View Full Version : Custom Orders and Sales

07-14-2002, 07:20 AM
I'd love to hear how everyone handles requests for custom orders or bead orders in general. How do you sell?

I'm in a constant dilemma it seems. I actually prefer to follow my creative whim, create spontaneously while I'm at the torch (the beads seems to have more "soul" when I'm making something that I really want to make) I do the bulk of my sales through eBay, but I do fill a limited number of custom orders (if the people who want the beads are patient) and I seem to spend more and more time lately writing replies to requests for beads. I don't have a price list on the web site because no way could I handle it if people thought they could just send me a list of beads they want and expect them to be ready and shipped right out to them (I wish...in my dreams I'd have a huge inventory!! ) and then how do you handle it if the beads someone wants just don't want to come out the same as the ones in the picture? A lot of my beads seem destined to be one of a kinds. I'm just terrible at repetition! (as the pile grows of my apparently futile attempts to duplicate a "mixed bouquet" focal for an order)

On the other hand it's nice to have a list of beads that you're pretty sure someone wants to buy to fall back on for those days when inspiration is in short supply, or the bidding on eBay is so slow it's positively frightening.

So how does everyone handle the dilemma of orders? I've heard there are a few brave people like Jinx who never take custom orders. I wish I was confidant enough to do that, but since I rely on the income from my beadmakeing addiction...uhh...make that beadmaking business.... to pay the bills (and of course to buy new tools and toys for the grandbabies) I'm a little worried about turning orders away totally. I'm always thrilled when someone takes the time to email me about my beads, and honored that they'd consider my "work" for their designs.

I always feel like the orders are a big weight, hanging over my head, something else that I "have" to do, and I just know I'll end up procrastinating about finishing...

I'd love to hear how some of you other beadmakers approach the sales end of the business.


Canterbury Keepsakes

Jennifer Geldard
07-14-2002, 07:50 AM
I rarely do special orders... usually only for a special customer( ie: one who's constantly bidding on my work :) )
I make my living with my beads as well, and I found that I
get so stressed trying to get perfect beads for someone, that I'll make 3 versions of the bead before I'm finally happy with it, and I decided that time would be better spent happily making what I want, and that when I'm relaxed, the beads are born much more easily.
So basically, I'm better off making 3 beads that will probably sell just fine on ebay than stressing over that single sale.

It's VERY hard to say "No" though isn't it?

Jennifer Geldard
07-14-2002, 07:50 AM
ps: Beautiful florals... Can I order a set??? :D

07-14-2002, 07:51 AM
With the model horses, I did custom orders and it wasn't fun after awhile. With glass, at this time I don't take custom orders. It is flattering that people ask but for me, it was a quick road to burnout.


07-14-2002, 08:23 AM
Ah ha! I knew I couldn't be the only one who stresses over trying to duplicate a set of beads! :D There are a few styles that I can "pump" out but they're not usually very challenging or satisfying to make. I admire people who can do that. I'm in awe of that pile of hearts that Laura and her family (I'm assuming she had some help from them) made. I'd be ready to throw my torch right out the window after about 50 of them!

Jennifer, you're positively evil! :evil:
I don't think I'm ever going to get that floral focal to come out quite right! And to think the day the first one was "born" I was having a fantastic floral day and made a bunch, all were simply perfect (if I do say so myself!) and I made the best ones into pendants for Mother's day gifts for my Mom and daughter. I'm having wicked thoughts of trading one of theirs just to fill this #@ darned order. You are absolutely right, the beads do seem to come out so much better when I'm relaxed and can just enjoy the process rather than worrying about matching something I did ages ago!
Elizabeth, I'm afraid you hit the nail right on the head, custom orders (for me anyway) does seem to be a quick road to bead burnout. Now if I could just get better at saying no!

Okay, this opens up another line of discussion...Just how do you answer people who email wanting a long list of prices after seeing the pictures on your web site?

I even have a little blurb right on the web site about not being able to take on any new orders and I still get several emails a day asking about the prices and trying to place orders. I often try to steer them to another beadmaker if the style is similar to something someone else can do, but I'll admit I don't always do so well at saying a positive no. I would never want to offend someone who took the time to look at my beads and actually wanted some! I'm still so flattered when people like my work.

Thanks for the input!

