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GUEST BLOGGER: Diana Ferguson of Diana Ferguson Jewelry

What Change Has Taught Me
By Diana Ferguson of Diana Ferguson Jewelry
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Who among us is a stranger to change? In what I’ve come to call “that storied period” from 2008 – 2010, rapid and unexpected change left me un-tethered from what had been a lucrative business designing and selling precious metal chainmaille based jewelry in ranked art shows from Arizona to Texas. The economic downturn in late 2008 turned into the recession that just kept on giving. A noticeably restrained buying public delivered ever decreasing revenues. Show fees and gas prices kept rising. Due to speculation in the precious metal market, material costs for my ounce heavy jewelry turned into a budget breaker. Avenues for credit closed. Finally, my husband (who is also a full time artist) was diagnosed with an illness that put our show calendar on hold for a year while he received treatment. [He is fine now – thankfully]. It would have been easy to throw in the towel – but I’m a glass half full kind of girl, plus I knew that in the current economic environment, going back to the corporate world was a non-starter. I had no choice but to put my nose to the grindstone, muddle through and get back in the game. No one is more surprised than me at how well things have turned out. Here are a few lessons I learned.

Don’t Let Pre-Conceived Ideas About Materials Dictate Your Creative Process.
I went from utilizing literally ounces of precious metal wire per piece to creating designs in less expensive anodized aluminum and niobium to – most recently – creating collages and digital art that I transfer to paper, polymer infuse and use almost like sheet metal. I’ve learned to love color and have gained a new and adventurous clientele. I’ve even won a couple of awards in the last year! I still love precious metal and create custom order pieces with it, but I did realize that jewelry design doesn’t have to revolve around silver, gold or other expensive materials. Being forced to use what you have on hand or can afford may trip your creativity wires in ways you never imagined!

Play Small Ball When You Have To. 
If at some point, like I did, you find the fees and travel associated with nationally ranked shows doesn’t fit with your personal economy, don’t overlook smaller local shows. Sure, you’re ego may not be as stroked, but I’ve found that patrons at these shows can be just as appreciative and committed to buying art – if not more so, than at larger shows. And even if you returns are smaller, you may find that you are left with a larger profit after expenses.

Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket. 
A number of small income streams can provide just as much revenue as the one big river (that is apt to flood). By which I mean, make sure your marketing wheel has lots of spokes – art shows, galleries, online shops, wholesale/trade shows, consignment, charitable donations, celebrity giving. Each of these has a role to play. I’ve found that more often than not, if one avenue is not delivering, another one will. 

Develop Some “Go To” Coaching Resources. 
It’s easy to feel down when things don’t go quite as planned. For that reason, I like to surround myself with positive, proactive websites and blogs. Reading them always make me feel better. I particularly enjoy LaunchHer.com, Tonya Davidson’s Musings and Mullings and the Art Biz Blog by Alyson B Stanfield. LaunchHer.com is perfect for the aspiring or established woman entrepreneur, Tonya delivers an inspirational message, while Alyson is an art marketing guru extraordinaire, offering tons of practical advice.  

You May Not Get What You Want, But You Can Almost Always Get What You Need. 
Ubiquitous Rolling Stones tune aside, a good friend shared this wisdom with me several years ago and I have found it to be unequivocally true. The trick seems to be in faith and focus; in whatever way you bring those to bear in your life, a laser beam approach is recommended.

Believe in and Share Your Dreams. 
Put yourself out there. You’ll find you have more supporters than you ever realized!

Wishing you a world of entrepreneurial success!
Diana Ferguson of Diana Ferguson Jewelry


mLindvall said...

Diana! Such an inspiring lesson for all of us...thanks so much for sharing your story!

Dee Crowe said...

Great post! Change has taught me so much over the past 15 years. I learned that the handmade world is not much different than anything else..one minute your in, the next your out...it is what you do with your one minute that can determine many things for the future!

Catcophony said...

Very inspirational, Diana! I found myself after 20+ years in healthcare out of a job and not getting hired in our new state because I wasn't a nurse--mucho experience and a Ph.D. got me nada--I had started making jewelry for myself when a new friend in my neighborhood encouraged me to try selling at farmers markets and local shows. The response was slow, but positive. I kept learning new skills, reading, practicing and then I started getting into bigger and better shows. I also took the plunge and opened an online store. Overnight success? Not yet, but thanks to what I have learned and am learning from the talented artisans in The Artisan Group maybe soon.

Sherry's Jewelry said...

Thank you Diana for sharing your story! I really enjoyed it and am inspired! Now back to work!
Have a great day! Thanks again!

ThompsonGirl Artisan Jewelry said...

Thanks for the comments so far, can't wait to read more! @Dee, one minute you're in, the next you're out; I love that and the idea that it's what you do with your minute; both so very true. @Catcophany, it is all about taking the plunge isn't it?. And, as we've all learned in the last few years, being nimble (and, uh, unafraid).

Autumn Bradley said...

Great advice Diana, thank you!

Connie said...

Solid practical advice with an uplifting message. I so totally believe in "multiple streams of income" to keep going. Not only does it keep you from being depressed when a single focus doesn't deliver it keeps your mind sharp and creative and you are more open to other opportunities. Thank you, Diana, your story is helpful. I look forward to meeting you in person one day.

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