Posted on Leave a comment

How To Make Sending Kits

How To Make Sending Kits with downloadable instruction templates from Keepsaker Supplies breastmilk jewellery kit

How to make sending kits for your clients to post you their elements such as breastmilk, cremation ashes, locks of hair and fur, umbilical cord and placenta, flowers, petals and leaves, sand and earth, sentimental fabrics, prints such as fingers and feet (2D or 3D).

How To Make Sending Kits

  1. First of all, you will need to make up a set of instructions for each element. You can save the hassle and download our PDF Instruction Templates here. If your client has a breastmilk and umbilical cord necklace, for example, you’ll need to send them instructions for both breastmilk and umbilical cord
  2. We find using a large letter box is the least expensive way to ship here in the UK, but ask others in your country what they find the cheapest way to send.
  3. Include a ring sizer like this if they ordered a ring
  4. Use washi tape to make pots look beautiful and tell them apart
  5. Include a sealable bag with their name, order number, order dates and details. They will put their tubes and pots in here

Breastmilk Kits
Include two 5ml Breastmilk Sending Tubes which we sell here, mark each tube with an Ultra Fine Sharpie, one line at 5ml and one just above. If they fill the tube to the brim, just include the extra milk when using our breastmilk preservation powder, it will just take slightly longer to thicken. Write your client’s name and order number on each of the two tubes and initials and order number on the lid. Include one bag for the milk tubes and one bag for other elements like hair or cord.

Cremation Ashes Kits
Include one 3ml Sending Pot (we sell them here too). We prefer plastic because they’re see-through, and a small 2ml spoon, and ask them to return the spoon. If they fill the pot to the brim, just transfer the extra ashes into a separate container so that it doesn’t spill when you’re working and make your crafting area messy. Write your client’s name and order number on the lid and the bottom of the pot with an Ultra Fine Sharpie. include a sealable bag with their name, order number, order dates and details.

Lock of Hair and Fur Kits
Include one 3ml Sending Pot and a small length of cotton thread to tie the hair or fur. Write your client’s name and order number on the lid and the bottom of the pot with an Ultra Fine Sharpie. Sending a kit prevents them from doing things like putting sticky tape on the hair, or folding it in foil (which causes kinks).

Horse Hair Kits
Include two of the labelled bags because the hair won’t bend into a pot – ask for around 5-10 strands but make sure they keep half back. You can work with half a single strand if that’s all they have by doubling it up a few times. Once the hair arrives, wash it in warm soapy water and dry thoroughly then wipe with an alcohol wipe to remove any leftover grease and dirt.

Umbilical Cord and Placenta Kits
Include one 3ml Sending Pot. Write your client’s name and order number on the lid and the bottom of the pot with an Ultra Fine Sharpie. Sending a kit prevents them from sending the entire cord and clip, which would be devastating if lost in the post. And orange pip size piece is more than enough for several pieces (although if doing more than one bead or large orb, you may need to add a colour as the ground cord might be a little sparse).

Petal and Leaf Kits
Include two labeled bags. Write your client’s name and order number on the lid and the bottom of the pot with an Ultra Fine Sharpie. Sending a kit prevents them from doing things like putting sticky tape on the hair, or folding it in foil (which causes kinks).

2D Fingerprint Kits for Engraving*
For fingerprints, handprints, footprints, pawprints, noseprints, thumbprints etc you can include an Inkless Wipe Kit*. We can laser engrave 2D images onto most of our pieces. Ask the clients to email you photos; if the photos are good quality then they can keep the originals. Some clients struggle with getting a clear photo in daylight which is suitable for engraving, so then you might ask them to post the original and then photograph it yourself. Include a bag labelled with your client’s name and order number, they can cut out one of the prints to send.  For handwriting you can ask them to send a photo – we don’t allow them to post the original item (such as a birthday card) because it’s irreplaceable if it’s lost in the post. In that case, ask the client to get help photographing it.

3D Fingerprint Kits for Metal Clay*
For fingerprints, thumbprints, noseprints etc you can include a 3D Putty Kit. Include a bag labelled with your client’s name and order number, ask them to make two but only send one because it’s irreplaceable if it’s lost in the post. To use the mould they return, fill it with glue from a hot glue gun, epoxy resin or layers of UV resin and that becomes the master to imprint into clay. Buy Precious Metal Clay here and follow tutorials. See our blog here Fingerprint Engraving and Metal Clay

*Please see our blog here Fingerprint Engraving and Metal Clay on taking prints from the recently deceased and using Precious Metal Clay.

