Tanith Rouse is jeweller living in Hereford. She studied silversmithing and jewellery at the Birmingham School of Jewellery and opened her Folksy shop two years ago, where she now sells her colourful dyed aluminium pieces. We talk to Tanith about how her business has developed, her thoughts on social media, and pick up some tips on making the most of the Christmas selling period…
When did you start your business and how has it developed since then?
I started selling on Folksy in 2012. At first I had lots of pieces that looked similar but were different colours. I realised that I needed more variety, so I developed a more diverse range which helped me get noticed and generated more sales.
What did you consider before you opened your Folksy shop?
After weighing up other marketplace websites I chose Folksy because I liked the overall look and the fact it’s a UK site. I also noticed how friendly the forums were and thought it seemed like a nice community of makers.
How and where do you sell your work?
I sell mostly online but also in galleries both wholesale and on a sale-or-return basis. My favourite way of selling is via craft fairs as I love meeting my customers and it’s a good way to get feedback.
What’s your best-selling piece?
My cloud brooch is my best seller at the moment.
Have you got a method for working out your pricing?
It’s not very precise but I work out and double the cost of the materials and I pay myself an hourly rate, so I work out how long it took to make and add that on to the costs.
How do you promote your work?
I’m always being told that I hide my light under a bushel, so it doesn’t come naturally to me to promote myself. I have business cards, a Facebook page and a Twitter page – the latter is something I must try harder with!
How do you feel about social media?
I think it’s a great way to get yourself known. I wish it had been around when I first graduated – the problem is that it’s constantly evolving and there always seems to be a new way to try. It takes up valuable time just trying to keep up with it all.
Which social media channel is your favourite and why?
I like Facebook because I feel like I’ve built up a nice relationship with my followers and there’s a community feel with other makers too. I don’t just share my own work, I show other people’s work too and sometimes I post random photographs from a day out or a holiday.
Is there anyone you think does social media particularly well?
I love Helen Godfrey who makes wire sculptures. She has a great sense of humour and her posts often tell a story about her latest pieces. I love the way she interacts with her Facebook followers and makes them feel part of her everyday life.
Do you do your own product photography?
Yes I do – using a camera that’s 10 years old but it takes really good close-ups.
Have you got any tips for photographing jewellery?
I always take photographs in natural light and turn off the flash. I find the best light is from a north-facing window because it gives a more even light. One of my favourite props is a huge stone that my daughter brought back from the beach – it’s a neutral colour but the holes in it add a nice depth to the pictures. I angle the jewellery until I get what I call a “magic moment” where the light seems to make the jewellery glow. On dull days when the magic just isn’t happening, I use a free editing website to brighten up the pictures a little.
What’s the hardest part about being a maker?
Working from home can be quite distracting – I find it hard to concentrate on making things when there’s a huge pile of laundry that needs sorting out and I’m a terrible procrastinator. I usually get going by around 10.30am though.
Do you have any tips on how to make the most of the Christmas selling period?
Over the last two years I’ve noticed that some customers leave their Christmas shopping very late and it helps to get sales if you emphasise that you can deliver, first-class the same day. It also helps to put dates for guaranteed delivery for Christmas on your shop page.