It's hard to believe that it's been a whole year since I jumped in head first to complete my second Halstead Grant application. My, how things have changed in the past 8 months since winning the grant!
Let’s back up a little… For those who don't know what I’m talking about, the Halstead Grant is a jewelry industry grant, sponsored by Halstead Bead Inc., with a mission to encourage and support new jewelry designers, as they lay the foundations for their brands. CEO of Halstead Bead, Hilary Halstead Scott, who has a background in business and business management, wanted to create an opportunity, a competition even, that put equal focus on business knowledge and design aesthetic within the jewelry space.
As part of the grant, candidates are presented with a total of 15 questions and are asked simple things like, “how did you get started in the industry” to more complex questions like, “what is your production capacity for the next 3 years”. The Prize Package for the winner is an amazing $7,500 check, along with $1,000 worth of credit for material purchases from Halstead, PR assistance and a trip to Prescott, Arizona, where you get to meet the Halstead Team.
In 2017, I was so fortunate to be the winner of the Halstead Grant and I just recently returned from my visit to Halstead Headquarters. Let me just say, my mind was blown and I am now a forever superfan of Halstead and everything they do. All of this being said, if you're within the first three years of your jewelry business and you meet the qualifications for the grant, you have to apply! There is no downside to this and I promise you, you will learn so much more about your business! Whether or not you win or place in the top 10, it will benefit you regardless.
To get you started, here are my top 10 tips for completing the Halstead Grant and getting the most out of the grant-writing experience:
Kristen’s Top 10 Halstead Grant Tips
1. Follow Directions - yes, I know this sounds silly, but it’s the most crucial part of the process!
- Make sure you meet the criteria.
- Answer all of the questions asked.
- Meet the deadline.
2. Be Organized
As you complete the application, read everything in the order of the questions asked, to see how the flow moves. Make sure different pages and questions reference to each other and follow the same style. You want your application to be smooth and have a nice flow. That all starts with the organization. Give yourself plenty of time to make sure your thoughts are organized. Create outlines and highlight points you want to cover with every question. It will make your life a whole lot easier!
3. Be Concise
These judges spend a lot of time reading over thousands of pages of text and numbers. Make their lives easier by being thorough, but also being concise and to the point. Sprinkle in details that are needed, and make it enjoyable and interesting to read. They will appreciate it!
4. Know Your Numbers
Most competitions are all about the design and the visual aspects, but this competition is equally spent not only on the design, but also on planning and numbers. As my favorite business guru, Marcus Lemonis, always says, “Know your numbers”. When you’re preparing, set aside extra time for the numbers-type of questions. It’s a pain in the..., but you can do it!!!
5. Have Great Photos
Without being able to see physical samples of your work, the judges rely heavily on the photos you provide. This is your chance to WOW them with your designs, your craftsmanship and your attention to detail.
6. Print On Quality Paper - Another silly one, I know!
But really, there’s something special about paper that feels good in the hand. Do yourself a favor and select something that fits your brand and style. There’s nothing wrong with plain copy paper, but it won’t help you stand out either and let’s be honest, there’s a LOT on the line here!
7. Use a Binder
The judging committee has a large number of entries to go through and if your papers are loose, they can easily get mixed, mingled and lost. Make it easy on them and give yourself peace of mind, by having some sort of organizational device! Make it on brand. Be creative - but don’t try to reinvent the wheel.
8. Be On Brand with Everything
Each area of your application is an opportunity to inject a visual element or detail of your brand. Think logos, brand colors, brand voice, imagery, taglines, etc. From the moment they receive your application, they are judging. If your application shows up in a nicely thought out package, with your brand-colored tissue when they open it, and your logo is displayed in a creative way - bonus for you! Have fun with this...it’s your chance to think outside the box.
9. Proof Everything! And then proof it again...and maybe one more time.
I had this Professor at SCAD (Hi, Professor Tatalick!) that had a rule - in her professional practice class, if you had a single grammar, spelling, or punctuation mistake on your resume, it was an automatic FAIL of the entire project or maybe the entire class?!? Don’t quote me on that, but I do recall having to read and re-read my resume in her class at least 10 times before submitting it. That has taught me an important lesson about life and business after college, that has stuck with me to this day. That being said, no one wants to see careless mistakes on any written document, especially in a competition like the Halstead Grant.
10. Have Fun With It
This is all about you and your business, and it’s YOUR time to shine! While the process is not easy (I won’t lie to you there), it is a time investment, that if executed properly, will pay off. You will finish this process with a greater appreciation for what you’ve accomplished, along with a long, long list of things you want to add to your business, improve about your business, or in general, take to the next level.
Answering the type of questions that are on the application is an important step for every business and lucky for you, you have the chance to answer those questions and possibly win money, and most importantly, precious feedback for your efforts! Total Win-Win Scenario!
When you finish, pat yourself on the back! You’ve done something most people never actually finish. Also, save that application and go over it in 12 months. You’ll be shocked to see how much has changed and how things have progressed. I’d even encourage you to update the information annually. It’s a great business practice that I’ve been doing as well. It helps to see what is going along with the plan and even what areas need to be worked on to reach your goals. You made a time investment to submit your application, and you certainly want to keep your application updated so you can continue to reap the rewards of your investment!
I hope this post is helpful to each of you preparing to apply! I wish you all the best and if you have additional questions, post them in the comments below. I love seeing who is in the finalists group and I always cheer when I know people who make it all the way!
AND a special thank you to Halstead for making this opportunity available to the jewelry industry. You guys are truly the best! For anyone who hasn’t already checked out Halstead, be sure to pop over to their website. They have AH-MAY-ZING products and their customer service is off the charts.
Until next time,
Hi! Kara here and my company is Nora Grace Inc. -Instagram @noragrace3245. This is the first year I felt I could meet qualifications and I am excited to see I agree with all of your tips! Thank you for talking about all these important things. The journey of a maker is not just creating! Your advice is a gift.