More coming soon (sorry, I have covid and I’m exhausted – doing my best!)

Posted on 2 Comments

How to Deal With Complaints

how to deal with complaints by Nikki Kamminga at Keepsaker Supplies

You can learn how to deal with complaints easily, effectively and without feeling personally harmed. Making memorial or breastmilk jewellery or DNA keepsakes is quite a unique area, somewhere in between breastfeeding counsillor, funeral director and wedding supplier. The wedding and funeral industries receive the most complaints of all industries because tensions are running high, and I believe that passes over to keepsake jewellery. Customers in this industry can be more hurtful than in any other area I’ve worked (from mobile phones to advertising to coffee shop and retail management) and it’s a combination of it being such an emotive thing we’re working with and the fact I feel closer to it because it’s my own business.

How to Deal With Complaints – The Paths

Whether you’re in the right or they are, or both of you, there are several paths you can take together. Please don’t forget that you have the power to guide a customer down a different path no matter how the conversation starts out. I’ll try to give as many examples below from working in this industry over six years.

The Full Refund and Keep The Jewellery
This is the path the most difficult customers often want to go down. It can be incredibly painful to get this kind of message. They’ve received their item and have found something to complain about. They want you to refund them completely but they will almost always refuse to return the jewellery because “it contains something so irreplaceable”.

Example (customer):
“I received a ring from you today after waiting absolutely ages and I’m very angry. It looks unprofessional and the colour is all wrong, it’s too dark! It doesn’t even fit me; I want a full refund but I’m not sending it back because it’s my gran’s ashes”

This is one of the worst case scenario complaints. They’re complaining about quality of the setting, the competence of the artist, the fact that it doesn’t fit and the time it took to arrive. You can apologise and do what they want by refunding without return, but then you’ll be out the cost of the setting and all of your work, plus shipping and overheads. I almost always* try to steer them away from this because I DON’T DESERVE TO WORK FOR FREE and neither do you! 

What to do – start off with an acknowledgement of their complaint and a genuine apology. Look back through any old messages and find some empathy for a client. They’re probably grieving their breastfeeding journey or their loved one. I would say, for example,

Hi Hannah, thank you so much for taking the time to come to me with this. I know it must be difficult to have received something you’re looking forward to for a long time and it’s not what you were hoping for. After your gran passed in March the crematorium have looked after her really well and the ashes were a lovely naturally dark colour. We usually try to let the natural colour of the ashes come through in the jewellery, which can hide some of the pigment we added in the green you chose. I definitely checked the ring size before setting the ashes, but if you feel like it’s not the right size you can take it to a local jeweller (please send me a photo of it on the sizer) or you can buy one here on Amazon. Please forward me your Amazon receipt and a photo of the ring on the sizing stick and I’ll refund the sizer.

Here’s a resolution I would like to offer. I will remake the ring for you in the size you like, please use a sizer exactly like this one to find your correct size. Please post me back the ashes and this ring, we will remove and return the stone, so the ring can be recycled, and make a new one. We can hide the ashes behind the pigment so you can’t see so much (or any) of your gran’s ashes if you’re not keen on their colour. We’ll send you a photo of the cabochons/stones we make to check you’re happy before setting one in the new ring setting. As a goodwill gesture we’ll even ship the remake to you free of charge by Special Delivery. Please let me know if you’re happy to go ahead
Yours Sincerely
Nikki Kamminga
Owner and Artist
Tree of Opals

The Partial Refund and Replacement
If your customer starts off with asking for a partial refund then don’t feel like you necessarily have to give them money back. When I first started out making memorial and breastmilk jewellery I was in need of every penny to pay for childcare, let alone contribute to bills. If I had an order it would either be spent on stock and consumables like moulds and settings or it would go to my girls’ nursery. I didn’t have business savings and I couldn’t afford to refund, so if it was necessary it would have to come out of our personal account.

This isn’t a situation I’d recommend you be in, with good profit margins you should easily be able to cover your overheads, childcare and some put aside. I lost £100 in my first year in business (I started off with £350 of my own money from a child tax credit) then I made a profit after about six months. If you can, put aside 10% to cover any refunds.

Still, you can avoid a refund at all by offering something of equal value. For example, if they want £50 back why not offer a £50 necklace, that may only cost you £10 to make?

