Thursday, March 8, 2012

Entwined Vines Beginnings

Entwined Vines Jewelry was born as an idea two years ago, give or take a couple of weeks.  When Tina said "hey ya want to start a jewelry business?  We enjoy making it, people like what we make and well what else are we going to do with it since we can only give family and friends so much."   Sure, I said, ha little did I know the adventure I had agreed to embark on.  

We have both been making jewelry for years in all types of different mediums and designs.  One time we figured it out and combined we have 45+ years of jewelry making experience. 

First we started off listing a couple of items on E-bay.  We figured out really quick that wasn't going to work for us.  The fees cut into our bottom line way too much.  Paying to list something and not have it sell, yeah nope didn't work for us.   At the time someone had previously mentioned a couple of sites to us, so we started researching other on-line options.  We had already determined we didn't want a brick and mortar store, too much hassle.

After much research (let me tell you there are a lot of handmade selling sites, looked at them all), we determined ArtFire was the best fit for us.   We like the fact that no one has to register in order to buy from us and it keeps our bottom line intact with a once a month fee versus other set ups.   Which the most common that we found is that the site charges a fee when you list the item (with limited time frame on some of  them) and a Final Value Fee.   A Final Value fee is usually a percentage of the sale price, ranging anywhere from 1 % to 15 %.

Then we spent several weeks trying to find a suitable name for our business.  Entwined Vines came about for several reasons, but mainly because we are friends first and foremost and our lives are intertwined.

Setting up our ArtFire studio was an education unto itself.  Little did we know what all would be involved in that.   Both of us having a background in photography did not prepare us for the requirements of product photography.  Not to mention the need for banners, avatars and social media.  Photography has been and will be an ongoing education.  Part of that is the market atmosphere and part of that is continuing to improve technique. 

Who new how much of our week would be spent on Social Media when we started this business, we surely didn't.  Tina and I are both people who would rather visit face to face than through the computer.  however, we have adapted and overcome and now have integrated Entwined Vines Jewelry and ourselves into the social media world.  

Though I have to tell you there are days I break all the rules in regards to Social Media.  Be it blogging, on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+, how you ask, simple really.   All the experts agree that a business social media should avoid the following topics:  Politics, religion, finance, sex....   hmm, so what does that leave.  So, yes while I break all the rules I do try and provide information on both view points for a good debate, even on the topics I am absolutely fanatical in one direction about.   These are the topics that matter to you all, so why should they be avoided and well what rule wasn't meant to be broken at some point I say.

Officially we started Entwined Vines Jewelry November 2010. With ArtFire set up we determined we needed a larger target market to sustain us while we branded ourselves on line.   The advantage to living in Portland is we have a huge artisan population.  The result is the largest longest running outdoor market in the United States.   Portland Saturday Market is an all artisan market, with a stringent multi step jury process to ensure the integrity of product being sold.  It is definitely a feather in our cap that we were accepted.

Having just started our second year at Portland Saturday Market last weekend.  I look back and wow have we accomplished a lot in a very, very short amount of time.  Opened our on line studio, applied and was accepted and made it through our first year with Portland Saturday Market. 

All of this while dealing with major life challenges.  Both Tina and I within a month of each other found out we were gluten intolerant.  Still having our day jobs while we grow Entwined Vines Jewelry, tripling our inventory, jobs being lost, cars breaking down, unexpected house repairs.  Yep, all life stuff, some major not listed here, yet when it is continuous with no break it really does become a challenge.

While we have taken a few hard knocks along the way, there are no regrets!  Even if I am exhausted after writing this and looking back at everything we have accomplished in such a short amount of time.

This year the priority to do list is a less daunting.  The top three items in order are:  more time for our friendship, increasing the creation of our own lampwork glass pieces, and doubling our current inventory.  As anyone know there is a lot more that is done behind the scenes, yet these are the first three on our year long to do list for Entwined Vines Jewelry.

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