Thursday, June 7, 2007

Part 3 - Things I Might Have Done

I'm always hesitant to say I ever have any regrets. I am where I am today because of how I did things in the past. I'm happy where I am, so I don't know that I would necessarily say I should have done things differently. Looking back though, if I could do it all over again, knowing how its been there are things I would do.

1. I would have taken more advantage of my student loans. I was very concerned with trying to keep my student loans very low and work as much as I could so as to not just "take out lots of free money". After I got out of school and was looking in to getting a business loan, I started wishing I had taken some of my student loan money out to help build my studio. I basically had no credit, not bad credit, NO credit history. People aren't exactly lining up to give a 24 year old a small business loan at a great interest rate!

Now, I am in no way advocating using your student loans for purposes they aren't meant for. But when I had all of my jewelry and metalworking classes, I would have gotten more tools, spent more money on silver, maybe gotten a fancy camera to photograph my work, mostly the tools though. These are all things that I've struggled to collect over the past couple of years, much of which is debt with a higher interest rate! The tools I've collected, a great camera, a laptop (which has changed my life), are all things I could have conceivable "forseen" needing after school that would have benefited me while in school. I don't think tapping yourself out financially is a good idea. But if I had spent just a couple of thousand, it would have made a huge difference in starting my business.

2. I would have looked at galleries sooner. This is another "while I was in school" bit of advice. Some of the work I did years ago is better than a lot of what I am able to do now. I was given the freedom and the resources to create really complex, large and expensive time consuming pieces. Once I was out of school, creating those type of pieces is much more difficult. When faced with "making something easier that I know will sell" vs. "spend several days working on a piece I might not sell for months or even years" well, the first one of course. When you have bills to pay you have to make sure that what you are making will sell. Which is why I wish I had gotten in with galleries sooner, when I was working on the higher end pieces. I feel it would have kept me a bit more in that world in which I am struggling a bit to get back in to.

3. I would have saved a bit more money before I quit my job. By the time I quit, I was just done. I didn't want to think about "Oh I'm leaving in 6 months, I need to start saving money." I just wanted out. I didn't even have enough money to pay one month's worth of bills. Needless to say, the beginning was quite a struggle. More so than it needed to be if I had done a bit of planning. Ahh, I do so love to crawl before I walk though! Some months it was more like crawling uphill through thick mud while being pulled back by some invisible rope tied to your ankle! Other months were more like walking easily on a flat surface. Slowly, the bad months got better, and the good months got better. So now, my bad months were like my good months a year ago.

4. I would have tried to focus a bit more on creating a "line" of jewelry. I'm pretty all over the place mentally. I am inspired by so many things, many times I feel like my work has no consistent feel. You know how you might love a painter and know their work well, and then you see a painting and instantly know who painted it. Well, I felt like my work was nothing like that. I'm still a bit all over the place, but I've learned to focus a bit more. I feel like I have several lines of jewelry, that kind of look like they are by the same artist. But now each piece with in the line looks like it goes with the others. This is something really recent. I was so resistant to doing the same thing over and over again (I still am) that I didn't let myself come up with a line of jewelry that could all be the same style, but still have every piece be a little different.

And last, but not least:

5. I would have paid attention to Etsy a bit sooner. It took me awhile to get in to it. And then once I signed on - it took me awhile to pay attention to what works and what doesn't work. I know there is no recipe for success on Etsy. But certain things do work. Making sure your photos are eye-catching, listing frequently, and telling everyone you know about Etsy. All things it took me a good 5-6 months to really start doing. I see people in the forums now saying "I haven't sold anything, whats wrong!?" and they've only been there for 2 weeks. I didn't even know the forums existed before I'd been there a month, much less that I should be selling my earrings like hotcakes!

So that about wraps up that section... and now I've decided I should do a part 4 too! - Things that I did (or am currently doing )that I realize are really important. Since this one came out early, I might be able to get that posted tomorrow.


t-berry said...

I love this 3-part series you did and am really lookiing forward to part 4 :) Thanks for sharing your experiences!

tiina said...

Your words are really thought provoking, especially to someone just starting out. Thank you!

Dimitrova said...

I just read your beginning story and wanted to let you know that it is very inspiring!

Beth Cyr said...

awww, thank you Cvetelina!! Probably even know, I would even change some things!! I should go back and do an update...