It's really achievable, with a little help from Jessica Rose & the Community at the Jewellers Academy
As some of you know, I am a Mentor for the Jewellers Academy, helping students with their Silver Jewellery Diploma.
The Jewellers Academy is one of the biggest, online jewellery training providers and while their diploma courses are extremely comprehensive (the students learn far more during their part-time, one-year diploma than I did during my 3 year full-time degree!), I have always said, the real benefit of the Diploma Course is the Community, Accountability and Business Advice that come hand in hand with all the Jewellers Academy Courses.
So I’m so excited to say, Jessica Rose, the founder of the Jewellers Academy has launched her first book! And Jessica has asked me to be one of the first to receive a copy so I can review it for you. I was gifted this copy, but I have already bought a second copy, so I have one in my own studio and one at my group studio. So it's safe to say, I think it's rather good and most importantly, an extremely useful resource for anyone looking to start or grow their own sustainable jewellery business.
The first thing I notice is how big this book is. I actually dropped it on my foot when it was delivered. It is very substantial! This is mostly because it contains such a wide breadth of information, as setting up a successful jewellery business is an in-depth process. But it is also because the information has been broken down into bite-sized, easily read and actioned chunks, with beautiful photographs, illustrations and white space, allowing your eyes to concentrate on the important information.
As someone with dyslexia and ADHD, I can’t express strongly enough how important white space and small paragraphs can be. Most other books I have read on setting up a creative or jewellery-specific business are very ‘dry’. They are primarily or entirely text-based, with small, closely packed fonts that can make reading and retaining information challenging for many.
Anecdotal evidence shows that there are considerably higher rates of neurodiversity and processing differences, such as dyslexia & adhd within the creative industries. It’s often what inspires our creativity. Statistically, neurodivergent people are also far more likely to be self-employed or entrepreneurs. So it’s vitally important to provide business help and support in an inclusive, accessible way that covers a variety of learning styles and preferences.
This book, lays out the information in a clear, logical manner. Each point is succinct yet valuable and each chapter provides actionable steps with achievable instructions. This minimises the overwhelm that can be felt when reading other publications. There are relevant images that can help your brain remember the accompanying information or provide visual rest, to help your brain process the key information. It also provides downloadable worksheets, and signposts to the Jewellers Academy online support groups and a host of free and paid online training which is provided as both static visuals, filmed content and written forms, covering a whole host of learning styles and preferences.
This means that the book is not only an extremely comprehensive manual in it’s own right and it acts as a permanent resource for you to refer to, it also offers more dynamic, responsive support through the online community and continually updated training options.
The advice throughout the book is scalable. The first half of the book guides you through the processes of laying good foundations. It begins the journey of developing your branding, signature style and goals while building and nurturing your first 100 customers. This is done through very achievable, small steps. Helping minimise the fixation that most of us have around needing to have a fully formed, slick and professional website and social media presence before we can generate any real income. It encourages you to start small, through word of mouth while building trust in your product, rather than getting distracted and overwhelmed by algorithms, perfect photography and social media presence.
The second half of the book concentrates on how to build trust in your brand and grow into a profitable, successful business in a sustainable way. All while staying true to your original goals and vision.
This book not only covers the ‘how’s’ but also the ‘why’s’ and it then offers opportunities for further conversations within the Jewellers Academy online community.
Many resources for setting up your own creative business offer pricing formulas and models which are easy enough to use, but as humans, we often suffer from self-doubt and the dreaded imposter syndrome. More often than not, people follow the pricing formulas and then panic that the cost has come out too high. They worry that their product isn’t worth that much. They are not worth that much. This feeling is often compounded by the historic ideology that handmade should be cheaper than mass-produced. This stems from the ‘make do and mend’ mentality. If you can’t afford the thing you want or need, you can cobble together something for yourself. And this mentality rarely takes into account the time and skill required to make that item.
Your jewellery is NOT for people who can’t afford the mass-produced version. It is not a ‘make do’ purchase. Your jewellery WILL be appreciated and loved for what it is. A piece of carefully crafted, skilled workmanship. As long as you get it in front of the right people. Your ideal customers.
This is what the book has been created for. To help you represent your work in the best way, to the best people. And most importantly, to reassure you that you do not need to be competing with cheaper alternatives. Your work is of value and there is an army of other makers in the community to stand by you and help re-educate the consumers and general public that hand-crafted work, is a special, valuable purchase that helps boost the economy. It should be ethical, and sustainable, and give that all-around feel-good factor, both to the buyer, recipient and maker.
