Archive for ruby lane

Ruby Lane: A former shop owner’s saga continues…..

A couple weeks ago, I posted an entry about my very poor experience as a shop owner on Ruby Lane. You can read it in its entirety here

That post has received a plethora of responses, including some from other former Ruby Lane shop owners with similar poor experiences. Additionally, I’ve received a number of email messages from shop owners telling me their tales who didn’t want to post them. Sadly, what I discovered was that my experience was far from unique. My original post did NOT berate or in any way make derogative comments about the other shop owners on the site.

Yesterday, I received this comment from another Ruby Lane shop owner, who, whether he/she wanted to or not, speaks volumes about the Ruby Lane vibe. Unfortunately, this alleged Ruby Lane shop owner didn’t leave an email address nor a shop URL link, so I can’t respond to him/her directly. I’ve not edited any content and am publishing in its entirety.

***Lavender says:
Kirsty, I’ve been on RL for years and can say nothing but good about the site and the CS personnel. I can understand their viewpoint. They are managing with the same level of staff, but have to deal with this explosion of little shops who are trying to make some money by stringing some beads together and who obviously don’t possess a background in jewelry making. I am not saying your shop was like that, but RL has too many of such shops, making the same types of jewelry. The reason there is an artisan jewelry section is because there is demand for all types of artisan jewelry, even the simple string the beads together. But at this time, maybe because of the economy, or maybe because of sellers exiting eBay and trying other avenues, there are way too many such shops for this stringing beads type of simple jewelry.

I can understand the frustration of the RL customer service, because they get asked the same stupid questions over and over again, and most of it comes from the jewelry shops. You merely have to click into the Forums to read the published questions and all of the articles they take the time to write about everything the jewelry sellers are doing wrong. Yet strangely, there are very few articles written by the CS staff about the antique shops. All I am saying is I can understand the CS side of it and empathize with their workload. There are some very good artisan jewelry shops on RL and I am not referring to the shops that string beads together; I’ve made quite a few purchases from a few of the better shops and I can sing their praises.

Anyway I love RL. I make a lot of money on the site. The eBay type of sellers who open a shop tend to last just a few months and then the shops disappear. The shops who are really skilled and knowledgable are able to last and endure with steady and constant profits.**

and then, one more from my pal Lavender:

**
Lavender says: I should add it was another RL antique shop who passed me this link, and she got it from another RL shop, so the link to your expression of dissatisfaction towards RL is making the rounds among the better antique shops on RL.

I wish you luck on this site.
**

All righty then. As I stated in my original post, Ruby Lane has been around for 10+ years. By outward appearances, a respectable, well organized, established online shopping site. Those things were part of the reason I opened my shop in the first place. I expected a level of professionalism and customer service that I did not receive. Clearly, Lavender places the blame for my poor experience on the artisan jewelry shop owners, not the Ruby Lane staff.  If I received less than stellar service, then, well, it was my own fault apparently.

If Ruby Lane feels like these new artisan jewelry shops are too small-time for their site, or that they are overwhelmed with “small” shops asking “stupid questions over and over again”, then perhaps Ruby Lane should consider more strictly jurying the site.  As it stands, RL took my fees and did not, in my opinion, live up to its proclamation of “excellent customer service” as stated on its “Why Sell With Us” reasons.

I’m pleased to know that my blog post is “making the rounds among the better antique shops on RL”.  I also checked today, and, you remember the link error that started this whole thing? It’s corrected, sort of, finally NOW. Power to the little people. LOL Hooray for the power of blogging.  :-) (The shop page STILL says “Ruby Lane is home to over 1900 independently-owned online shops from around the world, showcasing exceptional Antiques, hard-to-find Vintage Collectibles quality Fine Art, and fabulous Antique & Vintage Jewelry. “ Artisan jewelry is not mentioned in this tag line  UPDATE 11/6/2008: RL has finally added a link to the shopping page for Artisan Jewelry.)

My original message of Caveat Emptor remains the same. Additionally, artisan jewelry shops should probably be aware of the animosity towards your art that exists with some of the older Ruby Lane shops.


