Friday, April 20, 2007

Jennifer Casady is the jewelry designer behind Jewelry By Jennifer Casady , an online boutique featuring handmade gemstone, sterling silver, wire-wrapped, lampwork and chain maille jewelry. Her fascination with jewelry began as a little girl who attended jewelry shows with her parents and grandparents. Fast-forward to 2007, and she is definitely the main designer now!

Keeping Jewels in the Family
“As I grew older I [enjoyed going] through my Mom's jewelry and listened to her tell me stories of where and when she received each piece. My father used to travel around the world with his jobs and would buy strands of gemstone beads to bring home. He taught himself how to make knotted jewelry and made my grandmother, mom and I beautiful necklaces and bracelets. Several members of my extensive family make their own jewelry, some of them for many years.”

Trying her Hand at Jewelry Making
“ I wanted to try my hand at making jewelry for years but never truly had the opportunity to start. In December 2005 I finally had the chance to visit one of the local bead stores in my area where one of the staff members kindly took the time to show me how to use various beading tools and suggested several needed items that an individual would need to create jewelry. I had a ball picking out strands of gemstones, findings and tools. I ran over to a book store to pick up some instructional books, went home, studied pictures, made my first necklace, and fell in love. I officially started my business in January 2006.”

Background Training for a Future Entrepreneur
“My ten years as a legal secretary has given me an entirely new appreciation for paperwork, taught me how to write coherently and multi-task. Of course, as any parent knows, one of the benefits of raising children is learning by necessity how to multi-task. I have learned how important it is to keep your business organized.”

Typical Customer
“[My typical customer includes] anyone who loves hand crafted jewelry! Most of my customers are females in the 25-60 age range who have an appreciation for custom, handmade elegant jewelry. These women know quality work when they see it and are more than willing to invest in special pieces that will be worn frequently and cherished.”

"Besides word of mouth, my main outlet for selling my jewelry is online on my website which is where I concentrate the majority of my marketing energy. At this time I also have one display case in a store and am working on branching out to additional boutiques and galleries. "

Overcoming Challenges
“Everything about starting my own business was a challenge. I did not even know how to build a website. One of the first things I did after making my decision to start a jewelry business was to call one of my aunts who has a very successful online business that she has built with her husband and get her advice as to where to even start. We’ve all heard it before, but, knowledge truly is key. Once I started finding out what I needed to do and what my objective was, I armed myself with knowledge and plowed ahead, teaching myself what I needed to know and just doing it.”

Marketing Techniques
“I have just started researching different marketing techniques and am very new to the entire subject of marketing. I am currently taking online SEO and marketing courses to help me learn how to better optimize my website. I frequent the Switchboard forum to glean any bits of marketing information I can and have started to take advantage of the various advertising opportunities that are posted there (such as submitting products for review, etc.) I have a lot to learn, especially about press releases, how to contact magazines, etc., and I am delving into that with a passion this year.”

The Best Advertisement
“ My favorite way is the most basic way to market one’s product -- wearing my jewelry and handing out business cards. My friends and family are also fantastic marketers of my pieces. Jewelry is what I call a “sense inspired” purchase, therefore it is very difficult to sell online. Most women need to be able to see and touch a piece in person before they actively fall in love with it. Women want to see how the light reflects off the gemstones (very difficult to achieve this affect through photography), they want to look in a mirror with earrings held up to their ears to see how they frame the face, they prefer to drape the necklace around their neck to gauge the fit against a favorite blouse.”

“Jewelry is an impulse purchase and can be very hard to sell online, especially when many women prefer to handle the jewelry themselves before they make that decision to buy. If the business you are consigning with is not totally focused on selling jewelry and on marketing your product to the best of their ability, then one needs to make the decision if that is the best place to have one’s product.”

Inspired by Different Sources
“My inspiration to create jewelry comes from various sources - the beauty of nature created by God, a conversation with a close friend, a certain color, the sound of music in the background, or simply the gemstone beads themselves. Each stone is unique and I want to express that individuality and beauty in my designs. My inspiration for running my business comes from watching my husband in his career. He is an amazing, hard-working man, husband and father, and I am constantly praising the Lord for the wonderful gift of my husband.”

Online Mentors
“I don’t think there has been any one person whom I could say has specifically been there to guide and tutor me continually along this journey I am on. But there have certainly been a plethora of women whom I have met since I started creating jewelry who have given me direction, inspiration, knowledge -- little bits of themselves to help round out my experience. Many of these women are on my favorite online forum, Reasonable Insanity.”

Words of Advice-Step Back and Have Fun!
“Have fun. Always….have fun. If it starts to be too stressful, take a step or two back and relax until its fun again.”

Jennifer Casady
1135 Artic Quill Road
Herndon, Virginia 20170
(703) 862-9854

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