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Friday, March 30, 2007

Bead sales are always slower in the warmer months of the year. It makes sense that we all want to spend more time outside, and less time with our computers. Me too! But still, there's that pesky need to make a living. So I'm thinking about running an ad in one of the bead magazines again. I haven't been in anybody's spotlight for a while now, so a little shameless self-promotion is in order. I like to look at the ads in those magazines even more than I like the articles. I want to know who's who, who's new, and who's doing what. But I guess I've been slacking in my marketing research, because somehow I totally missed one big company who's a sneaky threat to the hardworking self employed artist-beadmakers of the world.

Austin Hamilton (find the link yourself - I think it's big of me to even mention their name) is not a bead artist. It's a company that imports cheap Chinese factory-made beads, and presents them as artist-made beads. I have to admit, they're getting pretty good at these knock-offs, but the fact remains, they're cheap, low quality beads that will probably break. The price alone tells you what you're getting. It means a factory full of underpaid people crank these things out for pennies a day, while the owners of the company make it all look clean and happy, and offer you a great deal on beautiful garbage.

I'm now looking closer into where these folks advertise, and I'm hoping I can put my own advertising dollars into a publication who doesn't so blatantly disregard the needs of the actual bead artists who have traditionally supported them.

Educating the bead-buying public is important. I recently posted a blurb on my website - About Lampwork Beads. It's easy to be dazzled by all the beads available these days. So it's important to know what you're looking at, and what to look for. There's surely a market for the cheap sweatshop beads. This country has such a strong "Walmart Mentality", but we all know that the cheapest price doesn't always mean the best deal...

Think of lampwork beads as fine art. The well designed, well made pieces are like original paintings. The cheap knock-offs are like posters. They look pretty good for a while, but they hold no value, and most likely will end up in the trash in a short time.

Let's see those Chinese bead factories make one of these! And for the record, I'm not a hater of China or Chinese people... but I really can't tolerate these Bead Thieves... they are pirates in the worst sense of the word. Certainly not Beadists!


Michelle said...

Hi Kim, I have to say I agree with you wholeHEARTedly. I have had some of the Austin Hamilton beads, a while before I found yours,they are more like plastic than glass and they certainly look a lot better on screen than they do in 'the flesh', as it were. I would warn anyone not to buy these, they are extremely cheap imitations of the real thing ~ YOURS ! I would not buy theirs ever again, and asked for their e-mails to be removed from sending to me. Whereas I buy your beads over and over again because they're the real mccoy! Michelle

Kim Miles said...

This is from an email that was sent to me. It's shared with you here with permission from Debbie.

"Dear Miss Kim,
I just wanted to write you in support of your blog about Austin Hamilton bead knock-offs. When I was a "new" beader, I had no idea what sources to buy from, and bought a lot of beads from e-bay...and more often than not, I was disappointed with what I actually received. Austin Hamilton Co. had an auction with a lovely picture of what looked like beautiful beads, which I promptly bid on, and, wow, I thought I was lucky when I "won" them for $9.99...a steal, I thought. Turns out I was right on the "steal" part...the beads I got were obvious knock-offs (even to a new beader like myself), they were cheap-looking, ugly, and nothing like what was pictured. Two years later, I still haven't used them, as they didn't belong in any of my designs; after reading your blog, I am happy to put them where they belong--in the garbage! I would have never bought them had I known more about beads and knock-offs then; new beaders like myself need to know these things, and I appreciate that you are willing to talk about such vendors as Austin Hamilton! Please continue to write about the stuff that nobody wants to address, but that new beaders need to know! By the way, when my budget becomes a little less constrictive, I plan to start buying your yummy cupcakes every week! I want them all!!!

Best wishes to you, and thanks again for your beading expertise! :)