In the spotlight: Nadine Kieft
1. Where does your passion for jewelry/goldsmithing come from?
As a child I loved manual work and soldering with tin, but I have to say that jewelry was not my thing. Fast-forward quite a few years and during my Journalism studies I met a goldsmith. When I saw her working with these tiny gems and tough-looking tools, I found it magical.
I realized that goldsmithing could well be my cup of tea. I definitely enjoy creating my own jewelry more than developing concepts with colleagues. I like to work on my own and craft beautiful objects from A to Z.
2. Do you first create your jewels and then sell them or do you create them upon order?
Both. At first I would only create a jewelry collection with the intention of selling it afterwards, but I didn’t take any custom orders. I felt it was too much of a challenge: what if you mess up a wedding band or if you can’t manage to finish it on time? Now I have ten to fifteen appointments for custom jewelry a week and I sometimes struggle to get everything done.
3. What makes a good goldsmith and/or jewelry designer?
Needless to say, you should be capable of using the right techniques and creating beautiful designs, but above all, you must have good entrepreneurial skills. That means persevering, being creative and having good problem-solving skills. I do everything myself, from taking photos to running the online store. Having a keen interest in marketing is also a nice little extra. After all, you should know how to sell yourself. I also always ask people how they found me. In 90% of cases they tell me they discovered me via my online store.
4. How do you explain that people find your online store so easily?
In the past I never advertised and I only had a website. When I was invited for an interview by the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant, I need to launch an online store for readers who were interested in buying my products. And thank god I did! Whenever I had a look, I saw new orders pouring in! I still make sure that when my work is showcased in the media everything is well organized. I actually really enjoy marketing. I also feel that when you sell your products online, you need to make sure that you have a good online presence. I advertise on wedding websites, via Google AdWords, Facebook and Flavourites. I love the fact that I can rely on the internet and social media, because if they didn’t exist, I wouldn’t be able to attract customers.
"You should be capable of using the right techniques and creating beautiful designs, but above all, you must have good entrepreneurial skills."
5. On your website you say that you want to learn something new every year. Tell us a little more about this intention.
Two years ago, I spent a month in Florence, learning how to set gems. It allowed me to try out new techniques at my own pace and I loved it! Normally, you are tied by assignments and deadlines, and as a result, you don’t really have the time to try out new things. That month gave me so much energy and had such an impact on my collection, giving it a fresh, new and more refined look thanks to my newly found skills.
6. What are your favorite assignments?
The best assignments are those where customers give you freedom. Of course there’s an initial meeting to find out what type of persons they are and what suits them best. And that’s generally very easy to figure out based on their preferences in the current collection. If then they let you do your thing, you can really create the most beautiful designs. Needless to say, trust is very important in this view.
Then there are very special assignments, which are anything but fun to do, but so meaningful. An example? Parents who’ve lost a child or a mother who is very ill and wants to give her child jewelry as a gift. These situations are so intense, but it’s nice to know you can really mean something to someone. I can create something for these people that will be cherished forever.
7. You own not only Nadinekieft.com but also the online store GoLDFABRIK. Tell us all about them!
I actively manage both online stores. Nadine Kieft was running smoothly, so I thought, “Why not launch GoLDFABRIK too?”. At first, that didn’t go as easily as I thought it would. After all, you need to put a lot of time into it. On my own website I sell my own work and some vintage pieces, while GoLDFABRIK is a site for fair-trade gold jewelry developed by myself and other jewelry designers. I contacted them myself and I set out to find people who, I felt, make beautiful jewels – nothing too common, but rather creations you would expect to find in a magazine.
"I always ask people how they found me. In 90% of cases they tell me they discovered me via my online store."
8. What do you like the most about being your own boss?
I created my own dream job. I do the things I like and it’s so incredibly versatile. I love taking photos of jewelry and photoshopping them, designing my website, flyers and promotional materials, and drafting press releases. I also love to come up with new concepts to boost my sales. An example is Coffee & Jewels, a jewelry sample sale in various cafés in my neighborhood. The human aspect is also a lot of fun. I like that when people buy my jewelry, it’s the start of their own story and they choose pieces that match their character.
9. What else do you hope to achieve?
Since I’m seeing my business grow, I would like to employ staff, initially part-time and eventually I’m hoping to have two to three full-time employees, each with their own expertise, such as gem setting or goldsmithing.
10. Any golden tips for other online merchants?
Yes, two tips, actually:
- Find out how to boost your online visibility, not only in terms of SEO, but also by finding websites where you can advertise and by harnessing the power of social media. When doing so, choose the channels that suit you best.
- Showcase who you are and give people an idea of how you work. I recently gave my website a makeover and I replaced “we” by “I”, which is much more honest. Don’t look at what others are doing, but focus on showcasing your assets.