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The ups and downs of the bead world

The ups and downs of the bead world

As I told you in my Springtime inventory, earlier this year I had to do some serious thinking about my future and my business as a beaded jewellery designer / teacher . It wasn’t an easy decision, but it seems it’s not time yet to give up following my dream! Keep me fingers crossed, please ūüôā

Besides looking into the numbers¬†I also had a lot of thoughts about the bead world in general. While of course I love the community and all the shiny treasures we get to play with, just as everything in life, bead planet also has its dark¬†side besides the happy one. Don’t mistake me: I don’t want to sound negative. For me the glass is most of the time half full, and I love everything bead related! However, I think it can bring some good if we don’t ignore the problems. I know not everybody will like this, but I hope that we can start a dialogue and maybe get closer to the solutions of some of them together!

 



 


+ a super nice community
– can be lonely sometimes


As I think about friendships and important people in my life, I realise that many of them come from the beading community, and we got to know each other thanks to these shiny little pieces of glass. Fellow designers and colleagues from my old bead shop… Customers, who came not only for beads, but to¬†have a cup of tea together or to talk a bit… Students, who were far too proficient for the classes, but still came every time, just for the sake of company… I’m grateful to have you in my life!

However, having¬†a cup of coffee and a real life talk with my bead friends are rare occasions lately. Nowadays I’m mostly limited to my online pals. While it’s great that we can chat, send pictures and can keep in touch wherever in the world we live in, it can get sometimes lonely behind the screen.

 

 


+ having enough jewellery for a lifetime
– having enough jewellery for a lifetime


Not a typo: I think owning enormous amounts of jewels can be a pro and a con, too. I like to wear accessories (Especially earrings. And rings. And pendants. And bracelets. And of course, brooches.), and like to match them to my outfit, of course. I have favourites (for example the beautiful Shibori earrings I got from my friend Zuzi as a gift or my green-bronze ring from Eva Dobos of DeEva Design), but usually I choose a different one every day. Designing and beading my own jewellery makes it so easy! I can stitch up something new whenever I need a new colour combination or style to go with a new piece of clothing or for a special occasion without ruining my budget and without the chance to meet the same piece everywhere.

However, not only my own box of jewellery¬†would be enough to add the final touch to the outfit of the whole royal family of The Netherlands and half of Hollywood at the same time, but also the box containing jewellery for sale. Even if I think that galleries, shops presenting locally made goods etc. could be interested, since it’s a completely different field, it would require a lot more¬†energy and time to push finished pieces besides teaching and tutorials, too.

 


+ a very active community on social media
– a lot of compliments, but no constructive criticism


I could literally spend my whole life browsing the beautiful pictures posted by my fellow beaders on Facebook and Instagram. It’s so nice to see what beaders all around the world accomplish! We¬†use the same material and the same stitches, however, every one of us is a different personality,¬†and the character, mood, colour preferences all shine through the necklaces, bracelets, earrings, brooches etc.

However, if we want to grow, we also need to get feedback in the form of constructive criticism. Of course it’s not needed and asked for everywhere and sometimes we just want to have fun. But there are also places where it would serve the cause to tell each other what we think.


+ patterns come alive
– copyright issues


The best part of the¬†job is when I can see how the beading tutorials come alive in beader’s¬†hands. It’s a pleasure to see that the work I put in was worth it, and it was chosen as a project to spend somebody’s¬†free time with.¬†I’m always happy and proud to see the finished jewels, and it’s amazing to see, when the original jewel is transformed by other beader’s¬†choices: a brooch appears as a pendant, a ring as earrings, and of course, all in their¬†favourite colours!

However, sometimes I see designs copied without purchasing a pattern, even taking pride in reading it from a photo. While luckily I¬†run into this problem with my designs very rarely (and even then I just decide to focus my energy on positive things and rely on karma), it saddens me a great deal when it happens¬†to my fellow designers. I know how much work goes not only into the design itself, but also into taking pictures, drawing diagrams and writing up the tutorial itself. And usually it wouldn’t cost a fortune to buy the beading tutorial, would it? So come on, people, is saving 5-10 euros / dollars really worth the bitterness you cause?

 

 


+ getting the newest beads from sponsors
– difficulty of getting actually payed


Some of the big manufacturers / wholesalers / distributors have their own team of designers. Beadsmith has the Beadsmith Inspiration Squad (and I’m a proud member, yey!), Starman has the¬†Trendsetters team, and companies like Potomac or Puca, the designer sometimes also send out free samples to a chosen group of beadwork artists. It’s a perfect symbiosis. Designers can work with the newest bead shapes, and companies on the other hand can show their customers how to use the novelties, can use the finished jewellery in articles and advertisement and even provide beading instructions for local bead shops. I love to be a part of it, it’s always a great pleasure to open a package and play with the new treasures!

On the other hand, beadwork designers also have to pay their bills, and if we would like¬†to maintain a healthy social life and don’t become the newest cat ladies of the neighbourhood, we can’t refer to beading only as a hobby. We need to get payed for the time we spend writing the tutorials and teaching with actual, real life money, to pay the monthly fees of our¬†websites and the programs¬†we use among else. And it’s not easy.

 

 


+ learning about another things because of beadwork: Illustrator, WordPress, taking pictures etc.
– the feeling of “never enough”


Sometimes my friends think that all I do is just playing with my beads. (BTW that was the same in the time I still had my bead shop in Slovakia.) I wish! Since I decided to become a designer, I had to learn a lot of new things: how to build a website in WordPress (It’s not done by my husband. He works in IT, but¬†in a completely different field.), how to take better jewellery pictures, how to use professional programs like Illustrator and Photoshop, what’s SEO (search engine optimalisation) etc. Please, don’t mistake me: this is not a complaint! I am grateful that I was pushed to do all the reading and research, had to go all the trials, errors, smaller and bigger successes. I hold a master’s degree from aesthetics, linguistics and literature, however, that wouldn’t really help me on the current job market. On the other hand, the skills I learned thanks to beading for sure will!

Despite all the learning and work I still get¬†the feeling, that it’s not enough, and to make my business successful I would need to be an expert in a lot more fields. Technology, the market and possibilities are changing¬†every day, all of them having an effect on our seemingly sheltered¬†wonderland, too.

 



I know I only scratched the surface, and there’s plenty of room for discussion.
What do you think about the ups and downs of the bead world?
Tell me in a comment, what are the problems you face or what did you already overcome?

For me, no more nagging today. Off to work. Have fun creating, dear beaders!
Bye,
Erika

One Comment

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    Mar 28, 2017 Reply

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