Sunday, April 12, 2009


When forming LinnyGirl Designs, I did a lot of research about how to set up my business properly in the state of California. There were several forms to fill out and fees to pay. I even needed a permit from the city I live in to create my jewelry designs at home, but all in all, it was a fairly easy and financially feasible process.

Now that I am up and running, I realize I need to keep an official set of books beyond the simple spreadsheet I have of the sales I’ve made, but where and how to start seems just a little bit daunting.

I have been making jewelry for over six years, but just officially took it from a hobby to a homebased business just a few months ago, so how far back do I need to go to track my bead and supply purchases? The truth is, I don’t have receipts going that far back, simply because I didn’t have an official business at the time, so there was no need to keep receipts once I knew I wasn’t going to return the product. Also, not keeping receipts meant I could keep the costs of my beading obsession from my husband. I could simply say, “We’re so ahead of the game. We would’ve gotten stuck paying $50 for a birthday gift for Aunt Margie, but this necklace only cost $12 to make!”

So here I am, four months into my new business with a stack of neatly filed receipts and a list in MS Word of the sales I’ve made. I also have a fairly decent inventory of necklaces, bracelets and earrings here at home in storage, and another decent supply of jewelry inventory at a boutique in Sherman Oaks, CA. The bead and findings inventory? I shudder to think about having to do any kind of actual count. I may not have receipts going farther back than July 2008, but I have beads and supplies going as far back as 2002! A quick eyeballing of my stash leads me to believe I have beads numbering in the tens of thousands. The truth is, I simply don’t want to count them all and I’ve been avoiding doing so like the plague.

So where to begin? I do have Quickbooks Pro 2009 and I’ve been using it for other tax purposes for about 7 years, but not for a company that sells goods or services. What do you fellow jewelry artists do when it comes to counting beads, keeping inventory and tracking your profits and losses? How detailed is your inventory? What software, if any, do you use to keep your books?

All comments and suggestions are welcome. We beaders are all in this together…

Monday, March 23, 2009


When it comes to shopping online for beads, jewelry making and craft supplies, there are so many choices out there, it can often get confusing or just plain make your head spin. One place might have spectacular prices on gemstone beads, while another might have great deals on findings. Still, another place might offer discounts or free shipping that make the pricing on their stuff that much more attractive. And just when you think you’ve found the perfect place to purchase those hard to find Swarovski bicone beads, you stumble upon another site that causes you to rethink everything altogether (or get a serious case of buyer's remorse.)

I have found two outstanding places on the net that have been awfully hard to beat when it comes to price. Gem Mall and Gifts Joy. Both of these places offer wholesale type pricing to the public with no large minimum order needed. Gem Mall will even give you further discount pricing if you have a resale license. Simply upload a copy of your license to their website and when you log in, you will get even better pricing on their offerings. With Gifts Joy, I was able to email them my resale license to avoid paying California sales tax (a huge plus since our sales tax is going up and will be near 10% starting April 1st). These sites aren’t perfect, but price wise, they offer terrific bargains.

Where does everyone else shop for your beading and crafting needs? I’m looking for smaller places that offer spectacular deals, and aren’t the most obvious beading choices like Fire Mountain Gems or Aunties Beads. It’d be great, in this economy, to hear about places that are smaller outlets that can really use the business to get them through these tough times.

So—let’s hear it! Where do you get the best buys on beads?

Friday, March 13, 2009


The terms “consumerism” and “green” often don’t go hand in hand, so what’s an Eco-girl like me to do when she actively engages in a business that promotes consumption? I have spent many a night pondering this very thought.

Treading lightly on this planet is extremely important to me. I preach to my kids and friends and practically anyone who will listen about the importance of being “green”. I am the founder of an environmental awareness club at my kids’ school that aims to help children learn about our planet and how their behaviors can really make an impact. Yet here I am, engaging in a business that can be less than kind to the planet. Does that make me a hypocrite? I hope not.

I try to engage in business choices in keeping with my green lifestyle philosophies. I don’t use diamonds in my designs (Two words: “Blood Diamond”!) and my use of precious metals amounts to the occasional sterling chain and clasp, as well as sterling and 14 k gold plated earring wires. I do like natural elements like pearls and shells and semi-precious gemstones and hope to one day be in a position where I can afford to buy such items from dealers who acquire them responsibly and sustainably and whose workers are paid a Fair Trade Wage.

