How do you start a jewelry brand? I’ve got the answer with nine tips to get you started today. Make sure that you stick around until the end, because tip number eight is a think outside the box way to get your business off the ground.
Right when start a brand “Finley Jewelry” launched, they got 15,000 orders and they did it by giving away real gold and silver jewelry away for free, and yet they still remain profitable. So we’ll talk all about that and how to market your business and tip number eight.
And in this comprehensive guide, you’re going to learn how you can start your own jewelry business. This guide is perfect for people who have never started any type of business before and need step-by-step instructions. So if you have a passion for jewelry and want to turn it into a profitable business, then you’re in the right place.
Grab a drink, get settled because this is going to be a complete guide. We’re going to go from top to bottom from finding your manufacturers to running the financial side of your business. And then we’ll look at effective marketing strategies. I was one of the first hires at Finley. So I’ll uncover what the day-to-day is actually like working for a startup jewelry brand and what you can expect when you’re starting your own jewelry company.
Define your brand story
So you’re going to want to define your brand story with the amount of choice that consumers have. You can’t really get away with not having a brand story. Your brand story will make you memorable and it will build an emotional connection with your audience. So for example, Finley’s brand story is centered around ethics and sustainability.
The jewelry industry can be pretty nasty where the environment and workers are exploited. So Finley’s brand story hits three main points; People, product and planet. They’re good to their people. They sell superior products and they take care of the planet. Super simple. Ask yourself these questions to get you thinking about what your brand story could be.
Is there something interesting about the way that I’ve started or will start my company? Maybe you have a story about how you realize that the world needed your products. Ask yourself, do I stand for a specific cause, a portion of your sales could go towards building schools, for example. And ask yourself, can my product solve a problem?
Maybe you make replica diamonds that stay sparkly and shiny forever. Ask yourself these questions and stick to one idea. Sticking to one main message will make it very easy for your consumer to understand your values, decide what kind of jewelry you’ll sell. After figuring out your brand story, you’ll be able to narrow down what kind of jewelry you’ll sell.
How to decide what kind of jewelry to sell?
Family, for example, focuses on delicate and dainty pieces. So start by thinking about the design. Do you want to sell everyday pieces or cocktail party style pieces also consider the material. Do you want to sell gold plated jewelry or solid gold jewelry? You can even play with other materials like pearls, beads, and silver, which by the way, are all on an upward trend during the time of writing this guide.
You can also look at Google trends to identify any upcoming styles that you might want to capitalize on to do this, just visit trends.google.com and type in a keyword to see how many people are searching for it in different parts of the world.
Define your target audience
Having a good understanding of your target audience and creating messaging around what they can relate to will exponentially increase the amount of sales that you make and how well your marketing campaigns perform.
So you don’t want to miss this step. With Finley, for example, our audience values a good deal. Our emails that go out surrounding, a sale make thousands of dollars. Whereas emails with product drops don’t really perform as well. Step number one is profiling your target customers by looking them up on social media.
You can literally use Instagram stories to find out what your target audience lives are like. So look at what they do on a day-to-day basis. What kind of homes they live in, where they spend time and what music they listen to. You want to be as in tune with your target audience, as you are with your close friends.
That way, when it comes time to make a decision like dropping a new collection or featuring an influencer, you’ll know exactly what they want to see. You can also look on Reddit to see what people are talking about. As it relates to the jewelry industry, just a little proved myself and saw that people are interested in matching jewelry sets, jewelry cleaning tools, and wedding rings.
Reddit is a gold mine of honest information because people feel safe enough to express their true opinions and converse with each other. So by doing those two things, you’ll have an idea of who your audience are as people and their feeling towards certain aspects of the jewelry industry.
Create your visual identity
Unless you’re a graphic designer, I would recommend that you work with someone to do this step with you. Your visual identity includes your logo, the fonts that you use and your brand colors, check Fiverr, Freelancer and Upwork. These are platforms that are going to connect you to a graphic designer, look at past work and make sure that they understand your vibe. Ask them to create a style guide and a logo.
A style guide is a document that outlines what your brand looks like. Work with a designer by communicating what you’re going for, but in order to stay unique, try not to rely too heavily on visual examples. Otherwise you might just end up looking like every other brand.
How to choose your materials
Let’s look at sourcing your products, starting with the materials one by one. So let’s go through a crash course on materials so that you understand the price point and the quality of each solid gold or 24 karat gold is the most pure gold. However, you can’t use this in jewelry because it’s too soft and it’ll get damaged. So gold is mixed with other alloys like silver and copper, the higher the karat, the higher amount of gold in the piece.
