The 10-Year Challenge that everyone is talking about
The celebrities are doing it, my friends are doing it, my feeds are covered in their carefully-curated photos posing side-by-side with their old selves. It was all fun and dandy until someone had to crush – the what seemingly innocent fun game with something that’s more grim, “ZOMG, Facebook is mining your data!“
Whether the data mining rumor was true or not, I’m gonna use this trend at a deeper level: TO MINE MY OWN DATA!
June 2008 in Bali, Indonesia. Still dating.
December 2018 in Quincy, IL, USA. Now married.
Life isn’t just about looking great but also if we feel great on the inside. I’ve been hooked on Mel Robbin’s 35-Day Mindset Reset Challenge. At the beginning of the year, she challenged us to look back to 2018 and jot down what worked and didn’t work for us.
A year is great to measure our current progress. But a year may or may not show significant progress in your skills though… so it’s easy enough to forget where did we come from. Or you might have a few challenges of your own on why last year did not produce a measurable result for you, i.e: depression, bedridden, etc.
Now I challenge YOU to do this 10-year challenge to your jewelry business!!
So let’s do the 10-year challenge for your business instead!!! (or 5 or 2 years if you haven’t been in business for that long)
AND I WANT YOU TO BE PROUD OF YOURSELF, OK?
Make sure you link to this blog on your post and post the link to your post in the comment so I can check yours <3 Let’s take the internet by the storm!
TAG ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA WITH #10yearbusinesschallenge
Combining the two challenges, I will use this opportunity to asses my own progress in the last 10 years in 5 different aspects:
My main word for this year is Transformation (along with Abundance and Simplify). In the spirit of celebration, I’m gonna lay down my 10-year metamorphosis on this page.
I gotta say I’m pretty stoked about my 10-year transformation!!
*cues Power Ranger theme song* I’m humbled that you and my customers have been supporting me all the way to date.
what did 10 years do to MY jewelry business?
Designing has always been my strong suit but there’s always room for growth. It’s a skill that needs constant practicing and nurturing. As you gain knowledge and experience, the more you’re doing it and sharpen your skill, the better you are at it.
Let’s take a look at the two examples below. Both pieces were done with a wire wrapped technique. The one on the left is the backside of an amethyst wire wrapped in colorful craft wires in 2008 when I was still relatively new at it. The one on the right is the “backside” of an astonishing, reversible one-of-a-kind heart pendant created exclusively for a client of mine in 2018.
Aside from the materials upgrade, my 10 years of experience and practices undoubtedly produced a better outcome.
THEN: The big supporting wire used too thin of a gauge. It was the same gauge as the zig-zagging wire. The zig-zagging wrap I did on the back of the stone could be done better.
NOW: On many of my newer pieces, the back can be as beautiful as the front or downright reversible. I don’t treat it as a place to hide my mess but as an extra bonus that the new owner can be proud of.
PRO TIPS: Use a thicker supporting wire and loop-de-loop the wrapping so it can’t get ruined in a single tug.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
The back of the pendant: Although the attempt to make it pretty is commendable, my skill was not up to the task yet. The wrapping was sloppy, tight but not in a way that’s secure enough. One yank to the zig-zagging line and it would get disfigured almost beyond repair.
The back of the pendant: This Heart of Eila pendant offers a much more secured wrapping with a backplate in place. As a reversible pendant, the back is as beautiful as the front. There’s nothing you can yank out of it like on the amethyst pendant on the left.
“I don’t want more tools!” Said nobody, ever!
More tools, check. More experience, check. Having all the right tools to make jewelry is definitely a huge plus. Now I didn’t say that you can’t make jewelry with just a few simple tools. In fact, I proved that it was doable. But… investing on the right kind of tools will make your life so much better.
My bedroom studio from 9 years ago only got modest of tools. A nail hammer, a barbell plate as a bench block, and a few pairs of cheap pliers were all I had. Those were the ones I used to make the Cross My Heart in 2010. It’s still one of my best seller designs to date.
THEN: The hammering was uneven, it highlights the organic look I was looking for. I can see that I’ve already cut the ends of the wire in an angle to soften and make the spirals rounder which is great. But the hammering is all over the place.
NOW: I love how the current one looks like. Using the right kind of hammers made a world of difference. Since then I’ve perfected my techniques and developed a system that worked. I’ve also found my voice; rounded, puffy, and dynamic lines are one of the few things I’ve known for.
PRO TIPS: Use a planishing hammer to flatten the wire. The rounded and small face is helpful to give you the best result in creating the dynamic thickness.
The Cross My Heart pendant: The first cross I’ve ever made of this design. It was cute then but now I can see a lot of flaws in it. The hammering was uneven, the wire looks a little too skinny and rough.
The Cross My Heart pendant: Same design but the appearance has improved above and beyond. The organic touch is still there but the overall shape is better and looks more professional.
Photography is one of the biggest challenges in a solopreneur’s life. For those of us who haven’t had the luxury to hire out yet, we need to keep on experimenting, learning, observing, and take notes.
