Melissa Gilkey is a self-proclaimed “animal lover, designer, and metal-pounder fiend” over at Doggone Tags. She started selling jewelry in March of 2010, but I want to focus on her shop “Doggone Tags” that was opened in the fall of 2010.
All of her dog tags are hand made. Several of these tags are hand cut from different metals and then soldered together to form these cute and intricate designs. I mean, if people can wear cute jewelry and make seasonal fashion statements, why cant the canine companion? I digress, the rest of this post shall be in her words, because she just does an excellent job explaining her thoughts.
My inspiration started with the adoption of my rescue pup Georgie Girl. I realized that I could take my jewelry making skills and make her something a lot more interesting than anything I could purchase at a pet store! My tag ideas come from everywhere… customers, individual dogs or cats (like my Monkey tag which was made because I call my cat Monkey) , my landscape design background (you’ll see a lot of flower tags in my shop!) , and just my general love for critters of all kinds (hence the enormous variety of heart themed tags!) I like a challenge and so sometimes I’ll make a tag just to see if I can “get away with it” in metal. Sometimes that’s a train wreck, but other times the outcome is great!
I think my favorite thing about selling my home made items is the contact I have with my customers. I have gotten to know many of them on a personal level and it’s really rewarding ! I know that as my business grows, it’ll get more difficult to have the same level of communication, but I’m trying to keep it going as long as I can ! It’s also important to me that people are getting something different than they’d get anywhere else. I work hard to make my design unusual and then work equally as hard to make sure I’m delivering something well crafted.
I have seen a lot of people try to sell their crafts, and not always successfully. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at successful business outside of my little niche and have come to realize that there are certain aspects of the business that are super important.
Get to know your market and your product. To me that means you need to be aware of what’s “out there” and you should try to be different. Just copying others designs and producing those designs is not selling your work… and it’s illegal. Many sites, like Etsy, where I have my work, do help to protect their vendors and will shut your shop down if you’re not selling ethically.
That being said, protect your own work. If you have a new idea, get a copyright and understand what that encompasses and what it doesn’t. Talk to a lawyer if need be.
Understand pricing before you start selling. Make sure you not only account for what supplies you’ve used in making each item but account for your time ! You also want to realize a profit above both of those things. That’s what takes what you’ll do from crafting to a business.
Treat your customers well and they’ll return in kind. Great service can not be underestimated and I believe it’s one of the things that drives people back to my shop. I know it’s one of the reasons I choose to keep going back to who I buy from !
Finally, be real honest with yourself about how much time you want to invest. Selling online, for instance, can be extremely time consuming ! For every 8 hours I spend in my studio, I easily spend 2 online. During peak times of the year that online time increases.
Always keep in mind that there are always things to learn about making your business better. I’m constantly looking for ways to improve, so I may answer this question differently in the future !
Selling crafts is not for everyone, but there are those out there (like me) who don’t have a choice… crafting is just what we do and selling can be the only way to keep up with the addiction 🙂
Dont forget to “like” this post if you agree with me: these dog tags are so cute! Share this post with your friends, and as always feel free to subscribe to my blog for more tips, suggestions, and advice about selling your own hand made crafts. If you would like to be featured on my “Telling Tuesdays” segments (and I mean, who wouldn’t, it’s free publicity for you and your brand/business), send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will do the rest 🙂