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Friday, October 19, 2012

MJSA conFab Teaches Business Skills to Jewelry Makers and Designers


MJSA conFab Teaches Business Skills to Jewelry Makers and Designers
Nearly 100 jewelry makers, designers, and students spent the day at FIT learning about pricing, inventory control, digital marketing, and more

 ATTLEBORO FALLS, MA—MJSA, the association dedicated to professional excellence in jewelry making and design, welcomed the newest generation of jewelry makers and designers to its first conFab educational event on Oct. 14. Held at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City, the full-day program featured sessions on strategy and planning, pricing, inventory control, custom design, and digital marketing. Jewelry making students from FIT were also invited to attend, and they joined the mostly professional audience of almost 90 attendees in learning business skills to help them achieve success.

“MJSA knows that guidance on running a business is one of the key areas where jewelry makers and designers want extra help. Our first conFab was designed to meet that need,” said MJSA President/CEO David W. Cochran. “We were committed to taking some intense topics, such as pricing and inventory, and making them fun—and our speakers really came through. From a game show on pricing, to a giant, interactive Monopoly board that taught inventory skills, the audience was entertained as well as enlightened.”

Among the day’s highlights:

• Management expert Andrea Hill of Campbellsport, Wisconsin–based StrategyWerx, led a discussion on strategic planning with design advocate and consultant Cindy Edelstein of the Jeweler’s Resource Bureau, as well as designers/jewelry makers Bree Richey of Bree Richey Designs, and Malak Atut of Zaiken Jewelry. The experts covered the key factors that go into successful planning, including customer targeting, budgeting, creating a business plan, and marketing.

• Arthur Skuratowicz of the Jewelry Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and custom jeweler Gary Dawson of Gary Dawson Designs in Eugene, Oregon, competed in “The Price Is Right,” a lively game show that brought out key factors when pricing jewelry. MJSA Journal Editor in Chief Tina Snyder served as MC.

• Cincinnati-based jeweler Lee Krombholz presented his unique “Style Discovery” method, which helps him to identify the tastes and style preferences of customers who ask for a customized design.

• Andrea Hill conducted the “Inventory Game,” a board game (with Play-Doh “inventory”) that brought out key lessons in how to manage in-stock items and increase turns.

• Rio Grande Marketing Manager Eugene Brill, along with Gary Dawson, presented the key factors to online marketing success, and demonstrated how to apply them by offering critiques of conFab attendees’ websites.

The day ended with conFab conNect, a final chance to network and share refreshments.

"The MJSA conFab was a crucial turning point in the examination of my business and one of the best seminars I have ever attended,” said Daniela Lo Presti, marketing director for Officina Bernardi USA, a maker of gold and silver jewelry.  “I am a better businesswoman and professional for having attended and I was proud to be among such esteemed professionals.”

“I appreciate that designers Bree Richey and Malak Atut generously shared not clichéd advice, but real tips and insights based on their experience,” said Elina Bromberg, a partner in B.G. Art Jewelry Atelier, a full-service jewelry boutique based in New York City. “The inventory session with Andrea Hill was also extremely helpful and revealed a lot of hidden aspects of inventory management of which many of us are simply not aware. Gary Dawson was extremely charming and his advice on pricing and websites was very enlightening. I was especially interested in his views on how to account for the ‘uniqueness factor’ when pricing a piece of designer jewelry. Finally, conFab’s networking was just priceless. I met a representative of a casting company that I needed badly, and I even found an intern for our company among the FIT students who attended the conference.”

“As a student, conFab helped to bridge the gap between my technical knowledge and the application of that information to the small business market,” said John Sciortino, an FIT student who has Graduate Jeweler (G.J.) and Applied Jewelry Arts (A.J.P.) diplomas from the Gemological Institute of America. “The dynamic range of energetic and experienced business owners who I heard speak, and who I met personally, helped me to better understand the steps I will need to take to prepare for my future in the jewelry industry.”

MJSA conFab attendees also can access “Online Extras”—related articles, videos, and other resources on special password-protected pages on the MJSA website (MJSA.org). These resources will continue to be posted to the pages for several months after the event, creating a digital extension of conFab.

Sponsors for MJSA conFab were the MJSA Foundation (Prime Sponsor); the Richline Group and the Leach Garner Group (Benefactors); Cindy Edelstein, the Jewelry Biz Guru; Jewelers Mutual Insurance Co.; Johnson Matthey NY; Novell Group; Platmex; Rio Grande; Riva Precision Manufacturing; Stuller/Gemvision; TracTech Systems; and United Precious Metal Refining Inc.

MJSA plans to present additional conFab events in the future. For more information, click here:http://mjsa.org/events_and_programs/mjsa_confab.

About MJSA 
MJSA is the U.S. trade association for jewelry makers, designers, and related suppliers. It provides the resources to achieve professional excellence and maintain a competitive edge. For more information, call MJSA at 1-800-444-6572 or visit www.mjsa.org
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