Thursday, December 28, 2006

More....

Steerhead Wall Art



I wanted to post a picture or two of the steerhead wall pieces I like to make. I buy frames from flea markets, secondhand shops and other like institutions and back them with masonite and paper, then attach the steerheads and finish with acrylic paint. The story behind them is that about 17 years ago I was teaching high school art in a small east Texas town and there came a day when we needed to decorate our door for an alma mater contest. Being a Longhorn, the inspiration for the steerheads was born and we won the contest. Not wanting to throw away the precious little creations I decided to make them into a large wall piece for my dad for Christmas, so I did. The original is still around and hanging at my sister's house and of course is not for sale. I sold out of my small wall pieces at the recent show, but have a stack of frames and steerheads ready for new constructions. They are made with one to fifteen steerheads.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Our Bazaar Experience



The bazaar is over, has been for a couple of weeks now, and we were very pleased, selling more than twice what we sold last year, and continuing to sell for Christmas via the website. Since this is all new for us, the show once again was a learning experience as we figured out what works and what doesn't. We had several returning customers, and all but one of them (and she promised a buy through the website once she knew a bracelet length) bought again. One customer even told us we were the next James Avery! I took that as a compliment, but I doubt that will happen--it isn't our view of our direction anyway. We got over our jitters (I did at least) about the prices on our jewelry, too.

One new thing we did this year came as a result of a request for a door prize donation. The $10 gift certificate we gave the bazaar coordinator resulted in our giving away the same coupon to anyone who bought something (they'd get 2 if they bought 2 pieces, and so on), and we also had an hourly drawing. In exchange for an email address, we gave a chance to win a $10 coupon. We got a smattering of emails that way; some people don't like giving them out but those who liked our wares didn't seem to mind at all. They especially liked writing with the cute jingle-jingle pens we found at Walgreens! Ah, Christmas! And of course, the chocolate-covered peppermint sticks (at Hobby Lobby, remember, folks?) were a big hit again. In summary, we plan to continue the gift certificate angle.

Lisa made some pretty Christmas necklaces; the ones with czech beads were very popular and we just about sold out of them. We will continue to have Christmas jewelry from now on--we did not last year. We also added the longhorn wall art this year. I sold all of the small ones: the purchasers understood them, and that is why they will continue to sell. I guess that's the essence of all sales of art and/or craft: the stuff will speak to a buyer, and they will just have to have it. We think the wall art is unique.

Our approach to sales was the biggest revelation for us. The first day we just didn't sell much at all, and we were kicking ourselves for coming back to the bazaar: last year just wasn't that great, we thought, and no one wanted to pay our prices. But we didn't expect Saturday! Friday, folks came out to buy the season's decorations, but Saturday they were buying gifts, and they bought jewelry. They bought jewelry! And they kept buying jewelry. Part of what made the change happen, I am convinced, is our approach to selling. We decided that at the moment someone looked at, touched, smelled, or otherwise engaged with one of our pieces, we would dive in with the name of the piece, what every component was, how it was assembled, how long we spent making it....in essence, we were telling the stories of the pieces of jewelry, and that helped people understand our pricing. It also showed them how much we love what we do, opened their eyes to our unique qualities, and hopefully for those who didn't buy this year, paved the way for many to look for us in 2007. Many returnees this year told us that they were hoping we would be there, and it pleased us to hear that!

What's left? Continuous tidying of the jewelry, and finding pleasing groupings. We found that bracelets looked good lying on top of our customized (tan) boxes, and incorporating a fluorescent lamp brought color and sparkle to the fore. Next year we are planning some corner shelving, and will expand to another table with all the wall art we will have. The grid Mike got us from the dealership was great for hanging those along with our framed company sign so we will continue to use that. We also got all of our boxes ready, with accompanying paraphenalia we like to give out, so that we didn't get all bumble-fingered with each sale. And we learned to never sit down.

That is about all that's necessary to shake out of the 'bazaar' experience for this year. Talk about the work, don't clutter the table, and be true to the vision. And enjoy the season! Said the young Grinch, "Oh, Christmas!"

Thursday, November 02, 2006

New Grasses Necklace


This is the necklace I am working on now; it is the partner to the Grasses bracelet that was previously posted. I am lengthening it because the beads are large at about 8-9mm wide. Some of the chain from the bracelet will be attached near the clasp so that the necklace will be adjustable.

This isn't the greatest photo because the detail is not apparent on the pendant. It is the same image as is on the bracelet, just stuck onto a bigger disk and embellished with my little star button. I am fairly pleased with the outcome but am reserving full judgment until it's completed. I love the calcite beads since they are close to the color of the grass which inspired this set, and I love the rustic finish on them.

This one has taken a long time to finish; inspiration did not come easily this time. It will be posted very soon.

