How Long Did It Take?
Q: How long did it take you to make your new Frog and Toad earrings?
A: A little more than a month. Maybe two.
Q: Really? My cousin makes jewelry and she could make those in five minutes!
I just made up that conversation, but asking how long something took is a common customer question. It seems straightforward, but can be a little tricky to answer. Do you count just the few minutes it took you to assemble the piece? Or do you include the trial-and-error of designing, shopping for the perfect materials, or learning new techniques?
As an example, I thought I'd share the process behind these new Frog and Toad earrings.
My first two sales on Etsy were for cute animal earrings. I would have never predicted that those would be the pieces that would sell first. I was happy, but also a little alarmed. I didn't have any other cute animal earrings to list!
I decided to follow the lead of my customers and make more. One evening on the sofa I doodled some earring ideas. That was the easy part. Frog and Toad are Friends is one of the first books I remember reading on my own as a child, so that was one of my first ideas. I also brainstormed other cute, nonmatching pairs, such as the sheep with the ball of yarn (for knitters), a mouse and a wedge of cheese, and the owl with a pencil (for bookish types).
Of course, this situation points to one of my main frustrations as a jewelry designer: it's quick to design pieces on paper or in my head, but finding the actual beads that match? That can be impossible!
Inspiration Strikes Again
I was stumped for a few days before I thought, Why not request some custom lampworked beads that match my ideas? Next I contacted Jen Zieger of Zbeadz. I'd purchased from her before and her work seemed to be a good match for the "cute" factor I needed. Luckily, she agreed to make several pairs of custom beads for me.
I'm delighted with how the beads turned out. I love that the Frog and Toad pair evoke this classic children's book, but are not identical copies of the originals. This pair definitely has their own unique personalities and expressions. For me, this is a great example of being "inspired by" something, rather than trying to make an exact duplicate.
So back to the original question. The earrings didn't take too long to make once I had all the components ready, but getting there took a lot longer than five minutes. The extra time to create something unique feels worth it to me—and I hope my customers agree!