How to Prevent Complaints To Begin With

The best way to prvent complaints in the first place is to try to do everything you can to get them to understand the important points about buying jewellery from you. That could be in the form of a phone call or email before you take payment, or an extra box on your checkout to ask them if they definitely read the product description and the FAQ’s. I make my customers write “I promise” in the box on the checkout on Tree of Opals and it does help cut down on complaints in the first place. Customers often won’t read them anyway, but at least you have them there to back you up in case you do get a complaint.

Always let customers know, regarding lead times 1. your maximum lead time (orders can take up to four months from receipt of payment and the milk/ashes etc) and 2. an estimated lead time (most orders take about a month right now but this will be longer during the school holidays). Also let them know if any of your settings are handmade, such as rings from us which are soldered or cast by hand in small batches and look handmade. I like to include a sizing disclaimer in my terms and conditions, along the lines of, “due to different tolerances in ring sizers the ring provided may be up to one whole UK (one half US) ring size larger or smaller than requested”.

I avoid most complaints in the first place with two important tools:

  1. Proof Photos – Prevent them saying they don’t like the colour by sending a proof photo – just make at least two cabochons (stones), on the back, email the client a photo and ask which they prefer.  Let them know that you’ll always return the unused ones free of charge but you can make extra profit here by offering to set the extra in silver for another £20/$30 (over half will say yes). They feel more involved in the process, fewer complaints about time too
  2. Free Ring Sizers – At Tree of Opals our way to remove ring sizing complaints is letting customers know we prefer to send them a free ring sizer with their kit to borrow. You can find kit supplies here in our country specific buying guides, here’s one from Amazon that’s ideal, we just ask for the letter that fits best so they don’t get confused about which number we need. The letter is the UK ring size and they’re a little more accurate than US sizes


How to Deal With Complaints When You’re In The Right

This one’s carefully phrased, the flip side of “you’re in the right” is “you’re not in the wrong”. Or even the possibility that your customer’s in the wrong. Whether that’s true or not, it’s always best to treat the situation like you’re both in the right. Don’t accuse the customer of being wrong, having misread something, having demanded too much, too soon or being cheap. It’s not going to make you or them happy and it’s going to lead to hurt feelings and bad reviews.

Then again, you don’t have to give in to a customer’s unreasonable demands just because you’re scared of a bad review. I like to try to find a middle ground for each situation so I’ve given as examples above. If you have lots of good reviews then don’t give in to demands of a refund if you’re in the right just because you’re afraid – real customers will see through a bad review if the rest are great!

Do you have any tips for dealing with complaints?

 

*The only situation where I’d give a full refund and allow them to keep the piece is where it’s not too expensive in the first place (perhaps £50 and under) and/or the client has my home address and has threatened me. If I’m worried about the safety of my family, I’ll do anything to get rid of them as fast as possible. I had a situation once where a client I think was mentally ill turned up at my home at 9pm and I honestly wish that I had given her a full refund. Preferably before I’d made the piece, when I knew she was a problem. You do need to put your family first and if a customer gives you any sign of being dangerous then please refund in full and block all contact. If they leave you a 1* review anywhere then you can fight it with any evidence of threats you’ve received from them.

Posted on 3 Comments

Making Umbilical Cord Jewellery

wide band ring settings Umbilical cord and green hammered ring, basilisk green resin sparkles. Solid silver hand made setting. The deep brown colour comes from the natural tones of the umbilical cord




Making Umbilical Cord Jewellery and Placenta Keepsakes. The first piece of keepsake jewellery I ever made was with the placenta from my daughter Hannah. I added a little epoxy resin from a Pebeo kit to a small flat heart shape in a silicone letter mould I’d bought at the Poundshop (Dollar Store).


I took the finished heart and stuck it on some wide clear packing tape and placed a bronze open bezel around it. I covered it in resin and waited several days for it to dry. It’s still perfect and I like to wear it on a simple waxed cotton cord choker, sometimes with a charm bead either side. I took it on live national TV in April 2017…
placenta and umbilical cord jewellery on This Morning in March 2017 placenta and umbilical cord jewellery on This Morning in March 2017

As you can see, Philip Schofield doesn’t seem so keen but Holly said the pieces were “really pretty”. In the first photo, the piece on the right was that first one I ever made. I had heard about placenta jewellery in my encapsulation group and people were talking about stirring the ground powder into resin. Someone had asked how to keep it in a heart shape without the grains moving around and sinking but I started watching YouTube videos obsessively.

