Wearable fitness trackers have already seen a surge of success, a drop in popularity and something of a revival thanks to the incorporation of smartwatch-like capabilities. Layering in more functionality and updated designs for wearables, companies like Fitbit and Jawbone are revolutionizing the way we collect and monitor personal health data. These gadgets have also inspired a fresh market of accessories to make fitness bands more fashionable, as they’re often worn on a daily basis to a range of events, from the office to date night.
Striving to make fitness bands more aesthetically accommodating is Amy Lionheart of Purple Koi Designs. Her shop offers handmade pouches to hold Fitbit trackers, with interchangeable chains for a variety of looks. Today we hear from Amy on the design process behind her smart jewelry, including the meticulous selection process for materials used, the launch of Purple Koi Designs’ mens line for Fitbit One, and how the new trend for wearable designs impact her business.
Purple Koi Designs has also extended a special discount to The Clever Life readers, for 10% off purchases. Use the code “XMAS10″ now through Jan. 15, 2015.
TCL: What fitness wearables do you use in your personal life?
Amy: Right now I just wear the Fitbit Flex. I used to try to just use smartphone apps, but with an actual device like the Fitbit I don’t need to input every little thing. It makes life a lot easier.
I see you also make steampunk products – is that combination of technology & functionality what sparked your interest in creating a fashion bracelet for wearables? (In other words, how did you come about creating smart jewelry?)
In general I make what I enjoy or find interesting. Then I use orders from people like votes. The more orders for a particular item, the more I expand on that item. I originally just did steampunk jewelry, props & accessories. Being a maker I get all sorts of suggestions from family and friends. Most of them flop. My husband had a co-worker who was not happy with any of the options out there for the fitbit flex. I made her a number of options of fashion bracelets for wearables and she loved them. She suggested I make & sell more online. I did and it has been a huge success.
Could you share a bit about the creation process for the smart pockets?
I start off with the highest quality leather I can get my hands on. I have to drive over an hour one way to hand-pick each hide. I also carefully select vegan alternatives as well. Then from years of working with [and] making costume jewelry I take silver- or gold-plated findings and pair them with hand selected stones, beads, and pearls. I tend to be very picky as every piece is important to be of a high standard for professional customers.
What can you tell us about your upcoming mens line of smart jewelry? Which devices will the jewelry support?
The mens line I am working on will [support] the Fitbit Flex and the Fitbit One. I had to invest in a special cutting machine that cuts the material out to my exact specifications to make sure every piece functions as designed. It looks more like a quality leather watch band with the pouch designed right into the band almost seamlessly. It is gorgeous and should be ready for Cyber Monday orders.
Editor’s Note: Amy’s mens line is live! See the watch-like wrist band listing here.
I discovered your work on Pinterest – has this been a strong driver for sales?
I have not pinned any of my smart jewelry work on Pinterest. It is 100% fan-based, which supports how much people love and support my products. It is very heart warming and it has helped out greatly with sales. I deeply appreciate every one of my customers as if they were my sibling or neighbor, and that dedication shows through the compassion and excitement of my customers.
What seller tips can you share to other Etsy crafters?
Don’t give up, don’t let anyone tell you to. Keep away from people who tell you “you can’t” or that success stories are rare or untrue. Get yourself an emotional support group. Friends and family on Facebook can be a great place to start. Make what you love, and don’t be afraid to make random things once in a while. Most of what I see between the hobby Etsy crafters and the professional Etsy crafters is that the professional ones (those who make a living) work hard, plan hard, and stay motivated. That is the only major difference.
FitBit and Jawbone have both recently launched redesigned smartbands (Fitbit Charge & Jawbone Up3). Any plans to create jewelry for these new lines of wearables?
While the my current line may seem limited, it is still based on the voting dollar. As the market changes the designs will change as well. I see many people starting to make more and more “fit-over” style bracelets, which is a potential option, but not one that I am jumping all over. People want smaller, not bigger. As the orders change and requests come in, my storefront will most likely look different to keep up with those changes.
How do you feel about Jawbone in particular incorporating jewelry-inspired design into their new line? Do you anticipate it will affect your business for better or worse?
I think they are trying hard to catch up with the times. At least someone in their marketing department is realizing that they are missing out on something that people are demanding for. I anticipate that people will always want more options. They always tend to do that. While I think some people will be satisfied with what the manufacture puts out, there will always be a demand from a second market. Since I am not completely dependent on one particular device or product, I can obviously tell you with certain that my products will change over time to meet new or larger demands. With this I have been able to not have much worry on how changes will affect my sales, because I choose not to be stagnant myself with my creations.