How One Jewelry Maker Stays Current and Stands Out

Debra Hutt Romaniw has been making jewelry since the ’70s. Eight years ago, at her mother’s urging, she turned her talents into a business, the Cleveland, Ohio-based Deby’s Designs. Her creations from fused glass or semi-precious stones are available online, at craft shows, and in a few local shops. She also sells her wares at private parties and accepts requests for custom pieces.

GoPayment chatted with Hutt Romaniw about building a small business and crafting products that stand out.

GoPayment: What are your biggest business challenges?

Hutt Romaniw: The biggest challenge is that there are so many people selling jewelry. We’re all different, but I try to think ahead about what customers will be looking for. I wish I would have gotten into glass ten years ago! But now that I’ve found glass, what can I do that’s going to separate myself from anybody else who buys a kiln? A lot of customers love having their initials on things. I have not seen anyone else do that yet. I try to keep myself one step ahead of other jewelry-makers.

How do you stay current or ahead of trends?

I talk to customers and other vendors, and I read online to see what’s out there that’s new. I met a couple of colleagues through Facebook — one is in Israel and one is in Australia — and the three of us will powwow. I’m interested in what they’re seeing out there that we may not be getting over here. Every time I get my glass catalog, it’s like Christmas for me. Most people just do jewelry, but I also do gifts like wine stoppers, money clips, rings, and purse hooks.

How do you use GoPayment for your business?

I love it! I was taking credit cards maybe three years ago, because when you’re selling jewelry, it’s an impulse buy, so credit cards and jewelry go together. I would do it with one of those knuckle-cruncher things, and I’d come home and pray that the charges went through. I’ve had GoPayment since the spring. Even in the boondocks, it’s fantastic!

Any advice for other craftpreneurs?

I don’t like to discourage people, because I know what it’s like to be discouraged, but you need to make yourself as different and diverse as you possibly can. A lot of jewelry-makers fixate on one item. When I make a bracelet, I try to make a pair of earrings and a necklace to match.

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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