Niche Marketing Feed

FitBit Evaluation of Design and Function

After wearing my Fitbit bracelet I am still learning about the interface and feedback information.

There is a lot to learn...but I don't need to figure it out all at once. This image shows my Activity, Steps, Calories  and Distance so far today.

My favorite feature is the feedback on exactly how much activity you had that day.  No need to deceive yourself whether you worked out enough to eat more. Below is the Very Active Mins, Sleep, "Badge" for 10,000 steps, and Calories In vs Out.

Very Active Mins only includes VERY ACTIVE minutes. A casual Sunday walk won't qualify as active minutes which I think is good. To many people think they are exercising, but their heart rate has not increased. 

10,000 steps every day is my goal.


When looking at your own Fitbit dashboard, clicking on any square reveals more detailed information. 


Fitbit is a real motivator to know how much I've exercised every day, not just on my "work out days." 


UPDATE: As of June 12, 2015 I walked 1,997 miles wearing my Fitbit!

I even walked 30,000 steps in one day!



 A Jeweler's evaluation of the clasp on Fitbit:

The clasp on the Fitbit is not great. As a jewelry maker, I'd give it a below average rating. It is very hard to close with one hand by yourself when it is new. After a year of wear it is much easier to put on, but the bracelet has opened and fallen off by accident. I think the designers wanted it to have a clean appearance, but I would have preferred something more secure and easier to use for the lifetime of the fitness band. 

FitBit-Tangerine-Orange-TealThe wrist band on Fitbit is attractive with clean lines. That is great as far as that goes, but as solid rubber it gets sweaty or irritated underneath. I which it were a more breathable mesh or fabric.


"What is the Jewelry of the 21st Century?" sparked considerable discussion on Facebook Critical Craft Forum and on my Facebook page.

To clear up any misunderstanding regarding my enthusiasm for this bracelet:

The FitBit presents a very clean and minimalist aesthetic.  It is not as "interesting" as most jewelry, ....but I am absolutely excited to anticipate the future of this beginning, in affordable, bio-monitoring jewelry.

Jewelry has a new role, and a new dimension of value beyond materials or decoration. This jewelry empowers fitness in a whole new way. 

The function of jewelry as identity takes on a new role with fitness. Wearing a FitBit, or other bio-monitor jewelry, means that the wearer is identified as a fitness enthusiast. While wearing my Fitbit, it has sparked a number of conversations, as we identify each other as part of an elite groups trading stories of fitness.

Yes, I do consider it affordable as an investment in your health. A visit to the drugstore can easily cost $100. on medicine.  With this bracelet monitoring your activity level and the subsequent motivation for reaching 10,000 steps a day a Fitbit wearer could reduce the need for some medications (doctor approved, of course.)

I highly recommend investing in a new you with a Fitbit (or any other activity tracker.) 

Imagine a future where your doctor can determine a prescription of lifestyle or activity to your Fitbit dashboard. The doctor determines the program and you can then work to achieve possibly lifesaving results at any time -- all monitored online by both you and your doctor!

Update July 2015:
My Fitbit has lasted 19 months even though I wear it every day. 
When the electronic component finally wears out I am definitely getting the new model with the heart rate monitor. (My current version does not adequately capture effort expended during biking or floor exercises.)

Next post: 

FitBit Jewelry Past, Present Future or "Silicon is the NEW Silver"

As an advocate for fitness, I signed up to be a Fitbit affiliate. The links to Fitbit may generate revenue to help this glog continue.

What is the Jewelry of the 21st Century?

Harriete Estel Berman wearing Fitbit bracelet.
Photo Credit: Eric Smith

While recent tendencies of avant-garde and art jewelry seem to be following a collective drift toward "string and anti-technique," my observation is that jewelry of the future will combine style and digital function.  This prediction arises from what I am wearing right now...a FitBit Bracelet (and other styles available).  The competition in this field will unquestionably bring more imaginative forms and new functions.

The bracelet goes far beyond decoration. This jewelry of the future is telling me how many calories I've burned, steps taken, distance traveled, activity level, calories burned, heart rate, and monitors my sleep patterns.

Mary-Ann-Scherr's-bracelet-life-saving.A much older distant cousin of the body monitor function in the jewelry world is a one of a kind Heart Pulse Sensor Bracelet from 1973 by Mary Ann Scherr*.  StarTrek, Dick Tracy, and Captain Nemo also foretold of jewelry and communicating functions.  

What does it say when I buy this FitBit bracelet for $99 instead of contemporary, handmade jewelry by my craft kindred community? 

The battery lasts up to five days and survives showers and sweat. It seems that FitBit actually sells additional "colorful bands to fit your mood." Check out the accessory band colors below.

I want one in every I'm waiting till they sell the combo pack with every color. 

FitBit-pink-green-tealThe orange, teal, and navy bands now available as a 3-pack are not enough for my jewelry maven personality. I want more colors, more options, and the answers to the technical issues regarding fit and materials.


FitBit-Tangerine-Orange-TealJewelry makers out there; Are you ready to make a niche in your jewelry for the FitBit component? I am not kidding. 