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Ruby Lane: The grass may not be greener than Etsy

I am sharing this with etsy sellers and other artisans as a cautionary tale.  Many of us have spoken about setting up shop on other artisan selling sites. Before plunking down your hard earned moola on Ruby Lane, you might want to investigate them a bit more. Please solicit feedback from other etsy sellers that have closed their shops on Ruby Lane recently. Make sure you understand, exactly, what kind of customer support and shop advertising you purchase for your $35 or more monthly fee.

And so, without further adieu, here is my Ruby Lane Artisan Jewelry shop owner tale….

According to the Ruby Lane (RL) website it is “an online venue that hosts a community of hundreds of individually-owned shops from around the world.” Its a bit more pricey than etsy, but they supposedly advertise in more places and do offer some functionality for shop owners that etsy does not. RL includes ‘lanes’ for antiques, collectibles, fine arts and jewelry. Regarding the supposed advertising, what I found was that RL heavily advertises its antiques, but not much else. RL does offer to reimburse up to 40% of the shop owner’s off site advertising fees -  as long as the ads are pre-approved AND link to your RL shop.  RL also allows shop owners to contribute articles to their blog. In theory, this sounds good, right?

I wanted to take advantage of the advertising reimbursement program, so I submitted my request and received notification that my advertisement medium was preapproved. I paid for my advertisement and submitted my invoice according to RL’s stated reimbursement process.  After not receiving a return email message, I followed up several times, with no reponse nor reimbursement. Around this same period, I also submitted an article for the RL blog. My submission was received by a Ruby Lane staff member who stated that she wanted to use my article, and would follow up with me.  She didn’t.

A couple of weeks ago, RL updated the site to include an artisan jewelry ‘lane’. There was an issue with the way the site navigation worked following this change, so I contacted Ruby Lane’s Live Support.  The Live Support Rep stated that the navigation worked correctly. It didn’t. Still doesn’t.

So, I tried submitting the navigation issue via an email that included all the pertinent links to Ruby Lane site help. Additionally, based on RL’s previous non-responsiveness, I also emailed the info to two other Ruby Lane shop owners that I know, asking them to submit the same error. I thought that if more than one shop owner contacted them about the navigation error, perhaps RL would deem the change important to us and fix it.  (See the details in the email below…)

> Hi
> I noticed a small discrepancy that may keep buyers from finding
> our artisan jewelry.
>
> If you visit the Ruby Lane home page http://www.rubylane.com/ and click the SHOP
> icon, located in the upper left corner of the page, you will be brought to a SHOP WITH
> RUBY LANE page, http://www.rubylane.com/info/shop.html
>
> You will notice in the left navigation links for
> Shop
> Antiques
> Collectibles
> Fine Arts
> Jewelry
>
> And then a bunch of links for the different lanes under Shop Directory. A new visitor
> looking to browse Jewelry items might not notice all those links, but would probably just > click on the JEWELRY link located at the top of the list.
>
> Clicking JEWELRY brings the visitor to
> http://www.rubylane.com/jewelry.html, which ONLY lists Antique and Vintage
> Jewelry, no artisan. Not good for those of us that are in the Artisan Jewelry lane.
>
> Can you add ARTISAN as a category on this page
> http://www.rubylane.com/jewelry.html ? Or else point the JEWELRY link on the shop.html page to a more generic jewelry search page?
>
> The way the JEWELRY link works today, it appears that Artisan Jewelry is not part of > the site. And many browsers may not notice the additional lane link to the Artisan
> Shops.
>
> Thanks!
> Kristy

Guess what, Ruby Lane didn’t think the navigation issue was very important. It still hasn’t been corrected. Below, is RL’s response to me. (SAME DAY! WOW! That’s a first!) I’ve edited slightly to remove my email message above which was quoted in their response.

Hello Kristy,
The information you offered about links on the Shop page was passed along to appropriate technical staff yesterday morning after Customer Support received an email about it identical to your own from a different shop owner and the issue they reported had been investigated.

We note that you contacted several shop owners and sent them the same email you sent to us, along with this request:
===============
My Email Message Quoted here in RL’s response
===============
This activity on your part had the direct effect of making it necessary for multiple members of Ruby Lane staff to spend time investigating the issue relayed about the page, including contacting other staff about it and answering email from the shops you contacted. Realistically, this time could have been better spent. Had only one member of staff checked the issue mentioned and answered questions about it just one time this would have freed time for our other staff and allowed quicker responses by them to other non-artisan shop owners’ issues and concerns.

