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Old 06-03-2009, 06:21   #1
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Jewelry Business while underway?

I have had a successful artisan jewelry business for a few years now and would like to continue it abroad.

Is it difficult to travel from country to country with a supply of jewelry making supplies (sterling, pearls, etc) as well as an inventory of jewelry that I am selling online? Does anyone know about how it works with duties/customs, etc? I thought I could stop making and selling jewelry but I miss it and did well at it and would like to find a way to continue it while we cruise. (There's nothing like selling pearls to a family on a picnic table at the local bait shop we pull into for the night!)

Does anyone else have experience at jewelry-making while underway?

Thanks for your help!

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Old 06-03-2009, 06:30   #2
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Give It a Try!

Some years ago we met a young woman and her husband in Martinique who made a very respectable living by making jewlery while underway from materials they collected at various locations they visited. The lady had converted her aft cabin to an impressive, albeit small, "studio" and would hold "shows" from time to time aboard their boat, one of which cost me $200 USD (and the last one we attended!)

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Old 06-03-2009, 08:55   #3
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I would think if you try and be "legal" in the various places it would be tough....i.e. work permits, business licenses, taxes and so on.

If you did it as a "hobby" your little onboard work shop and materials may not be a big deal to the authorities.
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Old 06-03-2009, 08:57   #4
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The only way this works is to keep the volume of materials to a manageable physical size. Most boats fill to capacity with cruising gear so a whole store inventory has to be quite small or the boat very large. Hawking jewelry on the beach is common in all tourist areas around the world. You may have to compete a bit. If you keep it as a simple cash business and you can chat up customers it could do OK.

If the business starts to look like a store or you compete against locals that resent it you could make the radar screen and have customs / immigration issues. If it all looks casual most will assume it is.
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Old 06-03-2009, 13:18   #5
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If you really intend to make a go of this, I'd suggest a few (obvious) points...
1) Cruisers, not locals, will be your main customer base. Hence, you will need to be where the cruisers are, not at some isolated anchorage.
2) If you will be cruising the South Pacific, spend time in the Tuomotus and load-up on black pearls. They can be had, in quantity, for surprisingly little cash. Bring a method to drill and mount the pearls for pendants, necklaces, rings, etc. Our experience there was that the groups of cruisers passing through the area in the May-July time-frame bought lots of pearls, but lacked the ability to turn them into something other than glorified marbles. Any excess can then be offloaded in Tahiti.

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Old 06-03-2009, 15:55   #6
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Hey sailing! There was an article in Latts and Atts not long ago about a really nice couple with a art jewelery biz aboard...I'm gonna try and find it for ya.

Here's to swimmin' with bowlegged women!
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Old 07-03-2009, 08:11   #7
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Thanks for all the advice! I have asked several forums about this. Different answers. I would definitely not want to sell to other tourists to compete with the countries' tourism, just more casual to other cruisers and online as we go. I am nervous to have the expensive inventory onboard - I might send it back to my family after we leave the states and then make jewelry from the shells, South Sea Pearls, and perhaps polymer clay jewelry that I've dabbled in before.

I would love any articles that pertain to it from Lats and Atts and Living Aboard ( I think they had one too).

Thanks for all the encouragement and advice. I'd love to hear more!
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Old 09-03-2009, 01:43   #8
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I think it is a great idea. It's quiet, the tools take up little space and if it brings you a sense of accomplishment...Hell...go for it. As mentioned in other posts. You can pick up some interesting raw materials along the way.
svHyLyte mentioned paying $200 for a piece. At that price you would not have to sell more than a few pieces a month to supplement your kitty and move on.
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Old 09-03-2009, 13:44   #9
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Originally Posted by sailingchic View Post

Thanks for all the encouragement and advice. I'd love to hear more!

I think its in the terminology as James said.

Remember its not a jewellery making business it is handicrafts, a hobby, craft work, souvenir collecting and mounting. Any bits of sterling silver, gold etc are just metals you use mounting your trinkets so exempt for duty

I also think it will be other cruisers who will be the buyers. Thats no worries! Cruisers want nice things too!

Good luck

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Old 09-03-2009, 17:20   #10
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I think your boat would be a prime target for thieves, a floating jewelry store! Once the word gets out and it will.
Be careful!!
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Old 17-03-2009, 04:58   #11
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Thanks for all your tips. I have decided to mail the inventory back to my family when we head South. But I have enjoyed seeing it again (each is lovingly made) and being able to sell it briefly on my Etsy shop. I will be concentrating on my art and photography while underway. I think it will be less complicated over the long run. I hope to make stuff along the way with local beads though, for fun.

Thanks again!

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