Project 2: Colonial Emporium – Steampunk Jewellery

Steampunk jewellery – hand crafted, made to order, and customised for each customer: The Colonial Emporium is an Etsy store showcasing Steampunk jewellery and accessories made from a mix of new and recycled, manufactured and found objects.

What – Project 2

Our second project is also one of the most time – and capital – intensive projects in the list of 101 projects. It requires purchase of raw materials ahead of time, and an ongoing – on demand – time commitment to fulfil orders. The premise is simple – jewellery and accessories in the Steampunk aesthetic, in a range of complementary styles and forms.

Steampunk refers to a subgenre of science fiction and sometimes fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. Although its literary origins are sometimes associated with the cyberpunk genre, Steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century’s British Victorian era or American “Wild West”, in a post-apocalyptic future during which steam power has maintained mainstream usage, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power. It may, therefore, be described as neo-Victorian.

Steampunk perhaps most recognisably features anachronistic technologies or retro-futuristic inventions as people in the 19th century might have envisioned them, and is likewise rooted in the era’s perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, and art. Such technology may include fictional machines like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or the modern authors Philip Pullman, Scott Westerfeld, Stephen Hunt and China Miéville. Other examples of Steampunk contain alternative history-style presentations of such technology as lighter-than-air airships, analogue computers, or such digital mechanical computers as Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine. [Wikipedia]

Materials are sourced from online wholesalers – for commodity items – and a range of flea markets, garage sales, car boot sales and thrift shops. Salvaged items are drawn from personal collections, along with found objects such as sea glass. These allow the creation of unique pieces of Steampunk jewellery for the Colonial Emporium collection.

The range of items produced includes:

  • Earrings
  • Pendants and necklaces
  • Brooches and pins
  • Tie, cravat or lapel pins
  • Cufflinks

The overall aesthetic is intended to be more ‘steam’ than ‘punk’, more understated, practical elegance rather than fussy, fiddly extravagance.

Where

Colonial Emporium - Steampunk jewellery and accessories; a matching brass and ruby rhinestone tie pin and cufflink set, April 2015.
Colonial Emporium – Steampunk jewellery and accessories

Advertising channels for the Steampunk jewellery produced by the Colonial Emporium include Etsy, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.

The domain (www.colonialemporium.com) was secured as a precursor to this project, but currently stands as a direct link to the Etsy store as the primary sales channel.

When

After an initial soft launch in April 2015, a full launch during the 101 days of the 101 projects experiment, with Colonial Emporium Steampunk jewellery being advertised across social media platforms. Product listings on Etsy need to be renewed quarterly. This will be done in a staggered manner, to ensure that there is fresh content on a regular basis.

How

Products will be highlighted on Facebook, Pinterest and twitter on a rotating basis. This will ensure links are visible and present regularly. Stock of Steampunk jewellery components will need to be monitored and managed as there can be long lead times on some items. At short notice components can be bought locally through art and jewellery suppliers but the costs are four or five times higher than buying direct.

Review

Review Colonial Emporium quarterly to ensure that listings remain high quality, relevant and effective. Etsy provides very good tools for tracking visitors, engagement and activity.

May 2015: A handful of Colonial Emporium Steampunk jewellery orders shows a promising start, given the amount of time spent publicising and advertising. The relatively small volume of orders – some off-the-shelf, plus one custom order for bundled pin and cufflink sets – has been sufficient to break even on the supplies.

jon Written by:

As half of the team behind 101projects101days.com, I am a serial starter of things, beginner of projects. I work in bits and in bytes, in words and paragraphs; I work in wood, metal, and paper, in fabric and in leather; I work in fits and in starts. Most of all I work intermittently and inconsistently.

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