I considered doing resin-only pieces but thought they looked a bit tacky. I didn’t know where to buy crown settings and cabochon moulds and certainly not how to set a bezel with a rubover like I do now. Use the tools available to you and your skill to make what you think is pleasing and communicates what you intend to with the piece, and customers will find you and love your style. Don’t worry if you don’t have the technical knowledge yet; that’s what the learning process is for!

I put everything on the dining table, much to The Viking’s dismay. Looking back, that probably wasn’t the best of ideas. Ayla was two and Hannah was just three months old. After a few weeks I got some orders through our Facebook page and Tree of Opals was created. I moved from placenta jewellery to

umbilical cord art, stump and small white pestle and mortar
umbilical cord art, stump and small white pestle and mortar

Making Umbilical Cord Jewellery and Placenta Keepsakes

If you’re making a lot of resin jewellery in big batches then it’s cost-effective to use epoxy resin. Lots of people ask me what brand to buy but I always found the unbranded rigid casting epoxy to be best. Please see the country-specific supplies lists below. Sadly EcoResin is a no-go and I nearly lost my business due to dozens of pieces going yellow. Usually you get epoxy resin in two bottles, part A and part B, which you have to mix perfectly in exact ratios and can take several days to cure. It would be perfect for doing big batches of flower jewellery, such as rose bud pearls.


We mostly use UV resin like the our UV resin here, you can also use the Lisa Pavelka brand but it’s more expensive and you can’t get the big bottles.  My trick is to buy a 60g bottle and a 200g bottle to refill it with. The little bottles are great to pour directly in your moulds. You’ll also need a cheap gel lamp like this. My hack for the gel lamp is to remove the plastic insert and place the lamp on a sheet of aluminum foil! We want the maximum amount of light to hit the jewellery to cure the resin and you work in layers.

Safety Making Umbilical Cord Jewellery

1. Make sure you’re not working round kids and pets. Even if a resin has low fume it can still cause a reaction. I’ve heard of people not only having reactions from contact with resin (like me) but having trouble breathing. Even for yourself you need to take care.

2. Wear proper PPE (personal protective equipment).
See our country-specific buying pages below to find links to buy gloves, masks, aprons etc.


Resin Lock of Hair Jewellery

Our best selling items are our charm beads. They take a bit of practice and a charm bead mould and knowledge of filing, doming and attaching hardware called inserts, also known as grommets and washers. Pearls are popular, they are spheres made with sphere moulds but can be bigger or smaller, and need to be drilled and attached to pearl cups. Rings are a little less complicated because you can pour the resin into a ring cup, or make a cabochon (a “stone” with clients’ elements) and fit it into a ring with crown settings. I’ll write more blogs soon on settings and explain the differences between the three main style of setting resin rings, how to drill charm beads and pearls.

umbilical cord charm with a rose pink painted core, Tree of Opals solid silver core
umbilical cord charm with a rose pink painted core, Tree of Opals solid silver core

 

If you’re using UV resin, cure this as your first layer then fill the mould with more resin and any colours and additions. Sometimes we leave the resin completely clear and when the piece is cured we add a coloured core or background. You can add colour and shimmer, glitter, precious metal leaf, mica and even natural colourants like beetroot powder (although these tend to fade quickly in the sun). You will find your own style and clients will choose you because they like your work.

Other Media to Make Umbilical Cord Jewellery With

 

I have more tutorials and blogs planned for the future including umbilical cord and placenta jewellery, how to make *trigger* baby loss keepsakes, metal clay jewellery and silversmithing.  Also some blogs on being clean, parenthood, veganism, charity work, travelling and various other interests.  Most of my blogs are written in notes on my phone when I don’t have internet access (the school gates, the car) or when I’m nursing our son Bastian and I love the chance to share my creativity even more.


Please see our individual country-specific blogs for shopping supplies: The UK version of the list is here, USA, Australia, Canada, other EU countries (coming soon) and non-EU countries (coming soon).

Spellings – this blog is written in the United Kingdom so my spelling is in English. I’ll try to add alternatives after but our spelling of jewellery is correct here.  Mould (UK) mold (US).

This post contains affiliate links that, meaning when if you buy one of our recommended products I receive a small amount of commission at no extra cost to you.