In an era when everything seems to be digital, physical keepsakes still have a special place in people’s hearts. Preserved baby items, in particular, are tangible mementos that stand out from many of the gifts that are available today. Bronzing businesses preserve cherished keepsakes in bronze and other platings, offering people a way to keep hold of cherished items from their children’s and grandchildren’s youngest years.
The bronzing business is far from an up-and-coming industry. One of the two largest companies in the industry, American Bronzing Co., has closed its doors, and so have many other established bronzing businesses. As larger businesses close, however, new opportunities open for small businesses that can operate in this industry while maintaining a lower overhead.
Learn how to start your own Bronzing Business and whether it is the right fit for you.
Ready to form your LLC? Check out the Top LLC Formation Services.
Start a bronzing business by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your Bronzing Business
- Form your Bronzing Business into a Legal Entity
- Register your Bronzing Business for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your Bronzing Business
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Bronzing Business
- Get Bronzing Business Insurance
- Define your Bronzing Business Brand
- Create your Bronzing Business Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
We have put together this simple guide to starting your bronzing business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What will you name your business?
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Bronzing Business Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
What are the costs involved in opening a bronzing business?
The costs involved in opening a bronzing business are minimal. They include the cost of a workspace, vehicle and supplies.
Most business owners set up a workspace in their garage or workshop, and use their own vehicle to save on expenses. Some businesses, however, are located in low-rent industrial areas. Basements aren’t suitable workspaces because they don’t have adequate ventilation.
The supplies required for bronzing can be had for as little as $300, but more robust kits run around $700. Caswell sells one that has everything needed (chemicals, tanks, a DC power supply, an airbrush and buffering materials) for $746.
This kit doesn’t include a heat source, but heat is only needed when bronzing in a cold environment. The solutions need to be kept between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
What are the ongoing expenses for a bronzing business?
The supplies that a bronzing business needs aren’t cheap to replenish, but this is the only significant ongoing expense and it’s manageable. Getting more chemicals can be $500, and that will last for 100 to 500 pairs of shoes. Space and vehicle costs are minimal.
Who is the target market?
The target market for a bronzing business is mainly composed of parents and grandparents of young children. These are the people who may want mementos of their child or grandchild preserved.
How does a bronzing business make money?
A bronzing business makes money by charging customers to bronze baby shoes. Businesses usually charge a price for one shoe and offer a slight discount on pairs of shoes. It’s also common to charge more for shoes that are larger than baby shoes. Bronzery has different price lists for shoes up to 6 inches, and those between 6 and 8 inches.
How much can you charge customers?
A bronzed baby shoe today normally costs between $35 and $50, with pairs going for a little less than double that. Many businesses upsell customers with different metals and bases for bronzed shoes.
For example, Bronzery offers pewter, silver and gold finishes and several different bases. A single gold shoe runs $145.95, and bases can be hundreds of dollars.
How much profit can a bronzing business make?
A bronzing business can bring in a handsome profit for a single business owner. With bronzed shoes costing between $35 and $50 per pair, bronzing just 15 shoes a week can bring in between $525 and $750. This doesn’t take into account upcharges for pairs, different metals or bases. When these are accounted for, a bronzing business could have a weekly revenue of $1,000 or much more.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Baby shoes are the most popular item to be bronzed, but they are not the only item that can be bronzed. Almost any non-conductive item can be plated, including flowers, butterflies, leather, plastic and more. Marketing these can help add to a bronzing business’ profit potential.
Want a more guided approach? Access TRUiC's free Small Business Startup Guide - a step-by-step course for turning your business idea into reality. Get started today!
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your bronzing business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Open a business bank account
Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.
Get a business credit card
Getting a business credit card helps you:
- Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.
Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from BILL and build your business credit quickly.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a bronzing business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
Certificate of Occupancy
A bronzing business is generally run out of a small warehouse or factory. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.
- If you plan to lease a location:
- It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
- Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a bronzing business.
- After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
- If you plan to purchase or build a location:
- You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
- Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your bronzing business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
FInd out what types of insurance your Bronzing Business needs and how much it will cost you by reading our guide Business Insurance for Bronzing Business.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.
How to promote & market a bronzing business
To reach a local market, business owners can sell through nearby retailers. Baby stores and jewelry stores may be willing to set up a display and take orders in exchange for a commission on each sale. A New York Times article noted that at least 20 retailers in Manhattan had entered into such arrangements with a bronzing business.
How to keep customers coming back
The best way to attract customers is through referrals, and getting referrals is easy for a bronzing business. Many customers will have friends who themselves are welcoming new children or grandchildren. When customers are happy with their order, they’ll often recommend the service to their friends.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.
Recommended Business Phone Service: Phone.com
Phone.com is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.
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Is this Business Right For You?
A bronzing business is suitable for anyone who enjoys working with their hands, for bronzing is a hands-on process. This is also a possible business for people who have day jobs, as the bronzing work can be done any time. There’s no need to work traditional office or retail hours.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a bronzing business?
A typical day at a bronzing business mostly involves bronzing customers’ keepsakes. This is a multi-step process that Caswell details as involving:
- Washing the items being bronzed.
- Affixing the items in their final position with glue.
- Tying a piece of copper wire to the items.
- Dipping the items in the sealer solution for 30 minutes.
- Allowing the items to dry.
- Dipping the items again and allowing them to dry again.
- Plating the items with DC power and a plating solution for 1 hour.
- Removing and sanding the items.
- Plating and sanding the items again, letting the items be plated for 3 to 5 hours.
- Rinsing the items.
- Finishing the items.
The full process takes hours, but it’s possible to bronze multiple shoes at once. Established businesses normally set up an assembly line. Several items can be at each step of the process, and a business might easily do dozens of items at once.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful bronzing business?
In order to run a bronzing business, business owners must know how to bronze items. Learning the process is not difficult, and it does not require taking classes. Business owners can get the knowledge they need from their materials supplier, the directions included in the kit they purchase and books. Some good titles to read include Electroplating and Electroforming for Artists and Craftsmen, Decorative Gilding, and Handbook on Electro-Plating, Polishing, Bronzing, Lacquering, Enamelling.
What is the growth potential for a bronzing business?
Most bronzing businesses today will remain smaller operations. There isn’t enough demand to support the overhead that comes with a factory and large workforce. For self-employed business owners, however, this is a viable and affordable business opportunity.
American Bronzing averaged over 166,000 orders annually during its 84 years. There may no longer be that kind of demand for bronzed items, but there still is enough to support a small business.
Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a bronzing business?
Some bronzing businesses have transitioned from plating to applying a bronze-like paint. Although this is faster and cheaper, many people complain about the resulting quality and the durability of the items.
Business owners who want to have long-term success should avoid this imitation and stay with the plating process. This will ensure customers are happy with their orders, and it’ll help set the business apart from some competition.
How and when to build a team
Most bronzing businesses today remain small businesses that are run by the business owner. If demand grows to be too much for one person, an employee might be hired to assist with operations.