Behind The Scenes: Designing A New Collection

Some days, when I'm at an art show, I secretly listen to comments of visitors passing by my booth. I can often hear them say, "How does she do this?" or, "How does she come up with all these ideas?" So, today, I'm taking you behind the scenes in my studio to show you exactly how.

I want to dispel one myth first. We designers, makers, creatives, or however you want to call us, usually don't just have flashes of inspiration at night or while drinking our coffee at the corner shop. Designing a collection of anything is a tedious and, at times, very technical process. But why do things need to be designed in collections, you may wonder. Actually, that's because we want to make life easier for you, shoppers, buyers, browsers, or consumers. If a group of products has a theme, an element, a look, or material that makes all of the individual items in that group go together, it's easier for you to assemble an outfit, choose a matching set of jewelry to give as a gift, imagine yourself wearing the design, or it simply takes the number of choices you have to make down to a manageable level.

Now that you know that jewelry collections are designed for your benefit, let's go over to my studio and take a peek at what this design process looks like Buckaroo Bling style.

When I think about designing a new jewelry collection, I have part of my work already cut out for me. I know that you, my customers, love turquoise, leather, sterling silver, and copper, so I don't have to put much thought into what materials I'll be using in my collection. Also, I know that both you and I love the American West, cowboy culture, country life, horses and other animals, so that conveniently narrows down my choice of themes right away.

The next thing that comes into play is my personal design aesthetic (or, to put it simply, the way I like things to look). That helps me know that I won't be making, as a friend of mine put it, honking big pendants and rings, but classy, elegant jewelry with SouthWestern flair instead. Also, the fact that I live in Montana countryside inspires me to design items that bring to mind peacefulness of nature and echo different cultures inhabiting these parts. So, with all of that already in place, my design process begins.

Usually, I start by sketching in pencil ideas for the statement pieces, or what you call the "attention getters" of the collection. I like to start with a necklace, as somehow, they always end up being the most intricate pieces with lots of gemstones and special little touches. Once I have one necklace design down, I sketch out designs for a matching bracelet and a set of earrings. After that, everything is more or less smooth sailing. I choose elements from each of those three designs that will repeat themselves in other pieces in the collection, while at the same time, keeping in mind that those other designs have to fit within certain price points that are lower than the ones for statement pieces. Why do I do that? Because I don't want one of you to look at my designs and think to herself, "Oh, I love all of these, but I'll never be able to afford them!" I design my collections so most of you can find at least one piece in the collection that you can afford on the spot as you admire the pricier pieces, and maybe decide to save up for them.

A good sized jewelry collection usually has upward of ten pieces. I aim to have anywhere between twelve and twenty four when I design. That's because, once you start looking at and buying those pieces, you'll like ones more than the others. I want to have an option to drop some designs from the collection while still leaving you plenty of choice. When I have all sketches done, I then order needed supplies (wire, gemstones, etc.) from my U.S. based suppliers. Yes, U.S. based. Buckaroo Bling designs don't use anything made overseas, produced by child laborers or exploited workers. That's just how we roll. When the supplies arrive, the tedious part of the process begins. It not only involves making each piece of jewelry by hand (slow fashion, baby!), but also counting the number of components in each design, such as number of beads, lengths of wire, pieces of leather... and recording them, so that I can both properly price and be able to reproduce those designs in the future.

These are the basic steps I go through with every new jewelry collection I design. There are also other, more technical and more boring steps to this process, but I'll spare you the gory details. I'll just mention that I am expecting to have a new Buckaroo Bling collection ready just in time for Christmas and other winter celebrations, so keep your eyes peeled.

In the meantime, feel free to browse and shop my Dream Catchers collection and the one-off pieces available in Buckaroo Bling online shop. See ya there!

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