Alone Star Jewelry

We haven't posted anything to the blog lately because life has been throwing us lots of the stuff. School, children, relatives, church, and the list goes on and on. Lisa is a working mom although she is lucky to work from home a few days a week; Shauna is a stay-home mom but that doesn't mean she gets to work on jewelry every day. The bazaar is coming up at the first of December, the show we did last year as a first, and after that perhaps this blog will move a little bit more. The writing is fun and useful, so we don't plan to abandon this part of our overall project.

Friday, September 15, 2006

On the topic of jewelry auctions on eBay

There has been much discussion about whether or not it is in the best interest of a jeweler trying to increase sales to post pieces in online auctions at eBay. We considered this and actually ran some auctions which you can see from our previous posts. We sold some of our jewelry in this way, but below our retail prices. The bump in hits on our website after the auctions did not increase much above the norm. We haven't posted any new auctions because we have been mulling over whether or not the fees and the discounts are worth this form of advertising and the perceptions that come with it.

Our thinking was that eBay auctions would advertise our jewelry by reaching millions. But were our pieces actually viewed by millions, even thousands or hundreds? There is no way of telling how many actually looked at our jewelry (it would be a cool feature of eBay if you could actually tally the number of hits on an auction item, but that is beside the point). We figured that even if our pieces did not sell, the advertising alone to the millions of jewelry seekers out there would be worth it.

In the end, the cost to auction our jewelry on eBay may not be the best marketing move for us based on the associated costs, along with the fact of selling below true retail value of the piece. In order to expose an auction to the most eBay visitors possible, it must be listed in multiple categories, with a multitude of attributes added to make it stand out, and decisions made about how long the auction will run, all of which raise the price of hosting it. By the time you finish preparing an auction, it is painfully clear the price paid for that exposure, set against how much can be lost on the true retail price of a piece of jewelry. Is it really worth it?

Of course it is up to the individual jeweler or business to weigh such costs against potential gains. It is a fact that some jewelry on eBay can be sold without all the overhead costs associated with a brick and mortar store, so it can be less expensive. That fact doesn't have to diminish the quality of jewelry offered (certainly anyone would have to research to confirm quality). It is also a fact that high quality jewelry is indeed sold on eBay. But, it is also a fact that sometimes sellers of fine jewelry will mark a quality piece down below wholesale cost. Someone will buy it, and then expect to find deals like that again and the perception is born that bargains abound...and somehow, too, the idea that eBay is a dumping ground for jewelry that dealers can’t sell. More likely to the point is that high-volume sellers, like car dealers, at times have to move out inventory to bring in the new, and the old stuff ends up on eBay.

Our conclusion, after reading and talking to marketing experts, is that if we want to sell our jewelry for what it is truly worth that we cannot do it on eBay. It isn't just because we had to mark things down in the first place as a cost of advertising, but more because of the perception that eBay is where jewelry goes that can't be sold elsewhere. We know this is merely perception mixed with some grains of truth, but for us the bottom line is we know that isn't true about our jewelry. We don’t want to sell our jewelry for less.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Spring in Texas earrings on eBay


Another great auction that is currently active! Our handcrafted Spring in Texas dangly daisy earrings are so fun to wear! They sway and sparkle in .999 pure silver below sterling hoops. Get them at a good price while you can!

Shell Drop necklace on eBay

This beautiful, handcrafted necklace is currently featured in one of our auctions on eBay. What a wonderful opportunity to get an Alone Star original piece of jewelry at a great price!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Ocean Sunset bracelet on Ebay

This bracelet is currently featured on Ebay. Jewelers selling their work should consider the advertising value of posting jewelry there. Click here to view this auction.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

This bracelet will be on the site very soon. It's made of PMC and a couple of strands of hammered sterling chain. The plate image is grass--Texas highways are resplendent with many varieties of grass gracing the 'scape if the highway department doesn't mow them and the livestock doesn't eat them--my favorite colors are the bleached-out-like-blonde-hair and that lovely soft cinnamon that I recall from a certain hill in Bastrop on the way to the house; I'd breathe thanks to the mowers for letting it grow it was so pretty. Originally this bracelet was made from silk cord to hold the plate, but I didn't like messing with cleaning the silk and didn't think anyone else would either. So now it's going to cost more but it sure feels good on the wrist. I have a necklace on our site that goes with this bracelet, and chose leather for it that is as close to the bleached out grass I could find--a camel color. It is also available in that soft cinnamon color, too, which will be posted soon.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Ocean Sunset bracelet


Imagine that you're sitting on the sands at the beach. It's dusk and the seagulls and pelicans are flying overhead. If you're lucky, you may see a Magnificent Frigatebird soaring in the distance. The sun is setting in golden hues, sparkling above the blues and greens of the ocean. This is what I think of when I wear this bracelet.