It seems like everyone these days is searching for the next “big thing.” Whether it’s in music, movies, or fashion (including jewelry) there is always someone proclaiming the hot new trend. As a jewelry designer, one of the most difficult things to do is to sort out what will be popular for a few months versus what has staying power. Even more difficult is figuring out a proper balance when creating items, especially if you’re selling your work at any level.
Typically, handmade jewelry is more expensive than the trendy pieces that you can buy at Big Box stores – no matter what level of shopper the store caters to. Therefore, a good guideline is to make classic pieces that will stand the test of time. On the other hand, if your work doesn’t have a modern edge, it won’t sell because many people are hesitant to invest in something that will be out of style within a few months. So how do you strike that balance? It isn’t easy.
A few years ago, florescent colors (or as this 80s-era girl would call them “neon”) made a brief comeback. All of the magazines showed over-the-top designs featuring hot pink, bright yellow and brilliant green beads. A lot of places in my area that carried handmade jewelry displayed pieces by local artists featuring those colors. And they weren’t cheap. I bought three strands of the brightly colored beads because, having lived through the 80s, I knew that unless Flock of Seagulls was also making a comeback and Wham! was reuniting, the trend wouldn’t last. So while I offered the hot “trend,” unlike some others in my area, I didn’t go into overkill with it. My two bracelets and three pairs of earring sold. I made my profit. Unfortunately, I later spoke to the woman who made the gigantic multi-strand necklace that was priced at $60. It didn’t sell. And she ended up losing money because the colors went out of style very quickly, leaving her with Swarovski crystal beads that were difficult to reuse.
That’s not to say that I don’t miss, too. I do. For instance, in 2013, these cupcake earrings were the epitome of “on trend.” Now? Not so much.
So how do you know? The truth is, you don’t. Like most things in the business world, you follow trends, look to the past for previous items that sold well, and hope for the best. And you try not to get too attached to “trend” over “timeless.”
The other day, I saw a woman wearing a necklace I made years ago. One of my first pieces, in fact, and other than a slightly off-center crimp, the necklace still looks as classic as the day I designed it, if not a little on the simple side – which isn’t a bad thing.
And while my style may have evolved and I’m still looking to follow the hot new trends to some degree – for instance bar necklaces for Spring 2016 – I’ve learned over the years how to strike a balance. Or at least one that will allow me to stretch my creative wings, try out new trends, and yet still stay true to the “classic” nature of my business that has allowed me to keep selling for so many years.
Raising The Bar…