07-14-2002, 09:35 AM
I love those florals. Some of them look like chintz. I want a set too!
I have the same problem, but with bracelets added on. All I want to do is make beads but I have some repeat customers who keep ordering bracelets and then I have to make the beads they especially like also. I am very careful to say that all beads are one of a kind and that the glass frequently varies in color. Of course, that means you do end up remaking and trying to duplicate something. It takes too much time and some of the joy out of doing it, but, and I'm sure you agree, those are the very people who make you feel soooo good when they get what they order.

07-14-2002, 09:41 AM
Maybe we should start a tread about this? Call it Marketing?
Who wants to start it. this way we will have a place to go for that information, Instead of searching through this and that post..


07-14-2002, 09:53 AM
Hi Lezlie,

I don't often accept custom orders for the reasona you mentioned. Stressful trying to duplicate, not in the creative mood for a particular style, to avoid burnout. It's hard to say "No" but I've learned to be honest with myself and my limits. Although, if someone is very very very patient (hi Elise) I may give it a try.

07-14-2002, 09:54 AM
I've had many recent requests for duplicates of previous creations. For me...it replaces "creation" with "work". To follow the dollar...it's the price one has to pay. As a collector...I would prefer to have the only copy.

07-14-2002, 10:01 AM
I do not take custom orders on anything I make because they take so much time, I seem to be more creative when I can work on what I want to work on when I want to work on it. I make clothing and I make it one size fits most, its very adjustable and I have people ask everyday at the store can you make me this, and I just tell them no I dont do special orders and then they end up buying something I already have made. ALso I did a craft show last year and these woman bought a bunch of my beads and them everday for a month they emailed me wanting special colors and finally I told them I just cant do it. They were very pushy, thats another reason I dont do them. Boy, I rambled on Sorry.

07-14-2002, 10:03 AM
Gosh.... I want a set too! These are so lovely. I love the pink flower beads the best, but all your work is very nice.

I think, if I were you, I would explain that each bead is custom made and is one of a kind and for this reason, prices can not be listed. Tell them that when beads are machine made, it's easier to set a price. (if that's true...what do I know... I just paint...*smile*)

Only thing I know is that if someone asked me to paint a 16x20 for a set price, I could never do it. You never know what a piece will be priced at until it's finished, or at least I don't. I know that some portrait painters list their prices, but I think a better way would be to give a price range and make sure that you had enough padding in there to cover an exceptional set of beads.

I also tell my customers that they are not obligated to purchase the final product if it is not what they expected. I offer similar work...not exact copies and my customers seem to like the fact that no two pieces are alike. I think this is why they choose our work anyway. I'm sure it's the reason they choose your beads as well. Who wants work that can be mass produced? I don't.

I now return you to your regular programing. *smile*

07-14-2002, 10:23 AM
Nice florals. :cat:

Louise Little
07-14-2002, 10:40 AM
Put me down for 3 sets, but could you make them with lavender flowers and oh yes I need 300 3mm spacers to offset them but I want the lavender to be slightly darker than the flowers and what color can you make the stamen? I prefer yellow but not too bright. And can I have them next week?

:cat: Louise

ps this is my first post. I was away for a long time and went to the isgb and wondered where is everybody???

Kathy Champion
07-14-2002, 11:09 AM
I've made a few customer sets...but like you all I'm not really into the "production" mode when it comes to beads.

Right now I'm working with this customer who is very picky and although she has already paid for a bracelet...every scan I send her is not quite right. Ugh!:mad:

Beautiful florals Lezlie...if they need a new home...I open to adoptions!!!!


07-14-2002, 11:18 AM
Hi Lezlie & welcome Louise.

Lezlie, this is the third time which I've started to respond to this post. First of all, I can understand that you don't want to get caught up in repetition....how boring..... or, be held responsible for making "exact" copies. I'm sure it could lead to burn out. On the other hand, making money always has it's boring aspects. No job is ever fun all the time.

I think the bottom line is......can live off of your Ebay sales and one of a kind items? I think that you mentioned that glassworking pays the bills for you?

