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 2 of our series “Life of a Jewelry Designer”.
Launching and upholding a successful business is an undertaking that countless creative professionals dream of. However, it is difficult to deny the anxiety and hesitation many feel when considering the possibility of failure. In the vast world of internet sharing, branded marketing and viral advertising culture, it’s easy to feel like an undiscovered needle in an infinite, global haystack when you’re trying to take your first steps towards self-promotion.
Serena said years passed before she felt assertive and confident enough to delve into the world of innovative promotion and jewelry sale. “For the longest time, I wasn’t brave enough to sell my work,” she confessed. Looking back on her indecision and fear as we sat in a beautiful Manhattan gallery full of her intricate handmade work and meticulously meaningful displays, we wanted our students to hear her advice on beginnings- on just exactly how they should originate their journeys after graduation in order to find themselves similar success. We’ve broken down her advice into four simple steps for our students to reference as they embark on their individual journeys as creative professionals.
- Develop an established collection.
It’s important to create a substantial amount of finished pieces before you attempt to market yourself as a recognized business. Without doing so, you could easily seem disorganized and unprofessional if potential clients request pieces that you have yet to complete and are consequentially delayed in providing them with.
- Take phenomenal photos of your work
Serena adamantly emphasized the importance of good photography in marketing jewelry. “The photos have to be perfect,” she stressed. “It’s so upsetting for me to see blurry, rushed photos of work that probably took someone days to complete. Designers should want their promotional images to do justice to the time and effort they put into their creations.”
- Create a website or Etsy shop.
“It’s important to have an online portfolio to offer people who are curious about your efforts,” Serena explained. “You won’t always have the opportunity to showcase your work to potential clients in person, so if a possible customer begins to take interest in your collections, directing them to a website or internet shop is the most practical way to get the ball rolling.”
- Initiate personal connections.
“Once your webpage is organized with quality photos and descriptions of your work, establishing personal connections is a wonderful follow-up effort. Find showrooms, markets or trunk shows in your area. You can set up displays of your best work and talk face-to-face with jewelry enthusiasts. You’ll get helpful feedback watching the way shoppers interact with your collections. From there you can initiate conversation and direct more potential buyers to your website.”
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!