Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I haven't been designing much jewelry lately. I just barely managed to keep up with my gift orders for Christmas, and now I'm in the middle of re-doing my office.

It used to have a relatively nice, textured, neutral wallpaper. As much as I hate wallpaper, I have to admit it wasn't the worst. But there were some fairly sizable holes that I could only cover up by strategically hanging things, which was great until the rat cage got too close to the wall one day and the little buggers chewed up the wallpaper. (Yes, I do have pet rats. And I love them.)

So I've decided to use my break to overhaul the entire space, starting with wallpaper removal. I started Sunday night, continued through most of yesterday afternoon and evening, and am finally almost done. My hands are killing me, but I have a little break, since I'm right in the middle of a 1-5 shift at the library. I need to finish removing wallpaper tonight, then run out to pick up paint. At the moment I'm learning toward Valspar's "Lip Balm."
Not sure if I'll stick with that once I see everything, but I know I want something warm and neutral, and that seems to fit the bill. I'm hoping to get everything painted tomorrow before I have to come in for my 5-9 shift at the library. It's then or never, since I'll be out of town for New Years Eve and in NYC all day on Saturday.
Also on my list of things to do before I return to my day job on Jan. 4: pick up a cork board to hang up behind my desk, get rid of all the stuff in my closet that I probably don't need or want, find a home elsewhere for non-jewelry related things, and find a phone with a built-in answering machine that I can hook up to our land line, which is about to become my business line. I don't want to use my cell phone for that purpose, and we don't have a phone hooked up to that line at the moment, because it exists exclusively for the purpose of providing us with internet access.
Hopefully by next week everything will be in order and I'll be able to get back to designing jewelry and get some more stuff posted on Etsy. :-)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Turning a Profit & Finding My Niche

Wow... so unless things go horribly wrong during the next 10 days, it looks like at the end of the year Mischievous Kitty Jewelry will officially turn a profit, after less than 2 1/2 months in business!

I'm not really sure how much sales I'll be making in January/February of 2010... I want to focus on photographing more pieces, fixing up my official website a bit, refining my bookkeeping methods, etc.

I'm also planning on funding my first Kiva loan in January. My plan is to fund a new loan once each quarter, and when each loan is repaid I will reinvest the money in a new business. It's really exciting to think that I can use my business to help other people improve their lives, and it gives me a little extra motivation to succeed.

In other news, I also think I have found my niche: custom orders. I'm selling a decent amount of pre-made pieces, but I've gotten at least half of my business from special requests. A lot of times people will see a piece I've already made, but want me to make it in a different color or different length, or some other modification. I love how happy people are when they see a unique piece they requested become a reality. It gives me that same warm, fuzzy feeling I get when I help a library patron track down a book they never thought they'd find.

That's all for now. Hopefully 2010 will be just as exciting and successful as 2009!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

First Etsy Sale!


I made my first sale on Etsy last week!

Still waiting to hear feedback, but I am hoping the buyer likes it. It was this fun little necklace with red, pink and black beads and a little charm with a picture of a bird on it.

My second craft show is this Saturday at Warren Tech, and custom orders just keep rolling in.
Right now keeping up with custom orders is taking up most of my time, but I should hit a bit of a lull after the New Year, so I'm hoping to use that time to work on building up a bit more of a web presence: Work on finishing my website, as well as getting more pieces listed on Etsy and budget permitting, do some advertising online. Perhaps I'll even get ambitious and try sending out press kits with sample pieces to a couple of magazines and see what happens! Of course... I need to put together something resembling a press kit before I can even CONSIDER doing that. ;-)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Business is Booming

Hence, my lack of updates to this blog. I definitely overestimated my ability to maintain 3 jobs and still keep up with blogging, which I am terrible at even when I have free time!

On the bright side, however, I've been selling a ton of jewelry! No sales on Etsy yet, but I've done a craft show and a jewelry show, both of which went fairly well. In addition, I've been getting a lot of custom orders, especially with Christmas just around the corner! Also, I bought a Gift Guide showcase spot on Etsy for Cyber Monday. I think my biggest problem on Etsy is a lack of exposure. It's easy to get lost among all the other jewelry designers up there. I've made in-person sales to people I already know based on my Etsy postings, but I've yet to have a complete stranger order directly through Etsy. Hopefully by next week that will change!

I haven't quite broken even yet, but I'm getting there. I expect to turn a profit by the end of the year.

