How One Artist Uses Ecommerce as Her Main Selling Channel

IndieMade: How did you get your start?

Kingman: I started making jewelry when my neighbor invited me to come play in her gemstone beads with her. After I twisted and bent a long headpin into a crazy bail for a broken shard of carved jade, I was hooked. That was really my first “metalwork.”

Kingman handwrought jewelry is upscale without being stuffy.

IndieMade: What factors made you decide to create a website/your online business?

Kingman: Since I work full-time as an attorney and have a young family, it is hard to fit in the time for shows or other “in-person” ventures. An online business was the perfect--and really the only--option for me.

IndieMade: Is this Full Time or Part Time for you? 

Kingman: Jewelry design is a part-time venture for me when measured in hours/days per week. However, it is a full-time obsession!

IndieMade: What do you like most about your online business?

Kingman: I love that I can grow it at my own pace. No matter how much I do, there is always something more to do and something new to learn. And yet, I don’t have to do it “all” from scratch because there are tools and people out there developing things that make it manageable even for the part-timer. A perfect example is of course, Indiemade. The features and options available make it easy to customize my shop, make it function the way I need it to, and give me that professional edge that helps me to stand out from the crowd on my own two feet.  All without having to learn computer programming or hire someone to design and maintain my site.  It’s the perfect balance between ease-of-use and customization, and allows me to keep my focus on my art.

Heidi Kingman Jewelry features her handmade jewelry.

IndieMade: What advice would you give to someone who has objections or is hesitating about starting their online business?

Kingman: Anyone that thinks they don’t have the time or skills to start an online business should really rethink that. The tools are there to make it a very manageable task. But, that being said, your online business is not going to take off without a good investment of time, energy, and marketing. This isn’t one of those “If you build it, they will come” types of things. But if you are willing to put some elbow grease into it, an online business is a fantastic way to get started — even if all the time you have is late in the evenings after the kids go to bed.

IndieMade: How has your life changed since you started your business?

Kingman: Where to start?! I think the biggest impact on my life has been how incredibly expanded and enriched my life has become. Through my business, I have become inter-connected with so very many artisans, entrepreneurs, and clients from around the world. The interchange of ideas and information out there is absolutely transformative. And limitless. And energizing. I have also made treasured friendships with people I never would have met if it wasn’t for my online business and the necessary social media forums I have tapped into.

IndieMade: What’s new in your business?

Kingman: I just had an incredible destash event where I sold a lot of old designs and materials I no longer use, and I have been using the proceeds to upgrade and expand my torch and other metalsmithing tools. I am so excited to continue to improve my skills and push that artistic envelope. My shop on my site currently looks a little bare after that destash, but my mind is buzzing with the new designs that will fill it back up!

IndieMade: Do you do any offline promotions (craft fairs, pop up shops, etc.) to tie it all together?

Kingman: I haven’t done an in-person show in a few years since my hands have been full with work and family. But I am toying with squeezing a holiday show in this year. It really depends on whether or not I think I can create enough pieces between now and then. This may be a growth and development year. Maybe next year would be best for a show? But you never know!

IndieMade: Is there anything you’d like to add?

Kingman: Sometimes I hear people say they worry they can’t make as much in an online only business model as they can when they do art shows. For me, art shows are fun because you get to see people interact and respond to your art. That is harder to duplicate on-line (though not impossible). But I have been pleasantly surprised to find I actually have experienced slow steady growth in annual sales that has exceeded my annual sales from the earlier years when I mostly sold in shows. And, I didn’t have to haul around crates, set up tents and pay exorbitant show fees. I did it in my PJs. That’s hard to beat. :)

Comments

Shirley J Moore

Great interview! Heidi gives some good information for those of us just starting the process of selling online.

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