I've been making jewelry since 2009, and have been selling it since 2011. When I started doing craft fairs in 2011, I spent all of 10 minutes deciding on a name: estieMade. It wasn't creative, but it got the idea across - that I had made the pieces I was selling.
Fast forward 6 years. I had progressed from making necklaces with brass charms and beads to actual metal fabrication, using silver, gold and precious stones. I had finally created a couple collections of pieces I felt were my own style and design, and had been toying with the idea of changing the name of my brand to something more professional. I dragged my feet on that for a while, because it meant making decisions, which I was so terrible at. And it would involve so much work. Would I have to start over from what I had built up on etsy? What would I even name my own brand? It would need to be simple and straightforward (nothing cutesy). And oh gosh, I had just ordered a ton of new estieMade business cards...what a waste!
In December 2016, I decided to ask my photographer friend Esther H to shoot my jewelry. I was both scared and excited. Was I even ready to shoot my jewelry on a model? That decision catapulted the rebranding process. While the whole process of planning a shoot was exciting, it actually stressed me out quite a bit. I'm a rather indecisive person, and I was now in a position where I had to make more decisions and tell people what to do. But doing a model shoot really forced me to focus on what I wanted my brand to look and feel like.
During this time, I created a new logo and picked a web address. I decided to go with Esther Kao Jewelry. It was straightforward and I had a vision of what I wanted for the logo: something that would convey my love for geometric shapes. My background is in advertising and graphic design, which meant I could design my own logo and packaging without having to farm that out (yes, saving on costs!). I spent countless hours on Instagram, thumbing through other jewelry designers' packaging photos (yup, that's how I got my inspiration!), taking notes on what I liked. I filled pages of my notebook with costs and measurements and color values for new business cards and boxes. And all that hard work paid off: I've got some cool new branding that I'm really proud of!
Once I had my branding and packaging done, I focused on my website. I knew that I wanted to approach stores to get wholesale orders, and I felt that part of that meant having a standalone website (and not just etsy). As a stay at home mom, I knew that my time was limited. So I didn't put a website launch date deadline on myself. In hindsight, I don't know if that was good or not, but I didn't need the stress of a self imposed deadline on top of everything else. And if I was going to spend so much time and energy on a site, I wanted it done right, even if it took a while. And yes it did take a long time.
I started with by setting up my shop on Shopify in January. It is currently May and I still have not launched my site. Every week, I am hopeful that I will launch, but there always seems to be something more that needs to be fixed or added before I can go public. There are pictures that look fuzzy, or content to update. For the record, I am an art director, not a copywriter. So writing content and catchy headlines for my site has been a real chore. I apologize if the text on my site is cheesy or repetitive. Again, my strong suit is in the visual side of things! And hey, if you're a writer and you're reading this, I will gladly trade you jewelry in exchange for some cooler copy on my site (I'm serious – just email me!).
So that's my journey so far. It's probably always going to be a work in progress, but for now, my hope is to launch my site (and get orders!). Fingers crossed that happens soon!
For anyone that's interested, here's a visual journey of my jewelry style and branding since 2011:
Here's where I started out (i.e. what I had for my first craft fair in 2011). My logo used two stacking E's, and was a play on my etsy url: estieMade on etsy. I was making pieces with brass charms, leather, and stones, and the vibe was rustic and inspired by nature:
Then I moved on to using gold (as opposed to brass), and stopped using stamped findings. I started using gold edged 'rough cut' stones. Still an earthy vibe, but this felt more boho-chic:
From there, I started creating my own designs and fabricating them from metal. So I shifted from gold to silver, and moved on to a clean modern look. I wanted to create unique pieces, instead of copying everyone else that was into the boho-chic look. I was still operating under the name estieMade, but I revamped my logo, ditching the cutesy stacking E's in favor of a modern font and colors:
And after months of working on my new look for Esther Kao Jewelry, this is where I landed. I've got a simple logo to match the look of my jewelry. It is meant to be modern, geometric, and a touch girly. And this is what I'm going forward with as my first launch of Esther Kao Jewelry!