How to become a Fashonista . . . or not.

So here’s the thing.  I’m not really that interested in “fashion” – at least not the way it usually gets portrayed on TV and in print.  I don’t “accessorize” and my thoughts on bags and purses tend to run exclusively to the practical (Can this bag fit an Emergency Diaper Kit, whatever book I’m reading, my current knitting project and assorted paperwork?) rather than the fashionable.  I’ve never had a job where I had to look Professional (aside from a stint selling cameras, and even then we’re talking Retail Professional, not Corporate Professional), and I’ve never considered jewelry part of my wardrobe.

Selling anything online is certainly no Field of Dreams, and people will not be beating a path to my store simply because it exists.  Google’s new search algorithms now make it even more difficult for people doing a general search to turn up results on Etsy or any of the other Online Marketplace site that host individual “stores.”  I am responsible for my own marketing efforts, and I know I need to pursue them offline as well as online.  The marketers say I should talk about what makes my product better than other similar products out there, so I can convince people to buy mine rather than someone else’s.  I have trouble with that, because once you get beyond the basics of construction and quality, the differences between the products of two jewelry makers are purely aesthetic.  Are my sterling stack rings better than someone else’s?  Probably not. All the marketing info I’ve ever read says to “determine your target audience and market to it,” but none of them say anything about how to identify your target audience.  So here I find myself trying to market my jewelry, but not knowing my audience, so to speak.  I am left with guesses. 

This leaves me with trying to figure out who is likely to appreciate my particular visual style, and that’s where I get stuck.  That’s where my innate lack of fashion sense does me in every time, because I have no idea what other people would think my jewelry goes with.  What’s worse, I do not have the vocabulary to discuss fashion and jewelry!  My mother has suggested that I start reading fashion magazines to start learning more.  Do the people I’m trying to reach follow these fashion trends?  I have no idea.

My best guesses for my “target market”:

  • Mostly women.  I know men buy jewelry for women, but right now I’m looking for the ultimate wearer, rather than the purchaser.
  • People with disposable income.  For the most part, jewelry is a want rather than a need, and my best pieces (those in the direction I’d like to pursue with my work) are not inexpensive impulse purchases.  
  • Women with jobs or social positions where they are expected to display a professional appearance.
  • People who care less about the value of the materials (because I work in silver rather than gold) and more about art, creativity, and workmanship.
  • People who value handmade for its own sake, and are not concerned with the name recognition value of the artist/designer. 
  • I would guess that I would be looking for women in the corporate world (or possibly politics or high-level charity), probably mid-thirties and up.   

How does this sound to you?  How can I find out pertinent information about people with these qualities? Who do you think would want to wear my jewelry?   Have I made any inaccurate assessments?  Have I left out any obvious groups?  Would it be something you or someone you know would wear?  If so, how close do you come to my market description?  I can use all the help I can get – any advice or insight is greatly appreciated!


8 thoughts on “How to become a Fashonista . . . or not.

  1. Here are a couple more ideas for your list:

    I am a large woman, and I like large pieces of jewelry. You could advertise somewhere especially for us.

    Your pieces are eclectic, so you're not competing with the jewelery chains in the malls. Your pieces are more artsy, so could be sold places where the artsy gather.

    Hope these ideas help!


  2. Cassiopeia – Thanks for the idea! I'll try to see where I can do that kind of targeted promoting.

    Dee-Dee- Thank you – it helps to know that I am on the right track and that my instincts are not way off base!

    Linda – Thanks for the link! I'll check it out and see if any of the ideas for promoting a CSA would crossover well to promoting handmade jewelry 🙂


  3. Alison, I know exactly what you're feeling–I am trying to make a go of selling my own attire and bags and such, and I've struggled with answering the questions you're asking yourself right now. None of the answers are easily had–if they were, we'd all be marketing geniuses with no problems selling whatsoever–so I think the trick is to constantly ponder them… It's the person who stops asking/contemplating these questions that stops caring about what they do and simply becomes a distributor, not an artisan.

    I subscribe to a lot of crafting blogs and such, listen to podcasts, etc. These questions are the subject of many a book on branding. In the end, anyone can buy anything anytime they want at a cheaper price than we can produce it. In a world like that, people have to want to buy from you other reasons. It's those reasons that you need to focus on. If it's the young female professional, perhaps subscribing to some “women's business” magazines and studying their ads could be helpful. Trying to define what your “style” is could also be helpful–or at least recognizing what it's not.

    Personally, I've decided to pursue the “anti-fashion” route, and focus on making more dramatic garments for those that choose to scoff the fashion industry's mass consumer orientation and select individual, distinct attire. I've chosen a more “costumey” path to clothing. But that's just how I'm distinguishing myself from the norm.

    Perhaps figuring out that out for yourself could be helpful not only in marketing yourself, but in focusing your “corporate identity” and make your creativity flow easier by creating “delimitations” on what's right for your stuff and what isn't. I know when I have some self-imposed parameters it's always easier for me to express myself (for me, it's a pattern or a fabric or a mood). Being specific about what you like, and thus what you're creating, is a quick way to clearly create a target market.

    Anyway, thought I'd share. : ) Take care, and your stuff is beautiful!



  4. Some very good ideas, Corey, thank you! I'll definitely look into the business magazine end.

    I've been thinking more and more about really focusing on developing my personal style. I admit I've been wanting to try lots of different new techniques, but it's been sort of scattershot.

    I was listening to an episode of Craftcast the other day where Alison Lee was talking about continuity and focus, and I realized that right now my best bet is to refine what I'm doing now with the materials I have available, rather than investing in new materials I'm not sure I'll enjoy working with, so that's what I'm doing now.


  5. I own several pieces of your jewelry, and I wear them proudly. I always get comments on how unique and beautiful they are, so I might need to start carrying your business cards around with me to help you promote your jewelry 🙂


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