How I started and grew my business

Five years ago when I sold my first piece of jewellery it never occurred to me that I would soon be a self-employed business owner but here I am. This is my journey to date, in brief. I think more than anything it shows that if you really want something (even if you don’t dare to admit it) and you work hard at it, then eventually it will happen.

I’ve always dreamt of selling something I’ve crafted by hand in order to make a living. When I was much younger I made and sold dried flower pictures just as a little hobby, then a few years later I made novelty and wedding cakes, again just in my spare time. These experiences showed me how very, very difficult it is to actually make a decent profit from a handmade business, so when I started making my jewellery I never dared to think that I would be able to give up the day job and to be honest I really enjoyed my day job so didn’t want to give it up.

After a few months of making silver jewellery, I realised how many expensive tools I wanted to help me learn new skills so the only way to pay for them was to try and sell the pieces I made. Like most makers I was very nervous about putting my makes up for sale, I wasn’t sure they would be considered of good enough quality or interesting designs but then realised I am extremely critical of my own work and people would either like them or not, luckily people did seem to like them and the feeling when I made my first sale on Etsy to a total stranger was amazing, the best feeling ever and a real confidence boost.

For the next couple of years, I kept learning new skills, and made new designs and sales in my Etsy shop grew slowly but steadily, I continued the day job and did my making and marketing in my spare time. I was beginning to enjoy working on my own business as much if not more than the day job so I cut my hours at work and spent even more time on my jewellery. Life was good, I had what I thought was a secure job and a sideline, both of which I really enjoyed.

While I was working the day job I invested all my profits back into my business, buying the tools I needed, buying stones and silver to practice with, and making designs I wasn’t sure would sell just so I could learn new techniques. I signed up to lots of online courses and spent hours watching YouTube videos to get hints and tips. I had a stall at as many local craft fairs as I had time for to try and sell my pieces, some of these fairs were more successful for me than others so sometimes that was another expensive learning curve. I had to keep reminding myself at that stage that mistakes are simply lessons learned.

Then the Coronavirus struck, fairs were cancelled and shops closed and I realised that if I wanted to grow my business further I needed to up my online presence so I learned how to build my own website (still learning) and signed up for some great online training to learn online marketing and small business management. I already had budgeting and forecasting skills from my day job so didn’t find this too daunting. What I do find hard is actually selling my work, even though I’ve worked in retail for many years when it comes to promoting my own work I’m really quite reserved.

Suddenly the day came when I had to choose between my day job and my very small business. I spent hours doing the maths to see if it could develop and grow it into something that will provide me with a full-time income and eventually decided to take the plunge. It’s a bit of a gamble but what’s the worst that can happen? If it doesn’t work I’ll just have to find another job. More importantly, what’s the best that can happen? I will be my own boss, working to my own schedule, the business will thrive and I will continue to make beautiful jewellery that people love to wear, or to gift to their loved ones.

I’m not quite there yet, in fact, there’s still a long way to go but I’m working really hard at it. I know success won’t just land in my lap, I have to do things way out of my comfort zone to make it happen but I am really enjoying the journey right now, if I hit a stumbling block I remind myself of my mantra to get myself motivated.


Posted by Gill Melly on June 5th 2021

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