72. Growing a Profitable Jewelry Business via Branding, Networking, and Great Product Design
Lorraine West has always had an affinity for creating and donning unique jewelry. Her mother’s love for ornate pieces was the inspiration for Lorraine to delve into jewelry design while studying Illustration at the Fashion Institute of Technology. After teaching herself how to manipulate various metals into beautiful original jewelry pieces, and with the increasing demand from family and friends to create custom designs, Lorraine West Jewelry was conceived.
In this episode, Lorraine talks about how she got her first clients, why diversifying her designs helped increase sales, and she provides advice for attracting influencers. Learn the basics on how to start a jewelry business.
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- Went to the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and holds a BA in Fine Arts with a focus on Illustration
- During her junior year of college, she decided to focus on jewelry
- In 1999, she began making substantial sales (around three years after she started her jewelry making journey) and could live off of the income generated
- In 1996/97, she met Erykah Badu at a poetry meeting called The Sunday Tea Party and gave her a drawing she made for class; Weeks later she ended up giving Erykah more items from her classmates
- One of those friends, a clothing designer, began working with Erykah which led to working with Andre 3000; They then asked Lorraine to show him some sketches of her leather cuffs
- Lorraine ended up making a cuff for Andre 3000; Erykah saw the cuff and began ordering her own custom cuffs
- In the beginning, she also sold pieces to Raphael Saadiq and Common
- She has done several pieces for celebrities and influencers since then, but she says it’s the everyday people that are going to feed you
- She attributes an increase in sales for the last ten year to diversifying her designs
- Having a great product is something that has a theme and a concept; You need to be able to effectively communicate that theme and concept with glorious copy that supports the beautiful crisp imagery of your products
- She tells a story of being invited to have an ad in British Vogue were they used her image; we discuss the importance of great photos
- To get your work out there you should have a clean website with an about page (have a clear bio), shop/collections page, press page, Instagram faves page (were you can sale from IG)
- Advises to have one social media account you’re really good at and dedicate time to it
- She talks about how her work landed on Queen Sugar for the past two seasons
- Advice for attracting influencers: Know why it’s important for people to connect with you; You should have something to offer; Why should someone wear your stuff? Make sure you’re not using people to get ahead
- Lorraine recommends a policy form for all jewelry designers; it’s a roadmap on what it takes to work with you
- It’s important to have a process and be clear and realistic about when you can deliver custom pieces of jewelry
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