Amy Hall from Red Paper House makes jewellery, prints and accessories that combine elements of nature with bold colours, geometric shapes and hand-illustrated patterns. She started her jewellery business in 2012/13 and now stocks shops and galleries across the world. In our Shop Talk interview, Amy shares her tips on how to price your handmade jewellery and how to take good product shots using a point-and-shoot camera and a lightbox.
When and how did you start your business?
I started making jewellery as a hobby about four years ago. I started very small and initially didn’t think of it as a business, but the more I continued to work, the more I enjoyed it and the business side of things grew naturally.
How and where do you sell your jewellery?
I sell my work online on marketplaces like Folksy, and through a couple of smaller independent online sites. I also sell my work wholesale through shops and boutiques across the UK and internationally, and I’m always on the lookout for others. I try to do craft fairs where possible and make time for more in the run-up to Christmas.
Do you have a formula for pricing your jewellery?
My method for working out pricing is a fairly simple one. Firstly I add up the cost of all the materials, then I time how long it takes to make each piece and pay myself an hourly rate for the time taken. This gives me the labour cost. I add the materials to the labour cost and double it to give me what I call my base price. I then double the base price to get the retail price. This ensures that I cover all my necessary costs and that I pay myself for the time involved making each piece.
How do you promote your work?
I promote Red Paper House through social media – mainly Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I run offers and coupon codes for discounts in my online stores as regularly as I can. I don’t pay for any advertising at the moment. It’s definitely an area I need to investigate to see what works best for me and my business.
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Which social media channel is your favourite and why?
Instagram is my favourite social media channel. The visual impact of images is very powerful and Instagram is the perfect platform to show off new makes, designs and ideas.
Who do you follow? Is there anyone you think does it really well?
￼I love seeing Instagram posts from @andsmilestudio and @iamacrylic. I have work from both these makers and they’re among my favourites.
Do you do your own product photography? What have you found works well?
I do all aspects of photography for Red Paper House myself. I have a fairly reasonable point-and-shoot Canon camera and a lightbox. I take what feels like a million photos of one piece and then select my favourites to edit. I usually use a white background – I feel it keeps consistency throughout the jewellery ranges and allows the pieces to stand out. I’ve recently introduced a few props and I definitely want to work on some lifestyle shots. I always work with natural light because it gives the best results and I try to take photos from as many different angles as possible to get a few good overall shots of my jewellery.
I take what feels like a million photos of one piece and then select my favourites to edit. I usually use a white background – I feel it keeps consistency throughout the jewellery ranges and allows the pieces to stand out.
You work on Red Paper House alongside your job in a gallery. Have you got any top time management tips?
It can be pretty difficult trying to fit everything in. I work four days a week at the gallery and work as a Learning Support Assistant for adult community classes for a couple of hours a week too. The rest of my time is spent working on my business.
I think the best way to manage everything is multi-tasking and working little and often. For example, I sketch out designs on the way to work and sometimes reply to emails when having drinks with friends (without being too rude, I hope!). I think working a little bit each day on your business helps to lift the workload and spread it out rather than having a huge to-do list in one day. I also think it’s important not to work too hard and burn yourself out. Make time for small treats for yourself. A good way to achieve a happy balance is to be realistic with deadlines and order shipping times. I always have a realistic goal that means I have time to work, fit in orders, get a good night’s sleep, a meal out and still get the job done!
Have you ever been stuck in a creative rut? What did you do to get out of it?
I don’t think I’ve been stuck in a creative rut, as yet. Fingers crossed! I think my approach to collecting ideas on the go means they’re always flowing and I’m being constantly inspired by and exposed to different sources. If I find I’m tiring of a certain process I try to change it slightly and I’m always looking to improve on my creative methods.
I work in a very chaotic way – my mind flits from one design to the next constantly. I never work methodically to finish one piece, then start the next. I paint a bit here, then stick a bit there, then take a few photos. It’s probably a more time-consuming process but it works for me as it all comes together in the end.
Working a little bit each day on your business helps to lift the workload and spread it out rather than having a huge to-do list in one day.
Is there anyone you’d like to collaborate with in the future?
￼I’m always open to new ideas with regards to my business. I’d love to collaborate and create a new line of mixed-media ideas. My sister recently graduated with a degree in Fashion Textiles. I’d love to try working with her to create some new lines or a new branch of Red Paper House entirely!