Crafty Cash: How One Jewelry-maker Built Her Business

Meghan Wallace has been making jewelry for years, but she didn’t get serious about it as a business until 2010. Her Georgia-based business, Meg’s Crochet Jewels, now has an Etsy store, a Facebook page, a blog, and a Twitter feed. Wallace sells her intricate wire and bead jewelry pieces at craft shows, online, and to friends.

The GoPayment Blog recently spoke with her about being a “craftpreneur,” dealing with copycats, and more.

GoPayment: What interested you in your particular style of jewelry-making?

Wallace: I’ve been crocheting all my life. My mom got into wire and bead work. We were having women’s crafting groups, and I loved how they were making jewelry, but I wanted to put my own twist on it. I just got to thinking that I might be able to crochet the wire and make something totally unique and different.

I design my own pieces. I don’t use patterns or anyone else’s design. Because it’s crocheted wire, you can’t pull it back out like you can a scarf, so I make sure I have a plan when I go into it. When I have a new design, I start with a cheaper wire, so I can work it out first.

How do you use GoPayment?

I use it for craft shows. I bought a smartphone specifically to be able to take credit cards. In fact, 75 percent of my sales at my last craft show were credit card sales. My carrier allows me to activate the smartphone when I need it and deactivate it when I don’t. I do a test swipe with one of my own cards the night before and use it for the craft show, and then I’ll deactivate my phone the next day. Hopefully, I’m going to start selling at my local farmers’ market. A lot of times people just bring their grocery money, so it will be good to accept credit cards.

What are your biggest business challenges?

One of my biggest challenges is that people don’t know what “crocheted” jewelry is. Some people just don’t get it. They don’t know that there’s anything different about it, and they don’t know to search for crocheted jewelry online. It’s hard to know how to tag things so people will find them.

Another challenge is nerves. It was hard when I first got started to think someone would spend money on something like that. There were risks involved in buying the materials to make the jewelry so I could sell it.

But it’s awesome when someone comes along and they get it. You can tell that they appreciate the work that goes into it. When somebody buys a piece, it’s nice to know where that piece is going. But you have people who are like, “How do you do this? What type of wire do you use? Where do you get your wire?” That’s hard, because you feel like they’re trying to copy what you do. I had a woman who after she bought the bracelet told me she bought it to copy.

Ouch! How do you deal with copycats?

It’s always hard putting yourself out there with a unique item. If you have a good product and you do a good job, even if they do start selling it on their own… well, at least I still have my customers and know a lot more.

Any other advice for other “craftpreneurs”?

You have to throw yourself out there and be confident. You have to be on Twitter and Facebook and blogging. It’s hard when you’re having to advertise yourself constantly, but it’s OK to tell yourself your stuff is awesome.

Don’t just put your stuff out there and expect people to buy it just because it’s available. Don’t wait for people to start buying. You have to be willing to make it a second job. Give it your heart and soul and your hours to really put yourself out there and not let tiny failures hold you back.

Everybody’s going to stumble, but you have to learn from your mistakes. It’s really important to have support whenever you have something go wrong. For me, it was a group that I joined on Etsy. It could be a Facebook group or just a few friends, but it’s important to have people to vent to who get it, someone who really understands how exciting it is that you’ve just sold something.

About Susan Johnston

Susan Johnston is a freelance writer and blogger who specializes in writing about business and personal finance. Her articles have appeared in or on The Boston Globe, Dance Retailer News, GetCurrency.com, Mint.com, PARADE Magazine, WomenEntrepreneur.com, and other places.
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