leaf necklace

Will it Sell? (Or, Nothing like Stifling Creativity)

by Lyn Foley on January 20, 2008

Jim and I were in business together for 17 years before we sold our three stores and most of our possessions in order to sail around the world. During those years I more or less gave up my own artwork (not entirely -see this post) in order to make a living, and keep the stores profitable. Jim created, and I made sure that we sold what he created.  To see what was selling I tracked the inventory, and one ring in particular (R114)  sold as fast as he could make it. It was, no doubt, a beautiful ring, with  four hand carved leaves that tapered off into the band of the ring. The leaves “held” a gemstone, most often a ruby cabochon, or an emerald. This ring sold every time we cast one, and sold, and sold, and kept on selling (and still sells today, at The Gallery in Round Top). Jim made a mold so that the ring could be reproduced. At that time, however, we had a host of employees to assist us, including a bench jeweler who could cast and refinish the continuing trail of R114′s.

Jim’s  lovely little ring was one of our “bread and butter” items, something we could count on to sell, and help pay the rent (and the employees). The sales of R114 allowed me to allow Jim to be creative, and experiment with other ideas, new designs – designs that might or might not sell. In the stores, we also stocked some basic rings, basic necklaces, chains, etc. that could also always be counted on to sell. Because we had a “nut to crack”, (as we used to say) – rent to pay, employees to pay, light bills, advertising bills, phone bills – well, you get the idea. So, the sales of those basic items kept us afloat and in business. And back at the bench, in the wee hours of a quiet weekend,  that gave Jim the freedom to play with his  sketchpad, his wax, and his gold – and be creative.


So now, here we are, after a long hiatus sailing around the world, and back in business again. Because, as we discovered, it was way too early to retire – too few dollars in the bank, too many expenses on land. But being in business, with a nut to crack, is demanding – there in lies the problem, the question that so often  deters my creativity – Will it sell?

Should I make more of what I know sells – or let loose and go where the glass calls? The temptation  keep reproducing the beads that I know have sold before  is great- and that’s not to say that I can’t or don’t enjoy making them. But, but —

I long to  sit down at the torch without that little voice over saying, “Well, you need to make earring pairs – they’ll sell.” Or, “You should make some more bubble beads, they always sell”.

Yes, its true – but the further truth, the larger, bigger, truth,  is that shutting off that voice over, and allowing myself   freedom to create anew, freshly, freely, will enable me to arrive at something new, something different,- something else that will, because it arrived out of love,  sell.

Here’s a  necklace  full of leaf beads I recently made -without worrying about ” Will it sell?”

leaf necklace

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