I’m not big on stylized photography as I want my jewelry to shine. In the past few years, I’ve resorted to a black background for applying to juried art festivals and a pure white background for my listings. But social media is a different animal. To up my Instagram game, I’m now trying to introduce a few of stylized photos in my feed.
THEN: I’ve had my share of bad photos. I used to use the flash (yikes!) on my camera to take my jewelry photos. In 2008, I already knew a little bit better, my source of indirect lighting was from the south-facing balcony door of my bedroom. (yay for the tropical sun!)
But I was still all over the place with my background choices. Like this wedding invitation, that I used as a background. The contrast of the colors is too high that it takes the attention away from my jewelry. This was already the best shot out of the bunch and it could still be categorized in the “What the heck was I thinking?” folder.
NOW: The use of handmade paper emphasizes the artful look that I was looking for. You can clearly see the jewelry as it fills up 2/3 of the space and is placed on the plain side of the paper. The background color is soft and on-brand. My jewelry is the focus in this photo while the background acts as a supporting element.
PRO TIPS: Don’t use flash. Use only indirect lighting or a diffuser like a softbox lighting to get professional looking photos. Your background should not take the attention away from the product.
Imagine your product is the main actor of the shoot and everything else is the extra. You want your star to stand out and your extras to blend with the background. Use a plain white background to make it simple.
Check out my lighting recommendations here.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
The background: An off white and brown wedding invitation. The brown color is too strong and in contrasting colors. The fake flower is ok but doesn’t add anything to the story. The solid lines and dots don’t match the fine handcrafted quality of the necklace. They don’t belong together.
The background: A plain paper highlights the product as the main focus. You know right away that the Dandelion earrings are the heroines of the tale. The torn paper and silk background tell a story that these earrings are finely handcrafted in an organic and artistic style.
I’m not even going to pretend I knew what I was doing. Hahaha…. I was not a model by any stretch of the imagination. I modeled (poorly) for my friends for our photography class at the university only because we took turns to model for each other.
THEN: Chin tucked in, arm pressed to the chest, super attractive, right? I took this picture with one arm stretched out holding a point and shoot digital camera. It didn’t have any flip screen LCD screen either so I took the photo, in front of a mirror, hoping it would turn out ok. Thank goodness for digital photography! If you don’t like it, delete it!
NOW: I’ve learned a few tricks posing in front of the camera since then. I mean, after hundreds of jewelry to photograph you gotta learn a thing or two. My supercritical inner voice *insert eye roll emoji here* can take the credit. I’ve had problems with my appearances (too fat, not pretty enough, arms too thick, and so on). So I took hundreds of photos in the past to find the best angle possible.
PRO TIPS: Invest on a camera with a flip LCD screen. It makes such a huge difference! And of course, don’t be afraid to experiment on angles. Look relax or edgy (really depends on how you represent your brand), wear an outfit that shows off the jewelry. Look the part. Use a tripod.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
The pose: chin tucked in, arm pressed so close to the body, I look tense in this photograph. The clothing: my casual tank top looks old and unappealing. The lighting: it is dark and depressive, I used a flash so the photo has dark shadows you can hardly see the bracelet.
The pose: My arm is placed away from my body giving the illusion that I was resting my elbow on a balcony/pedestal. I’m relaxed and not in a hurry. The clothing: my lacy top helped elevate the sense of luxury I tried to convey. The lighting: the creamy lighting and photograph are inviting.
Popnicute’s logo has been through a few transformations since it was established at the end of 2008.
2010: Popnicute’s first official logo didn’t appear until 2010 though. I made a play on the organic and rustic look with a kid-like handwritten font to match the word ‘cute’. The 2010 logo could be used with or without the tagline “imaginative handcrafted jewelry”. I was in transition to use sterling silver and copper from colorful craft wires.
2013: When my jewelry style evolved, I outgrew the old logo. I needed a logo that’s more elegant to look at. Something more professional looking logo that brings the emphasis to handmade jewelry. I came up with the logo in the middle. The new 2013 logo may be used with or without the scalloped circle depending on the application.
2018 ~: I still like my 2013 logo. But I wanted to bring it up a notch to look more classy like my current jewelry style. I did some subtle changes to make the shape better and more legible. I enlarged the spiral on top of the ‘i’ and shrunk down the word ‘jewelry’ to make the name more commanding and present. The playful lines matched the branding of Popnicute Jewelry that revolves around a refined childhood.
Playful and childlike.
Organic yet more elegant looking.
2018 ~ NOW
Refined, dynamic, and fresh.
Do this 10-year challenge with me!
Which one was your favorite transformation?
If you have any questions or thoughts of your own transformative journey, let me know in the comment! If you wrote a blog about it, I’d love to read too! Link it in the comment 😀
Ok, that was the recap of my 10-year transformation. I may write more in-depth stories on each of the 5 points here in the future. Sign up for my blog updates to get notified as it happens!