What part of the world are you in?
I am in the Ohio, in the United States.
What does customer service mean to you?
I think that along with a really good product, customer service is what will make or break your business and can make the difference between being really successful or not. This means keeping in contact with your customer throughout the process from confirming receipt of the order, when it will ship all the way through to your packaging etc.
What is your most memorable experience with a customer?
I have been blessed in that all of my customers have been wonderful! For me when a customer becomes a friend through the communication about an order, that is just so cool and I have met so many nice people because of this.
What sets you apart from other sellers who are selling similar items? That's a tough one, there are so many talented people out there. My items are all well made, and I do stand behind my jewelry, I love what I do and I hope that I am developing a style that people will recognize as my own.
How did you learn the skills that make you successful today?
Most of it is self taught, with lots of trial and error (sometimes the best way to learn is to make mistakes, it makes you really think about how something is put together), a great deal of good advice and hands on learning from the wonderfully skilled people at the Summit County Lapidary club (they taught me and are still teaching me, the skills necessary to cut my own cabs) and one metal smithing class taught by an extremely talented lady named Rita. I also have been fortunate to be a member of several online selling venues where the other sellers have been more than generous with their knowledge.
Do you have any formal training in your craft?
What is your goal for the next year?
To build my skills and really stretch my imagination with the metal smithing. Also to build my business and really start to focus on how to reach my target market.
What keeps you motivated when sales are slow? I love what I do. I am going to make it anyway, I can't NOT make things. So when I sales are slow I just keep doing what I love and building inventory lol!
What do you do to attract new clients and encourage re-occurring business?
To attract new business, I do some advertising campaigns on project wonderful and I also do some give aways and spend some time networking with several different groups. I also promote and do give aways for other artists. This might sound counter productive but it does bring lots of visitors to my blog and besides I like helping other artists out and its fun. Recurring business I hope is based on good customer service and an awesome product.
If you could share one piece of advice with someone who is considering opening their own store of handmade items, what would it be?
Make sure your photo's are good. Make them stand out so that people really want to take another look. Also be prepared to work really hard for a fairly long time before you are even close to successful. Building a business means not just being able to make beautiful things, it means learning how to be a photographer, a web designer, an accountant, a tax preparer, learning to design business card, logo's, online ads, networking with other people, etc. Its a huge amount of work but in the end there is a great deal of satisfaction knowing that this is YOUR business and you did it yourself.
Check out the lovely collection available by Silver River Jewelry online at silverriverjewelry.com. We had a hard time choosing our favorite piece to feature! Lovely work Sonja and best of luck to you in 2009!