I took a break from making jewelry last year. There wasn't an exact day when the break began, or a specific reason for it - over the course of a year, I had slowly gotten back into theater work, and I started traveling more often. Before I knew it, six months had passed with no new Imprint By Eileen pieces. Running my company had started to feel stagnant and frustrating too - back in 2012, I had run a small boutique out of 12 Lions Studio in NoHo. Running that boutique was a real crash course in business - I was constantly dealing with new challenges that I had never imagined. Every week, I worked 60+ hours between the time I spent not only running and managing the boutique, but also creating every piece of jewelry. I really was a one woman show - part salesman, part manager, and part artist, which became a difficult balance to maintain.
By the end of my time at 12 Lions, I had sold almost $50,000 worth of jewelry, which was (and still is!) quite an accomplishment. The part that was not so great was the fact that I had paid nearly $25,000 on the rent and more than $10,000 in supplies. In the end, it was not a very profitable endeavor. I realized afterwards that my company just hadn't been ready for that level of selling - I didn't have enough of an established following, and I didn't have enough money in savings to allow me to wait while I built that clientele. I found that most people off the street who don't know your brand just want to buy things for as cheap as they can. If a bracelet costs $60, they'll try to talk you down to $25. Day after day and week after week, it becomes demoralizing.
When your living depends so much on every single day of sales, the pressure is on to produce what people want to buy. If they want $20 earrings, you make $20 earrings. And so on. And so I started to make more and more of the easy pieces that sold well, to try to make my living. The result, of course, was that over time, I wasn't making pieces of jewelry that excited me anymore. I started to feel like a factory worker making minimum wage, churning out the same stale pieces week after week. I just depended too much on the daily sales - I couldn't afford to have a bad day, let alone a bad week or month. The stress felt overwhelming.
Without a doubt, the best part of my 12 Lions experience was the small but loyal group of customers that I developed over the year. These were people who loved my designs and my aesthetic, and were delighted to spend money on the new pieces that I made. Each sale like that felt thrilling - it made me feel validated as an artist and as a business owner, while the customer was pleased to walk away with a brand new and special jewelry piece.
I will never forget any of the customers who have supported me over the years - they absolutely are the foundation of my business.
And I promise that I'll still have a nice selection of pieces in the $25 range - but each piece will be special, and I won't be mass producing them. Everything I'm making now is very small batch - one of only a few produced, or completely one of a kind. Just after Labor Day, the new collection will hit my website. I can't wait to be back.....the new Imprint By Eileen is on its way.