Friday, December 30, 2011

Last Blog of the Year…Party!

Unless you live in Somoa or Tokelau you will be celebrating on Saturday December 31st precisely at midnight without having to lose a whole day. All across the world people will brave the cold, drink way too much and act silly whooping it up when the clock strikes twelve. It is a tradition that goes way back and everyone has both horror stories and awesome stories of their midnight revelries. So now that it’s the end of the year, how did 2011 treat you? For me I started a business, figured out a few new things on my computer and started this blog. It hasn’t been the best year, but it probably hasn’t been the worst year either. It been a learning experience and sometimes it’s been a lot of fun.

I’ve had the opportunity of sharing my love of jewelry with others and that has been pretty good. I’ve had custom pieces made and I’ve gotten to work with some really great designers who have made my dreams and the dreams of my customers come true. Now that the world’s biggest party is right around the corner it’s time to break out the party gear, get dressed up and have some fun! I will probably try and convince my husband that going out to dinner is a good idea, make some snacks, open a bottle of wine and drink and eat right up to the big moment. I will of course be wearing my jewelry. Regardless of whether I stay in, go out or just celebrate with a dinner out, I will be wearing my jewelry. I am always wearing my jewelry even to go to the grocery store or the bank.

Over the next year I will continue to try and acquire more jewelry and of course expand my inventory and selection. I have to remember that my jewelry business is not just a venue for furthering my personal collection, but what a concept. I’m hoping that I will find new and innovative designers who not only produce quality pieces, but pieces we all love to wear. Some people make resolutions but that is such a harsh word. I do not want to resolve anything; I just want to find my happiness and so far I’ve been able to find it in jewelry. My only resolution is to try and overlook my own personal failings, besides if I spend money on a gym membership it will eat into my jewelry budget.

So have a Happy New Year’s and remember that on January 1st we start a whole new year of possibilities and opportunities and isn’t that a reason to celebrate, break out the champagne and wear your favorite jewelry? 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Lazy Day Outfits

 I could actually wear this because I have everything except the sweatpants.

I have to admit that I’m taking it easy this week. Letting others take care of some of my business and spending a little more time at home. I’m actually watching TV and it isn’t a hockey game. I came across an outfit in InStyle magazine that I absolutely love for those lazy Sundays. Its grey sweatpants, a jersey t-shirt with a denim shirt over that and a cozy scarf to keep you warm. To finish things up a pair of fleece lined slippers with actual soles so you can run to the store for some fresh bagels and not look like you just climbed out of bed. When I’m not working and having to be viewed by the world I really love a pair of sweatpants instead of having to wear heels and silk blouses. Not that I don’t love a great pair of heels, it’s just fun to wear completely comfortable clothes now and again but I still want to look good.

 I swear I wear this outfit every lazy day, add a scarf and boots!

This has always been a problem, how to be totally comfortable and not look like you’re wearing a pair of pajamas. This may work for college students but not for me. I love sweatpants or my silk pants, their soft and comfortable and with the right accessories they look like actual clothing. The biggest problem I have with these clothing items is the length of the inseam. I have long legs; it’s the only part of my body that even remotely resembles a super model. I have a 34 inch inseam so pants are kind of hard to find and sweatpants look ridiculous when they are four inches to short, kind of like Steve Urkel. I was thinking that maybe I should shop in the men’s department. My son is in the six foot range and his sweatpants are never too short, even after washing, and his waist is pretty slim. So maybe I should head to the store and try some men's sweatpants, they do come in smalls and hopefully the length isn’t too short.

 Like this outfit for going out for Chinese food on New Year's Eve.

My usual casual day outfit is a pair of jeans, boots or Ked tennis shoes and some type of sweater. I add a scarf for interest and warmth on these cold days. The InStyle magazine “Your Look/Instant Style is so cool. It actually has outfits I can wear and features clothing that I might actually own. It’s my little cheat sheet and I save the magazines just for these articles. So whenever I’m feeling like I have nothing to wear in my closet, I open up back issues of my magazines and look around. I usually find something that I not only like but something I will wear. It’s super cool that they also feature jewelry in their photographs. This is the easy part for me, since I have such an extensive collection I can always find something that matches. So today I’m going to brave the shopping hoards and go look for a pair of grey sweatpants because I can’t think of anything better than to start my lazy New Year’s Day in that comfy outfit.

