Can you believe it? A hand-drawn logo. But it worked.
The thing that amazes me is that somehow I knew I needed a logo. I knew virtually nothing about the business of selling jewelry when I began making it. Somehow, when I pulled this whole thing together back in the nineties, I just realized I needed something that touched a heart, whispered something familiar....or it wouldn't work. Themes. Soft colors. Memories. A little touch of Grandma.....
My line was a gift line of jewelry. It wasn't a fashion statement, would never have gotten off the ground in the fashion world. It wasn't fashionable. It was heartstrings stuff, it said something about the buyer, something about the wearer. There are fashion lines that do that too, and can play the fashion game along with the heartstrings and the "I need a quick gift" thing, too.
Again, mine went to "I need a gift." People ALWAYS need a gift. With fashion lines you have to be ready to jump into a new look with each season and constantly evolve. The changes in a gift line of jewelry focus more on people's needs and suggestions than this season's color palette.
And so with that, I had steady business from about 1993 growing to a peak 1997-98 and then starting to fall off as the gift business itself changed. By 2,000, I was done. It was a good run.
I used things I still use today....and things I offer to others, to use. The base was brass stampings---we used a lot of raw, unplated brass that we hand-antiqued and polished on a big buffing wheel---and vintage pearl buttons, shirt and baby-sized. The palette was sort of early 1928 Jewelry Company....pearl, gold, pink bisque roses.
The pieces were not large and not daunting to wear. Young people as well as older folks loved them. When we did trade shows, we wrote orders as fast as our fingers could fly; when we did retail shows, sometimes there was a line waiting to get into our booth.
I got most of my ideas from my clientele as well as the sales reps that peddled our line from coast to coast. We were in showrooms in Boston, Philly, New York, Columbus, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles. We worked with rep groups in upstate New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland.....Michigan....Texas, NM, AZ, Louisiana.
We didn't cover the whole country but we went clear across it.
It's not unusual to find pieces of the line in the secondary market even now. They all have this characteristic, identifiable look. Sadly, few were hand-signed. All were sold on professionally made soft grey card stock jewelry cards with our name and "Handmade in the USA" emblazoned upon them.
Some loved the assembled/collaged pieces; others loved the charm lines. Not long ago I did a video on using the shoe in this piece:
Here is today's jewelry:
This horse was very popular. I loved making it. We did a long dangle brooch like this is a number of themes: Noah's ark, Teacher (teacher jewelry was always such a great seller) Gardening, Music (again music was a good sell).
The horse today:
and, still as a brooch....
More color, more techniques. And I would charge a whole lot more for these than I did for those pieces in the old gift line.
Did I make all these pieces myself? I did all the engraving. I would not allow anyone else to do that. Usually I personally put the long charm pieces together. Most of the rest of the assemblage was eventually done by an assistant.
This cameo has been reprised many times.....I think I have two videos on it.
The interesting thing is that the cameo in this photo, below, the one so many of you have commented about ....
....was not made by me. My assistant, Ani, made this one. She and my friend, San Juana, were the two who learned to copy my hand the best. Their pieces looked exactly as if I myself, had made them.
It's very difficult to teach that sort of thing, so that your line can stay cohesive. You might want to ponder that as you do the prototypes for your challenge line. Think to yourself, "If I decided I wanted to market this as a wholesale gift or fashion line, how hard would it be to teach others to assemble it?"
The reason is, because if you go that route, the time will come where you cannot possibly be making it all yourself. So think about that.
MORE BASICS ABOUT THE BUILD A LINE CHALLENGE
As mentioned, the challenge starts in January.
If you're contemplating being a part of this big effort, it's a very good idea to be journaling, planning, thinking about your basic supplies NOW.
I'd love it if you mentioned our challenge on your social media pages and groups, but please: do not share with anyone just now what you are planning to do for your line just YET.
1. You may privately select your line. It would also be good to have an alternate or two in mind, as well. You'll see why as you continue to read on.
2. If anyone needs to do real brainstorming with me by phone, I am available. I am not charging a fee to manage or admin this large effort----which will take us three months to complete! But, if you need private chat time, we can set up an appointment and yes, there will be a fee for this. You would be receiving a one-on-one interview/conversation, possibly not something I would be answering in a short post on the Creative Group
I would need to take time from my daily schedule to spend personal time with you to assist you. If you are interested in that, the fee will be half of what I would usually charge for consult/appraisal time. You can contact me by private message at Facebook for more details.
3. Participants will want to be sure they have a blog set up and ready to go. They will also need to 'friend' me at Brenda Sue Lansdowne so that quick communication is possible. Here is why:
4. Early in January (date will be announced later) everyone who is participating will send me their selection by private message along with their *FUNCTIONING* blog address. I will check the blog to make sure it comes up and that the web address is working well, and I'll save all of the choices of theme, color palette, style for the challenge.
