bracelets in exactly the same colors and stones, unless that's simply the only bracelet we make, period.

Second, that's not part of the designer's creative nature. We may buy enough beads to make several pieces from that set of stones, but it won't be the exact same thing.

So, when you purchase from a designer, you are getting that one-of-a-kind, unique design that no one else will have.

A customer once told me that she and three other friends, at different events, all purchased the same necklace from one of the multi-level network jewelry companies, where you buy from someone hosting a jewelry party, generally in their home or from a catalog.

She talked about how she didn't like the fact that two of them might show up at the same event with the same piece on, or that they all knew exactly how much was paid for that piece.

A designer's piece is generally unique, unless you order something or want to purchase several for gifts. And, if a piece is designed especially to order by you, no one will make more than that to re-sell; special orders are, well, special.

I've been asked to make earrings to match a pendant someone purchased from someone else. Definitely it was a custom piece - I made a few different pair for her to chose from and she selected the ones she wanted.

We've also been asked to take a strand that is old or broken and use the beads to remake it into something the customer would wear (maybe an old strand that belonged to their grandmother or mother).

We can re-work old stones into new, current designs that you will proudly wear and tell others about.

5. Individuality

No, not us - you, the customer.

You get to talk to the designer, and can even have a private showing if you like. We can bring a selection of pieces to your home, work, or you can come to our homes and see what we have.

You can pick out a certain gemstone and ask us to design a piece around that, or even bring us one you purchased while traveling.

You can have our undivided attention as long as needed so we get an accurate idea of what you like and what you want.

You don't have to pick only from what you see. You can ask for this or that or even the other thing.

6. Customer Satisfaction

Well, I really touched on that in the "Price" section above, but I think it's worth expanding on.

Someone who buys from a designer forms a one-on-one business relationship, which is more intimate and personal than buying from a catalog or store clerk.

We tend to bend over backwards to satisfy you, our customer. Yet, we all know we won't get the same repeat business as those who make beauty products, soaps, candles or food.

Since jewelry isn't consumable (well, except for those candy necklaces that were always on stretchy cord), you will have a piece for years.

We do strive to make you a satisfied, happy customer who will remember us the next time you are shopping for jewelry.

If we do really well, we hope you'll tell your friends and we might get some referrals.

All that depends on us first making you happy - perhaps going a step beyond what a commercial store can do or what a sales representative can offer.

7. Local, Handmade, Made in Your Own Country

Finally, when you purchase jewelry directly from a designer, with his or her business in the home, and possibly in your community, you are keeping the money in your area, locally.

Whatever your country, buying from the designer/individual means keeping money in your economy, and not supporting foreign business.

There is no sweat shop, where people are working all week for $1 in wages, making the pieces.

No, designers can't compete with $1 earrings from a discount store rack.

First, we won't even have components that are that cheap.

Second, we pride ourselves on quality so we take great care with our work.

Third, even if we can "whip out" a pair of earrings in 10 minutes, that's 6 pair an hour, for $6/hour for our time (at $1 per pair).

Finally, that 10 minutes isn't exaggerating, if you include getting supplies and tools, making the earrings, putting them on earring cards, pricing them, and then storing them.

So, no, we're not making "tons" of profit, but you won't get quality at rock bottom cheap discount prices either.

Well, I hope some of the reasons for buying jewelry directly from the designer made some sense to you as the buyer.

I also hope I helped you understand a bit more about what a designer does.

Any artisan, in any medium, can relate to these items - whether they sew, paint, or work with creative papers.

To us, you aren't a customer pushing the revolving door.

You're an individual we want to know and make happy with everything you purchase - or even if you don't purchase anything at all!

Thanks Teri for your inspiring words! Check out Teri's designs at S&T Creations.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Quote from Chief Creative Officer of Etsy

“I think that when money is scarcer this idea of what value is, is a lot more than what the dollar cost of what something is. That value is something where [handmade] items have stories attached to them, or it’s the meaning behind who gave them to you, or who made the item. People are making these decisions based on having less money, and are making the decision to buy and sell handmade goods.
- Robert Kalin, CCO of Etsy.com

See the whole interview with Rob at the World Economic Forum, 2009.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Week 2: Rad Recycled Jewelry

This week I am featuring an exciting pendant that used to be an earring (if you can believe it!) and a couple of recycled sterling silver pieces. I get really excited about recycled silver because it is the best type of silver to work with next to the fair trade and local silver I use in my designs.

But first - if you are here, you are seeing my new website! I am so thrilled. This whole week has been a soft launch and I'll be sending out all the exciting details in an e-newsletter in a few days. It will also share some press coverage I am getting this week in the North Shore News' Look fashion section, this Friday, January 30th! Please sign up to updates, so you don't miss the behind the scenes scoops and a link to the article.

Here are the three recycled pieces of jewelry that I am featuring this week. That earring cracks me up - I am picturing a Cyndi Lauper style straight from the 80's. But when I saw it, I was very inspired to create this modern, contemporary piece. I actually already used this as a pendant in a necklace! It is for sale on my site here. It's title is "Retro Rewind Necklace" as it revives an important decade in a modern design!

Next there is a recycled sterling silver bracelet. I think I am going to leave this bracelet as is and simply add a few strands to it! That will give it some colour and a new, fuller life. It wasn't this pretty when it first arrived though - this one spent a few hours in the tumbler.

Finally, I choose this sterling silver cross pendant as my final piece of Rad Recycled Jewelry this week. This will be great for someone who wants to wear their religious symbol, but with a current, fashionable look!

