With a passion for jewellery and accessories, owner of Jayne James Designs had always been involved in the Creative Arts. Inspired by this amazing creativity, it seemed natural for Eleanor to try jewellery making. What she didn’t realize was just how talented she would be or how much she would love her new career path! Now the owner of a successful jewellery business her stunningly gorgeous and unique handcrafted jewellery speak for itself.
What inspired or motivated you to become a jewellery designer?
I've always loved beautiful jewellery and accessories but felt slightly limited by the inability to have pieces that expressed exactly what I wanted to say about myself in certain moods, moments and states of mind. I think that jewellery can tell you a lot about an individual, their personal taste, and how they are feeling in a given mood. I've always been creative in having drawn and sculpted in polymer clay (the latter more so in recent years) and so I suppose it was a natural progression to trying out my own jewellery. What I didn't know was how deeply I would fall in love with it, to the point of opening a business!
Tell us about a day in the life of a Jewellery Designer
At this stage I've only had my shop open since October 2012, so I'm currently still working full-time in addition to running the business, meaning that weekends tend to be prime time for creating (particularly in glass, as it's more time consuming and requires a great deal of focus and care to ensure all is going safely and to plan with firing pieces in the kiln). Weekday evenings tend to be a mixture of marketing, social networking, drip-posting photographs of new pieces and putting them in the shop. I am more likely to do resin, wire-wrapping or beading work in the week as it can be done more quickly and in a more 'casual' environment than glass (that's a nice way of saying I can do it in front of the TV in some cases!).
What are the advantages of working for yourself?
Although I'm not full time just yet, I absolutely love the creative freedom and control I have over both the pieces I make and my business in general. I can work whenever I like, as hard as I like, on whichever piece I like, at any given time. I don't treat it as a hobby - I do view it as a full time venture in the process - so the flexibility of how I pick things up isn't to say I don't take them seriously. However, it does allow me a huge amount of opportunity to work on items according to what I'm designing that week and the order in which I want to do things. There is nothing lovelier than expressing yourself through creating pieces for other people to enjoy.
What are the disadvantages of working for yourself?
The main disadvantages in my case simply relate to lack of time that I would like to invest more into getting my business out there, though I do what I can with the resources available to me. Fortunately these are huge thanks to the wide variety of social/professional networking and marketing options out there, most of which are free - Facebook, Twitter, Cargo Collective, soon to be YouTube and Pinterest - and it's vital to ensure they are used to the best of one's ability. After all, it's free advertising - why wouldn't you use it?!
Other challenges relate to production time - in order for the business to be lucrative as well as creative, caps need to be placed on production time in line with target profit per day/month/year, bearing in mind how sales can also wildly fluctuate during peak (and lean!) seasons and holidays. It's far too easy to get carried away continually adding perfectionist touches, at cost to expansion and development on other pieces. Check out Jayne James Design's Services.
What has been your greatest challenge so far?
I would say that my greatest challenge was getting the business off the ground in the first place. I didn't pay or have anyone to set up my shop for me, or design my logo and business cards, or teach me about my legal, tax and regulatory obligations - I've learned everything from scratch. I'm not necessarily saying that's the easiest way to set up, but in my situation it made the most financial sense at the time (and I'm a control freak!). I'm retrospectively really pleased I did research everything myself, as I feel I know what I'm doing from conception to end product. Social networking and good research have been a vital part of that process. I feel that's been the greatest learning experience, and a huge achievement in as far as it pushed me right out of my comfort zone.
How do you ensure work life balance?
It's difficult to achieve work-life balance in my case as I work full time and am studying for a degree too, but an essential aspect of avoiding burnout is the fact that I simply love what I do. I can't get enough of crafting new pieces and doing so for me is thoroughly therapeutic, so I can't honestly say that it's a chore! I genuinely believe that it is key to have passion for what you do. See more gorgeous designs.
Who are your customers?
Although my business is based on Etsy, the vast majority of my customers are fellow craft shop owners and individuals who 'like' my business page on Facebook and form part of the community there. Social networking has, for that reason, become absolutely central to my business.
What advice would you give to someone starting a business?
Never, ever give up, or let anyone tell you how expensive/difficult/impossible it is to make it out there. You CAN do it, and often for free, if you're willing and able to put in the time and energy - do your research and use the countless resources available to you. Know the law and your obligations as a seller. NEVER, ever treat customers as secondary to the income they provide you - remember that without them, you would have no business. Treat your customers the way you would expect to be treated.
Name one thing that you could not live without in your business.
Social networking, without a shadow of a doubt. In as saturated a market as handmade jewellery, it would be nearly impossible to make an impression (furthermore without paying for advertising/sponsorship) amid the sea of incredibly talented people out there. You could have the most beautiful, impressive, wonderful website or store in the world, but if nobody knows about it, it won't make any difference to your survival as a business.
What is your ultimate goal - and has this changed from when you started?
My ultimate goal is to make this business an international success whilst trying to keep things creatively fresh, and to ship worldwide in several different languages (I speak Spanish and am currently qualifying in French and German).It’s a matter of persistence, patience, experience, trial and error… and time!