A name like mine isn’t that uncommon, but it’s uncommon enough that I rarely found it on knick-knacks and souvenirs growing up. So when my mom gave me a necklace with my name crafted out of wire for Christmas my senior year of high school, I kept it close. Which is why my heart did a little happy dance when I came upon Deanne Watson Jewelry. Crafting personalized monikers from wire is what she does and she does it so well that she has customers from all over the world keeping her busy with orders.
An Australian transplant in Canada, Deanne Watson headed north some years ago with her husband at the time for what she saw as a “grand adventure.” Years later she still calls the “Great White North” her home, but also her business as she works on her jewelry line from the comfort of her house. We talked about how she makes it work from home, her love of crafting with wire, and more!
Kendra: Back before you were making jewelry for a living, you noted that you were looking to fill your time because the winters where you are in Canada can be long and brutal. Did you have an idea at the time that it’d be something in the creative realm?
Deanne Watson: I’ve always been creative – even back in Australia I dabbled in photography and sold my prints at markets. I knew that if I enjoyed wire wrapping, I could make it into something (wasn’t so sure at the time what that would be) That entrepreneurial spirit has always been a part of my family and was encouraged.
Kendra: Because you hadn’t worked with wire wrapping until you took a class with a friend, right? How much time passed between taking the class and realizing that you’d found a new chapter in your life making jewelry?
Deanne Watson: It was even at the first wire wrapping class that I felt something come alive in me. I’m not sure if it was when I started hammering that metal, or just being free to experiment with abstract designs, but I was having a great time and felt happy. Within a few weeks, I had made so many things that I was sure it would be something I continued with, but I just wasn’t sure how far I would take it at that time because I had small children at home and free time was limited. But within a few months, I decided to host my own jewelry party for friends and it was a great success. I think that was when I decided to take it further.
Kendra: Some people I’ve talked to this past year haven’t been that into selling at markets and whatnot but that’s where you started. Do you still venture out to Farmer’s Markets and Craft Fairs with your work or have you shifted to completely online?
Deanne Watson: I haven’t sold in markets for many years, I’m able to support myself exclusively with online sales and I enjoy making the items as they’re ordered – no need for inventory!
Kendra: Online is going great for you though. You’ve sold some 30,000 pieces since 2010. Congrats! What do you attribute those numbers to?
Deanne Watson: So I’ve actually sold over 100,000 items – the sales listed are orders which have multiple items sometimes. I worked diligently to research what customers want – great photography, lots of information and product options and of course a reasonable price point. The most important thing for me is to make their decision to buy a “no-brainer” so I put myself in their shoes and ask what I would want if it were me purchasing. That gives me insight into writing my product descriptions and the products I offer in the shop.
5-star reviews are what I strive to achieve with every customer purchase and if there’s a problem, I do my best to fix it immediately. I think that’s the difference between Etsy stores and regular retail shopping experiences; the customer is special, appreciated and customer service is a hugely important part of the buying experience. When they can read 5-star reviews from other customers, they know they’re getting a quality product with no hassles.
Kendra: Working from home, it’s something I’ve done since 2012 and I love it. However, while it’s glorious to work in pajamas, it can be daunting at times. What are some tips you have for those looking to go all-in and work remotely on their own thing?
Deanne Watson: Working from home is definitely a challenge! When you’re the boss, there’s no one telling you to work so you have to be driven, disciplined and determined to achieve. What has helped me is having a designated space to work. My 400-square-foot workshop is used exclusively for work, it’s set up like a business and it’s clearly defined from the rest of the house. Having a structured schedule (i.e. days of the week or hours of the day to work) helps immensely. I know how to schedule my week and where to fit in my other responsibilities so that there’s no excuse not to get my work done.
Kendra: Lastly, can you let the people know what you have going on in the coming months? You do a lot of custom work but are you working on any sort of collection or anything of that nature?
Deanne Watson: The coming months are going to be the busiest time of year, we get close to 3,000 orders in the months leading up to Christmas which doesn’t leave much time for designing. That usually happens in the new year when things quiet down. But generally speaking, I add a couple of new items every month – a variation on something that I already make or a simple piece that fits into the style that my customers love. Many of my designs have come from custom orders – my customers like my design style so they trust me to use my skills to bring their concept to life. If I think it would be popular with my other customers, I offer it in my shop.