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Jewelry from the Heart

Etsy seller finds joy, success through handcrafted lockets.

Jewelry maker Lori Patton says the lockets she makes are “wearable dreams.” And when visitors stop by her Etsy store, HeartworksByLori, she hopes they get lost in the beauty they see.

“My store is a magical and fun place where people can stay a while and take a nice stroll while enjoying the eye candy,” she notes. “Hopefully I can provide an escape from their normal everyday lives. I always like to think of my store as a wonderland to visit and get lost in, just for a little while.”

A love for creating

Patton has been making necklaces, rings and bracelets since 1990. She began selling online in 2006, and opened her Etsy store in 2007. Before the “Internet craze,” as she calls it, Patton sold her items—which feature images of roses, butterflies, hearts, gems and more—at local crafts shows and hosted annual holiday sales, to which she invited friends.

This and the sales Patton made from displaying her jewelry at local coffee houses proved profitable enough to “carry” her through the year, she notes. But sales have definitely picked up since expanding her locket business to the Web.

“I can reach customers near and far, and I can ship to anywhere in the world!” she says. “It’s like having the world at my fingertips. Selling online is the greatest way to gain worldwide exposure and showcase my work to the most people possible.”

The mother of three has always enjoyed crafting just about anything, she admits. She discovered this in junior high when she made a Pac-Man pencil holder in woodshop for her mother.

“I remember loving the entire creation process, from cutting the wood to sanding it down and then staining it,” she notes. “Those memories are so vivid in my mind and heart, and I knew even back then that I’m most happy when my hands are busy creating things.”

“I knew even back then that I’m most happy when my hands are busy creating things”

Crafter becomes jeweler

Patton turned her creative energy to jewelry making after visiting a high-end boutique and seeing several pieces she loved. But the “explosive” price tags that accompanied these pieces shocked her, she recalls.

“I was soon on a mission to create my own designs using my own ingredients,” she adds. “My passion for jewelry making was born that day.”

Today, the seller’s motto is “something for everyone.” Patton offers a variety of designs and price ranges, so that even those on a budget can have one of her whimsical pieces. She hopes others will love them as much as she does, and make them their own, she says, noting that she can’t leave the house without one of her creations.

“I feel naked without at least a necklace or a pair of earrings,” she explains. “My locket and art jewelry always seems to spark conversations and interest wherever I go… I’m a walking advertisement.”

Picture perfect

Online, Patton creates a welcoming store to display her items in a good light. Photos are a big part of that, she notes, and anyone who visits Patton’s shop will notice the care she puts into her images. She’s learned over the years that professional-looking product photos help sales immensely, she notes.

“Ultimately [the photos are] what grabs the buyers’ attention and draws them to look further,” she explains.

Patton admits it can be hard to get 2-D images to show a 3-D item in its true essence, but showing multiple clear, uncluttered images helps capture her items accurately, as does offering multiple views of her products.

“I try to make the intangible tangible,” Patton notes.

Items catch on

Sales have been good for the full-time seller. From January to October, Patton typically gets between 100 and 150 orders a month, but she notes that the holiday months are “a wild ride.”

“I always have to buckle my seat belt because it gets crazy,” Patton continues. “Since starting to sell on Etsy in 2007, each year my holiday sales have increased profoundly.”

During that time, “loyal fans” who have seen Patton’s work or have purchased it in the past, return to find the right gift for people on their shopping lists. Wholesale orders also pop up, she adds. Brides often come to Patton seeking romantic gifts they can give their bridesmaids.

“Word spreads like wild fire,” Patton says. “As more customers see the custom photo and art lockets that I’ve created in another seller’s shop, they find their way to me and inquire about having me create their very own custom photo locket collection.”

That wildfire has spread throughout the world. Patton’s lockets are now scattered in places like Australia, Canada, England, Greece, Russia, Singapore and the U.S.

“Even places you’ve probably never heard of,” she notes. “I love my international customers as much as I love my U.S. ones. Having a Web-based business is a huge asset for me to reach the most people possible. I’m just one click away.”

“Find your own passion, your own voice… What makes your product different than the rest is you”

Finding balance

But having a successful business can be tough being a “one woman” operation. At times, Patton struggles to find balance between her business and home life.

“Prioritizing my time is key for running a smooth operation, while still allowing for spontaneous interruptions,” she says. “Now that my youngest of three boys is in school, I can put in all the hard work from morning until the time my kiddos arrive home in the late afternoon. Then I’m all ‘mommy’ and relish my precious time with them and my sweet husband.”

Once homework, dinner, dishes, laundry and playing with the boys and their puppy are done, and the others have gone to bed, Patton goes back to her studio to continue crafting, sometimes until 2 a.m.

“Having a set routine every day helps me focus and allows me to have a bit of freedom when I need a break, usually in the form of a date-night with my hubby or a fun night with my boys—and an occasional shopping spree helps me rejuvenate and makes my heart happy,” she admits.

‘A full-service salon’

With so much work, one might think things in Patton’s business slips from time to time, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Patton maintains a 100-percent positive feedback score.

“I’m a full-service salon,” she says. “I love to create special keepsake treasures that bring smiles to people’s faces as well as photograph items in a way that buyers can clearly see.”

She also enjoys interacting with customers throughout their transactions and afterward to make sure they’ve had a good buying experience. And she writes personal, handwritten thank you notes to buyers thanking them for their purchase and encouraging them to come back and visit her store in the future.

“I enjoy the personal customer service aspect of communicating with the buyers because in reality, they’ve just bought a little piece of me,” Patton explains. “A piece of my heart and soul goes with each piece I create and ship, so extending a warm thanks to the customer is very meaningful to me.”

Standing out in a saturated market

Patton notes that the jewelry market is saturated, but she says that’s not necessarily a problem for others who may want to try their hand at it, or in other popular categories. The trick is to stand out and do your research.

“You can always sell the same items as others do if it’s really popular and in style,” she says. “But the danger of making that your business is that if you have the same items as other sellers, the buyers will always default to buying from the cheapest seller, so you’ll always be undercut.

“I would suggest finding your own passion, finding your own voice, your own personal extension of yourself through your products and making them your own, so there’s little competition,” she continues. “What makes your product different than the rest is you—you’re the main ingredient! You put your own spin on it that no one else can do. That’s why I chose art lockets as my niche because my love for art and jewelry combined so perfectly.”

Visit HeartworksByLori.

About the author

Olga Munoz
Olga Munoz is editor of TheOnlineSeller.com. In addition to writing news and feature articles about e-commerce, selling trends, online marketing and other topics of interest to online sellers, Olga manages the site's social media efforts. A journalism graduate of Chico State, Olga says her favorite part of being a journalist is learning interesting facts that help put stories into perspective, attending industry events and meeting interesting people "that leave you smiling, even in tough situations." Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.



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