 Or maybe something more glamorous for cocktails?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Death of an Icon

As many probably have heard Sears and Kmart are closing approximately 120 stores since they apparently had an abysmal holiday season. The slide began back in 2005 where according to the Wall Street Journal Sears Holdings Corporation has seen sales drop every year and this year was the worst. I remember a time when Sears was the retail standard. If you needed something you went to Sears. Kmart was always a kind of low priced novelty in my book and most of them have moved out of my immediate area long ago. This made Kmart rather irrelevant to me, but Sears is still at the local mall and while I haven’t shopped there in a while, it is a bit scary to see this retail giant’s decline.

It’s tough to see something so iconic facing hard times, but Sears has had huge problems for a number of years. It begs the questions, “if sales are declining year after year, wouldn’t that suggest that current strategy isn’t working?” It seemed as if Sears had given up, like a dinosaur stuck in a tar pit, Sears saw sales going down but didn’t do anything to change their image or stores. When I was a kid Sears was the place you went to if you needed an appliance, hands down. I still feel this way and currently own a Kenmore vacuum cleaner, food processor and I purchased my washing machine from them. But these are the only items I’ve purchased from them in recent memory and those appliances have worked so well I haven’t had a need to purchase new ones. Could part of Sears’s obsolescence be they make things too good?

 Indulge in a trend to remain fashionable

There is probably a lot going on within Sears that has forced sales downward. Many analysts pointed to lack of customer service, dingy stores and outmoded products, but it is still hard to watch. While Sears still makes great products, its competitors have jazzed up their stores, kept them new and fresh which appeals to shoppers. Shopping is now an experience not a chore and not taking into consideration what your competition is doing could be a bad idea. While not everyone can compete with the big boys, it helps to know what other stores are offering. This is a situation that Sears could have and should have taken care of years ago. While Target and Wal-Mart were updating stores and offering hip products along with good pricing, Sears stuck to it guns and spent less they everyone else on store maintenance, something I’m sure they are not proud of today.

 Trendy and awesome the statement necklace!

While I’ve used some of my personal taste in selecting inventory for my jewelry store, I have not relied on these preferences in their entirety. It doesn’t make sense to buy jewelry that only appeals to me and at times I’ve seen the reasoning behind a popular item. Some items I’ve picked simply because of their popularity and trendiness. Not everyone can afford to buy expensive pieces and even if they can everyone likes to be fashionable. This requires that inventory be on trend, something that Sears has neglected to observe. So I’ve tried to make my jewelry selection as diverse as possible keeping in mind popular fashion trends and what jewelry will compliment as well as please. After all, not all purchases need to be iconic.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Jewelry Video

 Wouldn't this be pretty with a 360 view?

Have you ever seen those videos of a beautiful diamond ring on a glossy surface slowly and elegantly turning in a circle? There are commercials on TV that show these beautiful pieces glittering and shining. You have no idea how hard it is to make that video. It seems so simple. Just get something that turns, set up a video camera and stick a shiny piece of jewelry in the center. First off, how shiny is your surface? If it’s super shiny you will reflect back everything within its reflective reach. You will see with crystal clear clarity all the walls, ceiling and cabinets surrounding your little shiny turntable. Even if you put the turntable in a special lighting box, if there is one opening it will reflect back the items in the room.

Second, how easy is it to eyeball the center of a round disk? I dare you to pick up something round, look at it carefully and find the center. Now go measure it, you are probably ever so slightly off center. This isn’t a problem until you place a piece of jewelry on that spot and start the spinning. It will wobble like the wheels on Roger Rabbit’s car. This process requires so much thought it makes my head hurt. Thank goodness I’m not the one dealing with this current production, my husband is the videographer. The reason I know about the difficulty of making a simple video is he has informed me of these complications. He thought a bright surface would be beautiful but a mirror like finish has a tendency to reflect back everything including the lights. It gets a little too bright and the interior of the light box is shown in perfect clarity. This is not the look we were going for in our videos.

 Rings always look great spinning on a platform

The center of the platform becomes a moot point if you can’t get past the reflection thing. We tried another type of platform but really weren’t thrilled with that look either. I guess I will be making a visit to Tap Plastics to have a round matte finished surface made and I will be asking them to put a tiny dot right in the exact center of that surface. That way I can stay away from math. If I wanted to do math I would have gone into a science orientated field  instead of jewelry. Yes, I know that math is part of jewelry, how will you know that you’re making money if you don’t keep track of the math, but that’s a different blog. For now I just want a simple and elegant video of a beautiful ring going around in a circle.

So keep an eye out and hopefully I will be able to start off the New Year with a jewelry video. I will also try and figure out how to post it on my blog once it’s done, but more than likely it will just be a link. Hey this computer, internet, website stuff isn’t as easy as it looks and I unfortunately do not have a computer geek in the back room. So for now enjoy some stills, they’re good too.

