It's hard when it's in a bead store where you are supposed to be selling beads but what I really want to tell people who come in and say they want to learn to bead so they can make money is:
Learn to bead because you love the beads. Learn to bead so that you can hold your work in your hands and make it with loving care. Learn to bead to make things for yourself, family and friends. Don't start beading with such pressure on the beads to make you money. You can't love them if you start out with that intent.
I bead because I have ALWAYS loved beads. As far back as I can remember my Nana had long necklaces of beads on her bedroom wall. When we visited her, we could go look but not touch her beads. When I was 12, we moved from Minnesota to California again but to the San Francisco Bay area to take care of my Nana and then I LIVED with those beads! She bought me some beads and I strung them but there were no books like there are now. Then sometime in Jr high we started making these cool barettes with tri beads on the bottom of thin satin ribbons woven on the barrettes. I even sold them at a booth at the high school one time. Next came pony beads - oodles of them. My friend Cindy and I cut a couple tshirts sleeves and bottoms and put pony beads on them. We even went to the mall.... boldly! We did pants like that too - they swung in time as we walked. We thought we were pretty cool and this was about 1 year before it came about and the world was flooded with clothing like that.
Fast forward to 1992 and a work injury that had me looking for things to be productive doing that I could work around my pain. It became more work and forget my pain, because it's when I hurt the worst that I bury myself into something and ignore the pain. I found a book at a friend's house and tried to make a single seed bead ladder stitch row - was in over my head and put that idea on the back burner. Then another friend and I were in a craft store - long ago closed - called The Magic Brush. This other friend saw a certain parrot earring in a display and with the new nylon wires thought maybe she could re-pierce her ears and she could wear earrings! So thinking her getting 2 holes in her head - stubborn as she was, I was determined to take classes and learn to make that pair or parrot earrings. The Magic Brush was the coolest of old tyme craft shops. There I took classes from a teacher named Beverly Ciancio. From her I started with brick stitch earrings - not the parrots - those were NOT beginner earrings after all - but triangle top with bugle beads. I took classes from her then helped her teach classes. I had access to a Macintosh computer and was learning the graphics program so I took all her tutorials that were hand drawn and hand written and made diagrams and typed text to make them much more professional. I put all her brick stitch earrings - 175+ pages at least 2 per page onto the computer to - all nice neat and tidy. Then one day she decided to stop teaching at The Magic Brush and I took over. Up to 10 students - 3 hours - $5 each and everyone made what they wanted to make. I had access to a copy machine and I had storage with a lock. HUGE hanging locked display cases to put all my samples in. 3 - 10 foot tables in a U shape - me in the middle and them on the outside. I didn't have a car so I took the bus to work most of the time. My bike has a rack on the back and it held whateven I needed to bring back and forth to the shop with me. That shop closed.
A couple years later I applied to teach at a bead store - San Gabriel Bead Company. This was a whole other world. Here I was one of many instructors teaching specific project classes. Teaching in a place with a huge selection of beads broadened my horizons for projects. Here I scheduled 3-5 classes over a 3 month period. I had a 2 or 3 student minimum set by the shop.
When I moved to Redding in 2003, The Beadman was a fantastic shop to have close by but no classes so no where to teach. In early 2004, a bead store opened in a near by town, Cottonwood. She was having classes and I set up to teahc 3 or 4 classes for her. There was a meeting with all the teachers and the owners to make the schedule. One of my classes involved a part the shop didn't carry. I said then that I would be charging the students my cost - $3 for each of the pieces and the owners agreed to this. The night of the first class - the one that used the $3 part, when I arrived, the owner informed me that she told the students it was included in the price of the class... and that she was taking the class. She had no seed bead experience and not only took the class but took way more of my teaching time than any of the other students who often had to wait while I helped her out of a jam. After class I had to pick my Mom up at the airport, so I didn't have time to discuss it when she obviously didn't pay me for her or for the $3 parts. I left and went back the next day when I had a clearer head - had a good nights sleep - all that sort of thing. She informed me that she could take ANY class she wanted to and that she didn't have to pay me for anything more that she had already paid me for. I took all my class samples and left. I did enjoy the clearance sale when she went out of business a couple years later.
In 2005, The Beadman started talking about having classes and I sponged my way on in to beg to get to teach. The person handling classes and I agreed about so many things. Low prices - no extra fee if a student needs to come back for help. The students got a nice discount on the night of the class on most things they picked out. Even classier. I teach there today and it's the best place I have ever taught. I get to have a class with one student. I always thought I wouldn't want to be told my class fee wasn't worth showing up for, if I was the student. So I show up for one student. I get to have a class any time the shop is open. I teach with a fantastic wire goddess. We compliment each with our genuine respect for and lack of interest in doing the styles of beadwork we each do. She thinks those little seed beads make nice spacers.
I tell my students they are welcome to make and sell the things I teach them to make. Sell them and come back to take more classes and buy more beads. I recently lowered the prices in my Etsy shop because I remember being the customer not the designer. I'm in Christmas mode as my Etsy stats tell me that is what the customers come in looking for. I have this cool snowflake beaded doily coming up soon, so keep watching.
But learn to bead because you love the look and the feel of the beads. If you sell something, that's nice but don't put the pressure on the process, love it.