There’s no denying it, boutique products often come with a higher price tag than what you’d pay at a franchise store! If you’ve ever wondered what justifies the price difference, read on because this post will explore the creative process in a boutique versus a franchise, explaining how new designs come into being. It will look at how shopping small gives buyers opportunity to shop in alignment with their values. You’ll see how personal the process of creating boutique products can be, and what sets the handmade buying experience apart from mass production. At the end of this short read you will have fresh insight into the value behind handmade work, helping you feel more confident about making values-based consumer choices.
When you buy original works you’re buying a piece of a person's creative identity. And people buy art because they recognise and resonate with it. It helps them express their own creativity in a fresh way. That personal connection is not at play in the same way in large companies, which typically have whole teams of people operating software and machinery to deliver different aspects of the creative process. From researching what’s trending, what sells reliably year after year and finding the most economical methods to produce on scale, staying close to artistry is not generally the focus of a corporation. In contrast, from ideation to product development, a person or a small group of people are behind that hand made product with their art and reputation at stake, open to both praise and criticism. Putting themselves out there to present a fresh take on a colour combination or a new way to wear body jewellery.
Often the creative process is intensely personal. At Luminous Design, ideation begins with
much needed getaways to the coast. Inspiration comes from switching from thinking to feeling while soaking in the sensations of being on the beach. Design ideas, unformed at this stage, bubble up and take shape when I’m back at my bench manipulating silver in various ways while under the influence of music (often metal music). Sometimes the idea works the first time and other times it becomes a test run that goes into my personal collection. Many Luminous pieces are one of a kind because they are designed around unique gemstones. Many of the designs I do repeat are customised for individuals with initials, names and special messages hand carved into them. My style is organic with slight variations in shape, size, sometimes texture, which leads to pieces that other earthy jewellery lovers are drawn to. It is a very different vibe to the uniformity achieved by franchise outlets.
The freedom to make decisions that reflect the values of your brand is one of the most satisfying aspects of owning a small business. Rather than being compelled to cut corners or compromise on quality to maximise profits for investors, boutiques have the opportunity to work in ways that reflect care for sustainability, originality, and durability. Shoppers are increasingly aware of the impact of their choices in driving market viability, and increasingly spend their money with businesses that share their values.
Precious metal clay is the backbone of Luminous Design - an innovative Japanese product whereby atoms of silver are reclaimed from industrial processes and converted into a craft medium. It is slightly more expensive than forged silver (which I also buy in recycled form) but I love the fact of how it’s made, along with how perfectly it captures texture and lends itself to ‘perfectly imperfect’ designs. Luminous packaging has been selected on the bases of aesthetic appeal, how well it protects pieces in the post, and also because it is 100% recycled and recyclable, using soy oil based inks (which biodegrade a lot faster than petroleum based inks). Without investors prioritising profit above all else, these are decisions small businesses have the flexibility to make and their loyal customers love them for it!
The experience of shopping small is, unsurprisingly, a very human affair. At Luminous Design Store I show my customers love through attentive service, options for personalises designs, thoughtful handwritten notes and little extras for repeat customers along with two years warranty. My gratitude to customers comes from the fact that their love of my work enables me to do it - I depend on them. So each parcel I put together is designed to delight. This is not an experience available with a purchase from your local jewellery franchise. Even high end jewellers, while their packaging is of high quality, cannot replicate the warmth of a heartfelt gifting experience! Only the care and attention of another human being can make a person feel cared for, which is only really possible when done on a small scale:
I’ve just opened it. Soooooo amazing, incredible, beautiful. The whole experience of opening the package was so much fun. It just oozed love, care and intention. It felt so special and I have such a lovely feeling about my lovely jewellery. It is very special in a way I can’t describe. - Galia 2020
So there you have it, an explanation of what really goes into boutique making and why handmade products may cost a little more than pieces churned off a production line. Every sale matters to a small business, and every customer supports real people to do what lights them up. Your choice to shop small is an act of independence that pushes back against the tides of cheap consumerism and fast fashion. So on behalf of small enterprises everywhere, thank you for the support, and thank you for reading to the end.
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Until next time,