In the end, your present buyers may appreciate that you don't duplicate. But, can those buyers keep you afloat in this increasingly competitive market? Seems to me that a lot of very fine bead artists have joined the ranks of Ebay. Even the most seasoned seller will undoubtedly feel the squeeze. Loyal customers will eventually try out new artists particularly if they see that there favorite artist's work is becoming too expensive. Most of the people buying your beads are probably stringing and re-selling them. The jewelry market will dictate their maximum selling price therefore, there is a maximum price which they can pay you.

I think that if you want to keep your loyal customers happy then you need to work with them. Why not work one on one with those buyers who purchase the largest overall volume? Artists do commissioned pieces all the time, how is this different?

There has to be a happy mix between creativity and making money. You just need to find the point where you're happy and your customers are too. Okay, that was my Business 101 advice-hehe.

Betty, the proud owner of many of Lezlie's gorgeous beads!

07-14-2002, 12:18 PM
I've been reading this thread and it's really got me thinking. I work exactly opposite. All of my work is sketched and fully detailed before I even light my torch. From the very begining the piece is designed and produced to meet a specific intent.

Sooo... Here's where my confusion started.

I can make a piece much easier than I can market and sell it. Therefore I market a product and produce it in volume. Not very exciting, but it's all I know. I couldn't understand how you could market each individual piece on it's own merits and still turn a profit. Then I came up with the idea that perhaps you market and sell the craftsman/artist rather than the product itself. Is this the case? If so, this may open up a whole new market for me while adding significant joy to my time at the torch.

Is my perception in the ballpark, or am I simply out in left field looking for four leaf clovers?

07-14-2002, 12:55 PM
Louise, That is exactly the sort of order that ends up turning me into a babbling fool some days! And when I'm bending over backwards trying to do something that may never turn out decently, I'm wasting all kinds of time that I could be making something pretty...that would (hopefully) bring in as much if not more $$, and bring me the usual peaceful joyful feeling I usually have when torching rather than the studio ringing with the sounds of gnashing teeth and expletives.

Your perspective is so valid too! Thus my dilemma! I'm a worrier and even though I've been lucky selling in the auctions, I never trust the success will continue indefinitely. I've seen way too many talented beadmakers go thru their periods of wild success, followed by a drought of bidders! That's why I don't quite dare to make it my "policy" not to take on any custom orders! There's a lot of truth in that old saying about not putting all your eggs in one basket!
As it is I've seen a lot of my best bidders take up beadmaking themselves and while I'm so happy that they decided to join in on the wonderful world of melting glass...I'd be in big trouble if the trend continues!

(Thanks for the compliment on my beads too)

It sounds like we take the exact opposite approach to making beads! I work very spontaneously, and experiment as I go. I think my best work is the stuff that happens when I find my "grove", sort of a semi meditative state where I sometimes feel like I'm just a spectator in the creative process. The hands reach for glass I would never have planned on using and shapes and figures appear before my eyes! When I'm filling an order I always wonder if I'm missing out on something else grand that may have appeared if I was letting myself "go with the flow" so to speak.
I do an occasional sketch ahead of time but rarely end up making something that resembles the sketch. The bead evolves as I'm working on it. I'd probably be able to work a lot faster if I did a run on one particular bead during a torch session, but it just isn't suited to the type of beadmaker I am.

As for marketing the artist rather than the beads themselves, I don't really do any marketing. I just make beads and stick them into auctions, or very occasionally offer them as "specials" for sale directly on my web site.
I think (I hope) that I've established a reputation for making quality beads and for taking excellent care of my customers so they feel confidant that when they bid that they'll get some nice beads. Hopefully they'll even be pleasantly surprised when they see their beads in person and think they're even nicer than they looked in the picture. That's my goal anyway. Making the beads brings me such pleasure (except for the occasional order that makes me crazy) that I always hope that they'll bring at least as much pleasure to their new owners as I got from making them.

Thanks everyone for the input so far! I knew I'd benefit from seeing this subject from different points of view!


