Growing a Cottage Industry

cottage industry jewelry

Alisha, Alison, and Laura hard at work!

Marty Magic Jewelry is a cottage industry, and one that has grown steadily over the past  36 years. Many shops and galleries have carried Marty’s work, and we manage a number of  medium sized wholesale accounts. We recently fulfilled one our largest orders yet, and the process was quite challenging. With that in mind, we thought we’d share our story of some of the “growing pains” we’ve experienced as we take our designs into the corporate marketplace.

Last fall we received an exciting email through our Etsy shop. Free People, a division of Urban Outfitters, inquired about our ear cuff designs. A flurry of e-mails ensued, and before long an official purchase order popped into Marty’s e-mail. The order was substantial but manageable, and we went to work on the production. The most difficult part was not fulfilling the order itself, but instead, learning to interface with a corporation whose style of communication & operation was very different from our own.

There were many additional, unfamiliar steps that were required of us as we prepared the order. Purchase orders needed to be generated, approved and accepted. Labels with barcodes had to be ordered and matched to each purchase order and lead free certificates had to be submitted.

Marty Magic Ear Cuffs

Pile of Quivver & Arrow Ear Cuffs ready to card!

Marty took charge of overseeing the production of the order (“the easy part,” she claims), and assigned Alisha to be in charge of the computer generated paperwork. Free People had online tutorials explaining how to submit, process and prepare an order for shipment, but even so, we all found it quite overwhelming. At one point Marty walked into her daughter’s office to find Alisha with her head on her desk, tears streaming down her cheeks. Despite the hardships, the team pushed through, and soon breathed a sigh of relief as the order shipped out on time.

In April of this year, we received a follow up order of another 300 ear cuffs.  Alisha felt empowered, and quickly went through the motions to get the order prepared, packed, and shipped. No tears, all smiles!

There was, however, one “tiny” additional requirement: we were asked to apply bar code labels and “Made in the U.S.A.” stickers in both English and French, to the two inch squares of black leather that would be used to display the cuffs in Free People’s stores in New York. The squares were provided to us, but we needed to cut slits into the thick leather using an X-Acto knife in order to mount the cuffs. We soon realized that this was no small task, and it took much ingenuity to do it quickly and professionally.

Thankfully, Marty’s husband Art has many geeky talents, and was able to engineer a grid to mark the slits using his laser cutter. After some experimentation we realized that using a chisel to cut the marked slits was easier, and Marty was quick to assign that task to Tim (While on his first vacation to California, no less!). It was a lot of work, but not impossible, and in the end the presentation looked very professional. After sending photos of our presentation to the buyer she sent us an order for another 1200 ear cuffs.

cottage industry jewelry

Tim chiselin’ away in the garage.

With only a small crew, preparing an order of this magnitude was a challenging process. We laughed and stressed together. We spent morning coffee breaks around Marty’s kitchen island, discussing how to tackle the order. We all chiseled leather, pasted bar codes, inserted ear cuffs, and answered countless emails for the past several weeks. It was both exhausting and exhilarating!

A week ago we delivered a quality, professionally-presented product. Très chic, non?

Quiver and Arrow Ear Cuff on leather

Quiver and Arrow Ear Cuff on leather

Angel Heart Ear Cuff on leather

Angel Heart Ear Cuff on leather







We’re proud that through it all, we’ve continued to do business in an ethical way that prioritizes customer service along with the needs of our family and employees.

Team lunch with the Marty Magic Crew, June 16, 2014

Team lunch with the Marty Magic Crew, June 16, 2014

As a home-grown, cottage industry, we go out of our way for our customers: whether it be the presentation of over 1000 ear cuffs or the preparation of an individual or Etsy order.  Marty, Alisha and Alison oversee every step of the process.

It’s been quite the learning experience for all of us here at Marty Magic.  We expect that our ear cuffs will be well received, and we’re excited for more opportunities to share our products with a larger audience. Although our “cottage industry” is going through growing pains, it’s our hope that it may soon become a “bungalo industry.”

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