Posted by Marjorie Cunningham, broken china jewelry designer at Marjorie’s Cracked Plate Jewelry.
One of the nicest jewelry designers you’ll ever meet online is Marilyn Southmayd of Freer, Texas whose jewelry is known as Grandma Marilyn’s. Always ready to help new jewelry makers with advice and encouragement, Marilyn is a delight to know. The slogan on her website is very true: “If it’s on this site, it’s handcrafted with love”. Marilyn shared her jewelry adventure with me.
“Back in the ’80s, my first husband’s mother was making some little dolls and had nowhere to sell them. I started making soft sculpture dolls, and we started going to craft fairs. I let her believe that she was tagging along with me. In reality, I was going to the craft shows so that she could sell her crafts and get a little pin money. Then I found some beaded earring books in the craft store. I started making some really pretty earrings to sell at the craft shows. They did fairly well. For some reason, we quit going to the craft shows and my beading fell by the wayside.
Then, around, September, 2005, I needed something to help me make some money as we had lost everything and my second mother’s husband was supporting us until we could get back on our feet. I started making Christmas Crystal Snowflakes since it was right before Christmas. Those sold pretty well. I sold at least 17 of them. I was so excited. From there, I graduated to making bracelets with wire and acrylic beads.
Then in December 2005, I found the internet bead groups and went wild. My first project was a bracelet by Glenda Payseno called the Fab 50’s Bracelet from her Beadchat group. Glenda is such a giving person and uploads quite a few of her patterns for her members as well as sells them on Lulu and ReadytoBead as patterns and kits. My beading continued to improve with this lovely roundlace necklace created from a bracelet pattern by Sandra D. Halpenny. Since then, I have created so many patterns created by wonderful designers that I cannot list them all here. You can see the pretties that I created either in my GrandmaMarilyns Etsy store, my Picasa Web Album, or my Flickr album. You will find the links to the patterns in the description if I used a pattern.
In March 2005, Loretta, a friend I met on Beadchat, and I started our own group called Beading Fanatics so that the new beaders could have a place to go where the really experienced beaders wouldn’t get mad at them for asking the same questions over and over. I have grown so much as I have learned new stitches. I have actually started designing some of my own patterns. I don’t have them up for sale yet but am considering it. My daughter has even suggested that I start selling kits. I still have quite a ways to go but I am enjoying every minute of it, and I am a beadaholic that doesn’t want to be cured.”
Marilyn told me a very inspiring story as to why she creates dainty jewelry. “I have always been heavy-set and I guess for that reason have always loved dainty, feminine looking jewelry. I had been told as I grew up that I shouldn’t wear dainty jewelry because it wouldn’t look good on me. I feel that anyone should have the right to wear beautiful jewelry if they like it. That is why I tend to lean towards patterns that have that look.”
What fuels Marilyn’s inspiration? “It depends. Lately, I have been inspired by many things—one of them being the challenges on the Etsy Beadweavers Team. I find inspiration everywhere … when I am doing a search for something on the internet and that special something catches my eye, in mother nature, and even in my pets or family.”
I asked Marilyn to tell us about the patterns for the Christmas decoration patterns that she and her daughter have on her website. “Earlier this year, Linda M. sent an email to the beading groups asking for volunteers to make beaded Christmas ornaments (approximately 1-2 inches) for small Christmas trees to be sent to our deployed soldiers. This project was being handled by a group called American Angels. I thought this was a worthy effort so asked my daughter to create some ornaments to be used for this purpose. I told her that I planned to put up a page with her patterns on my site that other beaders could access to make these also. They had over 700 little trees that needed to be decorated so the more beaders the better. Of course, the ornaments could be made in any way but since I love beading first, that is the type of patterns that I listed. This project will be going on every year so the patterns will stay there for as long as I have the website.”
Marilyn’s family members are also very creative. “My mother before she died passed on the love of crafts to me. I will always thank her for that. She loved crocheting. My father does leatherwork. I have started creating a website for his wonderful creations. He has made me a wonderful checkbook cover, belt, and a few fanny packs that are great for when I am doing a show or while shopping at craft shows. He loves doing special orders. My daughter is more into embroidery art than beading. She has a website started, but we don’t have anything on it yet. She has done some posts in her blog about her beautiful work and the inspiration. I want her to do some of her work for sale but she is going to college and that takes up quite a bit of her time. Hopefully someday her work will be for sale next to mine.”
Marilyn also told me why she liked selling on Etsy and gave some advice for newcrafters/designers just starting out there. “One of the major features that I love about Etsy is that it is international. They do advertising so that people can find Etsy. Etsy is picked up by the search engines so that your wonderful handmade items can be found. I love the fact that only handmade or Vintage items can be listed. There is also the fact that the fees don’t eat up all of your profit. It is easy to use and easy to sell. My advice for new crafters/designers just starting out on Etsy is:
1. Make yourself an avatar and banner that people can identify with your shop. Your avatar will show up in any of the messages you put in the forums or anywhere else.
2. Make sure you get good pictures of your items. Especially make sure that your pictures are in focus. Don’t have the pictures cluttered. Once you take them, make sure you crop them down to the item only and do any other editing that needs to be done. Make the first picture your best one showing your item.
3. When you write your description, sell your item. Make the potential buyer think that they have to have your item.
4. Make sure that you list colors in your tags.
5. Do not let your Etsy shop get static….spend time listing and relisting (at least 2-3 items per day is recommended), photographing (remember you need 5 pictures for your listing), editing, writing, learning, promoting, networking, blogging, checking the forums, mailing (if you get a sale), and keeping records.
Oh, one last word of wisdom, when you go in to edit an item, always click LAST at the bottom of the item and then click FINISH at the top. Otherwise your item will become inactive and your potential buyers won’t be able to see it. Been there and done that.”
Here are the links where you can find more about Grandma Marilyn’s jewelry: