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Griffin de Stockport

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About Griffin de Stockport

  • Rank
    Defying Gravity
  • Birthday 10/27/1969

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Profile Information

  • Location
    Peterborough, ON
  • Interests
    SCA, Archery, Leather, Photography
  • The year you started making chainmail
  1. Griffin de Stockport

    Aleph Null Jewelry store launch!

    The grey text on the white background is pretty annoying and honestly, a bit difficult to read after a time. If you edited your own CSS code for the text color, I'd increase the #main .answer color value to at least #444 or darker. The current value of #666 is just a shade too light. The white background photos are very white. Also, the perspective of the bracelets on the forearm looks kind of.. well.. creepy with the way the arm is laying in the photo. I get the look that you're going for but it appears as if it's done on spare body parts than "proper" jewellery props. I played with a fake purchase and saw that I'd need to potentially use my Facebook account to log through to the StoreEnvy cart system. That right there would turn me off as I won't allow additional app access to my FB account because I put a high value on not sharing the data of myself and my friends with any more apps than I need to. That said, others may not care and may gleefully do it. Good luck with your site and your sales.
  2. Griffin de Stockport

    Leather ends for bracelets...where to buy?

    I'd just buy the parts and make them myself. Some simple 2-3oz leather, a snap setter with some snaps, some 1/16" eyelets and a setter for them, and some leather scissors. It would cost maybe $30 to buy all the materials (other than the leather) and you'd be good to go. Those would be dead easy to make in bulk for far less than $12/unit. Your profile says you're in NC and Tandy Leather has stores there. I believe you have a business so you should qualify for business discounts with a bit of paperwork there.
  3. Griffin de Stockport

    Fee and Discount?

    Sometimes it's worth taking a hit on a gate fee if you're going to get in contact with more affluent customers - the kind of people who don't think that a few hundred dollars is out of line for something in silver or 14K+ gold. I've been looking at the One of a Kind show in Toronto where just the entry fee for a 11-day run is over $1,200... but there's tens of thousands of people who go through the show in those days. When i was there in the past, I was watching one artist selling what was essentially viking wire knit necklaces (done in fine silver wire) for hundreds of dollars each. I know how to do that style and was almost wide-eyed at the profit margin she was pulling in with what she was selling. To your other questions, using the base of triple your raw materials is a good starting point, and the same one I use. I do, however, add on a base additional $5 for consumables like sandpaper, wear on my tools, and so on... and I add that to each item if it merits it - not to keychains but certainly to necklaces and teddy bear armour. I also tend to price things (wood, leather, mail, whatever I'm working on) to the hourly rate I believe the item should take by an experienced crafter. Did I lose money from the hourly rate initially? Sure I did. Do I now? Nope, I'm faster and worked up to those speeds and dropped the items I can't make profitably. The flat $20 for your time is a bit of a steal really depending on what you're making. I work with close to true time for the items now that I'm better skilled. However, if there are things that I can do in bulk - like with wood, applying finishes and waxes - I can do a whole bunch of pieces all at once so it saves time rather than doing them individually. With rings, maybe it's your polishing and tumbling you can do in bulk and save the electricity and the consumption of your tumbling supplies. So to give you an idea how I price my wood turning (which is my focus right now... there's far better opportunity for profit than in chainmail): Wood bowl blank $5 adjust to triple material cost: $15 ($7 x 3) add Consumables: $20 ($7 x 3 + $5) add 1 hour total work time at $20/hour: $40 ($7 x 3 + $5 + $20) So I'd end up offering the bowl for $40 and usually have no problem selling them so long as I'm in the right market.
  4. Griffin de Stockport

    Fee and Discount?

    Be careful with this concept as it's an illegal business practice in some locations to mark up an item from it's normal advertised price then to declare it on sale at a new "lower" price. If you have prices on a web site or through Etsy, you can potentially land yourself in a problem situation if someone files a complaint against you. Just a bit of caution. One major chain in Canada was fined $1.7 Million for doing this a few years ago. http://www.saskcan.com/pdfs/LP-Jul-07-04.pdf
  5. Griffin de Stockport

    Bartering Maille At The Faire...Ever Done It?

