Today I sat down at my beading table which I’ve been neglecting for the past several weeks. I had all sorts of new design ideas floating around my head and I was eager to go to work – but first I had to clear off the table which had become cluttered with other paperwork and miscellaneous items. A little while later, clutter removed, I was ready to get started. And then I had not an “ah-ha” moment, but an “oh yeahhhh” moment. I noticed the few “fix-it” projects awaiting my attention that had gotten buried under old mail. Oh yeah, that. Those dreaded obligatory projects that friends and acquaintances come to me with. I feel like I can’t, or shouldn’t, turn them down. So, finding them now means I must attend to them when I’d rather be making something new and exciting.
But as boring as these projects can be sometimes, they’re also a good way of building your jewelry business and beading knowledge. How, you ask? Well…..first off….
Jewelry Repair Gets Your Name Out There
Most of my jewelry repair business comes from the office I work at. Once in a while it’s to repair things that I have made. (And when I say “repair” a lot of times it just happens to be an issue with a jump ring opening up and it’s easily fixed.) But more often than not, it’s to repair other pieces someone bought from a well-known jewelry party business, or something someone bought from another handmade jewelry maker that has broken or needs to be restrung.
I sometimes have people stopping by that I hardly know. Usually it’s from word of mouth and someone else has told them that I make jewelry and may be able to fix things. Once your name gets out that you are able to repair jewelry, be prepared for drop-ins if you work in a large or corporate office. Due to this, it’s a good idea to have a set of tools handy. I leave a set of jewelry pliers in my drawer at work since there are times when people pop in at my desk for quick fixes and it’s nice to be able to handle it on the spot.
And what is the benefit of these little quick fixes? Well, like I said, it gets your name out there. Sure, all you did was repair something that wasn’t even made by you in the first place, but you just made a new friend that will remember you can fix jewelry as well as make it, and next time they are in the market for jewelry repair, or more importantly, something to match a new outfit, they may contact you. You’re building rapport and trust with people, and that’s always a plus. The next time they are in the market for jewelry or jewelry repairs, they will remember your name. Plus they will tell others about you and spread the word.
You Get to Practice Honing Your Skills
You never know what someone will bring you. It could be the type of design you’re used to working with that just requires a ring or restringing, or it could be something new that creates a challenge. The challenge of the job is usually what I like. It gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment if I can figure out a solution and fix the item. However, if you truly think that you cannot fix something, it’s a good idea to tell the person this up front. You may need to suggest the name of a good jeweler if you know one. For instance, I do not have soldering tools, etc. so I cannot fix a chain unless it’s a link that I can open and attach a clasp too, etc. If you think you can fix it but are not 100% sure, be honest and tell them that. Get their permission before you do anything to the piece, so you are in agreement that if you do more damage than good and cannot fix it there is no harm done and they will not be upset. Chances are if it’s already broken and they can’t wear it, they won’t be too mad if it stays broken since it was headed for the trash can anyway.
Someone recently brought to me two broken items belonging to a friend in the hope that I could fix them. I was pretty sure I could, but I didn’t expect the time involved in getting the job done. They both were quite challenging, which can be a good thing. Projects like this give you the opportunity to work on something you may otherwise not have tried. One item was a pearl bracelet which looked like it could have been an antique. It had a clasp I had never seen before – the plunger-type (or like a toilet paper roll) and it was incredibly tricky getting it back together again. But I did it – and in doing so, I learned something new. So working on jewelry repairs can be a learning experience, and the challenge of it might actually inspire you to make new designs or use materials that you otherwise would not have thought of. In taking apart another item for repair, I learned a great technique someone else had come up with. I had not seen it done before and I was quite intrigued, and now I’m anxious to try it again myself when I have the chance. So working on jewelry repair jobs just may create the opportunity to learn a new technique, a new trick or lead you to come up with an ingenious method of putting something back together again.
An Extra Source of Income
While doing jewelry repairs is probably not going to bring in the same kind of money as making and selling your own designs, it will give you the opportunity to make a few extra dollars, especially when the economy is rough and people are cutting back on unnecessary purchases. They may not want to buy new items, but they will most likely want to fix cherished pieces if they break. Repairing jewelry is a good way to build your customer base. Keep track of the people you do repair work for, and at some future point you may want to contact them and see if they are interested in looking at your new jewelry selections. It could lead to future sales.
Doing repair work can lead to new sources of income, new ideas and techniques, and new potential customers, which is all something to think of the next time someone comes up to you, the experienced jewelry maker, and asks “hey, can you fix this?” You could turn them down because it doesn’t seem worth the hassle or your time…but think of what you could be missing out on!