Introduction: Passion + Experience, a Winning Combination
In 2008 I was laid off from my job because of the weakening economy; it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. In December of that year, my grandfather passed away, leaving me with a small inheritance. His only request was that I use it to do something I felt a real passion for, something that touched my heart. That was the beginning of Tracy Arrington Studios.
I used his gift to buy basic tools and supplies and put myself through extensive training in goldsmithing and jewelry design. The more time I spent learning and discovering metal the more I realized this was what I was always meant to do. Working with metal, designing pieces from images in my mind and adding in my business skills from 25 years in marketing, merchandising, buying, and finance allows me to be happy and feel fulfilled in my career and my life.
The ideas behind my line of jewelry come from everyday objects, architecture, clothing, fabric, patterns, colors, art, and packaging to name a few.
I am inspired by the contrast between the rich, warm hues of gold and the deep charcoal grey of oxidized sterling silver. The addition of unusually shaped pearls, rich with luster, adds a classic touch in a contemporary style.
I have used natural, organic fabrics like linen and cotton to display my jewelry in a luxurious and upscale manner and have branded the line through my catalog, brochure, and chosen model. Creativity has played a huge part in achieving the look I desired on a tight budget.
Two years of training that began with basic jeweler’s bench skills and continued with advanced training, week-long workshops, and continued study under Goldsmiths throughout the country afforded me the skills to apply my creativity to my jewelry line. My past work experience in buying allowed me to design my line with buyers’ needs in mind and my merchandising experience allowed me to create a mood, a sense of subtlety and understated elegance which provide the perfect backdrop for reaching my target customer.
Originality/Concept of Line
The idea behind the line started with one goal; designing jewelry that makes a woman feel confident and beautiful. It was designed from precious metals which will last a lifetime and fills a gap in the marketplace between trendy costume jewelry and fine jewelry made with platinum, 18K gold, and diamonds. It is affordable in today’s economy despite the ever increasing price of gold and is made one piece at-a-time in my studio. Any purchased components are also made in the USA; every part of my business helps support the national and local economies and helps keep Americans working.
Another very important part of the line includes versatility. Each piece is designed to stand on its own or be layered with other designs. A woman can purchase several necklaces and wear them individually or combined with any neckline or clothing to illustrate her own personal style. The combinations are endless and her own collection can be expanded upon every season with new coordinating designs.
How the project can lead to independence
I have spent countless hours researching, developing, and creating this business to provide for me until I reach retirement. I have the vision, passion, and creativity needed for a successful business. I have over 25 years of professional experience and the skills to make this business successful.
I have researched and defined my target customer and have tested the line at three national wholesale trade shows, one of which drew in more than 40,000 qualified wholesale buyers.
I have the qualifications, the experience and the knowledge I need to make this venture successful. What I need now is a capital infusion to reach my customers, operate a profitable business, and achieve independence.
My break-even point is 200 customers and with careful spending, the prize of $25,000 will allow me to reach that number. My specific plans for how the funds will be spent are outlined below:
• A consistent Social Media plan which would include an updated Website and blog built using WordPress; and Facebook, Twitter, and Linked-In strategies for increasing visibility and acquiring customers.
• A public relations campaign directed toward my existing list of 150 consumer and trade publication contacts.
• Seasonal trunk shows at current customers’ stores.
• Wholesale trade shows.
• Travel costs to meet with prospects who have significant buying power.
• The creation of a virtual trade show video to accomplish the following:
Show the jewelry 3-dimensionally including the craftsmanship and details
Allow buyers who didn’t travel to trade shows this summer the opportunity to see my line as if they were in my booth. The video would include close ups of the line, discussion of topics brought up by prospective buyers at shows, and a unique opportunity to see the line being made.
Create a personal connection with me and an understanding of the story behind the line.
• Research (I currently have over 1500 pre-qualified leads)
• Direct mail campaign with a brochure allowing customers to have a sneak peak at the line
• E-mail campaign for existing prospects who have opted-in to my mailing list
I have exhausted my potential sources of funding and can’t continue to move forward without a capital infusion. Winning this prize would allow me the opportunity to become profitable and financially independent doing what I truly love. Thank you for considering my passion and my business.