Thursday, March 5, 2015

Look into Craft Shows!

Jewelry makers who are serious about their business are likely to consider doing craft shows at some stage, but it can be very daunting knowing where to begin. A good place to start is in your local area, where you may find suitable craft or artisan shows where you can showcase your products. But choosing the right shows can be a tricky business, and there are many things you will need to think about!



Smaller shows may not promote very effectively, and thus may not attract sufficient numbers of prospective buyers. Then there are juried and open shows: open shows permit anyone to participate, while participants of juried shows are individually selected to ensure that the products on sale are appropriate for that show and of suitable quality. You will need to complete an application and submit photographs of your work, and sometimes photos of your displays are requested as well.

Bear in mind that there is a great deal of competition for jewelry booth spaces, as only a limited number of jewelers will be permitted in each show. So find your niche and exploit it big time, because if your jewelry is unusual and looks completely different from that offered by other vendors, that gives you an edge!




Most shows charge a booth fee, and the larger well-promoted shows are more expensive to rent booth space in. You will need to take into consideration all the costs involved, since the cost of attending a local show is more than your booth fee. Some shows provide tables and chairs, while others may expect you to supply your own, or will make them available for an additional fee. You will need to add in the gas and toll costs for driving to and from the venue each day, plus any parking fees. And don't forget to include the cost of making or buying snacks, drinks and lunch each day. If you don't sell enough of your products to cover all these expenses, then you will actually lose money by being there. Remember, it costs money to make money!

I really love doing large local craft shows. Even though there is lots of competition in the jewelry department, that acts as a catalyst that constantly drives me to make newer, more creative, more beautiful, and more unusual things to sell! I share a booth with an artisan who does NOT sell jewelry. Diane makes and sells lovely stained glass, and together we are an established team at local shows.



Sharing space cuts down on our expenses, and it doesn't hurt that she is also one of my dearest friends. We bring our own tables and chairs, and all our own displays. It is important to have an attractive and professional way to display your product, so that your booth is so inviting and interesting to passers by that they will stop and look! We both get traffic from people who stop to look at jewelry and then turn around and see the stained glass, and those captivated by the stained glass and turn around and see the jewelry.

Be prepared to get to the show early, to set up everything to the very best advantage. I have found that when I remove my jewelry items from the individual storage bags I keep them in, ahead of time, and roll them in tissue, I set up much faster at the show. Therefore, the day before the show I am very busy re-packing my inventory and getting everything together to put in the car... my table, chair, table cloths, display stands, mannequin, small pedestal(s) for mannequin and cash stand, bags, tissue, sales tax sign, business sign, cash box, receipt book, business cards, mints for the visitors, and ... I am probably forgetting something in this list!



At the end of each day, many people just throw covers over their products and leave it there overnight. However, jewelry is a bit too easy to grab, and I am not so trusting! So, I roll it all up and take it home with me, along with the cash box (of course!) and make sure I arrive early the following day to set it all back up again. I do leave all the displays in place, though, and simply cover them with a sheet. At the end of the final day I roll everything up and put it into boxes, quickly bag and pack all the displays, and fold the mirrors into the table cloths, then put everything into big tubs and take it to the car. Then I come back for the table, chair, and anything else and take it all home. The following day I re-organize it ready for the next show.

As you can see, there is a lot of work in doing a show, but your business (and your income) will grow as you become a feature at great local shows in great venues! There is a bonus for me, as I love it when people try on my jewelry and look it all over, and I am honored at every purchase!

Look into craft shows, you will find it is well worth your while!
Laurie

16 comments :

Gaiana said...

Nice Article! Thank you for great advice!

Keystring said...

Thank you Erika! The lovely stained glass in the photos was made by Diane Worden, of www.theglassmenagerie.etsy.com

Without her encouragement and faithful help, I may not have even tried to get into a craft show!

Judith Lott said...

Great stuff.

Urban Pearl Studio said...

Your show displays look fantastic! Thank you for sharing!

Michele said...

Lovely setup Laurie, shows are a lot of work but can be fun with the right people with you.

Jennifer said...

Great insights! I also think it's great to share a space that way you can cover for each other when you need breaks, and help each other out during the show.

Nancy Russell said...

Thanks for sharing your steps in preparing for the shows, Laurie. I like the idea of wrapping the jewelry in tissue paper rather than taking it in the storage bags and having to unpack from them at the show site. Anything to save time!

Tracy said...

Great advice here! Shows can be daunting but when done right are great for business!

LoveStoneArts said...

Looks like you have found some great venues Laurie!! Thanks for sharing your tips with those of us who have zero experience and everything to learn about shows. Big congrats on your continuing success!

SendingLoveGallery said...

great post Laurie, and helpful info!

Beadsme said...

Great article with some lovely displays.

Erika said...

Thanks for sharing this valuable info, Laurie - you've given me the ideas and confidence boost I need to revamp my displays!

capitalcitycrafts said...

Great tips, thanks for sharing!

Ribasus said...

I used to love to do craft shows, but that was a couple of decades ago. It is a lot of work, but if you hit on a good one. WOW! One thing I discovered is that you must stand up the entire time. Impossible to sell while sitting (implies a lack of interest). So, if you brave the circuit, stand up and pay attention. Be there for your customers. Plus, a little bowl of candy on the table is a nice touch.

Donna Arena said...

Daunting IS a great word...scary too, but the saying goes...NO risk...No Reward!!!
Thanks for sharing all this great info Laurie, your booth looks charming and quite inviting!

Gemstones on My Mind said...

Fantastic article Laurie! Though I haven't done shows for a long time, I remember how much fun they can be and all the friends you make on the circuit. Also, interacting with your booth visitors/customers is a fantastic way to learn what features/designs your customers may want in their future jewelry pieces. Be sure to pass out your business cards, both with paying customers and the "window shoppers". One of them may become your new "best" customer.