Sometime in May, I was talking to a family member, *Albert, on the phone about some African Beads he had inherited.  Albert wanted to know what they were worth because he wanted to sell them at an upcoming garage sale.  I told him I would do some research and get back to him.  Since I work occasionally at a local bead shop, I had access to this type of information.

About a month ago, Albert and another family member, *Bertrand, came for a visit and brought said African Beads.  Albert knew I made jewelry so he asked if I could do something with them and he would pay me for my time and supplies.  I said, “Ok. Whatever.  No problemo” or something to that effect.  We didn’t discuss it further.  That was my mistake.  I should have thought about how much time and money it would cost to do this project but at that time, I didn’t know how big a job it was going to be.

Flash forward to today and hurray, I finally finished the african bead jewelry.  Albert will have 24 items to sell at his garage sale!  When I first started this project, I really had no idea how many beads there were.  Of course, I saw them in bags but it wasn’t until I actually sat down and started making stuff that I realized what I was getting into.


The 24 items I made with the African Beads

Albert and Bertrand suggested I send pictures as I finished the pieces so we could all agree (or disagree) that I was on the right track.  Well, I never got around to taking pictures, just kept making stuff hoping that they would be happy with the final product.  Also, I went through a creative slump for several days where I couldn’t even make one piece I was satisfied with.


For my business, Urban Rhythm Designs, I usually choose my own beads for jewelry and fabric for my purses, pillows, and art quilts.  I have yet to have someone provide the beads for me to use in their items…until now.  Although, I like the African Beads that Albert gave me I wouldn’t choose them on my own.  I prefer Kazuri beads from Kenya.



So before a family member drops a bag of African Beads on you, decide ahead of time how much you will charge to make each item.  For instance, in the necklace above, the materials (not including the african beads) cost about $3.00 (paper beads, wire, toggle, crimp and crimp cover and wire guard).  Add $10-$20 per piece for labor at the minimum and you have a total cost of $16.00 for the necklace.  Another way to look at cost of supplies is to consider the price of a nice toggle to close a bracelet or necklace, which is on average $2.00-$3.00.  Multiply that by 24 pieces and you have a cost of $50 just for toggles!

I haven’t discussed cost with Albert.  I’m waiting to send the bill with the package of jewelry (which I haven’t done yet).  I don’t think he realizes how much it would cost him and I feel like I can’t charge the full amount because we never discussed it prior to me accepting the job.  It was my responsibility to talk about my fees at the beginning.  He is, however, going to make money on these pieces.  His garage sales are events and he is well-known in his neighborhood for being the King of garage sales.  Albert sets up his space like a boutique and his prices are higher than your average sale.

This is a lesson learned for me because if this ever happens again I will state upfront what the cost of supplies will be and the cost of my labor.  I no longer can do this stuff for free. However, I have enjoyed the creative process and it’s one more way to get my name out there.


*names have been changed to protect the innocent