I also use a lot of glass in my designs and while I cannot proclaim glass to be perfectly green, it is a little more earth-friendly in that it does not have to be mined in quite the same way as gemstones or precious metals. It does, however, take lots of energy to produce glass. Recycled glass beads are really the way to go, but choices can often be limited and expensive. I do use some recycled glass in my designs and have pledged to make it more of a staple as my business continues to grow.

So what can I effectively do right now to make my small business greener without expending dollars that I just don’t have? Well, it’s actually easier than you might think. Being “green” isn’t necessarily about making big giant changes in one’s lifestyle or investing in expensive things like solar panels to power your shop or house. The term “green”, at its very core, means living life simply.

Think about how your Grandmother used to live. She probably bought only what she needed, used what she had and didn’t throw a single thing away until someone forced her to! When I was young, we joked about how my Grandmother was such a pack rat. Her tiny place was packed to the gills with stuff she couldn’t bear to part with. She scoured flea markets for recycled gifts and never wrapped those gifts in anything but the Sunday comics. My Grandmother was someone who could take a nickel and somehow squeeze a quarter out it! Was she cheap? Thirty years ago, I would have said, “Hell, yes!” But looking back on it now, I think my Grandmother was just way ahead of her time. That girl was green and I bet your Grandma was just like her!

So think about your Grandma as you run your jewelry business. Keep those three R’s in mind. Reduce your consumption levels. Try to buy only the things that you really need for your designs. Reuse what you can, especially the packaging! Beads, crimps, clasps, tools, you name it… everything comes packaged and all does not have to be wasted. Those empty cellophane baggies can be used again for storage or for your own shop’s packaging, as can any bubble wrap, tissue paper and cardboard boxes you might acquire on your supply runs. Lastly, recycle every last little bit you can, even your beading supplies. I collect all my reject beads – the ones with slight imperfections I can’t use in my own designs-- and “recycle” them to my friend’s eight year old daughter, who loves to make her own jewelry. I even give her little bits of beading wire that are too small for my needs in an effort to keep them out of the trash.

Am I making a huge impact with my green business choices? Probably not. Am I making some impact? You betcha! Those small steps are a wonderful jumping off point for us all. I know my Grandma would be proud!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Starting Your Own Business During a Recession (GASP!)

I must be crazy. Downright, pickle-brained crazy. Starting my own jewelry business during one of the worst economic crisis in recent history? What the hell was I thinking?

I can barely stand to look at my bank account, never mind shell out extra money every time I leave the house to gather supplies upon supplies upon supplies for my magnificent handcrafted masterpieces. I reason with myself as logically as I can. I need inventory, right? I can’t possibly set out on my e-commerce venture with just a handful of jewelry designs. So… I spend. A lot. And then I spend some more. And when I think I’m done spending, well… guess what? I’m not. There’s always one more thing I seem to need (or want) for that certain design I’ve been tinkering on and can’t quite seem to get right.

It never ends. The buying, the beading… the ideas just keep coming. Wires, beads, patterns, stones… I see them in my sleep. Making jewelry makes me happy. It satisfies my creative drive and yes, it satisfies me to make that blessed sale! The sale that helps keep my beading habit afloat.

I am not sinking. I am not sinking. I am not sinking. This is my mantra. I refuse to read the business headlines. I refuse to look at my retirement portfolio. I refuse to acknowledge my sons’ shrinking college funds. Even as the dreaded “D” word is being bandied about by financial analysts, journalists and an assortment of Aunts and Uncles who feel the need to remind me that the economy sucks right now, I will not give up!

I refuse to believe that the vast consumer market place out there no longer cares about good, quality handmade products. I believe there is still a market out there for the small craftspeople that create unique, artistic, and often one-of-a-kind items. Yes, the economy stinks. Yes, jewelry, in particular, is an impulse buy. But it’s a “feel good” buy, too. And in this economy, we all need that little something to boost our spirits now and again. Maybe it’s a nice glass of wine at the end of the night that makes us feel good. Maybe it’s a really decadent piece of chocolate, or a lovely dinner out with friends. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s a “one of a kind” piece of jewelry that your friends and family have never seen the likes of before, something that makes that special outfit you have, or even a pair of blue jeans, look not just fantastic, but unforgettable!

Call me crazy. I prefer to say I’m hopeful and maybe a bit of a fool, but this beading fool is not going anywhere.