07-14-2002, 01:04 PM
Oh Lezlie - I am so glad you post this dilemma!
I have a few customers they I am willing to do custom work for - a very few! These order I enjoy because I know the customer will be happy and they give me a 'make whatever you want' set of rules.
In a weak moment I have said yes to a few others. People I have done little or no business with. They are always in a hurry and have very detailed specs. :mad: I always end up regretting the decision! I will end up making way too many bead to reach perfection - and I can tell you that my mood instantly drops when I hit that mode.
Now, if I do accept a custom order, I will tell the customer I will give it my best and put it in eBay and then they can decide if it matches their expectations. Seems to work for me. It also takes away that nasty task of pricing the beads! :)

07-14-2002, 01:13 PM
Hey Lezlie ... First of all, I must know your eBay i.d. so I too can get some of your beautiful beads! And as long as you're making these gorgeous beads again to fill all the requests here, count me in! :D

I know what you're saying. I make jewelry and a lot of my work is repetitive ... a person will see something that a customer has purchased and will want the exact same thing. I haven't had a problem with that so far, because since I've already designed the 'prototype' for those pieces, I can make the duplicates pretty quickly. A lot of the pieces I end up making over and over are what I call 'basics' -- pieces that can be worn everyday and with a lot of things.

I had a show in April and there were people who picked up a piece, and said something like, "I'd like this one, only can you change the blue to pink and add more silver and ......?" That was a little hard to take ... when it's YOUR design, it's a weird feeling to have someone ask you to change your design. But most people liked the pieces the way there were and ordered them that way.

Now that I'm doing more jewelry with lampworked beads from other artists (and someday with my own beads) I am going to have more one-of-a-kind pieces. I like the idea of owning something that no one else has and I think others like that idea too. When the day comes that I am selling my own beads, I am not sure how I'll work things ... but I am guessing that the creative process will be more interesting to me than repetitively making the same kinds of beads.

As far as handling customer requests, I think Betty's suggestion of working with your best/most loyal customers is worth considering. I do that with my really good jewelry customers; they've purchased a lot and so I'm more willing to work with them. Also Betty's point about considering the market is a good one. Since I am one of those jewelry designers who buys beads and makes them into jewelry, I have to be very aware of the final price I pay for beads ... if I love a beadmaker's work but it's too pricey, I know I'll never be able to sell the piece of jewelry I design with it. There are SO many cheapo beads out there and SO many people who can't tell the difference ... I appreciate quality and good design but I've found that many people just want a 'look' and they don't really care that the beads are handmade or by a well-known designer. It's up to me to market my jewelry so that they understand the difference between one of your beads and a bead from China. But there is definitely a cut-off point, even for very nice things ... especially in this economy.

I'm not sure I was any help but I'm sure what you're facing is a common dilemma. And it has to be very flattering that someone likes your beads so much, which makes deciding how to handle special/custom orders even harder.

Please do let me know your eBay i.d. -- I'm serious, I'd like to buy some of your beads!


07-14-2002, 01:32 PM
I think the theme is - we don't like making custom orders. :crying: I do some and have not had long term happiness from them. A couple of wholesale customers. They are happy with some. Or happy with all of them - the first time. Then it gets to be the "please use pink with the purple and leave out the red and don't....."

When I am filling custom orders, I put on my headphones and listen to some wonderful music and use the torch as a meditation and private time. My mind goes all over the place and I really enjoy it. If I think about "filling an order", cleaning the keys on my computer is more important than making those *^%*%# beads.

I finally had to tell a long time customer that, if she liked and could use what I send, great. Otherwise, our relationship was finished. Things would be great for 3 or 4 orders in a row. Then, she would tell me to stop using certain colours. I stopped and now she is asking why I don't make them the way I used to. The keys on my computer are VERY, VERY clean right now.:evil: It could be rather snowy before the order is complete.

Knowing yourself and your limits is very important. Having a way to lighten your spirit if you do take custom orders is also very important. I do not accept returns on custom orders. DO NOT BE A PUSHOVER. Set your price and your terms. Get deposits. Breathe and have fun. It goes faster and I have found that I learn many new bead designs when making custom orders. Hugs Karen

07-14-2002, 01:35 PM
Oh. and your beads are VERY awesome. Get busy, woman, cause I think you have a whole bunch of orders to fill :D Hugs Karen

Laura Brito
07-14-2002, 01:41 PM
We too have a love/hate relationship with custom orders. I get alot of custom order requests and they have dropped off because I just can't seem to pull them off, in borosilicate it is so hard to get the same bead like in soft glass and I have to make many beads before they fill the order. In a way this is ok, because I will make about 100 to fill an order of 30, but other 70 will be for ebay then, often these will make really good money on ebay and the customer is happy with what they got (very selective bunch), but it kills my creativity. My daughter has stopped taking custom orders unless she feels like doing it. My husband really grapples with it, I do the most custom orders because well, frankly we pay all our bills with this. So I feel the pressure the most. It is a a really hard one, I would rather not do it, but if I get an order when times are slow I will jump on it. I don't want to not do it for those reasons. so I do not advertise that I do not take them, I do advertise that I do. I don't get a huge amount of them, only about 2 a month.