Don't forget to sign up for the e-newsletter to hear about my sale and learn more about my newly launched website. Cheers!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

ecocessories Feature: Rad Recycled Jewelry

I recently had a chance to explore the bags of recycled jewelry that people brought to ecocessories over the holidays! It was so fun to go through all the different piles, and I was so inspired by all the beauty that I found.

I love taking a necklace and looking at it for its parts. When you look at the individual pieces of a whole, you truly see something for how beautiful it is! That is what ecocessories is all about - creating beautiful sterling silver jewelry with recycled beads from recycled jewelry. I don't like making anything that doesn't serve a greater purpose.

That is why I love working with silver. Even if I end up designing a piece of jewelry that turns out wrong, or isn't selling, I can take it apart and use that silver for another purpose. It is a valuable metal, that can be reused in many ways, from melting it down, to simply removing the tarnish and recycled the chain. I also feel working with silver gives me creative freedom to use my silversmithing techniques to take what design is in my head and make it happen!

I have decided to start this weekly column based on a few pieces of "Rad Recycled Jewelry" that I especially love from all the pieces I receive. If you recognize something YOU recycled, email me at jessica@ecocessories.ca to get a free gift! C'mon, I know you're curious - and hey if you haven't recycled jewelry, see my post on what recycling jewelry is all about to learn how you can participate in this weekly Wednesday feature!


These three pieces of jewelry are this week's rad recycled jewelry finds! Are any of them yours? If so email me for your free gift!



These chandelier earrings are amazing. One is missing a tier, so that's why they were recycled I assume. I will be able to take these a part for the tiny clear sparkling beads. Maybe the larger parts will become the feature of a future necklace?




I love these turquoise coloured resin globes! They will look great bobbling on a lariat necklace.




This necklaces is a bit outdated, but what caught my eye were the vibrant ruby red beads that are dangling. I have a special design already planned for these!



p.s. Look forward to the ecocessories.ca RElaunch next week! I'm so pumped!


Monday, January 12, 2009

Knitwear with Recycled Beads

I am experimenting with a few one off products that will be on sale in my shop when the new website is launched under the line 'ecocessories originals'. The originals will include the recycled etched glass vessels when they are ready, and now my knit wear.

This weekend I made a brown & white neck cowl, using 3 large pink clay recycled beads! I was inspired to use the recycled beads for buttons when I realized they were too big for a lot of my jewelry designs, and that this was the perfect alternate purpose.

The wool is all new, and is a mixture of thin brown cotton yarn, and a wool cotton cream blend. I am now working on a second navy blue & cream version in a knit stitch (this one's a purl stitch). What do you think? Do you like the first ecocessories original?

See more pictures on my Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ecocessories

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Recycled Glass Jar Chandelier

My friend, Rob (check out his blog here - Meditations of a 3am Recluse) brought this incredible video to my attention when he read my post about recycling glass jars. The video and the idea is so simple & fabulous I had to share!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Inspiration in the Fridge

I'm at home, nursing my cold, and feeling quite discouraged as finding our lost baggage is a seemingly low priority for Delta airlines. This is also putting a damper on my creative spirit as my favourite pliers for designing jewelry are in those bags, as is the cable to download pictures from my camera!

But as I was cleaning out the fridge, a note of inspiration struck me. I was rinsing out all the glass containers emptied of jams, spreads and preserved vegetables and admiring the beautiful shapes of the containers, when I realized the potential of these glass vessels.

I may not be able to design jewelry but I can still create! I am going to remove the labels, clean the containers, and decorate them with etched designs and wire wrapped beads. The finished product can be used for various things - candle holders, planters, vases, and lanterns are just some of my ideas!

Stay tuned for the finished result and a Do-It-Yourself guide to recycling your own glass containers into home decor items!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Wardrobe Refashion

For a Christmas gift from my mother, I received an essential tool that I have been pining after for a long time - a sewing machine! After starting ecocessories, this need grew even stronger because I see so many opportunities to recycle clothing, just as much as jewelry.

How appropriate then that I came across this incredible blog and movement called Wardrobe Refashion. I made a pledge and this is what it means:

"I pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of "new" manufactured items of clothing, for the period of 6 months. I pledge that i shall refashion, renovate, recycle preloved items for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn or other medium for the term of my contract. I pledge that I will share the love and post a photo of my refashioned, renovated, recycled, crafted or created item of clothing on the Wardrobe Refashion blog, so that others may share the joy that thy thriftiness brings!"
Check out the blog here!

New Year's Affirmations

It is a new year and I am back after a busy, yet restful 2 week holiday! I am still trying to kick start my motor for January though, as I am currently waging war with a cough and sniffles. There is a lot of talk this time of year about setting New Year's resolutions, but this year I am trying something new. I am setting New Year's affirmations.

What are affirmations? An affirmation is a positive statement that changes the negative self-talk we often consciously or unconsciously abuse ourselves with. It is positive fuel for accomplishing what one wants to happen, as opposed to focusing on whatever unreasonable expectations we have set for ourselves.

I have big plans for ecocessories in 2009, and here are a few business specific affirmations that will help me along the way:

  • "I embrace creativity in my life and will always have an outlet for my passions through this business"
  • "I am valued for the positive change I am producing in the world by recycling jewelry and supporting fair trade business"
  • "I am successful at earning a personal income from my work, while investing to grow this business"
Learn more about affirmations here, and start affirming your success for 2009.