Welcome to the third edition of the Get To Know Your Jeweller Series where I sit down with the one and only Dragon herself; Stephenie Denault, and discuss all things shiny!
In this 4 part series, we will discuss how she came to be the Jeweller we all love today, the ins and outs of her craft, her inspirations, the struggles and everything shiny in between!
Pull up a seat and stay awhile, things are heating up fireside in the Dragons Den!
Q. You do most of your work on your own, but you have hired a helper/minion. At what point did you hire him and what is his role?
When I first started full time in 2010, I was able to do most of everything myself. In 2013 I took on a student from the trade school for a stage in my shop, who then was working for me part time. In 2016 she left to move into another type of work, and I struggled to keep up with all the work and shows. It was exhausting! So after struggling for almost a year to keep it up by myself, I hired my friend Mark who lives a 10 minute bike ride from my place.
He has the bonus of having experience in working with modeling, as well as getting all the kitty snuggles he can handle! He helps me with casting finishing; which is very time consuming, the occasional errands to suppliers, and is also able to create and design some very complex designs in 3D then print them in resin. It's been a big game changer in allowing to expand the creative possibilities and takes some of the workload off my shoulders to allow me have more time and energy on working on my business.
Q. I'm blessed to be working alongside you as your Assistant, what made you decide to bring on additional help this year?
I realized early on that I can't do everything, and some things I'm not very good at. For any business owner, especially the creative type, being honest about your abilities and shortcomings is important. I'm dyslexic and have ADD, which means great ideas and creative thinking is natural, keeping things organized and consistent is sometimes like herding cats! I'm not great with putting ideas down in a written format, and sometimes I need the help to do so, or the push to be consistent with it. Things like blog posts, social media posts, mailing list content, these things make my head spin! So I made an all out to see if anyone knew a Virtual Assistant, and turns out that you were! Which is great because we've know each other for years, and we speak the same geeky talk! It was a perfect fit!
Q. This year has been the eternal lockdown it seems, yet, the Virtual world fought back providing platforms for some of the most popular conventions. How many have you vended at, and how was the experience when comparing it to in-person venues?
I've tried 3 online events, and though fun they aren't the same thing. You almost have to be connected to your computer for 2-3 days straight, and you can't really connect to customers the same way you would in person. It works for some people, but I'd rather focus on my web sales and preparing for in-person events when they start again!
Q. What kind of planning goes into being a vendor at a convention (inhouse and virtual)
Online events require a virtual booth, meaning extra graphics, more online time, and some promoting on social and event pages. I have a friend who was able to design the walls for my virtual booths which required a specific file, type and size format. Beyond that, if you want to offer promotions, you can.
In person events are very different. Most conventions only supply the space. Tables, displays, lighting, chairs in many cases. You also need finished stock, so usually 2-3 weeks before a show I get into high gear making selling stock to bring with me. If I've sold out of something online, I need to make more! I try to bring 2-3 of everything to a show because you never know what will sell out! You also need to figure out how you'll take payment; Credit card, e-transfer, cash, first born child, gold pressed latinum, Gils, etc! You need to figure out how you're getting there and parking if needed. In my case I only have a learner's so I need a driver to help me get there, and give me a hand at the booth. They get lodging, food and their pass paid for in exchange, though I'm not paying for someone to go get photos with the stars! You need to know where you'll be staying and for how long. Never a good idea to try to book a room a week before the show!
Q. Do you think you will be doing more virtual conventions moving forward, even though venues are reopening, or do you prefer in person events?
I think I'll stick to in-person events. I like the direct contact with people, being able to speak and see the person is very important to me, especially if I'm selling rings! Really hard to size someone virtually! Plus, being able to geek out with folks is why I do this! Nothing better than seeing someone in an awesome cosplay at a show and being able to take pictures!
Join us next week for Part 4 of the Get to Know Your Jeweller Series where we dig deeper into the unique world of Jewellery making, future plans, upcoming shows, and so much more!
See you next Monday here, in the Dragons Den!