Anyway there is my thoughts on it, it is tough tough tough!


07-14-2002, 01:46 PM
Originally posted by DichroDiva
I do not accept returns on custom orders. DO NOT BE A PUSHOVER. Set your price and your terms. Get deposits. Breathe and have fun. It goes faster and I have found that I learn many new bead designs when making custom orders. Hugs Karen

Good points Karen. Perhaps with some very well defined guidelines, custom orders don't have to be a drag.

Lezlie, I am one of those people who decided to take up beadmaking after buying beads on Ebay for two years. I had my favorite artists (you are/were one of them) but, I found that their prices were becoming out of reach and no one would do production work. I wasn't looking for thousands of any one bead but, I had reps from coast to coast and I needed some duplicate items or else I couldn't sell.

Lezlie's Ebay id is: cankeep. Her beads are absolutely awesome. I can see why she'd prefer to work off of her artistic talent instead of production work.


07-14-2002, 01:57 PM
Very pretty beads! I really like them. I'm just getting started, so one day I hope to have the experience of not wanting to do custom orders!

07-14-2002, 02:01 PM
When I worked in another medium, I had a group of customers who had standing orders. They would take either a certain number of pieces or a certain dollar amount every month (or six weeks, or whatever). No input, no special requests, no hassle.

It was nice, and it would have worked if I had learned to say no to people. I simply had more work than I could deal with, and even with such a good arrangement, I burned out. I suppose it had a lot to do with the fact that I really disliked the medium.

07-14-2002, 02:12 PM
Originally posted by Rendulic
..... Then I came up with the idea that perhaps you market and sell the craftsman/artist rather than the product itself. Is this the case? If so, this may open up a whole new market for me while adding significant joy to my time at the torch.

Is my perception in the ballpark, or am I simply out in left field looking for four leaf clovers?

YES! Exactly what all artists should do! We have the talent, and each of us are individuals. Everyone would want a RENDULIC !

07-14-2002, 02:29 PM
Absolutely. If Dale Chihuilly can do it so can we. He doesn't do the blowing anymore. He is the idea man. Are there any idea persons (being a polically correct individual) out there?:D
Hugs Karen

Laura Brito
07-14-2002, 02:36 PM
I knew of one person who started having bead made in Mexico and they were the idea, it worked well for them for quite sometime.


07-14-2002, 03:10 PM
Hi Louise,
Welcome to WC......but there is too much to look at, you'll have to tear yourself away.
Glad you're back.


Anne Londez
07-14-2002, 03:12 PM
Hi Louise, nice to see you here.

Lezlie, I feel exactly the same as you do, especially on the creation topic, except that beadmaking is not (yet ?) my main activity. But I am also rather new and need to build my reputation, so I don't find it easy to say no. And I've been known to make 15 replicas of a bead before I got something that remotely ressembled the original one. It's as if I were loosing all my skills the minute someone asks me to make something specific. And this is worrying me because if I decide to try and make a living through beadmaking, I don't know how I'll handle this.
People around me (knowing nothing about beadmaking but talking in general) keep telling me that if you want to establish a regular stream of customers, you have to make a line of products that will sell well and that you can reproduce easily. I would hate to have to do that and I don't think that my work would be good.
I must add that those advisers usually consider beadmaking as craft, so that they never think to apply to it the rules applying to art.
Not easy..

07-14-2002, 03:26 PM
Actually, the beads are a by product of what I love to do. And that is, playing at the torch, melting and manipulating glass. So it matters not whether I make one or a thousand of the same thing. I find it really relaxing and meditative. If I get my ego involved, I mess everything up and generally hate the finished product. I sit, turn the torch on and start grabbing glass.