The entire functional component in the FitBit bracelet is about 1/2" long and 1/4" wide. See it below. Fitbitcomponent

Below is another view from a FitBit Flex Teardown on iFixIt. This one single water tight component is the only working portion of the bracelet.


I see no reason why jewelry makers could not be integrating these and related products into their jewelry. Look at these functional components and think about how this could change your jewelry in the future.

I am thinking hard.
How about collaboration between jewelry makers and FitBit!
A whole show of the FitBit jewelry and a tribute to the pioneers like Mary Ann Scherr. Who knows....I already wrote to Fitbit. They are based right near where I live in San Francisco, CA. (Links to Fitbit products are affiliate links.) 

*Learn more about the body monitor jewelry of Mary Ann Scherr:

Televison interview with Mary Ann Scherr  I recommend watching the television interview first. Consider that in this interview she is an astounding, energetic 90 years old. Near the end they talk about how her body monitor jewelry was before its time. How ironic!

Oral history interview with Mary Ann Scherr from the 

Mary Ann Scherr Designer, Educator, Goldsmith, Jewelr from

Heart Monitor Necklace by Mary Ann Scherr

X-rated Adult Questions Craft Marketing

Sex in the City Flower PinThe following is a true, but rather unusual question from a reader of ASK Harriete. She has allowed me to use the question without her name or business name.

What is interesting about her "Adult" question is that it is such a fabulous example of developing a NICHE market.


XratedHello Harriete,

I have come up against a problem and hope you can help me.

For more than 15 years my name has been associated with a leather item most people would consider 'adult' and some people find that whole idea offensive. I've made my living with this product. I'm well known for the quality. I do 8 shows a year plus all the wholesale and website stuff. It's not going away.

I am becoming an art jeweler. I am selling jewelry. On the advice of several people I created another distinct website with a separate shopping cart and domain.

Here's my problem - many many people suggest you use your own name and then get involved in many social media venues, promote, volunteer, etc. If I say my real name and someone Googles it, they will find the leather business. If I use the new business name, there's no mention of the maker and it would mean multiple introductions.

Personally I'd like to keep the leather, clay, glass, pearls & silver under my name on the main website and just have different tabs for each 'subdivision'. The problem comes when people find out about the leather. They either spend 20 minutes telling me I'm going to Hell or 20 minutes telling me their fantasies and I end up spending time 'educating' them about consensual adult interactions, etc.

I'm concerned that if I'm open about all the aspects of my craft that I may be blocked from jewelry exhibitions.

What would you suggest?

Thanks for your answer.

This is certainly a novel, but relevant issue about branding and serving specific niche markets.  While the "adult" world among consenting adults may have provided you with an income....this is where a fictitious business name would have been a good idea, but that is history. Can't fix history.

Now, I think your instincts are right....Confusing the jewelry world, ceramics or glass with  the adult world with the same name or the same website is definitely NOT going to be an easy solution. The typical jewelry consumer folk are not comfortable with the adult world (at least not overtly).

Below are my recommendations:

Option 1.
Sell the jewelry only to the "adult" world. A niche within a niche.  They might buy it. Of course, it may have to have an adult world aesthetic...or purpose with suggestive hints, but you already have an established "name" and audience.  There may even be iconic images of the adult world that you could incorporate into your jewelry.  Skip the regular world of jewelry as the economy is still slow. Your niche market is already well developed. Your jewelry, glass or ceramics can expand your line .  You know this audience. They know you. Cha-ching~!

Option 2.
Change your name, use a nickname, or adopt a middle name for your new market outside the adult world. Develop two separate identities. Adult world = name A    Rest of the craft world = name B.
You would have to develop the "jewelry name" and reputation separately. Only a few close friends will know both sides of you.

Option 3.
Ignore the shock and surprise and conversations. Do what you want without apology. It is their problem. The stories could give you tons of visibility in the regular everyday world....but your skin is going to have to be really thick.
This could even be great P.R. if you want to go there, but no sense being secret about it.

I think picking between Option 1. 2. or 3. depends on your personal comfort level, and your family and children (if you have any). The adult notoriety is something they will have to deal with if you go public about combining two business identities.

Does this help?

Hello Harriete,
Thank you for the quick reply.
I hadn't expected any response for a week, as I know you've got a lot of things going. Thank you for laying it out so clearly. It's Option #1 that will work. I hadn't thought of focusing my efforts there and it makes so much sense.

I really appreciate your ability to see things. Perhaps some day we'll meet at an event.

Thank you!

Your X-rated reader.
Please join the interview  "Wild West Digital? - "The GOOD, The BAD, and The UGLY in the Age of the Internet". Click on this link for the details.

For more advice about Niche Marketing listen to this presentation from the Professional Development Seminar. (If you click on this link the SlideShare Niche Marketing presentation is immediately  followed by a podcast lunch discussion from the SNAG Conference.)

Niche Marketing from SNAG PDS 2011 from Harriete Estel Berman

NIche Marketing experts Hilary Pfeifer, emiko oye, and Deb Stoner share insights and practical tips on Niche Marketing. 

