Vintage Sparkley Bits, a vintage jewelry Etsy shop, is owned by Roxy, a member of the Vintage Jewelry Leadership Team. Her shop does sparkle with an eclectic offering of beautiful vintage jewelry with designer pieces, playful figurals, artisan abstract items, and more.
We are pleased to explore with Roxy how she started her business, her hope, and dreams. And then there is my burning question: where does she find such wonderful things?
Margie: How and why did you get started collecting Vintage Jewelry?
Roxy: Some years ago I won an online auction lot of “junk jewelry”. There were many beaded pieces in the lot, and I planned to harvest a half dozen beads for a project I was working on in my silversmith class. When the box arrived I discovered about 30-lbs. of old, dirty, tangled jewelry. I was disappointed because of the work I faced in being able to see exactly what I was working with, and I knew it would be time-consuming.
Unexpectedly, while I was untangling and sorting it I became really interested and curious about the history of vintage costume jewelry. I began doing research and listed some items from that initial lot on the same auction site from which I’d purchased it as an experiment. The jewelry sold, and that’s when I realized the value of collecting/selling vintage jewelry. Eventually, most of those items in that first lot sold and paid for itself many times over.
Margie: What pathways led you to open Vintage Sparkley Bits on Etsy?
Roxy: I used that same auction site for many years, but when that market became saturated with costume jewelry dealers, and sales slowed, I began to look for a new site. An antique dealer I know suggested Etsy, so I decided to try it. It was a very different experience, and sales were slow to non-existent until another Etsy seller took me under her wing and tutored me in selling successfully here. Sales improved dramatically in a short period of time, and I’ve stayed with it for almost four years.
Margie: What is your favorite type of jewelry, period of jewelry and/or designer? Why does it inspire you?
Roxy: I love handmade silver jewelry from the mid-century era, and I collect bird brooches of all kinds. I have other collections, but those two are my favorites.
Margie: What other things would like us to know about you and/or Vintage Sparkley Bits?
Roxy: I try to run the shop in an efficient manner. Each piece I list is inspected carefully to be sure the piece is in excellent condition. If a piece with a flaw is listed the flaw is pointed out in the narrative description, a photo is provided illustrating the flaw, and I note that the price reflects less than perfect condition.
Margie: Have you ever found any surprises after you bought something for Vintage Sparkley Bits?
Roxy: When I first started out I bought jewelry lots from other dealers. It’s always a surprise to find a “hidden treasure” among those items. Several years ago I bought a junk lot from a jobber in Atlanta which contained a lot of those. Two I can remember were an original Miriam Haskell beaded necklace and an intricate pearl and ruby necklace from Asia. It pays to be curious.
Margie: When you look for an item for your shop, what are you looking for and where do you look?
Roxy: When I shop I look specifically for things that have a good sales track record in my shop. Brooches, especially figurals, are my big sellers. I buy lots from various online retailers and antique malls are a good source for me, too. I avoid buying pieces that aren’t perfect. A collector expects to buy items in excellent condition, as does someone purchasing a gift.
Margie: What items do you buy that you have to keep for yourself?
Roxy: If an item is one I collect anyway I may choose to keep it, at least for a while or gift to a loved one. I usually shop for items I hope will sell easily in Vintage Sparkley Bits.
Margie: What do you like about having Vintage Sparkley Bits on Etsy?
Roxy: I think it’s the independence which allows me to pursue other interests at the same time. That’s important to me.
Margie: Do you keep items on your site until they sell, or do you cycle them in and out?
Roxy: Yes, I usually keep items on my site until they sell. People do buy items “out of season” and if I have them “in the backroom” and not where people can find them I may have lost an opportunity to sell them!
Margie: Which came first: your love for vintage items or the dream of having your own business?
Roxy: Definitely my love of vintage! Running a business, even one that is “only a hobby” is time-consuming and requires a particular skill set, and those skills develop over time, and through experience. It’s good to have someone who has traveled that path before me to turn to when an issue comes up.
Margie: What have you found is your best source for information when you are researching an item?
Roxy: The internet is wonderful for doing research for just about anything. It’s readily available and easy to use. I do have a small library of resource books, and I find them helpful, especially when I’m researching items which aren’t as popular.
Margie: It is hard to develop good customer service online. Is there something you do special for your customers and if so, what is it?
Roxy: This is probably my favorite area of online sales. I’m a minimalist, so developing my shop policies has been ongoing, and reflect my experiences thus far. Good customer service is a delicate balance of meeting the customer’s needs and my own, and sometimes I have to be flexible with my policies in order to do that. Honesty and courtesy are the best policies any business owner can have.
Margie: How do you market your Vintage Sparkley Bits?
Roxy: I don’t do any outside marketing. I’ve tried social media and found it to be time consuming and unhelpful for me. The partnership Etsy has with Google is helpful to my shop, and positive feedback from satisfied customers is helpful. I don’t solicit feedback, but I’m grateful when I receive it.
Margie: What is the best advice you can give to someone else about selling vintage items?
Roxy: Sell items that are of particular interest to you, and do your homework. If you don’t like what you’re selling and don’t know anything about it, you’re not likely to be successful at it.
Margie: Roxy, since you are a member of the Vintage Jewel Team Leadership, where would you like to see the team in a year?
Roxy: I think the entire leadership team would like to see a thriving organization where members are enthusiastically helping themselves and each other through sharing knowledge and experiences.
Margie: What do you think, currently, is the best thing about Vintage Jewelry Team?
Roxy: For me, it’s people who are so willing to give of themselves to assist others in their success, and are open to new ideas about how the team can grow, encouraging the best, and leading by example. You don’t have to be a team leader to participate fully in the VJT!
Margie: Is there anything else you would like members to know?
Roxy: Don’t be afraid to share your own experiences with the team. We learn by hearing another’s point of view, ideas, questions, etc. Get involved. You may be surprised at the result!
It has been a delight hearing about your experiences, Roxy, as the owner of Vintage Sparkley Bits. But the joy has been all mine, as I got to go through your shop of wonderful photos of even more beautiful jewelry. Part of the perks of this job!