This came to me when demonstrating at a show. Little kids would stand in front of my table, just mesmerized. I would invite them to come pick out their favourite colours and they would invariably pick out something like orange and green. My mouth wanted to say, "Glory be, you don't want to use those colours!!!!" I had the good fortune to keep my mouth shut and my mind open and, low and behold, they would be awesome beads. It taught me to let go of my preconceived notions about what was "good" and what was "bad". To just play without an agenda for the outcome. It gives a trememdous freedom to explore.

A challenge to all. Pick out your two least favourite colours and make a bead. The real challenge is to look at the process with openness and interest - NOT criticism. Let me know how it goes. :evil: :clap: Hugs Karen

07-14-2002, 03:45 PM

I too have this problem. I finally had to state on my website that I do not make EXACT duplications of my beads.

If a customer sees a set that has already sold(in my gallery) and they really want a set I will tell them that I can make it similar but it will not be exact. I give the reasons of the glass having it's own mind a lot, but mostly because all of my work is one of a kind and it keeps the originals special for the buyer. I have yet to have a custom order client be upset with this.

I have set prices on my bead sets that are available. Many a customer takes for grantite that custom beads sets should be priced the same. So I also make it clear on my website, that custom orders are just that..."custom to the clients desires" therefore they will be paying a bit more for the work. I try not to sell myself short!

I always tell my customers to not pay me until they see the finished product. That way if they are not happy I am not killing myself over the guilt because I already have thier money in my hand. If the customer is not happy(which I have never had happen) they can at least see that I tried, and then I am not out anything because I can just sell the bead set on my website or on Ebay. I have a hard enough time just keeping lampwork stock on my website so dont mind at all!

I agree with all the others who have shared about custom orders. The desire to not do them because they are no fun, just work. And no creativity goes into them! But like everyone else, money is a hard thing to turn away at times!

Thanks for bringing this up and for everyone who shared, some great tips here!

Jodi Lindsey

07-14-2002, 04:32 PM
Originally posted by Rendulic
Then I came up with the idea that perhaps you market and sell the craftsman/artist rather than the product itself. Is this the case? If so, this may open up a whole new market for me while adding significant joy to my time at the torch.

Is my perception in the ballpark, or am I simply out in left field looking for four leaf clovers?

Interesting. What do you mean by sell the craftsman/artist? Can someone explain this to me?


07-14-2002, 04:59 PM
Lets face it...tho the mechanics of making a bead are craft...we are artists and like to go where the inspiration takes us. I do this because I enjoy it...i once did it to make a living and let me tell you, ...if you find something you love to do and make a living at it ...it BECOMES WORK! Did anyone ever tell Leonardo ...yeah she's ok but do you think you could do it again and give her green eyes? I believe we all know how we work best. That some sets of beads are every bit as artistic as any painting by any master...and that you should keep it fun. I have recently stated that I sell on ebay only and I believe I took my inspiration from Jinx. We make what we make and put it up for sale. We dont want to make 16 sets of floral fantasy...
I do understand your dilemma about customer service ...but i must say...what I love about your work is that is remains fresh! I have emailed you more than once about your ebay listings to say how wonderful your diversity is. I believe we all need to decide if we are production workers or artists. And I like that set...could you do it with 17 beads...i like the floral but maybe you could do it in mauve...and could you add some green...and then maybe...
you will drain the joy and creativity right out of yourself if you succumb to that...your work is beautiful and you always have something new to offer and I don't believe an artist can crank out multiple identical sets...so face it ...you are an artist not a production worker and you dont have to apologize for it.

07-14-2002, 06:41 PM
I will only do custom orders to a point.... I will do fused orders.... in fact I am working on trying to be a glass button source for a button wholesaler.... to me, fused buttons are easy, and don't take a lot of effort or time, so I can do it and be profitable and not be frustrated at the end.

Now lampworking is a different story..... there is a relationship between me and every bead I make..... and depending on my moods of the day...my feelings toward color...etc... I don't think I could produce my lampwork on demand.....not yet at least. I am still relatively new at it, and enjoy my time spent with individual beads.

But back to fusing..... I love fused glass.... but there isn't the relationship between artist and glass like there is to lampwork. And because of that..... I can do custom fused pieces easier.

