Local Designer Series: Michigan Native Moves Back to Detroit to Work on Jewelry Business Full Time
Libby Hopper of Goldeluxe Jewelry moved to New York City to learn everything she could about jewelry design and production. She had a great job with a small designer, but decided she wanted to use the skills she acquired and put them to use for something a little more personal. Libby packed her bags, headed home to the mitten and set up shop in Detroit.
DG3: Tell us about Goldeluxe Jewelry?
Libby Hopper: I originally took an interest in jewelry about six years ago. I had always been a collector of vintage jewelry, and after a few inspiring craft sessions with friends, I just started tinkering around with vintage components. I started Goldeluxe as an Etsy shop in 2010 to sell repurposed vintage jewelry (as well as untouched vintage pieces, too), and it all started rolling from there! I became inspired to learn more about jewelry, so I decided to move from Ypsilanti, MI to NYC to break into the industry. I ended up scoring a job with a small jewelry design company as the production manager and learned a ton. Being around beautiful handmade jewelry every day inspired me to take a few jewelry making classes, and from there I had the skills needed to develop my own handmade jewelry line. In December 2014, I moved to Detroit and was able to set up my own little studio and work on my business full time.
DG3: How much success have you had from Etsy and how do you direct traffic to your site?
LH: I have had moderate success on Etsy – but it has been a ton of work to get where I am! I think the best way to stand out is to have professional, compelling photos. I spent about $500 on a decent camera 5 years ago and it was probably the best investment I could have made. Regularly posting new items is also helpful – I think it lets the little search robots know you’re still relevant. Lastly, social media has been a huge help to get traffic to my site. I think it is super important for Etsy sellers to use social media because there are a lot of people that would not even think to shop on Etsy. It’s a pretty daunting place if you’re not into filtering through thousands of items to find that one special piece.
DG3: As far as social media goes, what platform has been the most valuable to your business?
LH: I don’t find much success with Facebook, but I have seen direct sales come out of both Instagram and Pinterest. Instagram is my favorite because it is the best way to get your stuff directly into your followers’ faces. Another reason why my camera has been so crucial to my business!
DG3: What has been the most important business lesson you have learned during the process of creating your business and establishing your brand?
LH: Probably that owning my own business is not just the fun, creative part. I also have to do the less fun stuff like bookkeeping, taxes, emails, marketing, shipping, photography, writing copy, web design, and so much more. I find it really fulfilling to be self sufficient in all of these tasks though – I’d rather do them myself than hire someone else.
DG3: What has been the worst advice you have ever received?
LH: I had a lot of people telling me not to leave New York – that I wouldn’t be able to run a jewelry business in Detroit because I wouldn’t have the NYC jewelry district and all its resources. However, living in Detroit has been a great move for me! It’s more affordable to live here, and my brand is not going to be lost in the mix of the hundreds (thousands?) of other NYC jewelry brands.
DG3: Right now, what's your most favorite piece of jewelry and why?
LH: My favorite piece of jewelry right now is my “Taiga” ring – it’s really comfortable to wear and is a nice every day basic.
DG3: Describe your style.
LH: I kind of swing between a sort of laid-back American heritage style (lots of denim and brown leather) and all black everything. Plus plenty of jewelry, of course!
DG3: What does your workspace look like?
LH: I have a big, sunny room as my studio in the apartment I share with my boyfriend. My workbench and power tools are by one of the windows, and I have a long table in the middle of the room to do all the other stuff – computer work, packaging, etc.
DG3: How do you take your coffee?
LH: Black. Or even better, yerba mate.
DG3: Bauble Bar or Bing Bang NYC?
LH: Definitely Bing Bang. Not a fan of the factory made stuff at Bauble Bar!
DG3: Dylanlex or Mawi?
LH: Dylanlex is awesome.