 Maybe a sparkly Hershey's Kiss will look awesome?

Monday, December 26, 2011

And the Shopping Continues…

 Will have to reorder many of theses

While many received exactly what they wanted for Christmas and are now wearing those new boots, playing with their gadget or reading that book, some are still looking for that perfect gift. There is also the prospect of using a gift card. I just transferred the money from a Starbucks gift card to the app on my iPhone. The reasoning, I’m going to Starbucks today to buy some beans and this app has me at Gold status which gives me a free tall beverage of my choice when I purchase a pound of beans. White chocolate mocha here I come! I’m sure that Starbucks will be packed and I won’t be able to find a parking spot in their tiny lot since others probably received a gift card and are anxious to use it.

Christmas fell on a Sunday this year and while it created a natural day off on Christmas Eve to do shopping and preparation, not everything got done. The malls were packed and the grocery stores were insane. The reason I know this is because my son who likes a particular wheat bread tried to pick up a loaf and failed miserably. There was a reason I didn’t go and get his bread at the grocery store, I’m older and know better. But people are still shopping today. Yesterday was such a lazy day, sitting around watching TV, eating and generally being a slug, it was great. While watching TV I noticed a lot of commercial for after Christmas sales. These weren’t sales for overstocked holiday items, like wrapping paper and ornaments, but actual products that people buy all year round. I found this shocking.

 Isn't it pretty?
There is a theory that people wait until after the holidays to do their shopping. They believe that sales are at their peak and they will be able to find bargains that weren’t available in the days leading up to Christmas. It’s kind of like Black Friday but without all the standing in line. It appears as if the day after Christmas may be the busiest shopping day of the year. People are doing a lot of returns, purchasing items they wanted but didn’t receive, using those gift cards and spending that cash Grandma slipped them after dinner. It adds up to some busy times for retailers. For me things are busy and my day begins with addressing sales, all a good thing. I’m also being kept busy assessing stock, calling suppliers and computer work.

So I will be using this week from Christmas to New Year’s Eve to order some inventory and figure out all my computer and website needs. The New Year is an opportunity to figure out how this holiday season was handled and what needs tweaking. Hopefully I will have time to take care of my administrative duties with people coming and going and questions being asked, many are still shopping and that’s a good thing right?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Happiness

This will be my last blog before the holiday weekend. I am now one of the many scrambling around town trying to pick up those last minute gifts since not everyone in my family wants jewelry. Yes, there are some men in my life who prefer to get a stainless steel Thermos rather than cuff links. This is part of the fun of the holidays, trying to find those things on our lists. It is important to try and find what makes us happy during this frantic time of year. We are all so busy with shopping, cooking and decorating that we sometimes lose sight of what is important. To me it’s my family and while they may not necessarily be with me on Christmas day I know that we will all see each other. That’s another wonderful thing about the holidays, it’s a season. This means that I can extend out the parties and fun for at least a week instead of keeping it for one single day.

I also want to take the time to say thank you to all my readers and customers who have been really super supportive of my endeavors. Your comments and compliments have kept me going during those times when I was beginning to think I was nuts. Business has not always been good and this economy can make chance taking a really scary proposition. Not so with all the great people I’ve met this year. It’s been fabulous to be able to spread my love of jewelry and even more fabulous to hear from others who share my enthusiasm. These are the things that make me happy and it’s so wonderful to find others who find happiness in my jewelry. It has made all the hard work worth it.

So today I’m going to share some pictures of my Santa’s Village. My husband won it for me at a charitable silent auction years ago and I’ve been setting it up on Grandma’s buffet in my family room ever since. To me it isn’t Christmas without Santa and his elves playing in the snow. The most precious piece is the skating Santa and Mrs. Claus. A local merchant who had a huge display of these pieces every Christmas was going out of business the year I received the first houses. She was a very sweet lady and loved her figurines. I was looking for a skater since it has been a sport my entire family has participated in for years but she had nothing that fit the bill. She offered me her personal figurine as a gift. She knew that she would not be able to keep such an extensive collection once the store was gone. She was downsizing but knew that I would treasure this piece as much as she had over the years. If I could talk to her now I would let her know that Skating Santa and Mrs. Claus are front and center on my pond.