5. A deadline for you to have your selection to me, along with a SHORT description of what it's about, will also be set and announced. The deadline MUST be met. If it is not, you will need to observe this time and participate another time. You can also send me a rough drawing or representative photo when you send me your selection and blog address, if you wish.
NOTE: FACEBOOK BUSINESS PAGES will not work as blogs for this challenge, because we will be doing AT LEAST two blog hops. Feed rolls over very quickly on some pages, so those looking at the hop will not be able to see your post re: the challenge. SO: you must! have a functioning blog. It does not have to be elaborate. Blogger, for example, is easy to set up and it is free.
6. After we meet the deadline, I will go over all of the selections. In the case that we have cross-over (two or more individuals choosing the same theme or scheme or idea) then the first to select gets the choice. The others will be allowed a few days to choose something else. (That's why it's good now to have several things in mind).
7. By around the third week of January, the first big phase of the challenge will begin. We will have the FIRST blog hop. In this hop you will talk about why you decided to participate, your background in making jewelry (and it matters NOT if you are quite new!) why you chose what you did, how you will proceed with the work, who you feel it will appeal to, why you think it will sell and how much basically will the components of your line sell for.
None of your details EXCEPT your choice of theme/scheme et al is written in stone. This is just your jumping-off place.
8. Each line will have a minimum of five pieces. The pieces should go together. The look should be cohesive and identifiable. We will talk about what those elusive things REALLY are, later. For some of us who have done only one-offs for a very long time, the idea of making pieces that go together, can be mixed and matched, and sell in lower to practical price points may be a little unique. We'll get through that together. No worries!
9. YOUR LINE IS JUST A PROTOTYPE. Please don't think you have to make a ready to sell line with 12 duplicates of each piece right now. If you want to, that's great, you'll be ready to get busy with it as soon as the challenge is over! But you may prefer to use this as an excersize, and move on to something else later to refine the process for YOURSELF.
10. As mentioned, I am NOT charging anything as a teacher this time for administrating and guiding this challenge. One on one time will be reasonable if you require it.
My guess is that few of you WILL need it because we have this AMAZING group of encouraging people at The B'sue Boutiques Creative Group
I'm certain the challenge will be a subject of daily discussion among some and many will reach out to offer suggestions and ideas. You can also do some market research. Look at what sellers do who you feel are quite successful in this area. Check out fashion and department store lines and think about what that certain something is that they use, that makes that line work. Take those ideas and make them your own.
11. While I am not offering this as a paid course, you ARE required to use visible pieces of goods from the B'sue Boutiques website in your prototype line. This is because I cannot spend time promoting things that do not even use my findings......and I'm going to want to promote your work. Some will doubtless end up in the Gallery of Inspiration or other places on my website, my blog, my newsletter.
Some of you are long-time, loyal customers and may already have what you need! So much the better. But since it's a prototype line, you're NOT going to have to invest a whole bunch of money in drawers full of stuff to be in this challenge.
At some time in the future if this course/challenge becomes refined and interest grows, I will indeed offer it as a paid course. I believe deeply that developing a line that has an identifiable style is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to artists and part of your own unique growth. The information I can provide you from my over my successful journey---having done this! has great value. My fees would always be reasonable and realistic; but THIS TIME.....it's free. You just have to jump in and commit to the work.
12. At the end of March/beginning of April, we will have another blog hop for completed prototype lines. Again you will take and share lots of photos and you will talk about how you arrived at your destination with your prototype line as well as what the challenge did for you. You'll tell about the ways you feel you were able to re-route and trim thinking and process.
13. AFTER THE HOP, the judges for the challenge (members of the B'sue Boutiques Design Team and myself) will retire for several days of discussion. We will then choose and announce a first place winner and the prize is a $150.00 gift certificate to B'sue Boutiques Also that winner will be allowed to participate in the next Build a Line challenge free of charge. There will also be a randomly chosen winner among the participants to receive a 75.00 gift certificate to B'sue Boutiques
STAY TUNED FOR MORE DETAILS as they are still being worked out. I want you to be fully aware of what will be required of participants as there will not be a lot of flex in it. In order to have a great challenge, we'll need to stick to a schedule and certain rules.
I am limiting the challenge to 60 participants but I rather doubt we will have quite that many. Perhaps you will surprise me! But it will be just as interesting if we have only 20. Far more people will be watching and learning as we go along, so the learning will be there for EVERYONE.
And EVERYONE will be free to comment and ask questions at the Creative Group So, truly, no one will need to feel left out. This process can be participated or observed.
The choice is up to you!