Short of getting a sale and maybe finishing a good jewelry piece, there is nothing more exciting for me in the jewelry-making process than buying jewelry components and getting them in the mail. I go nuts over new ear wires. I cheer over new beads. I have to go like a little girl and show my mom all the pretty new things I have to work with.
Since my beginning with Etsy, I've been building up a supplier base. Some suppliers I can only dream about buying from them. Others, I buy from all the time. Others, I've been saving them for such a time as this when I'm about to get a respectable influx of spending money to invest.
While my Etsy selling forays are never as successful as I hope, I continue to provide business to Etsy suppliers, since they have to make a living, too. I feel glad that I have the opportunity to develop a working relationship with them. I love finally being able to buy from sellers who I hearted months ago. I love it when I find new suppliers with beautiful new or vintage items, just the unique components that I'm looking for. My aesthetic isn't unique, per se, but it is particular.
I also don't tend to buy in bulk, although I know that many Etsians recommend it. Hell, even I recommend it. However, most of the time I can't afford bulk buys. I have to purchase components one bit at a time. For instance, right now, I'm mostly able to work in oxidized and antiqued brass, but that's about it. I would love to work in silver, but it's much more expensive than brass. Even working in copper would be difficult, cheap as it is, since I would have to develop a whole new range of jewelry findings and components. I intend to work on that in the future, but for now I work with what I have. And there are plenty of gorgeous components in brass anyway, so I don't complain too loudly. It was so enjoyable to find the right suppliers for my needs when I first started to go into oxidized brass. Now I'm a loyal customer to many of these suppliers.
I don't hide my suppliers, although I don't automatically reveal them either - part of it is that whole "nothing new under the sun" idea. If anyone wanted to look where I get all my supplies, they could find them easily. But I urge everyone to find their own way, discover their own suppliers. I'm one of those people who isn't bothered by the imprecise Etsy search. Sometimes I don't find what I'm looking for, but I usually discover something I didn't even know I wanted.