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Life of a Jewelry Designer: Preempting Business Issues

By Michelle Ecker on September 21, 2015

Serena Van Rensselaer was originally a student of Art History and Cultural Anthropology, but while studying abroad in San Miguel D’Allende, she discovered her untapped passion and aptitude for jewelry design. She is now an inspired creator, perceptive businesswomen and shrewd gallery manager in Manhattan’s picturesque Soho neighborhood. We recently visited Serena’s gallery and spent the afternoon speaking with her about the industry.

Here is part eleven of our series, “Life of a Jewelry Designer.”

Life of a Jewelry Designer: Preempting Business Issues

As aspiring jewelry designers, there is no information more valuable to growth than advice from an industry veteran. When speaking with an established professional, however, it’s crucial to realize the impracticality in solely discussing success and accomplishments. Some of the most important perspective to be shared revolves, ironically, around failure.

Regardless of personal aptitude and talent, every entrepreneur of the design industry (or any industry, for that matter) has at some point been faced with obstacles to overcome. In anticipation of this reality, we asked Serena to share 3 typical struggles our students could potentially face throughout their journeys as creative professionals, as well as some practical ways to handle them.

  1. Prepare for rejection from larger corporations. “Thinking back,” Serena shares, “I’d get appointments with huge department stores like Barneys and Macy’s, but most of those meetings ended with rejection. It’s really difficult not to take that personally, but you can’t.” You have to remember that these massive corporations have a larger vision of how they want their spreads to look each season. If your work is rejected, that doesn’t mean it was ugly- it means you just didn’t fit in with their specific image.
  2. Clients are unimpressed by poor presentation skills. “In addition to mastering your jewelry designs, it’s equally important to develop pragmatic skills like packaging and product personalization.” Maybe you’ll create special tags to attach on your listed items, or you’ll have a characteristic way of wrapping your sold work with certain boxing or paper. Regardless- this visual process isn’t something you can simply overlook. If someone is paying decent money for a piece of jewelry, they’ll expect a certain element of finesse throughout the entire process.
  3. Business fluctuates. “There are wonderful months, and there are difficult months. That’s the way it is in every single industry.” If you’re smart- you’ll keep close track of your business’s sales patterns from a more overall, year-long perspective. Maybe your Etsy shop always gets tons of orders around autumn when you list a certain type of collection that’s especially popular. Try to respond to those signals, and maybe adjust the style of work you feature during other, slower times of year to better reflect those apparent buyer interests.

Want to learn more? The New York Institute of Art and Design offers an online jewelry design course that can teach you how to create and sell your own unique line of jewelry. Request your free course catalog today!