In this episode we talk with Rachel from RachelsJewelryShoppe. Rachel started designing in her early twenties and then started her own company. She had wholesale relationships with about 100 specialty boutiques all over the east coast as well as retail private sales. Tune in for another jam-packed Etsy Jam!
Sneak Peek of Marmalead’s Origin
We brainstormed about a lot of things. It all started with the idea of “Marketing Made Awesome”. So that would be like “MMA” or maybe “MAR” which is short for marketing. That’s where we got the “Marma”. The “lead” bit came because we were thinking marmalade.
A lot of people confuse us with “marmalade” and during our brainstorming, we thought “Ooh, we could be like ‘marmalade’ but instead of the actual food, we could say ‘lead!'” – because we’re aiming to be educational leaders.
Hi, I’m Rachel from RachelsJewelryShoppe. This was back in my 20’s. I was buying too much jewellery then and it cost me a lot of money until I decided that I should just start making my own. So I got the materials and I got the designs. It came up pretty nice actually and some of my friends asked me to make them some. I said no because I had a full time job at the time. I’m a dental assistant by trade and that’s what I’ve been doing for my young age.
It was pretty funny because one day, I walked into a bank and the teller got all excited about what I was wearing – my necklace, my earrings, the whole set. And the teller asked me “How much are you selling that for?”
I gave her a price and she said “I’ll take it!”. Take note I was depositing money at the bank! Then I said:
Rachel: “Sure, okay so you wanna call me later?”
Teller: “No no, now.”
Rachel: “Ummmm okayyyy
So I immediately was taking the jewelries off. I don’t have any gift boxes or anything. I just made myself a pair of earrings and a necklace! Meanwhile, she was excited as I took it off and I left the bank pretty much with nothing. No jewelries, no nothing except that I made money which by the way I deposited right away into my account.
I left the bank and called my husband then and I told him what happened. That’s when I started thinking maybe I have a business on my hands. My friends started buying the jewelries and paying real money for it – and that was very cool.
Very quickly I got to a point where I know I couldn’t do it myself. I needed a partner so I brought in a partner. He actually put up some capital which was nice because money was an issue as I already quit my job just so I could do the jewelries. He was basically out on the road, selling jewelry and showing them the product line while I handle designing.
The 2008 Crisis
It was awful. Before that, the stores were ordering from me every few weeks. Everything’s going well and people are coming in and asking for my jewelry. Suddenly I wasn’t getting orders for 2 to 3 months. Because listen, when the economy drops and you’re running out of money for food, you’re not going to buy jewelry. That’s one of the first things to go.
The company folded because it just wasn’t working. We gave it some time but after half a year I realized that I would need something else. So I went back to my dental roots and got a job in the dental field again because I needed the money to stay afloat.
What is it about the wholesaling that you wouldn’t want to do with the jewellery again?
Part of the problem, we made a mistake. This is something that my partner and I had been discussing and we were kind of debating if we really had to do it or not. What we have been doing at the time was when a store placed an order; we would have a two week lead time. We tell them that it’s handmade and it takes time to make etc. etc.
My partner insists that we live in a world where everything is instant and people want everything right away. When they place an order, we need to be able to get it to them right away; within 2 – 3 days.
Well, now it means you have to buy materials, having inventory, stocks, and you really have to start mass producing. We started mass producing things and we were making 50 to 100 of each design hoping that it would sell. I’m usually pretty good at that and when I finish designing, I’m proud of it and get very excited about selling it.
What happened was we had a ton of inventory. We sunk a lot of money into it – then everything crashed! We had a few good sales and then very quickly, everything crashed. I had lots of inventory and it wasn’t going anywhere. That was our downfall.
Tell us about how you do your Photos
I decided to do something a little crazy. I watched many many many videos, tutorials, and read blogs when I started.
Going back to last May or June, that’s when I started getting active again with my Etsy shop. Basically the entire summer, all I did for 12 hours a day is photography. This entire summer, I was so busy with photography that we didn’t even go to the pool or the beach even once! I was catching the good sunny days so I could take pictures and took a lot of books out of the library. Jewellery is one of the hardest things to take pictures of because of all the reflective surfaces.
What is your medium in learning new things?
I’m much more of a visual person. In fact, I had taken some college courses last year because I thought maybe I wanted to do ultrasound technology. So I went back to college and I actually was sitting with 18 year olds in class. I could have taken them all online. I could have taken the online courses but I am visual – I like having a teacher and I like to be able to ask questions and get answers.
I also like to watch tutorials, or listen to tutorials in the background when I was editing or taking my pictures.
The only message I want to tell people who are new is be overwhelmed because you will be. You will be! Prepare for that and just go with it. I think the main message is that it’s not instant. It’s not just going to happen overnight. There’s no magic sauce. It’s going to take time. So if you’re like me, you gotta have more patience and you have to do all these stuff. You have to do social media, you have to post, you have to do this and you have to do that. Eventually it will take off but have the patience, stay positive, and be a baby! Be a baby and keep walking.