Crafting a Niche Market with Unique Cowboy Boots

Lisa Sorrell
"You're Running Wild" by Lisa Sorrell

Last year's SNAG Professional Development Seminar 2011 was about Niche Marketing. Ever since then I've been looking around for examples of successful niche marketing.

In this case, successful niche marketing can be defined as finding a specialized market for exactly what you love to make and being able to make money fulfilling that market.

Recently, I discovered the amazing cowboy boots made by Lisa Sorrell on Crafthaus.  In an online conversation, she revealed that she has a waiting list of up to a year! How about them cowboy boots!



Lisa Sorrell
  Waltz of the Angels by Lisa Sorrell

Below is an interview with Lisa Sorrell about her niche market and how it came about.  I suggest watching the PDS 2011 presentation about Niche Marketing with Hilary Pfeiffer, Emiko Oye, and Deb Stoner to learn more about niche marketing. 

LisaSorrellI heard the bluebirdsing3
"I Heard the Bluebird Sing"

Lisa Sorrell interview:

How did you begin making cowboy boots?
I discovered boot making through a want ad placed in the local newspaper seeking someone “to stitch boot tops.” I never heard of boot-making or worn a pair of cowboy boots. The ad was placed by the legendary bookmaker Jay Griffith, who was a cantankerous old alcoholic. A veteran of both WWII and the Korean War, his favorite phrase, “GODDAMNIT!” was usually delivered at full volume.

It was only supposed to be a temporary job, but boot making appealed to me because I could create beautiful and colorful designs with sewing, knives, and hammers.


Lisa Sorrell The Way I am
  ”The Way I Am" by Lisa Sorrell

How do you find your customers?
I opened my own business, Sorrell Custom Boots, in 1996. Initially, I didn’t think any further than opening the doors and hoping customers would hear about me and order the intricate and colorful boots that I made for my husband and myself.

I caught the eye of Tyler Beard, a noted boot historian, and collector who was working on his second book about cowboy boots entitled Art of the Boot. Tyler featured four boots from our personal collection and suddenly those were the type of boots I was being asked to build.

LisaSorrell Drifting and dreaming
"Drifting and Dreaming" by Lisa Sorrell

That was my first introduction to the power of marketing. I’m not a cowboy and can’t pretend to be one, and I have very few customers who are cowboys. While I build a traditional cowboy boot, my own personal philosophy is that cowboy boots are a way for men to wear high heels and bright colors.
Who are your customers?

My typical client is a businessman, often one who enjoys western art and owns a second home somewhere in the West.


Lisa Sorrell Come early morning
   "Come Early Morning" by Lisa Sorrell


How did you develop your niche market?
I choose the venues I attend very carefully. I put a lot of time into thinking about who my typical client is, and who I want him/her to be. I don’t select events at random, I choose events where that client is likely to be.

 I particularly enjoy introducing cowboy boots to new markets.
In the past few years I’ve done the Baltimore Craft Show, the American Craft Exposition in Evanston, Illinois, and the Smithsonian Craft Show in Washington, D.C. These aren’t areas where one would typically imagine cowboy boot wearers to be, but in my way of thinking that simply means a whole show full of people who don’t know they want cowboy boots yet.

When I go to shows these are the types of boots my husband and I wear.  They’re types of boots I have on display in my booth, and they’re well represented in my portfolio. I position myself to attract the client I want and to encourage him or her to order the type of boots I love to build. I prefer making intricate and colorful boots and I like to use exotic leathers.


Lisa Sorrell Cherokee Fiddle
Cherokee Fiddle by Lisa Sorrell


How do customers influence the commissions?
Since each pair of boots is a commission, the client has a large part in each design decision. Some clients choose from a portfolio of work, some request small changes in colors or patterns that result in new designs, and others bring drawings or ideas to be translated into a personal and wearable piece of art. This element of collaboration is the beginning. After the client takes the boot and wears them they begin to also take on the shape and personality of the owner, completing the partnership.


How do you structure your commissions?
I build two to three pairs of boots per month. The waiting time is usually around one year. Boot prices start at $3500, with additional charges for designs or exotic leathers.

A deposit of half reserves a spot on the calendar and the second half is due during the month the boots are being built before they’re shipped. An order form filled out by hand, detailing all leather, color, and design choices avoids problems. This form filled out in triplicate (one for the client, two for my files) is a record of each decision and it’s proven to be an invaluable part of the ordering process.

Do you make exhibition/competition designs?

I prefer to make competition pieces for either my husband or myself following my own taste.  My boots have won awards for best artist in both Art to Wear and Leather categories at the Western Design Conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Other awards include the Founder’s Award at the American Craft Exposition in Evanston, Illinois, Bronze Award winner at the Smithsonian Craft Show in Washington, D.C., and a Gold Medal in shoe-making competitions in both Wiesbaden, Germany, and Rotterdam, the Netherlands.


More information about Lisa Sorrell boots:

Lisa enjoys speaking, teaching, and promoting the craft of boot-making. She regularly updates her Facebook page with photos and explanations of ongoing work in the shop; clients who are having boots built can watch as their boots are made. She also has a YouTube channel where she posts videos of boot-making. 

This post was updated on March 19, 2022, to provide current links.

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