Linda Guzik

Sunday, March 8, 2009


I stumbled across this fantastic tutorial by Jennifer Ladd the other day on how to sew your own adorable business card holders. I can't sew worth a lick, but this tutorial has given me reason to want to learn.
I firmly believe that handmade products deserve really fantastic handmade packaging, and can't think of a better way to package your "promotional product" than by using this incredibly unique idea from Jennifer. With her permission, I am reprinting the tutorial. Please be sure to visit Jennifer's shop on Etsy. She has a line of colorful, handmade bags to die for!

Here is the original post:
I love this cute business card case, and I thought others might, too, so I wrote a tutorial for you! It's an easy-to-make, quick project and it has such a big impact when it is finished. I love how easy it is to customize to your own taste (by choosing different colors and different ribbon) so it can really represent your own business style. I use a sewing machine to make it, but it would be perfectly fine to hand-sew the case if you don't have a machine.*Please use this for personal use, only.

Supplies needed:-1/8 yard of wool felt-12" of ribbon (I used two pieces of 12" ribbon in my case)-thread-optional: pinking shears.

1. Cut four pieces of wool felt: two pieces are 5.5" by 4.25", the other two pieces 4.75" by 4.25".

2. Fold the smaller piece in half so that the folded edge is the one that is 4.25" across. Sew along the folded edge. I use the edge of my zipper foot as a guide when I sew to help make this seam straight - just line the edge of the fold up with the edge of your foot.

3. Optional: I use pinking shears to trim the seam and give the edge a more decorative look. You don't have to do this step if you would like your edge straight.
4. Repeat with the other small piece of fabric.

5. Cut your ribbon in half. Pin one piece of ribbon onto each of the shorter edges of one of your larger pieces of felt. Fold the edges under your felt before you sew so they will be caught by your stitching and held securely in place. Stitch a seam across both edges of the ribbon to hold it in place.

6. Make a sandwich with all of your pieces: first lay your felt with the ribbon face down, then the other large piece of felt. Then place one of your folded pieces at each edge (with the stitched edges toward the center). Pin all these layer together so they don't move while you sew them.

7. Stitch carefully around all the edges.

8. Optional: I use my pinking shears again to add a decorative edge to the bottom.

9. Yea! You're finished! Fold your case in half, insert business cards into each side, and enjoy!

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Remember the son I was trying to bribe because he was upset about his "bad haircut"? Well, the haircut's not so bad anymore and I am thrilled to report that Handmade Galleries in Sherman Oaks, CA gave me an affordable solution to the soda can bracelet I had wanted to get him to make him feel better.

I happened to be in the Gallery checking on my own display case, and as always, took the time to browse the store because Andy, the owner of Handmade Galleries, is constantly bringing in unique, kitchy merchandise. From their fashion magazine wrapper bags, to their cool bike chain bottle openers, Handmade is quite the mecca for "green gifts." Anyway, while wandering around the store, I stumbled across these great soda can bracelets that look to be made from real soda can labels from India!

The price tag? A modest $9.95. Needlesstosay, this baby went on my wrist immediately. I'm still trying to decide if I should fork it over to my son.... who seems to have gotten over the whole bad haircut thing on his own.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Many of my designs are labeled “Murano-inspired” or “Murano style,” and you may be wondering what exactly the term “Murano glass” means. Murano glass is a centuries old style of glass art perfected by Venetian glass artists over thousands of years. At that time, glassmaking was an important craft and the glass produced by these Venetian artists was highly sought after in all of Europe. This particular glass became a major source of trading income for the Republic of Venice.

In the 13th century, however, Venetian officials became concerned that the torches these glass artists used in their craft posed a fire hazard to the many wooden buildings and factories in their city. By official decree, all glass artists were forced to relocate to the small island of Murano in the Adriatic Sea. Interestingly, it has now been suggested that the fire hazards were not the reason these artists were forced to relocate at all, but that it was a stragetic effort on part of the Government of Venice to isolate these master glass artists in order to keep them from sharing their secrets with foreigners.

The actual technique of making Murano glass, which is also called lampworking, involves using torches to melt rods and tubes of clear and colored glass. Once in a molten state, glass designs can be formed by blowing and shaping the molten material with tools and hand movements. Various other materials and colors can be added into the mix, creating unique and beautiful pieces of glass art. Since every piece is created by hand, no two pieces are exactly alike.

Today, this same technique of glassblowing still exists on the island of Murano, although the “secrets” of the trade have long since escaped into the modern world. “Murano style” glass or “Murano-inspired” glass simply refers to glass pieces created by hand, using the same techniques these unique craftsmen perfected so long ago.