The most common types of karats are 10, 14, and 18 karat gold. The more golden your piece, the richer the color, and the more expensive gold for me is Sterling silver that’s been gold-plated. This is a good option for businesses that want to provide an affordable piece, but keep in mind that these don’t hold well in water and they can tarnish.
So if you’re selling for my pieces, make sure that you have a care section on your website to avoid any customer complaints and returns. Goldfield jewelry, contrary to the name is not actually filled with gold. Rather, it’s a thick layer of gold. That’s bonded to another metal like brass Goldfield is more expensive than me, but if it’s taken care of it can last as long as solid gold and won’t tarnish, whereas who have sensitive skin can wear it without worries of an allergic reaction.
Silver and stainless steel are trending metals and street wear. These metals are affordable for businesses that are just starting out and they’re durable. Unlike other metals like copper brass and aluminum, silver and stainless steel will never turn your finger green.
Finding a manufacturer supplier
When you’re finding manufacturer or supplier, there’s three ways that you can go about this. You can go directly to the manufacturer. You can buy wholesale, or you can work with a local artisan to work directly with the manufacturer. Checkout Alibaba, DH gate, and Ali express. So right now we’re on alibaba.com type in a keyword. I’m going to pretend I’m selling initial necklaces.
Now, when we find something that catches our eye, we’re going to want to do some vetting, check out reviews and actually read them. Take a look at the prices and the minimum order quantity I recommend starting with no more than 10 pieces of each style. You want to test the market before tying up all your funds and inventory.
The price of shipping will change depending on what your order is. So take this figure with a grain of salt. Look at the response rate. There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to get in touch with your manufacturer. If you have to change an order, or if you have questions about a product, also look at their on-time delivery rate.
There’s nothing more frustrating to the customer than not getting their order on time. Take note of the badges. You want to make sure that your suppliers have badges and good ones click on the icons to find out more about what they mean. Also take a peek at their return policy. The next step is to send them a message and let them know that you’re interested.
Take this opportunity to ask as many questions as you need, ask them about the factory working conditions, confirm lead times, and basically everything you need to know that you’re making a good decision. Take the time to assess how responsive and attentive they are. If they’re taking three days to respond to you, it might not be the best fit as their service will probably reflect this in the future.
Now is also the time where you would want to negotiate minimum order quantities and price per unit. So it requests a sample first and then wear it for two months to test the quality. If it passes the test, then you can go ahead and place your full order. Hot tip right here. Indonesia is known for having really good quality jewelry manufacturers at affordable prices. So try filtering the location when you’re doing your search.
Finding a wholesaler
Finding a wholesaler outside of Alibaba, use Google to find wholesalers typing keywords like “jewelry wholesale United States”. To start doing your research. This process will require a lot of digging and prepare for it to be time-consuming.
However, this step is crucial because if you don’t do your research, now you can lose a lot of time and money having chosen the wrong manufacturer. Be responsible by being informed about the ethics of your supply chain. One of the most important things for Finley is that their products are made ethically and sustainably.
So our manufacturers carry prestigious and coveted certificates like the S8,000 and we ensure livable wages and best environmental practices after suppliers, what certifications they have before working with them.
Finding a jeweler
You can find an independent jeweler through Instagram, Google, or Upwork. The advantage of going with an independent jeweler is that the communication is tighter. You’re supporting local, independent talent, and you can customize your pieces. However, when you start to scale up, it makes more financial sense to go with manufacturer artisans can be pretty pricey, so you’ll have to position yourself as a luxury brand to be able to maintain a sustainable profit margin.
In summary, the top things to look for when choosing a jeweler or a manufacturer are ethics and sustainability, lead times. shipping costs, minimum order, quantities, cost per unit, and quality and design of the jewelry, as well as ease of communication. Keep in mind that a lot of businesses will go through a couple of manufacturers before finding the right one.
So if you’re dissatisfied with lead times or the communication, there’s really nothing wrong with pivoting designing custom jewelry. Depending on your manufacturer’s capabilities and the type of relationship that you have with them, you might be able to design some custom pieces. So I’m definitely not a jewelry designer, but even I was able to communicate my design ideas and bring them to life for Finley.
I went into Adobe illustrator and I did outline drawings to scale of the designs that I wanted to launch on the spec sheets. I was very, very clear about the measurements and the materials. And I also show the pieces at four different angles for clarity. I want it to be able to provide enough information so that the manufacturer wouldn’t have to come back with any questions.
