Wednesday, 23 October 2013

I'm not indecisive, I just can't make my mind up.

I've spent the last few weeks thinking about whether I want to carry on with Pretty Things, but I still can't make my mind up one way or another. 

I've been making jewellery for years, and set up Pretty Things about six and a bit years ago. I knew my target customer and I knew that I wanted to make jewellery that anyone could wear, that was a bit different but not over the top, and that people could afford without selling their first born and mortgaging the cat. I still hold true to that ethos but I'm finding it less fun than it was. 

It's harder to find unusual beads, every bead seller seems to sell the same things but just at different prices. For example, at a bead show at Sandown Park racecourse last weekend, I saw exactly the same crystals on three different stalls and varying in price from £1.75 to £3.20. Every stall seemed to be awash with either crystals or with the same cuts and types of semi-precious stones. I want good quality, unusual beads that you don't find everywhere, but with the exception of handmade lampwork beads, there just isn't that much choice these days. 

 There is also a dearth of places to sell my work. I have my website, Pretty Things jewellery, my Facebook page and I have had shops on the likes of Folksy and Misi, but online sales are poor. I love face-to-face selling at markets and fairs, and do well when people can see and touch my jewellery. I live in a village in Surrey and suitable fairs are few and far between in this area. Travel costs are expensive and add to overheads, and I don't want to increase my prices - Pretty Things is based upon the principle that people should be able to afford my work and I won't change that. 

So - it's harder to find the good quality, unusual raw materials that I want. Sterling prices are through the roof, but I don't want to downgrade to silver plated findings. Markets are either the boot-fair bargain-basement type or the retro-styled-yummy-mummy-hessian-and-twine type, neither of which are really suitable for my jewellery. I have nothing against either of those two extremes, but there doesn't seem to be a middle ground any more.

So on the one hand, it seems I am talking myself into giving up. But then I remember how much I love having stalls at fairs, the anticipation of setting up, of people oohing and aahing over my jewellery and the thrill of knowing that someone likes it enough to part with their money for it. 

So what do I do? Carry on as I am, searching (usually in vain) for the unusual beads and findings that I want, and for good quality local fairs and markets,  or give it up altogether?  Any ideas?