When a woman decides she is going to start her own business, a jewellery business is often the first thing she thinks of. Visit any local market or Christmas Fair and you will see five or six stalls selling jewellery, manned by women of all ages. Wander down the side streets of your home town and you'll come across little accessory shops with names such as Jane's Beads or Emily's Jewels.
But here's the sad part: most of these businesses will fail, or never amount to anything substantial.
Yet jewellery does sell well. Women buy jewellery all the time. They buy it for themselves, they buy it as gifts for their friends, they buy it for special occasions such as parties and weddings, and they buy it on spec, just to feel good about themselves or because they like how it makes them feel. If jewellery sells so well, why do so many jewellery businesses fail? And how can your jewellery business succeed?
This book is about starting and running a successful jewellery business. It will explain why so many of these new businesses fail. It will tell you what pitfalls to avoid so that you do not follow them into obscurity. And it will tell you what you need to do to make your jewellery business a success.
If you are thinking of starting up a jewellery retail business, this book is for you. If you are already running a jewellery business, successful or unsuccessful, this book is for you. This book is written for anyone in the jewellery retail business and anyone considering entering the jewellery retail business. Its purpose is to help you avoid the most common mistakes made by jewellery retailers, and to point you in the direction of success.
We've been involved in the jewellery business for over twenty years, starting out as retailers just like you, and later becoming wholesalers and then importers. As retailers, we sold jewellery in markets, at Christmas and summer fairs, at home parties, and in high street shops. As wholesalers, we sold and still sell to retailers across the UK and Ireland, where we experience firsthand the range of success stories and the corresponding long line of jewellery business failures. We deal with manufacturers in the Far East, and have visited many of their factories and warehouses - the same factories and warehouses that supply just about every importer and wholesaler in the UK.
As a result, we can spot a jewellery business that is likely to succeed based on a single encounter. That encounter may be a visit to a shop or stall, or it may be as simple as viewing the contents of a first wholesale order. We can spot a jewellery business that is likely to fail just as quickly.
There is a lot of advice out there coming at you from a lot of different directions. You have business advisers telling you how to run your business, marketing advisers telling you how to advertise and sell yourself and your products, suppliers telling you how their stock will make you rich, and friends and family members telling you that everything you do will lead to success if you only persevere and don't lose faith.
While this advice has its place, it doesn't help you with the fundamentals of running a successful jewellery business. It doesn't advise you on dealing with the myriad suppliers who will pop up from even a basic internet search, it doesn't help you chose which lines of jewellery to stock in your shop, or to determine what the average woman on the street will be prepared to pay for those lines. And it doesn't help you to identify the many ways your business can go off the rails, or point out the signs that your new business is on the fast track to failure.
We can help you with this. We have run successful jewellery retail businesses in the past, and we can help make your jewellery business a success. You may not like some of the advice presented in this book, you might prefer that things worked differently. You may even feel that our advice flies in the face of what you perceive to be good business sense. But the reality is: most start up jewellery businesses fail. If you want yours to succeed, you can't do the things that every other jewellery start-up does.
This may seem like a foolish question. After all, we all know what success is. Right?
I'm afraid not. Success means different things to different people. For the stay at home Mom about to embark on a jewellery party business, success may be as little as an extra couple of hundred pounds a month to help pay the bills. For the young entrepreneur eager to see her name over a door, success might be a high street shop, followed by her smiling face in the local newspaper - a clear indicator for all to see that she is now somebody of substance and achievement. For the serial business woman, well used to the highs and lows of running her own business, success may be defined much more clearly, in figures on a balance sheet and strong and growing yearly sales.
Ask yourself this: Do you want the appearance of success, or do you want the material benefits of success?
The appearance of success might lead you down the path of opening your own shop in your home town; investing many months of your time in setting everything up; negotiating a loan or a second mortgage with your bank in order to finance the shop fittings, the stock, and the first few months rent; and then proudly posing for photographs in front of your new shop on opening day, with friends and family alongside, cracking champagne bottles and patting you on the back.
This is not success. Yes, you may have been successful in reaching your opening day, and navigating the obstacles banks and suppliers put in front of you that might have prevented you from opening your new shop. But your business has yet to achieve success.
When a first time jewellery business owner strives to open their new business, this is often the picture they have in their heads. Success is measured in how things look on the outside, in how others perceive them and their business. At these early stages, success is rarely measured in actual monetary terms, in profit.
True success can only be measured on the balance sheet. True success is governed by your sales figures throughout the year, your expenses, and what's left over: your profit.
This book is about starting a successful and profitable jewellery business. That business may very well take the form of a high street shop that would make your mother proud; it may involve running a county wide jewellery party business that has been growing by 300% a year for five years, with twenty consultants working for you; or it may be a much less glamorous market stall, set up without re-mortgaging your home, in the absence of champagne bottles and local photographers, but with a yearly turnover that dwarfs many high street shops.
Reality Check: True success in the jewellery business rarely comes with the outward appearance of success. In all the years I've spent selling jewellery and dealing with jewellery retailers, I've yet to find an independent high street shop that comes close to outperforming the best of market stalls.
We have encountered market traders who have turned over £5,000 a day, seventy percent of it profit, selling on a pitch that costs them only £60 a day. And we have encountered high street shops struggling to turn over £200 on a busy Saturday, only a few pounds of it profit. The owner of one of these businesses might sit on the board of the local Chamber of Commerce, while the other is unknown to other local businesses or personages. Which do you think is which?
So ask yourself this: Do you want the appearance of success, with all the trappings and recognition that often comes with it? Or do you want to actually be successful, to make enough money to buy that new car, and to not have to worry about how much those new shoes cost? If what you are really looking for is the appearance of success, then I'm afraid this book cannot help you. If, on the other hand, you want to run a successful and growing jewellery business, then please read on, but be prepared to toss those flowery images of champagne bottles out the window.