That’s the main goal. This was a totally Mickey Mouse makeshift solution, but the designs turned out super well. So what I’m trying to say is, as long as you can clearly communicate your ideas, you can design custom pieces, and if you’re not well versed in illustrators, sketch your designs out and use reference photos.
Set up your online presence
Sign up for a domain name and a professional email. Using GoDaddy, you can get started for as little as $3 a month for the first year. Also be sure to claim your social media handles. If your handle’s already taken, you can reach out and ask if they’ll sell it to you. However, the perfect social media handle and URL is not going to make or break your business.
So don’t get too caught up on this. Now it’s time to make your website. Start by choosing a theme, go to themes.shopify.com and search your industry. There’s literally a section just for jewelry. So you can find one that matches your brand look and feel on your products. Include product shots on a white background and shots of a model wearing your jewelry.
As long as the photos are well lit and visually pleasing, you don’t really need to drop a ton of money on a photo shoot. If your jewelry comes in different variations, like silver, gold, and Rose gold, you’ll want to make sure that you have pictures for all the variations. Having clear photos that showcase the product at different angles will help you make the sale in depth product descriptions.
Also encourage shoppers to make a purchase. Your website navigation should include a new shop about collections and contact section. You’ll also want to make sure that you have clear shipping and return policy page linked in the footer. If you’re launching with a ton of different styles, include a search box with an auto-complete function that avoids frustration and your customers leaving your site, your homepage should communicate a clear value proposition.
So Finley for example, uses a section that speaks to its ethics and its sustainability. Your homepage should also feature collections, new items and bestsellers have buttons strategically placed for people to browse and add to their cart. Accept payments easily with Shopify, with Shopify payments, you’re automatically set up to accept all major payment methods.
As soon as you create your store, your card rate is based on your Shopify plan and you can change plans whenever you want organizing your financials. One of the first things you want to do is register your business with the government. The advantages of this include limiting your personal liability and setting yourself up to potentially pay less tax.
Just Google registered business and the appropriate website will appear to register within your country.
Organize your financials
Do you want to open up a separate bank account for your business? This will organize you and separate your personal finances from your business finances when you’re starting out, make sure that you’re choosing an account with the lowest fees.
Keep track of your business expenses by using a separate credit card, this will make your life and your accounts life a lot easier during tax time. Speaking of which, working with an accountant that specialized in small businesses will help save you time and money in the long run and investing in an online software like QuickBooks will make your life a lot easier when it comes to bookkeeping.
Packaging and shipping
When choosing your packaging, consider how the consumer will open the box and what that experience will be like. This is especially important with mid to high-end jewelry. The perception of its value can be taken down 10 notches with an inexpensive looking packaging with Finley. We only have one type of packaging.
We have one box with a foam insert that has slits to accommodate both earrings, necklaces, and bracelets. The more simplified and less steps your packaging has, the easier it will be to fulfill a large amount of orders. You could cut down on costs by choosing boxes that can accommodate several items. So for example, we put earrings and necklaces in one box and the presentation looks beautiful.
Multifunctional packaging also reduces your environmental footprint. Here are a few places to get customized jewelry, packaging, noble pack.com, eco and clothes, Alibaba, a Canada Etsy and Amazon. The mailer, which is the outer packaging can be bought at you line, for example. And it actually has some nice options.
Grounded packaging is an eco-friendly alternative and it’s slightly more expensive, but I do recommend choosing a mailer that can accommodate up to three boxes. So you don’t have to send a separate packages. If a customer makes a bigger order. However, if your mailer is oversized, then you’re going to have to consistently pay for a larger mailer on smaller orders.
So strike a balance here, a focus on reducing packaging waste. Is especially rampant in the fashion industry. So keep in mind that customers will appreciate a less, is more experience that still feels chic and polished. Avoid styrofoam peanuts, and include biodegradable and recyclable packaging. Monitor your packaging supply.
If you get an influx of orders with not enough boxes, you’ll have to wait until your boxes get customized and shipped over to you, which can upset customers. Now let’s talk shipping. You can charge the customer for full shipping. You can split the amount of shipping by lowering your product prices. Or you can offer free shipping over a certain dollar amount.
Setting up shipping in your Shopify store is super easy. Just click the settings button in the bottom left-hand corner of your dashboard, click shipping and start by setting up your packages area, but the weight and the dimensions of your shipment without the weight of the products, because the weight of the products are calculated on the product level.
