Branding is such an important part of building a handmade business, so to get down into the details we are excited to bring in branding expert Mich from Wilde Woman Design. She helps small businesses just like you get their feet off the ground with beautiful logos, social media photos, and website designs. We asked Mich to share with us a little bit about herself as a small business owner and for a few “behind the scenes” tips for jewelry designers to make it in the handmade world.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from, what do you do for a living, and how did you get started in the branding business?
I'm a single mama of four living in northern Arizona - for now, at least. We are wanderers from Minnesota and anxious to move on. I am a lifelong entrepreneur, starting at 17 with a consignment store. Vintage resale and portrait photography have been my two main businesses since then. As for my branding business, honestly, it was a fluke. I have experience in business development, design, and mentoring. However, I never realized I could put these things together to create a business (much less a passionate purpose!) until my pregnancy left me unable to walk/shoot portraits. I decided on a whim to offer logo design to friends - and found myself.
What are the biggest trends you have noticed with today's small businesses?
The most positive trend I've noticed is that people are taking the leap. People are slowly starting to grasp that they can be more than a hobbyist, that they don't have to work a job they loathe, that they can make their dreams come true. The internet has truly changed the world of business.
However, I also see a lot of negative trends persisting. Primarily, the idea that you can buy a business in a box, or that you can have great success with minimal effort. I see a lot of women especially, promising to take their businesses and themselves seriously only after they see success, when they need that faith and determination to create the success they dream of. I would love to see more women believe in themselves and their ability to create their reality.
How can jewelry designers stand out from the pack in a saturated market?
Understanding your target market and then stepping up and creating the brand and marketing plan to encourage strong engagement and brand familiarity. This, to me, is the absolute key to success in a heavily saturated market. When you do this, you are no longer selling jewelry alone - you're selling a brand, an experience, a lifestyle.
What is your number one recommendation to jewelry designers of all levels to elevate their business?
Like I said above - nail down your target market. Define them - and then be FOR them. Treat them as your tribe, not simply your customers. Honor them, and this also means honoring yourself and your vision.
How do you balance being a mother and a business woman, and what do you recommend to mom entrepreneurs to help balance their time?
Lots of checklists and a willingness to go with the flow. Our routine is extremely fluid and changes almost weekly (sometimes daily) to accommodate our evolving needs. My best recommendation is to be easy on yourself and your babies. Love them and lead them, give grace and gratitude in spades - and it will return to you.
What is your favorite product photography tip?
Learn the rules. After you've learned them, you can break them, but it's very common to just keep trying to make it work without actually taking the time to understand basic photography principles. It will eliminate so much of the struggle if you DO take the time to figure it out, rather than taking short cuts. “Understanding Exposure” by Bryan Peterson is the best reference you can have.
What are the biggest challenges that face small businesses in today's market?
Money blocks! So many people believe that they can't invest in their businesses and the vast majority truly can. By not making those investments in your business, you are losing money in the form of earning potential. Also, more often than not those small expenses that are being made along the way (in efforts to DIY or work around making a large investment) end up adding up to more than investing right out of the gates would, meaning that you spend the same amount without seeing the same return on your investment. If something is a priority, prioritize it.
I absolutely believe that starting up with no money is possible, I did it, but it takes longer to grow, it's a bigger struggle, and corners get cut. If you can find a way to do it right, do so. Once I was able to invest in my business, I was amazed at how much more smoothly things went.
What inspires your creativity when you create custom branding for small businesses?
The women I work with. I love to know what motivates and inspires them, what their business means to them. I have been so beyond blessed to work with the amazing women I have been able to work with. I am constantly blown away by the journeys we take to find ourselves, to fulfill our purpose as creative spirits. When I'm not creating for a specific person, I am inspired by music.
What branding products do jewelry designers need to succeed?
I define a brand as the full experience of your business, as every point where you business meets your market. The biggest thing is clear brand mission. As important as the visual branding is (very) - creating a brand personality and shaping the intent of how your brand will connect and relate with your market is absolutely essential. You need to know what you want to convey through the full scope of your brand, how you want to make people feel, and how you can make their lives better.
Where can we find you online and in social media?
My website is WildewomanDesign.com and I also offer single project design services (and premade branding) at WildewomanDesign.etsy.com. I run a Facebook branding development group that caters to female business owners who work with what I call "wild, weird, and spiritual markets" - including artists and service providers. That can be found here at https://www.facebook.com/groups/WeAreTheWeirdos/
Images are courtesy of WildeWoman Design