Monday, March 29, 2010

Bargain hunter's paradise - shopkeeper's nightmare

I really had to bite my tongue yesterday. I mean, really hard. I was on the verge of being rude to a customer, because I'd had enough. And now I'm closing the shop and offering 25% off my already well priced jewellery ... well there was an attitude behind a comment that was a bit hard to take.

It was a very quiet Sunday, and I was just filling in time, pondering my ranges for the new online Bella Moon. Two women (I'm guessing they were mother and daughter) came in, ignored me, looked around the jewellery, before the younger of the two asked to try one of my necklaces. It's a long smoky quartz necklace, with hand made brushed sterling silver donuts and a lovely little dangly thing at the front.

Now, I've already had to price my jewellery almost at wholesale in order to sell anything in this part of town. This particular necklace is $190, and considering it took me about 3 hours to design and make, that's about $40 for the materials (probably less than I've paid) and doesn't account for the time or weight in the hand made silver components. With my sale, it has 25% off, taking the price to $142.50.

"Oh no, I don't want to pay that much," was the response. That was when I had to bite my tongue. I was on the verge of snapping something along the lines of: "well there's plenty of $2 shops in the area, I'm sure you could find something plastic ... or try Savers across the road. That'll be more in line with your budget." But I didn't.

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing at all wrong with not wanting to spend a certain amount of money on what is technically a luxury item (jewellery). But it's a constant theme in this neighbourhood - "ooooh, that's expensive", or "I love these earrings but I probably can't afford your prices." For the record, my semi precious stone and real freshwater pearl beaded earrings generally range from about $45 - $70. More for chandeliers and intricate designs. They're NOT expensive. They'd be considered cheap in other parts of town.

Something I didn't take into account when I opened Bella Moon was its proximity to Savers - a dominating force in Sydney Road op-shopping - along with two other op-shops in the same block. Then there's the multitude of $2 shops in the next block.

The hype is that Sydney Road is changing, attracting a more stylish and financially stable type of person. I guess it may be, but it's going to take quite a while yet before the strip is ready for a new breed of retailers across the board. And there are some wonderful new boutique-style shops in my part of Sydney Road. I just hope they get the support and custom they deserve to help keep the area growing and moving in a beautiful way.

But as I've mentioned in a previous post: the extended clearways, the lack of any street beautification - trees, flowers, even funky tiled footpath sections (anything green or colourful and attractive would be good), combined with a lack of clearly marked off street parking areas - doesn't attract drivers through Brunswick to stop and shop. Unless it's to go to Savers.

I'm lucky I've been offered the opportunity to move on with my business. I'm entering a new phase of growth and simply can't wait to get the creative juices in action to make and present my new ranges online, to the world, and not be ashamed of charging the prices they're worth.

The shop has been a fabulous experience and even though I have the odd moment of grrrr, I have met some wonderful people and also have some great loyal customers who do appreciate my work. And I thank every one of those people from the bottom of my heart for keeping it real.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A big decision

Well folks, it's been six months since opening my shop in Sydney Road. What a great time this has been! Feedback about the shop is consistently positive - from fitout to stock I make and choose and even the way it smells (gorgeous, thanks to the wonderful Aromae essential oils I stock).

But since Christmas, things have been getting tighter and tighter. It seems the so-called financial crisis is just hitting retail, and this is compounded by rising interest rates. People are tightening their belts and it's all hitting quite hard.

To add insult to injury, the extended clearway times (3pm-7pm on my side of the street, courtesy of the out of touch Victorian State Government), means strips like Sydney Road are ghostly quiet for the latter part of the day.

Furthermore, our loveable Moreland Council, in their (lack of) great wisdom, is talking of installing parking metres along Sydney Road. As if the hard working business people in the strip aren't hurting enough! Council is making so much out of fines post-3pm one would think they'd put a bit back into business and community development. Hmmm ... Moreland Council? I don't think so. Their short sightedness and greed is beyond belief.