We understand that you are a shop owner who is fairly new to Ruby Lane. Perhaps you are not familiar with voiced concerns being taken seriously or perhaps in reporting issues of this nature on other sites you are more familiar with receiving no satisfactory response, at all.

Please keep in mind going forward that we do always carefully consider shop owner’s concerns. Every email of this nature received is important to us. We ask shop owners to refrain from asking the same question more than once, as this does not help to speed the investigation or response process along.

There are a very large number of shops currently on the site. We would appreciate if you kept in mind going forward that the Ruby Lane staff is a small professional team. We manage the site day in and day out, while at the same time planning and adding new features, programs and tools – all at a cost that everyone can afford. In the future if you have a concern about a site feature or notice a problem we would of course want you to contact us to let us know. But do offer us the advance courtesy of assuming we might be willing to acknowledge and address it, and refrain from attempting to encourage multiple email submissions to our staff about the same issue from other shops, as though you already know that we will not.

Thanks in advance for your future consideration in this regard.

Respectfully,
Name withheld to protect the less than stellar customer support person
Ruby Lane Customer Support

Um, all righty then.  So, my response…………..

Good afternoon “Name withheld to protect the less than stellar customer support person,”

While I appreciate that “every email of this nature received is important to us. We ask shop owners to refrain from asking the same question more than once, as this does not help to speed the investigation or response process along.”, my experience thus far with Ruby Lane customer service has not proved this statement.

To date, I’ve sent 4 messages requesting reimbursement for a previously approved ad as well as two to follow up on a previous message to submit an article for your blog. No response as of yet for the reimbursement requests, which started the end of August
and were approved earlier than that. And, after a preliminary response from your staff that they would like to use the article, nothing when I followed up. And that was weeks ago.

When you say ‘perhaps you are not familiar with voiced concerns being taken seriously” I haven’t experienced that yet, so you are right, I am not familiar.

So, based on my previous experiences with follow through, I thought that contacting 2 other shop owners in which I had a relationship might speed along the process.

Me

You know, I’d almost expect a response like that from a relatively new site, like etsy. But this is a company that has been online since 1998. 10 years!

I’ve closed my RL shop. I’m not spending my dollars with a company that shows so little respect for those that pay their bills.  And, was the navigation link updated? Nope. If you visit their home page and click the Shop link, the link for Jewelry on the subsequent page STILL only lists antique and vintage jewelry. Nice. Not exactly “planning and adding new features, programs and tools” for its artisan jewelry shop owners are they?

If you have made it this far, I thank you for reading. :-)

UPDATE 1: I’ve received several messages from former shop owners with similar and MUCH MUCH worse tales about Ruby Lane. Caveat emptor everyone.

UPDATE 2: The saga continues here http://shinyadornments.com/simplyshiny/2008/10/ruby-lane-a-former-shop-owners-saga-continues/

ruby lane warning problems bad service for shop owners


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Etsy Artist Profile: Indigoskye

I’ve met many very talented artists on etsy in the teams that I belong. I’ll be highlighting them in the coming weeks on my blog.

Wendy, of IndigoSkye, is a fellow JET team member. She says “My jewelry pieces feature genuine natural stones or handmade art glass set in sterling silver or gold fill findings. I strive for unique but simple designs that can be worn to the office or out on the town with ease. Each piece is lovingly handmade by me one at a time in my studio.”

Etsy shop name: indigoskye
Name: Wendy Van Camp
Where else can we find you and your work?: Various Conventions and
Festivals also my website http://www.indigoskye.com/
Blog: www.indigoskye.com/blog
Your tuts or informational articles you would like to share:
Beadweaving Basics and Pom Pom Earrings

What are your jewelry beginnings? Where did you start and how did you
progress to work you are creating today?
My first jewelry project was making my bridal veil and matching jewelry for my bridesmaids to be used for my wedding twelve years ago. We were trying to save money since we were paying for our wedding ourselves. I found making the veil and jewelry to be very relaxing and took up beadweaving as a hobby. The next year I made a few things to sell at local craft shows and started a website.