    I do it all the time at the game conventions I sell at. It all depends on the other vendors. If they're up for it, I'll totally do it. I've traded galvy coifs and SS dice bags for expensive board games (well, expensive to me since I'm not buying wholesale for them...). I get something I want, they get something they want. Win/Win. I also do this with most of my SCA activities too but it tends to involve my other skills too. (wood working and leather work). I don't typically barter with people I don't have a working relationship with of some kind though (and yes, merchants at the same event fall into that category if only because we all end up talking to each other over the course of the day/event/weekend), but never just to a con/event attendee coming up to my booth. That's what money is for.
  6. Griffin de Stockport

    Starting a shop

    To take a step back and look at the obvious... It's too easy to get wrapped up in the rings and tools and forget about the other things that you really do *need* to work efficiently and easily. Lots of shelf space and storage containers. A good big clear work table. Good lighting. A proper system for tool storage (other than "oh I think it's under that pile over there usually..."). A good grasp of business accounting and what your costs really are - not just rings, but your overhead like any extra lighting and electricity costs, extra heating (if its a cold basement like my work area is), wear and tear on your tools, saw blades or even work space. Maybe even register as a business if you can see the benefits of tax savings from suppliers (may depend on your local/state laws obviously) or need to if there's sufficient sales/income that you may get held accountable for. Suddenly finding yourself on the wrong end of a government audit can really suck if you weren't prepared for it. And above all, get a reasonable wage for yourself out of it. Nothing irks the few that really are trying to earn a something resembling a living in the chainmail/jewellery community than someone who sells themself out for pennies an hour. It's not a good camera you need. A "good" camera will have almost no effect on what you take with it. What you need to do is learn to make the best use of the camera you have. Hand me a $20,000 dSLR and I'll still take the same photos I take now with my $500 one. Buying more expensive pliers doesn't make you a better mailler, just like buying a more expensive paint brush won't turn you into Picasso. Same with cameras - a faster camera just means I can take more of the same quality photos I always take, faster. Beyond that, good luck.
  7. Griffin de Stockport

    Went to my first craft fair this last weekend....

    Wrong stuff? Maybe. You never know on the first show. Or the fifth. I've done shows that cost me $50 for two large tables for an entire weekend, or $300 for three tables. Either time, you never quite know what's going to work and what isn't. The big trick is just having lots of stuff. I'd certainly vote for more silver though, that's always a winner for jewellery since it just feels right when you pick it. I'd have a huge vote against ever using BA for any jewellery. Ever. It just feels cheap. I only use it for juggling balls (but blended with stainless to keep the weight right), teddy bear armour and costume shirts/vests. Make sure you polish every piece too when it goes out. You want them to sparkle. That said, make sure you have lights of some kind to highlight the pieces and make them gleam. Table mounted mirrors too if you're doing necklaces or earrings so that the potential buyer can see what they look like. Work on your sales pitch... remember not to baffle them with jargon. No one cares about ring sizes or weave names. That's just babble to them. Focus on the colours, the way the weave feels or how it flows, or just how wonderful it looks on them. Think about how the sales staff of a clothing store talk to you (and yes.. let them work their sales pitch on you if you don't have retail experience). They don't usually tell you all about what the fabric is in a pair of pants or how the fabric was woven, but how the pants should fit you and how you look in them. Don't be afraid to ask for the sale. The immortal "That looks great on you... and I can have it boxed up for you right now if you like. We take Visa, M/C or cash." actually does work if you don't sound like an ass when you say it. Get some professionally made business cards. They're worth it but remember you're only going to average about a 2-3% return for people who take them versus people who actually contact you after. Don't be afraid to ask for their email address if they express interest in a possible future sale. Just remember to reassure them that you don't spam them and that your email list is YOUR email list and no one elses. Ask the organizers about how they place the booths. If you don't want to be right beside another jewellery/bead booth, mention it to them. The shows closer to Christmas are usually the better ones, but generally more expensive to have a booth at as you've noticed. Customers are in a better buying mindset and tend to think less and buy more at these shows. Don't expect to sell your "Wow! pieces". They're great for getting people to stop and look and talk, but they're often so specialized that few people would buy them. But that said, always be ready to sell them. Good luck with your future shows. Keep at it.
  8. Griffin de Stockport

