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.