Enough of my ranting ...

So, having been given the opportunity by my landlords to leave the premises with their best wishes and blessings, I've decided to close the shopfront and move my business online. This will be happening towards the end of April/start of May.

I'm feeling very positive about the decision. I'll have more time and space to design and create fabulous ranges of jewellery, do some more courses in silversmithing and expand my silver (and gold) designs as well, which is what I'm totally excited about. I will most likely be seeking out selected stockists in the not too distant future as well.

So my moving on sale has begun and the process for change is underway.

Stay posted.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sultry and sophisticated matte onyx (and a bride's pendant)

As promised in my last post, here are some photos of my gorgeous matte onyx jewellery. It's difficult to photograph how stunning this stone is - it simply glows in a way polished stones can't. I think the top photo captures its sophisticated shine the best.

Graduated matte black onyx & sterling silver collar-length necklace The beads are 14mm, 12mm and end in 8mm size at the clasp.

It's hard to take a photo that does this necklace justice. It's a combination of 12mm and 8mm beads with a mixture of sterling silver beads. The chain links are hand made (by me) from square sterling silver wire.

Three pairs of matte black onyx & sterling silver earrings.

One of the earring pairs featured above.

I've also added these two photos of a pendant I made late last year from 9 karat gold and a beautiful freshwater drop pearl. The pendant was bought by a bride-to-be, and her wedding is today. I love knowing my work is being worn by brides, they are so beautiful and deserve elegant, timeless jewellery.

9 Karat gold and freshwater pearl pendant.
Worn by beautiful bride Sarah today (19 March 2010).

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bella Moon rocks on

Well hello dear readers. It has been a while since allowing myself the time to sit and post to you. As you know, my shop, Bella Moon, opened at the beginning of October last year and there's been a huge learning curve - actually more like a straight line northward - to go through.

While it's not rocket science, it's certainly taken some time to get the hang of being responsible for just about absolutely everything - from books to admin to marketing to ... well you name it, it's there. Of course my darling husband has been a rock of support and love (not to mention handyman extraordinaire!), which has helped me go from whoa to wooo hooo!

Before Christmas I was busy making, making making ... I had some lovely blue Peruvian blue Amazonite; lovely new pearls; soothing smoky quartz; bright pink agate; and a few other bits and pieces.

Large round Amazonite collar-length necklace.

Colour was my focus, which was achieved beautifully by the Amazonite, contrasted with matt quartz crystal, as well as the agate.

Matt quartz crystal & Amazonite bracelet.

The jewellery sold amazingly well - some customers had trekked across town because they'd heard of this new jewellery shop in Brunswick and others wouldn't buy anything unless I'd made it. I was rather chuffed, I must admit. But the down side was that my creative drive took a dive post-Christmas. I was simply exhausted after keeping up with the whole shebang and just had to break from the making process. Temporarily of course.

That hasn't been too terrible, as in the interim, I sourced some bold Ottoman-style jewellery for a bit of variety on the shelves, alongside fabulous Mexican silver (especially rings) and hand made jewellery by Tony Willie, a local metalsmith. I've also started expanding the range - umbrellas and exquisite Italian kimono-style robes, belts and other bits and pieces.

I made this bracelet with toggle before Christmas

Just in the last few weeks I've started to get back into the groove and am designing and making more jewellery again.

Camilla's special custom made palm tree. I was rather pleased with this.
So was Camilla - she's requested that I never make another, so hers remains completely unique.

My most recent pieces are constructed from stunning matt black onyx and sterling silver - something I haven't photographed properly yet, but will definitely do so as soon as the entire range is done. These beads are amazing ... by far my favourite to work with to date. I also have some wonderful onyx drops, which are soon to be made into earrings. Sexy and sophisticated. That's what this stuff is.

Do pop by my shop to say hi sometime.

Until next time, take care and be wonderful.