Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Working from Home

First I have to mention I reopened my hand-stamped jewelry shop, Joy Belle! I had closed it temporarily because of having the baby. As of yesterday we're back in biz. You can use the coupon code HALLOWEEN11 to get free shipping in the USA until November 1st!

And second I wanted to talk a little bit about working from home. And I bet y'all want to see my totally rad, cluttered work space!

My workroom (I have since gotten rid of the dog bed!). Work bench on the left, awesome shelf full of items I need at arm's reach, the pink thing holds my packaging supplies, the table itself is a catch-all for junk mostly and the dresser to the right holds more supplies.

In 2008 I got this creative itch. I needed to find something to do, for myself, as a stay-at-home mom. It is important to me to have creative outlets. I really didn't know what I wanted to do until I stumbled upon hand-stamped jewelry and thought I could do it! I figured up my start-up and started to buy the supplies. I had to factor in business cards, packaging and had a ton of tools and pieces to purchase. My start-up was several hundred dollars. I took a few weeks to order what I needed and I opened my first business on September 11, 2008.

Those plastic containers hold beads, stones and findings galore!

With any business you have to have money to start. There are supplies, advertising, website fees, etc. So if you do something do what you love or you'll be out a lot of money without any benefit when you decide to end the business because your heart isn't in it. And realize that you CAN take time to get your supplies together, whether days or months. Don't put yourself in debt trying to make money!

My work table is an antique "dry sink" because it is rock solid. I recently added the sewing bench so I can work sitting down (the pillow is on there because I was pregnant when I took this and needed extra cushion).  I did paint the dry sink, too! It was maple wood and I painted it black and added pink glass knobs.

Now in the beginning this was more of a hobby. In fact my workspace used to just be the black piece (no bench). But this has evolved tremendously and I've really had to develop a head for business. I am customer service, technical support, editor, photographer, product lister, creator, packager, shipper, advertiser, designer... It is a full-time job!

My stamps. I stamp each letter and symbol individually onto metal.
Each box is a different font. The shiny silver sets cost almost $200 each. Invest in GOOD tools! Using high quality tools reproduces high quality product.

I think the hardest part in this is working with strangers and awaiting feedback. It is hard to have your work critiqued. This is an especially important time to have a good business head. Yes there is a personal aspect, especially when you're creating art. But in the end someone has paid for a service and should get what they pay for; it's what I expect as a customer to other artists. 

I wire-wrap all crystals by hand.

Another hard thing has been pricing. This is a business and it's hard work but sometimes I'd feel bad for charging what I charge (I don't feel bad anymore; I find my prices to be more than fair while still giving myself some profit). You have to get over that and realize you are working and deserve to be paid for that work. You can't just give everything away. I had to pay for those $200 stamp sets somehow as well as other tools, had to pay myself for my time, pay for the packaging, pay for supplies and the shipping to receive those supplies, pay my website fees, etc. If you begin a business price things fairly so you are earning money, too!

The dresser in my work area holds some supplies but it's also storage for my scrapbooking and I hide gifts in here, too. It is an enormous, roomy dresser! Get creative when creating your workspace and use what you have.

So how do I do it? I have to break it up. I may edit pictures one day and work on orders the next. Then I may take a day to list the new items online. Another day I do inventory and order supplies. Some nights I just sit down with all those crystals and wrap them in wire while watching a movie. There's no way I can do everything I need to do in one day, especially with my little ones running around. Breaking it up is the only way I am able to do what I do.

Closeup of my actual workstation. Lots of tools! And I do periodically clean it up... ha ha! My chaos is actually an organized mess. I know where everything is at.

I do enlist the help of my kids. Elaina loves to cut out shipping labels for me! I think it's important to show them good work ethic. Most kids don't get to see their parents work beyond household chores. We have a toy hammer and Abigail was banging away with it, talking to her stuffed animal and saying, "I'm working! I'm making jewelry!" Made me feel good that I can be a positive role model!

How far have I come? This has been the most productive year by far. I am just now actually making profit three years after beginning. So it is also important to note to yourself that it can take time to make money, especially in a competitive line of work and if you have a lot of tools and supplies to upgrade. Advertisement is so important! If people don't know you're out there they will have a hard time finding you.

I mostly work first thing in the morning when my kids are happiest and most energetic (so they're busy playing and entertained) and when they go to bed. It may seem like there are not enough hours in a day but if you're passionate enough you will find and make the time to do what needs to get done.

My Top Tips:
1). Find something you LOVE to do that you can turn into a business.
2). Research, research, research. Find the best prices for supplies.
3). Take your time buying supplies, biz cards, etc.
4). Break up your tasks and make daily goals.
5). Price things fairly and make sure you're making some profit.
7). Find pockets of time to do the work and use that time wisely.
8). Create a cozy, comfortable and well-lit workspace. Mine is a work in progress and needs better lighting and storage but for now it works and is much better than it used to be!

1 comment:

Molly Minks said...

I agree with you so much. I like your tips about starting your own business. I'm doing the same thing right now. I love your article. I hope you love my blog at where we have a great crib sale.