Saturday, September 10, 2011

Naming your handmade jewelry business

As I've written before, selling handmade jewelry does not require you to invent a business name. Painters sign paintings with their own names. Authors use a byline -- sometimes a pseudonym, for marketing or social reasons -- but the name is still a name, not "Quill Pen Inc."

In a similar manner, a jewelry maker doesn't necessarily need to be "My Beautiful Jewels" instead of Mary Jones.

However, there are several reasons why people choose to sell their jewelry under a fictitious business name. These might include:

1) Handmade items are not the only thing you sell, and so you need a retail business name.

2) Jewelry is not the only thing you do, so you want a name which encompasses everything you offer.

3) Your name is very common, already in use elsewhere, and/or not available for email and url.

4) You are doing business, selling at events, etc., with one or more friends or family.

5) You want to protect your privacy. (Though, keep in mind, it will become difficult to maintain a great degree of privacy if you are going to be on the internet, standing behind a sales table, filing public records such as a business license, and conducting any ongoing commerce with the public.)

6) You want to open a business checking account, have a business phone number, etc.

7) It's fun.

If you've decided to operate under a fictitious business name, here are some things to consider. Some may seem at odds with each other -- "be easy to spell" vs "be unique" -- you will need to determine how to balance these considerations against your own personal goals.

Does your business name reflect your business? 

If you call yourself "Earthy Enchantments" are potential customers going to understand that you're selling handmade jewelry? Or are they going to think you're selling massage oils, occult tools, or garden plants?

When someone sees your business name on the internet, a vendor list, or an advertisement, what is it going to tell them? It might be their only point of connection with you. It will need to convey a lot of information and intrigue them into clicking through or coming to find you. 

Is it unique?

Anyone on the Internet knows the frustration of discovering that their name is already someone else's email or Twitter account. So being unique is not only a marketing tool but a necessity.

Make sure you Google your potential business name before using it. You don't want to be mistaken for someone else (in my case, that "someone else" is a nude model who shares my name). And check a url registrar or to see if your name would be available as a website.

I've been making jewelry for a long time, and there are some pretty common words in the biz -- "sparkle," "jewels," "adornment," "glitter," "treasures," etc. If you're going to use one of these, consider pairing it up with something unusual.

If you're planning to build a social media platform (and you should, if you want to increase your success), also check with Facebook, Twitter, and the email and blog services you plan to use, to make sure your chosen business name will be available.

Is it easy to remember? Easy to spell?

This might be difficult if you are also trying to be unique, memorable and intriguing. The best I can suggest is to avoid the temptation to be obscure, clever or verbose. is a mouthful and a typing handful. Unless you're selling steampunk jewelry under a neo-Victorian persona, avoid or you are just going to tick people off. Seriously. is much easier and comes right to the point. /pun

Come up with something that is easy to say and easy to remember--or easy to guess, so that person who stopped by your booth at the craft show can find you online later in case they lose your business card. They probably won't find you if they Google "paula pins" and you are

Avoid boxing yourself in

What if Paula chose because she started out making penguin pins, but two years later is making lions and daisies? Then she'll find herself doing the naming game all over again--and changing her business cards, url, email, etc.

Trends change, customer feedback will shape your direction, and your interests and abilities will morph over time. Don't assume that you will always be making birthstone bracelets or silly monkey jewelry. Select a name that will allow you to grow.

Jen Hilton makes one-of-a-kind jewelry sold through her website She is the founder of the Triangle Jewelry Makers and is featured in the books "Steampunk Style Jewelry: Victorian, Fantasy, and Mechanical Necklaces, Bracelets, and Earrings" and "1000 Steampunk Creations: Neo-Victorian Fashion, Gear, and Art" available at Amazon and other booksellers.

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