Every year it seems like we blink and the Holiday Season is upon us, then we blink again and it’s gone. A month long of celebrations and shopping will take months of preparation. Running an online jewelry business planning for my Holiday Season shoppers takes about 6 months. Here are some of the components I use when planning for a busy holiday shopping season.
Before I spend money on anything related to the Holiday Season, from buying supplies for new designs to spending money on ads I sit down and create a detailed budget. Besides for tracking my monthly expenses on an Excel spreadsheet, I also create a budget specifically for the Holiday Season. Some of the expenses I list on my budget are Supplies for Holiday Jewelry Collection, Marketing, Holiday Show Fees, Personnel, and Additional Postage. I create 2 columns one labeled “Budgeted” and the other “Actual,” this allows me to track my actual spending and to see how close I’m getting to what I’ve budgeted. Majority of the time I’m a one woman show, but around the Holidays I tend to do more on site shows and need to put aside capital for vendor fees and personnel to help out. Kabbage is actually an excellent resource to gain additional funding this time of year to help out in these areas particularly. Once my budget is set I can begin planning out the rest of the season.
Designing a Holiday Collection
Every year I release a new winter/holiday collection and I begin brainstorming ideas for the collection around May/June. A lot times I’ll look what current designs are working for me and see if I can create something similar, but extra special for the Holiday Season. Using a sketchpad and Sharpies I sketch out ideas for designs. Here’s an example of something I created for last year’s collection:
I start creating the jewelry pieces around July and they are usually posted up online by August/September. For this year’s Holiday Collection I was inspired by pyrite stones (also known as fool’s gold). I found a way to work the stones into my metal designs and came up with pieces I think my customers will like.
Time Management and Organization
The Holiday Season gets busy really fast and if I don’t have a good handle on time management and organization things will go haywire really fast. With organization I work more efficiently when I have a bird’s eye view of everything. A few weeks ago I came across the pdf version of Passion Planner and it’s such a lifesaver. It has helped me organize my tasks and goals week by week. I include everything in the planner from setting aside time to create marketing content for my Holiday sales to dedicating time to create additional jewelry pieces that are popular during the Holidays. I also use the Pomodoro technique when completing each of my tasks so that I’m sure to stay on track, but still manage to take breaks get other things done as well. My office space is also neatly organized into 3 stations, a packaging order station, jewelry creation and supplies station and administration area where I can work on my product listings, work on my website and etc;
My marketing plan for the Holiday Season is always extremely detailed since it’s the biggest shopping time of the year. When creating my marketing plan I also keep in mind that I’m competing with big retailers as well. I design handmade jewelry, so having deeply discounted items are just not feasible or financially friendly to my bottom line. However, this gives me a chance to brainstorm and get crazy creative. For example, this year I’ve created a Holiday DIY Style Gift Guide where once customers sign up to my list they’ll receive the gift guide as well as access to coupon codes and sales I’ll be having throughout the Holiday season, Holiday Party Looks and other great Holiday centric ideas. I use this time to not only attract new customers, but interact with current ones as well. Pinterest and Instagram are also major platforms in my marketing strategy. Last year I did an Instagram giveaway contest called “Holiday Party Attire” where users would post pictures of their Holiday Attire with a particular hashtag and got a chance at winning a jewelry item from my shop. This year my big push is “Jewelry Item of the Week” where each week for the next month customers can receive that item near my wholesale price for that week only. Last week it was my Hand Stamped Wine Charms and this week it’s the Geometric Floating Cuff Links for Men. Running a sale like this allows me to remain profitable, but gives my customers a chance to try something new as well in my shop.