The Jewellers Academy has also launched the ‘Handmade and Well Paid’ initiative to help support you in expressing the true value of your work. Like the Fairtrade initiative, ‘Handmade and Well Paid’ will represent that you are a sustainable business that values your time and well-being, so customers can buy with the knowledge they are not taking advantage of poor working practices and low labour.
The book and the ‘Handmade and Well Paid’ initiative also challenge the ‘busy is a badge of honour’ approach that so many of us have succumbed to over the years. We often feel there’s no time. We’re too busy. We can’t do it all. But often we don’t need to work harder, we need to work more streamlined and focused. And we need to remember, we don’t need to do everything ourselves. As independent business owners or sole traders, it is easy to think that we need to do and be everything in our business. But there are many opportunities for outsourcing both admin tasks, support services and our hands-on work if we wish. These opportunities are discussed in the book so you can find the most suitable way to run your business while achieving your goals and values.
This book covers multiple growth routes, as no one path will ever suit all people. There is a strong focus on the practicalities and laws of running a business while prioritising good working practices, self-care, and sustainability. This book is not about ‘side hustles’ and working yourself into the ground. It is a manual to help you build strong foundations and achieve the work-life balance needed for well-being, no matter how big or small you want your business to become.
One thing I struggle with is the use of affirmations. I must admit, affirmations tend to get my back up. I avoid most things that promote their use, as I have seen people and companies use them in such a toxic or manipulative way. BUT, I recognise this is my own prejudice that stems from previous bad experiences. This is not how they are used within the Jewellers Academy. They are purely used to discourage the negative self talk and self doubt that so many of us are prone to. They are used as a personal reminder that you are worthy and capable, especially with such a strong community to help support you. Affirmations should be personal to you and your personality. And when used in this way, can be a really powerful tool. There have been scientific studies that support this…they really do work…when used correctly.
The ones listed in the book are authentic to Jessica Rose and therefore, I am sure they are very effective for her aims as well as the aims of many, many others. And while the specific ones listed will not work for everyone, they act as a reminder that you will be able to find your own versions and utilise them in a way that works for you. And while I have said I struggle with the concept of affirmations due to past experience, I do actually have my own. They are just presented in a way that suits me and my personality.
Another thing that this book deals with so well is calling out and helping to tackle the bocks around money that many creatives have. Whether we realise it or not, many of us have a tendency to downplay our worth…, particularly to ourselves. We feel we do not deserve to make a comfortable income or ask for our worth. As I mentioned previously, most books and resources cover pricing strategies and steps to take to build a business, but they don’t acknowledge the blocks, self-doubt and individual circumstances that can so often get in the way. So while people can follow the formulas, they often don’t accept or use the resulting findings or numbers. You know the old saying, ‘If you can name it, you can tame it’. The book not only acknowledges these roadblocks, it helps you tackle them and offers ongoing support within the community. This is important, not only for us as individuals, but also the small business community as a whole. Together we can set good standards within the industry and raise each other up.
I’ve never come across such a comprehensive guide before. This book covers technical practicalities such as pricing, bookkeeping, legal requirements, different business models, hallmarking, dealers’ notices and insurance. It covers the intricacies of websites from practical advice to tips and tricks to build more engagement and sales. How to utilise different social media platforms to not only build your customer base, trust and community but also how to tie it into your website and larger business practice. It fosters community over competition. By lifting each other up we become stronger together. Having a strong, like-minded community not only provides invaluable emotional support, it saves untold hours of research and doubt when having to tackle a new or unexpected situation. We can learn so much from each other and help educate our customers about value, jewellery care and good working practices when dealing with small businesses. It enables us to run our businesses from a place of confidence, knowing we are adhering to our legal responsibilities while also showing our products in their best light.
The content in this book is fairly universal no matter where you are based. But one of the things I particularly like about it, is how it takes that universal information and builds upon it with details specific to jewellery makers in the UK. This is one of the first books that offers a fairly in-depth look into these areas, specific to UK laws and selling regulations. The other books I have that tackle these areas were published in America or Canada or are nowhere near as substantial or specific to jewellery making and sales.
If you are in a different country, this book is still extremely useful. You will be able to follow the steps and advice, and then use the sections outlining the law and selling regulations as a prompt to check how your country may differ. And no matter where you are based, laws and regulations do change so it is good practice to periodically check that you are meeting the requirements. The UK has seen this recently with leaving the EU. This is where having a strong online community is invaluable. Enabling us to share and discuss any changes and updates, or ask questions.
This book is not a 'how to make jewellery' manual, but it is an invaluable resource for anyone looking to start or grow their own jewellery business in a logical, focused way. Following tried and trusted methods that are adaptable to your own specific needs and aims. I can HIGHLY recommend it.
You can find more information and buy your own copy here.