During my second year in business I switched from strictly beadweaving to making jewelry with metals via wirewrapping since it was more profitable. I took a basic wirewrapping class at the local bead store and used simple tools from the hardware store. It was enough for me to make the leap into medium level art and craft shows and to begin building a name for myself as an artist. I was working 50% of the time as a television professional and 50% as an artisan jeweler. Jewelry sold during the off peak times of television production so the two fields combined together well. I would end up directing TV shows during the summer months and selling jewelry in the late fall and early spring.

In the sixth year of my business, the television industry started to go bust. Many of the companies that I freelanced for either went under or started to farm their TV commercials overseas. I was a producer/director without clients. However, at the same time the jewelry artisan circuit began to be more profitable for me. A friend of mine had talked me into taking advanced level jewelry making classes in order to increase my skills set. I was rewarded by an increase of sales in my booth that simply got better and better each year. I continue to take jewelry workshops as time allows and am blessed to live in an area where many of the best instructors live and teach. I’ve also been upgrading my tools and feel that I have the basics for a decent jewelry studio.

Now days, I am a full time artisan jeweler. In addition to wirewrapping, I do minor silversmithing, stamping and roller printing in my jewelry lines. I still have a few mid-level craft fairs that I attend, but mainly I sell at large festival events or conventions. I am working on getting my ETSY shop up and running. It’s been difficult due to my busy booth schedule. I simply don’t get a chance to take photos as often as I like, but I’m determined to kick start my online sales and toward this end I joined an Etsy street team called the JETS. They are a fun group of talented artisans and I’ve been learning much about online marketing from them.

What are your favorite materials?
Sterling Silver, Semi-precious stones

What inspires you?
Everything. Sometimes I’m out walking the dog in the park and the way a tree is shaped will translate into a jewelry design at a later time. Sometimes I see a color combination that I like and I remember it for later. You never know where an idea might come to you.

How do you describe your design style?
My designs are simple. I tend to go toward the “less is more” principal. I like the natural texture of the stones or the texture of wire coils or chainmaile to be the focus of the jewelry instead of it being too busy.

What artists have influenced you, and how?
Connie Fox is the biggest influence on my art. I’ve taken several workshops with her and after each one I go home full of new ideas and techniques to try. Eventually these techniques get absorbed into my own styles. Eni Oken is another influence. I met her at a jewelry class that we were both taking, she being an advanced student and I a beginner, and was astounded by the beautiful coiled jewelry she brought along with her. Later, I purchased her online tutorials and have been incorporating a few of her techniques into my jewelry lines. Finally, Don Norris is the last influential artist. I have been learning silversmithing from him via his DVD tutorials. Don’s style is worlds away from anything that I would create myself, but again, I am learning much from his techniques.

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
Be prepared to work hard and devote a great deal of time to your business in addition to perfecting your art. Take a business course at SCORE and make sure that you understand the tax laws and the basic concepts of running a business. Ask questions. Be patient. Stick with it! Be kind to your customers and fellow artisans. Be true to yourself and know that you are a unique and talented person who deserves to be creating as much as the next person.

How do you spend time when you are NOT creating? I love to cook and to garden. My AARS rose bushes are my pride and joy. I also grow exotic hot chile peppers. This past year I’ve taken up OAMC (author’s note: see more info about OAMC here) style cooking in order to save money on groceries and to make the domestic part of my life easier. I’ve always been fond of cooking with my crockpot, but now I’ve added a Nesco Roaster Oven to my arsenal. It leaves me more time for making jewelry or working on other projects.

Where have you been published or profiled?
Two necklaces that I worked on with groups were recently published in Belle Armoire Magazine. I’ve been profiled as an artist in Cyndi Lavin’s Jewelry & Beading Blog. I have published a few tutorials on beadweaving that are still available on the internet. One is “Beadweaving Basics” at: http://www.eebeads.com/Webzine/june/6_10_97.htm
and another is a tutorial on Pom Pom Earrings at: http://www.bead-arts.com/pompom-delica-earrings-by-wendy-van-camp/

You can view more of Wendy’s work at Indigoskye’s etsy shop

Stay tuned in upcoming weeks for more talented etsy artist profiles from my JET and ABS team members.