Now that our Jewelry Design Challenge runs all year round, we try to find new groups and organizations to partner with to help spread the word. A couple months ago, we learned about Flourish & Thrive Academy, an online meeting space for jewelry designers to connect with experts to gain the tools they need to succeed as creative business people. It felt like a match made in heaven until we realized one of our newest and most popular jewelry designers Eileen Baumeister McIntyre is a F&TA alum. That kind of gave us goosebumps. Learning about Eileen’s experience with F&TA made me realize that there are many other designers out there who could gain from the community Tracy Matthews and Robin Kramer are developing. So we asked Robin to interview Eileen about how her business has developed since making the connection to F&TA.
Flourish & Thrive Academy: One of the brilliant things about being in the jewelry industry is learning more about the artist behind the product. Recently, I sat down with one of our Mastermind students, jewelry designer, Eileen Baumeister McIntyre to discuss her jewelry business and her recent success.
Eileen is the epitome of what we consider an “Artiste” and using her art to fuse her passion for jewelry and the garden. Eileen has a BA, cum laude and an MA in fine arts, studied botanical illustration and learned metalsmithing from master jeweler, with Kathleen Di Riesta.
As a New York State Certified Art Teacher, she has been teaching art in the public school system for 25 years. Currently, she teaches at the high school level and has been awarded multiple grants to share her jewelry design and entrepreneurial knowledge with her students.
F&TA: How long have you been designing and making jewelry and when did you decide that you wanted your jewelry to be a business?
Eileen: About seven years ago I decided to take a glass fusing class with two good friends of mine. It was so much fun and I became totally addicted to making glass fused pendants wrapped in sterling silver and adding them to beaded necklaces I created. It became a real problem because I started amassing hundreds of them.
I wore a different pendant to work every day and started to catch the attention of my coworkers. They asked me to bring in trays of the pendants and I would sell them at work. My coworker, and good friend Joe, suggested that he host a jewelry party at his house for me. I didn’t know what to expect or how to run a jewelry party but said, “sure!”
Joe invited about 20 guests, he has a reputation for being an amazing cook and his wife Janet was a wine buyer, so fabulous food and wine were guaranteed. That evening I sold about $1700 in Joe and Janet’s kitchen and Garden of Silver was born.
The next two years consisted of home jewelry parties and then on to juried fine art/craft shows on the sidewalks of NYC, which was profitable but absolutely physically brutal. I somehow ended up tearing ligaments in my wrist, which required surgery. I recruited my mother to help me at these exhausting outdoor shows because she is the best unpaid employee ever!
In 2011 I decided to forget retail shows and aside from my own website, focus on selling wholesale.
F&TA: What made you seek out help for your jewelry biz?
E: Initially I was learning the handcrafted jewelry business by trial and error with many costly errors along the way. Over the span of the last three years it became apparent that I lacked a host of business skills, particular to the jewelry industry, to make my jewelry company successful.
F&TA: How did you find F&TA?
E: I found out about Flourish & Thrive Academy from an email I received from Andreea Ayers of Launch Grow Joy. Andreea had interviewed me on her website the previous summer and knew I was a jewelry designer.
F&TA: When did you start working with Flourish & Thrive Academy?
E: I watched the video on the Flourish & Thrive website, read everything I could about F&TA and felt Tracy and Robin were a perfect fit and would provide precisely what my fledgling company needed.
My choice of Flourish & Thrive Academy proved fortuitous. Tracy and Robin were not only the most experienced and professional consultants; but proved to be easily accessible, personable and generous with their expertise.
F&TA: What made you want to be in the F&TA Mastermind program and what changes have you seen in your business since working with Tracy & Robin?
E: After taking the first F&TA course called Laying the Foundation, I had every confidence that Tracy and Robin could facilitate significant success in the growth of my business and decided that it would be a smart business investment to join their Mastermind program. I was (and am) determined to make Garden of Silver a highly successful jewelry design company and wanted to make sure that I was oriented in the right direction, learning from experts in the industry and getting individualized advice along the way.
I feel like I have been in business school for the last year and have extended my knowledge into dimensions that I couldn’t even have imagined.
F&TA: What changes have you seen in yourself since working with Tracy, Robin & The F&TA community?
E: I previously owned a very successful six-figure art instruction studio business for 15 years that I sold 8 years ago. I had erroneously assumed, on the merits of my previous success in business, that I had an adequate business sense.
The wholesale jewelry world is quite distinct, a different story, from my previous business. I simply did not know what I did not know. After working with Robin and Tracy, I feel confident that I am doing the right thing professionally. Tracy and Robin are so available, supportive and positive. Their coaching keeps you going when things are tough and appearing insurmountable.
F&TA: When did you learn about UncommonGoods and how did you come about submitting your work to UncommonGoods?
E: I had learned about UncommonGoods via a friend and a couple of years ago, when I was exhibiting at a trade show in Florida. Two buyers from UncommonGoods came by my booth. Last spring I decided to apply to be a vendor (on their website) because the company has an amazing reputation working with artists. Personally, I love their website and catalog!
Since working with Tracy and Robin I have created a marketing calendar, a list of my DREAM clients and I am regularly contacting those “dream” clients. UncommonGoods was at the top of my “dream’ client list.
F&TA: How has it been working with UncommonGoods?
E: Working with UG has been fantastic! I have spent all summer filling new orders for them. The buyers have been great, easy to work with and responsive with feedback. The company is extremely well run, plus their people are professional and a pleasure to work with.
Recently, the buyer contacted me with amazing news that my jewelry was their number one product launch of the year and that she wanted to put it in their holiday catalog! This is a DREAM come true for me and quite an honor!
I can’t believe the growth and exposure to my company in the last few months. Garden of Silver has been put on the map.
F&TA: What is your hope for your jewelry biz and where do you see yourself in 5 years?
E: I see my business expanding tremendously in the next five years with more wholesale clients and bigger collections. I am currently working a full time job teaching high school art in addition to launching my jewelry company. I envision being able to retire from teaching soon so I can follow my dream of being a full time artist/jewelry designer.
F&TA: Is there anything you would like to share with other jewelry designers?
E: Yes, make the investment in yourself and your jewelry business and learn from the best. I highly recommend Tracy & Robin (or finding someone like them)! You will NOT be disappointed!
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About Robin & Tracy:: Tracy Matthews, a successful bespoke jewelry designer, and Robin Kramer, a rock star independent sales and marketing consultant, co-founded Flourish & Thrive Academy, in order to create an active community of dynamic jewelry designers who share design tips, sales successes and marketing secrets.
F&TA began as a solution to a problem many new jewelry designers face: how to treat their business like a business instead of a hobby. It has evolved into an answer to the plea, “I wish there was somewhere I can learn everything there is to know about starting a jewelry business so I can focus on being creative and work on the big picture.”
In addition to the vivacious community, F&TA offers incredible designer support services such as a complete jewelry business program, individual and group coaching, and an ever growing library of free sales, marketing, and business resources.
I’m so excited for Eileen and her dream come true. It gives more jewelry designers hope. Way to go, Eileen.
I’m thrilled for Eileen and her many successes. Having her work sold in the Uncommon Good catalogue is a fantastic achievement. I can attest that Tracy and Robin run a great program for jewelry designers – they are truly the experts in their field!