Does any of this make sense! LOL


07-14-2002, 06:53 PM
I do a lot of custom orders . For wine stoppers, I don't mind - if someone says, "I want a green one" then they get a green one, but the design is typically up to me whether it's swirls or flowers or whatever, and that gives me a bit of a creative outlet. So far it's worked out fine, but if someone wasn't happy, I'd always offer to make a different one.

For beads, I have a couple people I do custom stuff for, and typically they order the same stuff, maybe in different colors. I try to set aside a specific amount of each torch session just to do these beads - that way I don't get burned out by having no "me" time to make beads that *I* want to make. I take a half-hour to an hour and just crank out whatever portion of the order I can. But there's no way I will sacrifice ALL my torch time in the name of custom orders. That would make me a little crazy.

Here's a pic of a necklace I did - blue twirl roses, encased, with vines:

Anne Londez
07-14-2002, 07:19 PM
Lovely necklace. And like the focal very much, those flowers are so crisp looking :clap:

07-14-2002, 07:27 PM
Wow redhotbeads those are incredible beads.

07-14-2002, 07:43 PM
Lezlie, I rarely chime in because deep down I am just a lurker! However, your concern is one that I have had many, many times.

When I first started making beads I had lots of requests for custom orders and bead variations. I felt compelled to try and fill those orders. I had too many disappointing experiences and stressful orders that managed to upset a delicate balance I had spent years trying to achieve.....doing something I loved and loving what I was doing each day. I guess that sounds simplistic but like some women I had spent the first 45 years of my life doing for others and just couldn't seem to get out of the habit. I needed to find more enjoyment in my life's work.

When I started saying "no", I felt more control over the direction of my work and my creativity. Granted, I do a great deal of repetitive production work but I also feed my creative side as well. Financially, the production work does well at the shows and bazaars. EBay allows me to be more experimental with new designs without having to make lots of them. (I just put up the website but it was intended more as a promotional tool.) Between the two, I am happy and able to make a living.

I also refuse to do wholesale orders. I sometimes wonder how many other bead artists are able to offer wholesale prices on beads. I can only make so many beads! Doing the retail shows keeps me from having to resort to commission sales and sharing 40-60% of my profits with the galleries. Perhaps this would be a good thread pose for later.....

Well, sorry for getting so carried away. Lezlie, just do what makes YOU happy. That's what counts!


07-14-2002, 08:15 PM
I used to make beads only for the jewelry I would make. We would go to shows and people would say "They are really nice beads. Do you have any loose ones?". Finally, we were selling more loose beads than jewelry. Hmmm Was that because my jewelry.....

Anyway, we went out to California and put our beads out at a show and people said "Those are nice but, what do you do with them?"

When you consider the amount of time and money invested into doing shows - slides, booth set up, credit card stuff, show fees, jury fees, the long wait to see if you get in, the theft and breakage, I will take wholesale any day. The buyer gets to deal with theft, breakage, etc. I can just sit and make beads:clap: Hugs Karen

07-14-2002, 08:35 PM
Lezlie - I was given some advice that I am going to take soon when I redo my website - and that is put a price on your work so high that no one will want to purchase one! LOL Also be sure to put your link to your ebay auctions, so they can see what a deal they are getting there! This way you are not saying NO, and the occasional person who does pay that high price will cause you less stress because they are so few in number. Another idea is to have a page of current items you have for sale - ie the three beads you didn't like - call them a seconds page or something like that - and give prices on them to satisfy the masses!

When I started doing my stained glass work, primarily jewelry boxes and kaleidoscopes, it was a joy. I got burned out real quick by the orders on demand. meeting deadlines, etc. Then while caretaking my mother, I just couldn't do it any more. I am still getting emails wanting to know when I will start up making stuff again (because I think the prices can't be beat!) LOL And while Mom is gone now and I am retired without much to do - I still don't want to get into that rut again because repetatively remaking the same thing is not joyful. After 5 years of living my life for someone else on constant call 24/7, I don't want to be answerable to anyone anymore for anything. (I think what did me in was the brides wanting 5-15 jewelry boxes for their bridesmaids!) I like making people happy with my work - I am glad to be able to give beauty into another person's life. So I am torn as to what to do on my website - whether just offer what I have on hand and forget the orders.