    I got commissioned

    Congratulations on finding the first steps into a market. One of my main consistent sellers at any of the RPG conventions I sell at are dice bags, either leather or chainmail. Mine are bigger and more intricate than yours - and more expensive - but they're always a solid seller. Just remember though that the market is only so big, so you'll eventually run the course of customers if you don't expand your market territory. Find out if there's other game shops in your area, or get around to other shops in any other towns/cities and see what you can drum up. Get some quality business cards done - not just something run out of your own printer - and have small samples of joined 4in1 rings to hand out with them to keep after you leave. Just not free dice bags. For the Hobbit though... That's Weta Workshops that does all the armour and weapons and costuming for the LotR movies. They've done thousands of suits for lots of different movies so I'd guess they'll get the phone call for the work. But hey... maybe you can get in touch with them and see if they need someone else on staff. Good luck with your sales.
  9. Griffin de Stockport

    Labor charges for chainmail jewelry pieces

    Does it hurt? Sure, more than likely. Is there anything you can do about it? No, not really. This isn't a question just to chainmail things. I'm a member of the local wood tuners guild in town here and we have the same question come up there. The big difference is the casual "hobby turner" can very easily be someone with 30+ years experience as a turner that just does it for a fun hobby on the weekend. They have no desire to be an "artist" but just do it because it's enjoyable to them. If they happen to make a piece that they can sell to someone, great! They don't care what they get for it so they often undercharge for it... and often the raw materials can be free as we have draw tables each week with random pieces of wood that are ideal for turning. In a book written by a professional wood turner, he spends a paragraph practically begging the "hobby turners" not to undercharge for their work but also agrees that there's really nothing he can do about it. Most hobby craftspeople don't work in volume though, and tend (but obviously not always) to work when the mood hits them and not really do production work runs. If it's a random piece or two, big deal. Don't get all worked up over it. There's always going to be someone who can do it cheaper/faster/better than you can. When I do any of my hobbies, be it my chainmail, the leather or the wood turning, I tend to work on a whole bunch of pieces all at once to get a real run going so it decreases my work time overall for each piece. Last time I made my chain dice bags, I worked on 30 of them in one run. Same for the mail-clad teddy bears - that was 15 at once. One big caveat though, is never EVER assume that just because someone is a hobby crafter that they're going to provide inferior quality pieces. That's an arrogant opinion in my mind. As I stated, I know many local wood turners who have been at this for as long, or longer, than I've been alive and I can only practice to get to their level of quality but they're quite content to be hobby turners. I also know hobby maillers that do this for fun, or for the SCA, and aren't concerned with a profit line other than their material cost and are just happy to "get a sale" even if they under-price themselves. That said, I just had a very healthy commission of lots of bowls and cups that made an excellent profit for me simply because I spent some time talking to people and showing off my wares. Would a hobby turner have done this? Probably not, because it was specific patterns in a fairly tight time line - over 20 pieces, including matched sets, in under 3 weeks (including all the oil/wax finishes) and I have a "real" full time job and family to fit into everything still. And beat them at the quality of the materials if you can... go to silver instead of aluminum. The profit margin is HUGE for the precious metals... and people just expect to pay more for silver.
  10. Griffin de Stockport

    Cell phone telemarketers

    I work for an international airline and our agents can't always pronounce the names of our own customers if we have to call them back about something. It's not exactly a unique problem to the evil telemarketers. I had the same problem when I was calling customers from the music store in suburban Ontario that I worked at. There have also been some instances of companies legally obtaining the DNC list in Canada, then selling it to a company in another country where they are not bound to the limitations of the host country. I'm sure the same works in reverse from the US to Canada. It is illegal to do so from what I understand but good luck in proving it in court, which is what I believe has pretty much happened to any attempted prosecution in Canada. Try not to be too hard on the folks that are doing the job. They probably don't enjoy it either, but if it comes down to either working for an outbound call centre doing telemarketing work or not being able to afford food or rent, I can guess what most people would pick. Most outbound call centres open up where there are limited job prospects and the companies (the real "evil doers" in this whole scenario) intentionally pick areas that have poor local economies, both internationally and domestically, so they can secure a job pool of lower paid employees. /derailment_of_thread
  11. Griffin de Stockport

    Ren Faire Tents

    In no particular order... I've known people to own tents from any of these companies and all have good reviews. http://www.tentsmiths.com/period-tents-gallery.html http://www.fcsutler.com/fccanvas.asp http://www.midwesttent.com/catalog/
  12. Griffin de Stockport