I'm getting antsy to start working more with sterling silver and gold-filled chains and findings. I'm hesitant to do so yet, since those supplies cost significantly more, and I stand to lose more money if the jewelry I make with them doesn't sell. But I will use the better metals for custom orders that I know I will sell. In the meantime, I'm sticking with steel, copper, brass, and gold/silver-plated findings for my pre-made stuff.

Got a shipment of beads and findings from Fire Mountain Gems yesterday. Can't wait to play with them during my long Thanksgiving break!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Open for Business

Oh my, I am TERRIBLE at blogging. I definitely just went 2 1/2 weeks without posting.

But I have been busy!

On October 25 I had my little grand opening party. It really got spread out over the whole weekend though, since I saw friends on the 23rd and 24th who weren't able to make it to the actual party, and therefore got a bit of a sneak peek at my stuff.

I made a decent amount of sales. Not enough to break even, but enough to give me funds to buy some more supplies, including some display stuff for doing craft shows. Speaking of which, I am officially signed up do to a craft show at Warren Hills High School on November 14. I have until a week from tomorrow to really build up my inventory and get my act together. Especially since I already have a jewelry party scheduled for November 17, only 3 days after the craft show!

I've gotten a lot of positive feedback about my designs, but so far it's all been from friends and family. The craft show will be the true test, since I'll be dealing with complete strangers who will likely not care about my feelings. If I make a good amount of sales there, it should be safe to say that I can turn this into a viable little side business.

Last, but certainly not least, I finally managed to get some of my pieces up on Etsy. Some items from my shop are listed to the right, or to see everything, visit my Etsy shop directly. No sales through Etsy yet, but hopefully soon. At the very least, it gives me an easy way to display my work online, and with any luck I'll start getting some online sales soon!

Monday, October 19, 2009

I managed to cross a couple of things off my to-do list from the previous post, hurray!

I got some bags and printed a logo on them. There's only about 20 of them for now, and they're actually favor bags from Party City, but they totally work! And once I get a feel for how well my business is doing I'll be ordering larger quantities of bags that are intended for actual merchandise, rather than party favors.

I actually bought the business cards, but can't print them out yet since the website I was using to design them started doing maintenance just as I was about to click "print." Quite frankly, I'm not surprised by my awful timing. Hopefully it'll be back up today.

I found a stand for displaying bracelets for about $5, so that's taken care of. Still need more stands for necklaces. And I may have to just go ahead and order an earring display stand before I get any actual income, because...

I am going to start doing craft shows! I'm planning on sending out the paperwork to do a craft show at a local high school. They're doing it as a fundraiser, and the fees are $10 for the table plus 10% of sales. I like this setup for my first craft show, since the table itself is cheap compared to any other listings I've seen so most of the fee is dependent on my sales. If I do poorly, it's not that much out of my pocket, and if I do really well then I still get to take home 90% of what I make.

I also have one request already for a jewelry party, and potentially a couple of orders for custom pieces. Hopefully those will all pan out.

I have definitely decided that I prefer working with chains as opposed to wire, although the stuff I've done with the beads strung on exposed wire has definitely evolved. And I've started doing some necklaces that are totally beads with no wire exposed. These are actually a bit easier than the ones that aren't completely covered with beads since I don't have to worry about putting crimp beads in exactly the right place. I just lay out my design and start putting beads on the wire til I'm done.

That's pretty much all that's been going on in the wonderful world of Mischievous Kitty. The Etsy shop should be up in a week. Pretty sure no one actually reads this, since I haven't even told my friends and family about it, but just in case a random passerby stumbles upon this site, I'll be posting the link. ;-)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Party Time!

In two weeks I'll be celebrating the official launch of Mischievous Kitty Jewelry.

I decided the best way to do so would be to host an "open house" for my jewelry collection. The afternoon of October 25, I'll be displaying my jewelry in my house and inviting friends and family over to take a look at my work. Hopefully my offer of a 25% discount off of the list price will encourage a few purchases too.

I feel like there is soooo much to do between now and then. I'd like to make at least 20-25 more pieces of jewelry. I'd like to design a website that will link to my Etsy shop, contain a portfolio of my best work, and list upcoming shows where I will be selling my work (once I actually start doing craft shows, that is). I need to make business cards. And I would really like to get some bags for people to take their jewelry home in. My husband, wonderful man that he is, is designing my logo. Hopefully that will be done this week so I can put it on my business cards. He's also going to be hosting my website because, again, he is wonderful. (P.S. Go pre-order a copy of his movie!)

