I am not sure if you would consider my business to be started within the last five years. What are the criteria for this qualification?
In general, we identify your starting point as the time when you started selling your jewelry for income instead of just giving it as gifts or making items for personal use. We do not consider businesses to have started during full-time student years in high school or college.
Ultimately, eligibility is at the sole discretion of the Halstead business development grant judging committee. We believe that many criteria are best evaluated on a case by case basis. If you think there is any question as to your eligibility in this regard, it is your responsibility to convince the committee that this is a new business venture. Please submit your question in advance via email or add a brief explanation to your submission packet.
Please note that the following cases are NOT considered new businesses if they are merely changes to a jewelry company that has been in business for 5+ years:
- A jewelry business that closed in the past and has re-opened
- A new product line
- A new location
- New ownership
- A change in the company or brand name
Are you required to have a college degree or a jewelry education?
No. Many high school graduates are successful small business owners. And we welcome self-taught metalsmiths and jewelry designers. With commitment and practice, you can access complete technical training online nowadays. No specific education or certification is required.
The Halstead Grant is for jewelry artist entrepreneurs. We expect applicants to have jewelry making skills, regardless of how they are acquired. Entrepreneurs who enter the industry with no fabrication skills sometimes launch a jewelry business with just design sketches and completely outsourced production. We applaud all types of small business start-ups. However, this is not an opportunity for work that is entirely outsourced.
Can I apply more than once?
You can apply a maximum of three times total. Each time you apply, you must still be within the five-year window that we establish in the eligibility criteria. We recommend that you wait for 1-2 years after starting your business before applying the first time. You will learn a lot in that time frame. Referring to the Halstead Grant application as a guide can help.
How much time do I need to complete the application?
It depends how much time you have available each week to dedicate to your submission. We recommend starting at least 1-3 months before the application is due. You will need time to think about some of the questions and search online for resources. No one will be able to answer all the application questions in a single weekend. The application experience is designed to push you and motivate you to seek out the resources you will need for your small business to be successful in the long-term. Embrace this as a learning experience that will help your start-up succeed regardless of the grant award outcome.
I primarily sell my jewelry at craft shows, am I eligible to apply?
Maybe. This grant is designed for individuals pursuing a full-time career in jewelry. If you are making jewelry for extra income on the side, you are not eligible. You will also need to demonstrate that you are developing a branded line of products via a well thought out marketing plan. Moreover, the line will need to be for a national or broad regional market, not just within a couple of states.
I buy many of my components, is my work still considered original under the requirements?
A piece may consist entirely of purchased findings if the crafting techniques and design significantly alter their appearance into a unique piece of wearable art. We also encourage the use of original castings, wire-work etc. Please note any original components you have made in your materials lists. Purchased components such as large carved pendants or handcrafted focal pieces should be avoided if you are not the artist. If you review our past finalists, you will find that several companies use component based design.
Do components have to be from Halstead?
No. We welcome the full range of diverse materials available on the market.
Do I have to be a Halstead customer to apply?
No; but, we do hope you will consider us for your future jewelry supply needs.
What if my work is nothing like the work of past winners and finalists?
We are not looking for specific styles, price points or techniques. Judging is based on skill level, originality of design and the viability of the business. You will see a tremendous breadth in styles amongst our past finalists.
Why do you ask for so much business information?
You will find that the essay questions in the submission packet pull from the key sections of most business plans. If you already have a written plan it is easy to pull paragraphs to use for responses. If not, start now. This application will give you an excellent start. Once completed, you will have the fundamental framework for a business plan that would be required by a bank for a loan, an investor or a business partner. Our Jewelry Business Toolkit goes even more in-depth. It is not required for your Grant application but it may be a useful resource.
This application process is not easy. It is designed to test you and make you think about critical issues for your jewelry studio. If you want to earn a living as an independent jeweler you cannot just focus on your jewelry designs; you must also attend to marketing, finance, and production planning. Even if you do not win The Halstead Grant, completing the application will help to prepare you for managing your business. Dozens of finalists have told us that the application process undoubtedly helped them get their companies off the ground.
Which is weighted more heavily, the design component or the business planning component?
They will be weighted equally. Both are critical in the success of a jewelry business.
Any tips to set myself apart?
We are looking for innovation in design. We also want to see a clearly defined sense of style. Many similar pieces are present in the marketplace and we would like to see something different; yet, the collection should be cohesive enough to represent a single brand concept.
We are also looking for thorough business planning. Show us that you have thought about marketing, finances and logistics. We want to see well-rounded individuals that bring both creativity and a business mind to the table. Please read the articles in our Resources section to see some common pitfalls we have noticed among past applicant pools.
Why can't I send in digital images?
We welcome printed copies of photos taken with digital cameras or scanners. However, we will not accept thumb drives, photo disks, CDs or DVDs. These formats are too time consuming to screen for viruses, print in color and review. Thank you for your cooperation.
What about my privacy and business plan confidentiality?
We understand that your application packet will include a great deal of private and proprietary information. We do not share packet contents with anyone outside the judging committee. We promise to safeguard these materials to the best of our abilities. Please accept this assurance in good faith. We receive many applications; so, we will not return signed confidentiality agreement requests.
Will you return my packet?
No. Please do not send in anything that you expect to receive back.
Why don't you accept international applicants?
This is not just a design competition. The business plan essay questions are heavily weighted in the judging process. A new business will usually focus on its native country as their primary market. The judging committee intimately knows the US jewelry market but cannot claim to know every international market to the same extent. We cannot compare international candidates without having the same depth of knowledge about each of the markets where their businesses are rooted. Non-permanent residents living in the U.S. are less likely to keep their businesses in the country in the long term. Permanent residents with a green card who plan to keep their businesses in the US are eligible to apply.
Is the Jewelry Business Toolkit the same as the Halstead Grant application?
No. The Halstead Grant application is designed for start-ups who are new to the field. It is a slimmed down business plan. We break it down into sections and questions to make the process less intimidating.
We offer many other free resources for small jewelry businesses at any phase of development whether they are start-ups, mid-career, or late-career jewelry artists. This content includes interactive online tools and educational blog articles on running a jewelry business (subscribe here). Most recently, we launched the free Jewelry Business Toolkit which helps small business owners create a more robust business plan to use when applying for loans or investment funding. Or, it can simply guide your strategic planning to help you successfully build your business. It is a more complete resource guide when you are ready to take the next steps.
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