    Didn't sell a single thing :(

    Derailed pretty much hit it. In sales and marketing, there's open questions and closed questions. An open question is one that that the person being asked provide an explanation for their answer, a closed question really leads to a "yes/no" type of answer. Open questions are sometimes referred to as leading questions too depending what you read. For that situation you suggested, if they were that intent on the ring, I'd take it that they loved it and just needed the nudge to buy it. Depending on the situation, I'd be so bold as to tell them what forms of payment I accept, and if they'd like a box for it or if they just want to wear it home. Maybe something like how well it fits them and just looks so natural for them. What I would not do at that point is start throwing other options at them, as that may lead them to reconsider or have doubt about buying it. Sales is an art, not a science. You just have to learn to play the game.
  13. Griffin de Stockport

    Didn't sell a single thing :(

    Having had many years in sales from $15 CDs to $10,000 cruises, I consider finding out why someone doesn't buy something from you a requirement of the entire selling process. This is especially true if they stop and watch for some time. If you don't get the sale, you need to find out why. Otherwise, you're going to spin your wheels a lot and potentially go in wrong directions trying to solve "problems" that may not be there. That said, there is certainly a right way and a wrong way to do it. Essentially, you need to find out why they stopped to look, what intrigued them and then why they didn't feel like parting with their hard earned cash. As I'm not really going to write an entire sales and marketing lecture here, it's all about overcoming objections of people that are almost ready to buy. You need to be able to talk to people and find out if they think your items are... Too expensive? - hand made and personalized, not mass produced. Too feminine/masculine? - different weaves/designs available Too big? Too small? - resize at no cost & discount if major reduction Wrong colour/metal? - offer different metals Just curious as to what you're doing? - learn some history of chainmail and talk to them about how it's evolved from soldier's armour into wearable art As I believe I mentioned before, sometimes you need to stop and actually *ask* for the sale, again.. politely. Get them to try things on rather than just pick them. If you offer necklaces and earrings, make sure you have a small mirror for them to see how it looks. Learn to knock away each objection one by one and you'll see the sales come. Also, I don't believe it's been mentioned, but have business cards and give them to *everyone*. A pack of 500 cards from an office printing place generally isn't very much - and looks far better than the print-offs from a laser printer... those look very amateur to me and say "I'm not serious about this" but as I said, I do have a sales & marketing background. Spend a few bucks and get a simple website. It doesn't need to be loaded with photos and prices and complex programming... just a few well imaged items and a means to contact you. Good luck & keep at it, Grif'
  14. Griffin de Stockport

    Indoors lighting for photos

    (2) Halogen work lamps (1) Big Cardboard box with sides and top cut out (1) Big piece of translucent poly or silk sheeting big enough to cover said cut outs (1) piece of light card stock (ie: bristol board) to remove any horizon line (1) camera (1) photo editing software Unless you have dreams of a massive amount of photography from doing your own professional jewellery shop and/or a photography career, don't spend your money on a light tent.
  15. Griffin de Stockport

    Didn't sell a single thing :(

    You need to talk to every person that stops... don't wait for eye contact. It can be something simple as a "Hi, how's it going?" just to acknowledge that they're there. It doesn't have to be a huge discussion and sales pitch. But have that ready too for when they want to talk. You need to sell your wares to them and explain, in simple layman's terms why something is worth what you're asking for it. Avoid jargon too. They probably have no idea what ID/OD, closures or what 16g 5/16" means on a sign (but they might!). Also, coming from having trained dozens of cashiers for retail stores... have at least three different greetings and closings for anyone you talk with and cycle through them. There's nothing worse than a robotic "HI HOW R U?" for each person that comes up. It makes it look like you don't care. Also, try to vary your greeting based on the age/appearance of your customers. When I do a show, you can bet I talk differently to a pack of teens than I do to an older customer. Not that either one may have more money than the other, but there's just different social graces that are expected. Don't be afraid to ask for the sale too. When they try something on and like it, especially if you see that glint in their eyes that says it, then just go to close the sale. Let them know what forms of payment you take and you'd be happy to box it up for them right now. If you sit back and wait for it, you may lose a lot of sales. Good luck. Keep at it.