I've figured out everything I need to do tax-wise, so now it's just a matter of keeping accurate records. I've figured out how to do that, so now I need to focus on the little details that will make my business seem more professional and official.

On my to-do list once I start bringing in some money:
  1. Order a custom stamp with my logo on it, so I can put my stamp on boxes and bags and whatnot.
  2. Order bags on which to put my logo (boxes are already ordered).
  3. Open a business checking account.
  4. Buy shipping supplies for internet orders.
  5. Get more jewelry display stuff for when I do craft shows. (Right now it's just one necklace stand. I should really consider getting something for earrings and bracelets.)

Hopefully in a couple of weeks I'll be able to cross at least a few of those things off my list!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Conquering Excel

At the moment I'm sitting at the reference desk, about 3 hours into my 4 hour shift. (This is after working 8 hours at my day job, mind you.)

It's been a slow night, so I took advantage of the peace and quiet to create an Excel document to track my inventory, revenue, and expenses. (One of the many advantages of being a part-time librarian is being able to work on stuff like this during the free time you get when there aren't a lot of patrons!) The worksheet tracking inventory has a record for each item, and each record includes a sale date, sale price, shipping charge, and sales tax amount to be filled in as each item sells over the course of the year. The worksheet that tracks my sales gets all its information from the inventory sheet, but is broken down by month.

My attempt to make this work resulted in a 2 1/2 hour long battle with the "SUMIF" function, since I couldn't quite seem to get it to pull the numbers based on a date range. I did finally figure it out, thank goodness. I'm feeling pretty accomplished at the moment, though I can barely see straight after staring at the computer for so long.

If this works as planned, all I'll have to do is plug in numbers from here on out. Yay!

A Twinkle in My Eye

That's what this idea has been for close to a year now, and it's finally becoming a reality.

When I was in middle school, I had a little jewelry design business. Simple necklaces, bracelets and earrings, not bad for a 12-year-old, but certainly nothing spectacular. The important thing was that I had fun doing it, and even made a decent profit when I went to craft shows.

Lately, I found myself missing the creativity that goes into designing jewelry and the sense of accomplishment I got from seeing my ideas become a tangible reality. I'd been toying with the idea of designing jewelry again, but never followed through on it.

Until last week.

I decided to take a little bit of my own money and invest it in some supplies. I took a trip to the craft store and stocked up on tools, storage, beads and findings. I was there at least 2 hours, rather overwhelmed by the vast selection. I started out with about 20 different types of beads made from glass and semi-precious stones, as well as beading wire, earring hooks, head pins, clasps, crimp beads and jump rings in silver, gold and copper.

Thanks to a decent sale and some coupons, I didn't spend nearly as much as I'd expected. I spent the weekend making necklaces and earrings. 5 matching sets, as well as 2 necklaces and 5 pairs of earrings that will be sold as stand-alone pieces. I expect to continue improving, but what I made was a vast improvement over what I'd made with thread and plastic seed beads in the 6th grade.

I made a few more pieces during the course of this week, and last night I made another trip to the craft store to pick up some additional pieces. I wanted to start working with metal chains, since they lay a bit nicer and are more substantial than anything I could make using beading wire.

Working with the chains is definitely more time-consuming, but I've found that the final product is really worth the effort. I'll most likely continue working with the wire as well, since certain styles and materials seem to work better with it, but it's nice to know that I am capable of using either.

Also, it should be noted that an undergraduate degree in business is turning out to be both a blessing and a curse.

On one hand, I already have knowledge about accounting, advertising, creating business plans, etc. that will help me make good decisions about my little business. (I hope!) I've already figured out a good method for tracking inventory, revenue, expenditures, etc. and there will probably be much less trial and error involved in my recordkeeping that if I was going into this without a business background. This in turn will make things LOT easier come tax time.

On the other hand, I have been overcomplicating things quite a bit. This is a SMALL business. I have no employees. It's just me, myself and I. I need to stop thinking this is going to be as complex as a large corporation. There are no personnel issues to worry about. I am my only investor(and technically so is my husband, since I borrowed our mutual money for my startup costs). As long as I can accurately track my revenue and my expenses, as well as whatever sales tax I owe, there's not much else I really need to worry about, at least from a legal standpoint.

So here's hoping that I can make my business at least a modest success. 2 weeks until Mischievous Kitty Jewelry is officially open for business!
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