This is the true meaning of the season, giving each other help and sharing those things that are important to us. So regardless of what customs you may follow during this time of year, have a happy and joyful holiday season and thanks for all the support.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Black and White

Black and white is always a classic and with Christmas just a few days away, everyone knows that New Year’s Eve is just around the corner. For those party animals who have made plans and are popping the cork in style, try some black and white jewelry to accessorize that little black dress. While there are tons of options available for party dresses this year the little black dress is still the “go to” dress. It’s been famous and worn by everyone since Audrey Hepburn wore it so well in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Women have used the little black dress as their fall back piece for a cocktail party since Balenciaga began perfecting the style. It’s had multiple changes, sparkles, short or long but just about every woman I know has at least one awesome black dress that they wear for all occasions.

 Black and white all over!

The beauty or the problem, depending on how you look at it, is the simplicity of the little black dress. It can be dressed up or worn plain, whatever suits your fancy. It’s the perfect palette for just about any jewelry. If you’re going to a fancy party, add some sparkle. Diamonds are great but cubic zirconia is more affordable and the price allows for some really big pieces. Gemstones are always beautiful when worn with black; it really makes them stand out.

The look I like best is black and white. The black can be black diamond’s which are really hot right now. Or you can go with an enamel or gunmetal look. The white can be pearls or white diamonds, cubic zirconia or other white to clear gemstones. Pearls and a black dress are beautiful a la “Holly Golightly” and never go out of style. Wear several stands layered on top of each other and keep everything else simple. You can also wear a stack of bangles in gunmetal and some other sparkly stone because a stack of bangles always feels like a party. I’m opting for some stacking rings that come in beautiful glossy black plating, gunmetal all the way. So it doesn’t have to be complicated to dress up for that big party just remember your jewelry. Jewelry can really make an outfit stand out in a good way and who doesn’t love that?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Collecting Jewelry

Collecting, everyone likes to collect. If you ask someone they will tell you what they find fascinating to gather up in groups. As my blog suggests, I like to collect jewelry. Now as most collectors will tell you they have specialties. I don’t collect all jewelry; I try and stick to particular types and styles. I’m fond of sterling silver, white gold and platinum. I went through a diamond period a while back and everything I bought had to have diamonds in it. Since then I’ve discovered sapphires and topaz that come in a multitude of different colors, including white or clear, like a diamond. The pricing on these gemstones is far better than diamonds so they are more affordable, which means I can purchase a lot more. Funny how that works?

It’s not that I’m not interested in other gemstones or even diamonds; I’ve just found a way to collect more jewelry and still be able to wear pieces together. Unless you have a huge budget, it can be difficult to purchase a “set” of jewelry with matching pieces. Another disadvantage to this set theory is the “I look way too matched” look. This is the equivalent of wearing a pants suit. Unless you’re Bianca Jagger you’re probably not going to be able to pull off this look. It takes a certain person to be able to wear everything the same and not look like you got dressed in an outfit made from the same bolt of fabric. On the other hand, wearing a bunch of different colors and patterns can make you look a little hodge podge, a look some of us try and avoid.

 this bracelet and it really works!

In a jewelry collection I am always striving for something unique that I can call my own. It has to have the ability to be worn with existing jewelry and clothing. It can’t be a standalone piece that matches nothing else I own. I don’t want to put several pieces of jewelry on and look like a five year old playing dress up with plastic costume jewelry. I guess I’m always looking for something tasteful yet slightly conservative. Conservative is good but the days of the single strand of pearls and matching earrings is a little too conservative. This is probably why I wear multiple pearl necklaces together when I do wear pearls. It is also why I buy gemstones and metals that match. It helps to keep a theme. It’s important to keep a theme so one doesn’t look like they got dressed in the dark.

I find that my diamond watch looks best with a diamond ring. If I wear a large grouping of pearls on my neck I try and find earrings that also make a statement while keeping my hands and wrists simple. If I stick with particular designers, even if the gemstones aren’t the same the style similarities is usually enough to carry it off. That old rule of get dressed and accessorized then take off one item always seemed odd to me. I find it much easier to look through my collection, find pieces that feel right to me and put them on. I don’t take one off because I think I put too many on and have no idea how to dress myself. Trust your own style and if you like to wear a lot of baubles feel free, we collectors have to stick together.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Egad I Forgot to Ship

Santa has been so busy lately!

I’ve counted the days and now have four days left to ship a present to my niece and nephew. I don’t think I’m going to make it since I haven’t even put them in boxes. I should have no excuse for not getting these packages out in a timely manner. I purchased them awhile ago and I ship packages all the time, sometimes to other countries! Apparently I am a procrastinator at heart. The only excuse I can give myself is it will be an additional gift that will extend Christmas joy for a few more days. Besides, who doesn’t love to get a package in the mail? On the plus side, I can skip the wrapping paper, maybe, since it won’t be under the tree in time for Christmas. A brown cardboard box does look a little depressing under a Christmas tree, especially when compared to all those brightly wrapped presents.