07-14-2002, 08:46 PM
Maureen, I really like your pricing strategy! I bet it would work really well too! LOL I love it! I may keep that it mind for the future!

07-14-2002, 09:03 PM
Oh! Maureen! You really said it for me before I could post it.....
Price those babies soooo high, hardly anyone orders them! My strategy exactly... and so I get maybe three orders a month and they know I can't duplicate anything exactly! Want exact, buy them from overseas!
It works really well, weeds out those folks who are bargain hunting and leaves me to do my "thing!"

07-15-2002, 03:47 AM
No, I am serious about the pricing. Like on my web page is the money I wanted for making the boxes. The gallery would double those prices and sell the boxes at those prices. Then I have had people contact me and say they can't afford the gallery prices, so could I make it cheaper for them. If I post gallery prices for everything now, my orders should be way down and would make the gallery happy. (seeing how I haven;t made anything in SG for two years now). Besides, I'd rather be making beads!

Just like when I was awaken one morning by a phone call from someone who wanted to sell me services to direct more traffic to my website and increase my sales - he was nonplussed when I told him I didn't want anymore business and I had too much already therefore I didn't need his services! LOL

07-15-2002, 11:48 PM
Speaking of custom orders...... This is a first. I have been asked for quotes for lots of things. Maybe someone here would like to help this guy out :D

Date: 7/15/2002 11:32:42 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: carbonit........
To: [email protected]
Sent from the Internet (Details)

Research & Development Co seeks supplier of Glass beads for blasting applications.

Preferred size is 600-300 microns and 300-75 microns or closest

Preferred packing is 15 Kg Bags.(in Pallets and wrapped)

Potential orders: One 20 tons container every six months.

Please send quote with product spcification and particle size

I told them that, if they blasted my beads, I would have to blast them. :evil: Hugs Karen

Laura Brito
07-16-2002, 01:33 AM
that is so funny! hehe, I bet, can you imagine!


07-16-2002, 01:52 AM
Hi Lezlie,
I don't have anything to add about custom orders and sales, but I would like to tell you how much I just love your beads! You have a set on ebay right now that is amazing! "Sedona Summer Pastels" they are absolutley stunning! I would love to see a thread with a pic of those beads! I'm speechless! They are jaw dropping beautiful! Wiping away the drool!:D

07-16-2002, 05:56 AM
Hi Misty, Gee Thanks! I actually made the beads because of the summer color project that B2 started here on the forum so there's a picture of them in the project area, and I also posted them on Beth's thread about the project too.

It was a lot of fun "stretching" out of the comfortable color range that I usually use. I've been doing a lot more play with color lately for some reason, then I revert back to a day of black and white or neutrals to get over the shock! :D

Studio Marcy
07-16-2002, 07:55 AM
:cat: Lezlie, your work is gorgeous. I'm wondering whether you are like me. I can make similar if it's on the same day. I kind of get on a roll. Can you work with your customers that they can get a certain day's "special" within the colors they like and you crank out one day's worth. Then that's the end of your limited edition?
- Marcy

07-16-2002, 12:07 PM
Hi Lezlie, Louise, Lauri, Jiley, Kelly, Leslie, Laura, Maureen, and anyone else I am forgetting.

First can I say I just haven't had time to really read all the posts on WC but this one made me sit still for a few minutes and read each and every post. Thank you Lezlie!

I don't mind doing the production work yet because it's been lucrative but not something I haven't been able to keep up with. That being said, my website is so outdated now that I am embarrassed. My florals don't look like that anymore (my skills are improving there, hopefully.) my sets are better now, too, and I just want to take them down and never see those pics again! This has to be moved to the top of my "to do" list!

I will finally be having the knee replacement in August, so maybe that will be a good time to take all of them down for a while. I'll continue to post eBay auctions because I have been building an inventory for this purpose. Ok I'm rambling...

I guess to sum up, I've enjoyed doing custom work but in small doses. I haven't had any orders for many multiples of the same set. For me, offering a variety of different things has made it palatable. eBay continues to be a good place for me to sell focals and small sets, which I hope never changes. Did you hear that eBay bought PayPal? This ought to be interesting.... I'm hoping it will only mean a more seamless interface for the buyers and sellers and not just an increase in fees. Keeping my fingers crossed on that one!

Anyway, I love this board! So glad to see you all here!