How to Start a Jewelry Business

Adrienne L. Wiley Founded San francisco-based Frolick Jewelry in 2004 out of a desire to create vintage inspired jewelry that was also contemporary and effortlessly chic for women of all ages. Wiley started out making jewelry at her kitchen table and selling to friends, ultimately leaving her job at a Fortune 500 company in to start her jewelry business. Today, her designs can be found in over 800 boutiques worldwide, including Covet Boutique that Adrienne owns in San Francisco. Frolick Jewelry has been featured in publications such as: Marie Claire, Lucky, InTouch, and others, and Mariah Carey, Serena Williams, and Jessica Simpson are just a few celebrities who wear Frolick. Adrienne also wrote the book Adventures in Wholesale, which helps new designers prepare to sell their products wholesale.  

We interviewed Adrienne about how she started her Jewelry Business, and she shared some insights that will be helpful to anyone who is interested in creating their own line.

Adrienne is a featured instructor during our upcoming live online workshop, Start a Jewelry Business. The three-day live online workshop will give you an inside look at how three designers built their jewelry business. You can save $30 on your registration if you sign up before March 31st. See the full schedule and reserve your spot here.

What is the name of your business?
Frolick Jewelry

What type of products do you sell?
Handcrafted jewelry

How would you describe your brand?
Frolick is all about carefree effortless chic. Jewelry that’s delicate, and timeless, with a touch of whimsy.

Where do you sell your jewelry? Frolick is sold in over 800 independent boutiques and retailers nationwide. I also work with some larger outlets to create private label pieces for them.

When did you discover your love of making jewelry? I took a metalsmithing class with I was 15 years old and loved it, but I didn’t start making jewelry again until 10 years later when I stumbled upon a local bead store with classes.

What made you decide to turn it into a business?  I was making jewelry as a creative outlet from my corporate job and after about 6 months, I started to visit boutiques in the area and show them my jewelry. I didn’t even have a collection or samples.  I was showing them pieces I made and they were buying them on the spot. After a couple of months of doing that successfully, I decided to leave my corporate job at a fortune 500 company and give the jewelry business a try full time.

How did you find your first few customers? I would just cold call stores, or visit friends in nearby cities and drive around looking for shops where knew the line would be a good fit. I sold to 121 boutiques by just visiting and calling. It was about a year and a half before I even discovered that there were tradeshows.

What was the biggest breakthrough you had when starting your business? I would say my biggest breakthrough was when i started doing tradeshows in NY…like NY Now and ATS. I learned so much from other brands and designers there that it really helped me scale up quickly and take my business to the next level.

What does an average day in your life look like?

That’s a good question….I wish I had a bit more of a scheduled day. However since I have a retail boutique of my own called Covet, and I have boutique customers to manage as well. My days can vary greatly depending on what needs my attention most.

A perfect day consist of first thing in the morning, getting in about 2 hours of answering emails and returning phone calls regarding orders. Then I check the system for my showroom to see if there are any new orders. Next I look up any orders that are due in the next week and make sure we have all the supplies for it, so I can prep it for production.

Lastly, I usually check on the store. I like to make sure things are merchandised correctly and I can take stock and reorder anything we’re running out of. It’s also important for me to get in some face time with my sales team. Then I usually get home and post on all of Frolick’s social platforms and check email one last time to make sure there isn’t anything pressing I need to take care of before finishing up for the evening.

Where do you find your inspiration? I find 100% of my inspiration in travel. Exploring new places and learning about different cultures fuels my creativity. I usually carry a notepad when I’m away, so I can sketch out any ideas I come up with.

How do you decide what products to create? I used to just make what I liked, but now there’s a lot more to it than that. I have to make sure the materials are the right price point, so that once I add in production time, it can be sold at a wholesale price that will work for my retail customers. I also have to take the time/complexity it takes to make a piece into consideration.

Who are three jewelry designers that inspire you?  Chan Luu, Gorjana, & Rebel Designs.

Do you have any exciting, upcoming plans that you would like to share with us?

I’m working on a second edition of my book as well as relaunching my Frolick website. Also, I’m excited to be leading workshops at Craftcation for the second year.

Adrienne is a featured instructor during our upcoming live online workshop, Start a Jewelry Business. The three-day live online workshop will give you an inside look at how three designers built their jewelry business. You can save $30 on your registration if you sign up before March 31st. See the full schedule and reserve your spot here.

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