This is my busy time of year and I’m not talking parties, although those are good too. I sell a lot of jewelry and December is the month where I’m at my busiest. Custom orders, regular sales and covert operations can keep a gal active. My reference to covert operations is the personal shopping aspects of my business where I help husbands find that perfect gift for their wives. There should be a lot of happy wives this Christmas morning. Okay, I have the best job in the world, shopping for jewelry! But it isn’t always fun and games. I actually have to find that perfect gift, wrap it up and make sure it gets to the customer on time. This takes a lot of effort on my part which leaves very little time for me to buy toys and ship them to my neglected family members.

 Skating with Santa and Mrs. Claus

Most of my family is understanding and some actually think that sending my gifts late helps to keep their kids from getting overwhelmed, at least this is the sympathetic story they tell me. For some of my older gift recipients they look forward to the potential jewelry gift in the mail. That is one of the perks with having someone in the family who shops for jewelry for a living, jewelry as gifts. Did I say I love my job? After all, I get a gift at Christmas too and I don’t even have to ship it, how awesome is that?

So I’m going to be waiting around for the FedEx guy who will be bringing my last minute orders for my customers and if I’m lucky there might be something in his truck for me. I’ve been a good girl this year, even though I forgot to ship my gifts and it’s already Tuesday. So thanks in advance for the charm bracelet which will allow me the opportunity to add something every month or so and having a new piece of jewelry every now and then makes me really happy! Besides I need to be knowledgeable about the pieces I sell, and what better way to glean knowledge than to wear it? Okay I’m grasping for straws on that last one, but I really can’t wait for Christmas this year, I know I’m going to love my present.

 My Christmas present, can't wait! My husband already hide it.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Marketing Desperation

Freshwater pearl and cultured pearl necklace

With Christmas just a week away there is a sense of desperation in air. I’m not talking about all those people who have shopping to do, I’m talking about some of the retailers. The reason I sense desperation is I am getting on average fifty emails a day trying to get me to buy something. These are usually email lists that sell everything from toasters to massages. I’ve noticed a steady increase in the number of emails I get as we get closer to the holidays. Where I was once receiving a single email from a company touting that days special, I am now receiving four or more from the same company each day. Let me give you a clue, if I haven’t bought from you by now, I probably won’t be buying something this year.

That’s the thing about retail; you have to make the sale. If you don’t make the sale you won’t be in business very long. Many retailers are nervous and since consumers are as nervous as I have ever seen, it stands to reason that there will be a much greater push to get people to buy. I want people to buy my jewelry, that’s why I have a website and haul my jewelry around to trunk shows, additional exposure. People won’t and can’t buy if they don’t know you exist, but how much marketing is too much marketing? When do we as retailers cross the line and become pests? I suppose asking a potential customer if they have any questions or wish to see something is not being a pest, it’s being helpful. It’s the spamming with emails that gets me a little nervous.

 I love the natural shape of the freshwater next to the perfect cultured pearls

Marketing your wares takes effort and of course they must be wares that people want to buy. Sending several emails each and every day could be overkill. Granted, I’ve purchased from some of these people in the past, that was how they got my email, but come on people, eight emails about what you have for sale in a twelve hour period, you’re kidding right? Besides, who has that kind of time to read each and every email you send? It’s not that I’m bashing email as a way to market, it can be very successful. It’s the emails that I get infrequently that make me want to read their content. My theory is, they obviously have something important to tell me which is the reason they sent an email, they rarely send email. Those who spam me all day long come off as someone who doesn’t have anything important to say they just want to tell me stuff, most of which holds no interest for me.

I’ve been told I need to tagline every blog, link my pictures to my website, comment and add my link to other people’s websites and articles. This is advice from internet marketing consultants, who I’m sure understand their internet marketing stuff. But I am so afraid of turning someone off that I’ll rather be shy and let my jewelry speak for itself. Besides, I think I have some really nice jewelry and who wouldn’t love to wear some of my pieces. I have some new items on my website, but it is still a work in progress. I’ve included an iPhone picture of my latest piece that I love and will sell for under $100. Who doesn’t love jewelry for under $100? So take a look and I promise not to send more than one notice per day about what I have in my store, really, and as soon as I can get my husband to take a real picture of the new items, I will have those up on the website for all my long distance customers.