Then you choose your carrier options. You also have the option to set a default package. That’s used to calculate the shipping rates. Let’s go up into shipping profiles to manage rates. Your products will already be there and will be updated as new ones get added so that the details of where you’re shipping from to get accurate rates, and then you can set types of services available and customize the costs.
Here’s a lesser known trick. I would recommend checking out each shipper. You shipper is a shipping brokerage that is free for you to use and for your customer to use, they get inexpensive shipping rates in bulk, and then they do Mark it up slightly to turn a profit, but it’s still significantly less than the rates that are available to the public.
Build your team
If you’re just starting your business, you’ll likely be a solopreneur or have a partner. But as you grow up, you’re going to want to be thoughtful and be careful about who you let into your energy field. As a business, Steve jobs said that the number one rule of building your team is to choose people that are self-managing.
They understand the problem and they go figure out how to solve it. Look for this quality when choosing your first few hires and your freelancers. As you start to grow, your core group will include a manufacturer or a jeweler and accountant, a graphic designer or web designer, a content creator, like a photographer and a videographer, a marketer, a salesperson, and a lawyer.
The perfect mix of character types that have been proven to make a business explode are as follows. So in your C-suite, you’re going to want to have one leader, one culture, tapping expert, an industry, nerd, a creative and an analyst. Market your business. Once you’re all set up and running, most of your energy should be dedicated to marketing your business and your first few years of operating.
Market your business
So let me walk you through what my day to day was like when working with Finley. The main thought that I kept in the back of my mind is how can I make Finley money with that? I focused on marketing tactics that I saw were working for us. This included influencer partnerships, email marketing, and ads.
And I would recommend you do the same only really focused on one, two, three tactics instead of spreading yourself thin. We grew our email list mainly by running contests. We partnered with like-minded brands, such as encircled and Kodaly. And we were able to tap into each other’s email lists from there.
We would continue to nurture those new relationships through email, which got us new customers consistently. If you’re curious on how you can build your email list, make sure to check out this video right here for step-by-step instructions. We also reached out to local influencers and offer them products in exchange for post to their feed.
We saw three X return on investment. So that was a tactic that we continue to utilize. When choosing which influencers to work with, check out a tool called dovetail. It’s an extremely robust platform to help you find influencers based on specific keywords locations, niches and audiences. You can even send influencers messages straight from dovetail, which will save you a ton of time.
I have no personal affiliation with dovetail, but I just wanted to share this tool because you can find the exact type of influencer that you’re looking for really quickly, instead of scouring through Instagram, that relationship can be as simple as just reaching out, introducing yourself, sending the product and monitoring.
What kind of return on marketing investment each influencer has that you’re working with. Now, let’s talk about ads. Findlay has been fortunate enough to work with an ad agency to run Facebook ads. And we see a significant increase in sales. The ad agency that we worked with is called acquire agency. And they’re phenomenal.
However, if you’re just starting out work with a freelancer who has a proven track record of high return on marketing investment, freelancers will be more, cost-effective taking less commission and charging lower hourly rates. If budget doesn’t permit you to hire specialist, though, we do have an entire video dedicated on how you can get started with Facebook ads.
Now for the juicy part, here’s a little think outside the box marketing tactic that you could apply to your business. So as Finley launched their company, they launched a genius marketing campaign that gained them 15,000 orders. Here’s how it worked for the price of shipping, which costs around $18.
Finley send you a choice of ring earring or choker for free, and you could also purchase all these three pieces for $40. Most people opted in for the $40 option, which made this campaign a success. It was a great way to introduce a new brand to the market. And it got press coverage from publications like glamour magazine, launching a shocking campaign that accommodates an eye-catching headline is a great way to get written up and to expand your reach.
Pricing your products
Once you have a good idea of how much money you’re spending in marketing, how much each individual product costs, how much money you’re spending on hiring out talent and the cost of operating your business, you’ll have a better idea of how much you should price your products to still remain profitable.
Here’s a word of advice. So in my experience, I’ve noticed that pricing jewelry higher than you would normally think actually pays off in the end. It’s funny how the mind works. People actually want to pay more for jewelry because they feel like they’re getting something of value.
So you might start to raise eyebrows when you’re only charging $20 for a gold plated necklace. Even if that does still leave room for healthy profit margins, your efforts to run your business, become more scalable with higher pricing, because you’ll be hustling equally as hard to make the same amount of sales.
And when you price your products higher, you’ll be gaining more capital to grow your business.