Today’s entrepreneur is Gretchen Diehl of BirdQueen Designs.
When and why did you start your business?
I started my business 4 years ago. I was looking for a creative way to make my illustration work available to people at an affordable price. Around that time, I rented a booth at a craft fair with the intention of selling my original drawings, but people either didn’t have enough money or complained about the price. My roommate at the time showed me how to use the shrink film material, and we began making things together in our living room. It was really exciting to see to positive response to my jewelry at my second craft fair.
What do you love about being an entrepreneur?
I love the feeling of control that it gives me. When I am creating work for a trunk show or trade show, I feel like I am holding the reins of my financial future. I also love the ability to share my artwork with thousands of people around the world.
Describe your business in 20 words or less.
Handmade plastic and metal costume jewelry created from original drawings and paintings.
Where do you get your inspiration from and how do you stay inspired?
My inspiration usually comes from customers, friends, or nature. Because my work is sometimes character-based, I get a lot of requests from customers to make specific necklaces or earrings for them as gifts for special occasions. I love to look through books of images of microscopic organisms, I love old photographs of people I have never met, and I love walking around outside and taking photos of things that seem really fresh and new. As a college course instructor in fashion marketing at the Art Institute, I am also constantly doing research about trends in fashion and advertising. I get a lot of my ideas from that information as well.
What advice would you give other entrepreneurs when they are first starting out?
I think the best advice I can give is to keep posted about current events and trends. If you notice that something is going on in the world and you can capitalize on it or avoid making a negative association, it can really help your business. If you read up about consumer trends and fashion trends within your category, you will always be making things that people will want to buy. Be true to yourself and have fun, of course, but pay attention to these things to decide which of your 45 new ideas are the sharpest!
Do you sell your products wholesale and, if so, what is one strategies that you use to get your products in stores?
I usually stop by stores that look enticing to me and pick up a business card or ask to speak to the jewelry buyer or owner. If they aren’t available, I’ll email them. A lot of my wholesale business has actually come from maintaining an etsy presence, people message me and ask if I sell wholesale, and I have made a few contacts through trunkt.com. I will be participating in the Buyer’s Market of American Craft in February, which will be my first wholesale show! I have started to put together little press kits for that pictures of work, line sheets, business cards and other marketing materials in a nice folder with your logo on it. I think after the Buyer’s Market, I will take some press kits to some stores that interest me and see how that goes.