This week we are going to focus on selling your jewelry at live events. I wanted to go over this information early because you can still apply for some shows right now and schedule events with enough lead time before the holiday season.
This week I’ll cover:
Markets and Holiday Shows
Getting your work in front of the right people is the easiest and quickest way to sell your jewelry. For each of us the right people means different things. Over the course of 20 years of selling jewelry I’ve done a little bit of most kinds of shows. From the church bazaar to high school fundraiser, to events in stadiums, to shows with cultural centers and art museums.
For me, I need to be where people are who appreciate art and have disposable income. My best shows cater to older women, have something to do with cultural centers or the arts and are usually part of a fundraiser for an organization.
Holiday Markets and Shows
Shows are always a bit of gamble. The hard part about shows is that good ones have application deadlines months and months in advance, usually at the beginning of the year. So if you have shows scheduled already – awesome sauce, you are are ahead of the game. If not, make a list of the top shows in your area and their deadlines so next year you aren’t in the same spot!
If you don’t have shows booked yet, let’s discuss how to hustle.
1. Look for shows that are art related, not craft shows for your best bet. Craft shows are always a bomb for me. It’s just not my crowd. It may be your crowd, it’s hard to say. Know the show a little bit before you commit to the application. New to an area? Most shows have a Facebook page with photos from the previous year, great way to tell what kind of crowd and vendors will be there.
I like holiday markets at art centers, those work well in our area. I’ve signed up for two. These type of shows often have you drop off your work, they display it and sell it over a period of time and then you are paid within a few weeks after the event.
Check out your local cultural center or art museums to see if they host holiday shows.
Visit sites like Art Fair Calendar or check your state Arts Council to see if they have a listing of shows. Google can be your friend, type in your town and holiday art shows to see what’s in your area.
2. Look for shows that are juried and handmade only. There is many a holiday market that is not handmade and it’s not your crowd if you are selling art bead jewelry!
3. It’s better to invest in one or two quality shows with a higher booth fee than to do several small shows that aren’t your market but have a lower both fee. Don’t shy away from shows that take a commission, this is common with shows that are fundraisers for art and cultural centers. These have always been my best shows. I paid much more in commissions, but I also sold more jewelry than at any other type of event.
4. If you are going to do a church or school show, does the community have money to spend? If you live an area like a do, a little farm town – the answer is no. But I can look at shows an hour away and would consider doing shows in more affluent areas. It’s not a judgement, but you need to go where shoppers have money to spend on handmade jewelry and aren’t looking for a bargain! Some travel may be required.
This one takes a little more courage on your part and requires picking up the phone and doing a little leg work before you begin. A trunk show is an event at a store, office or other location where you set up your display for a day or several hours. Usually there is a percentage of the sales that is given to the store or a donation to an organization or charity.
My tips: visit shops first, if it’s not busy ask who books special events or who is the shop buyer. Get a card and call. You can set up the event over the phone or ask for a few minutes to bring in your work. You can email, but you will get better results calling.
Look for shops or boutiques that match your jewelry style.
Get creative with places that might host a trunk show!
School or colleges – you can do a trunk show at a school during lunch hour as a fundraiser. Bring lots of earrings and affordable stocking stuffer type items. I used to do trunk shows at my art school for several days before the holidays. Work with your contact to have your show on payday, be smart!
Or think about local businesses or offices that might like to host a trunk show. Some larger businesses even have small holiday shows for their employees, I’ve participated in a few over the years. I know in San Antonio there is a very large insurance company that hosts artisans to come in for the day so their workers can shop during their break.
Think about what kind of businesses you could partner with to host a trunk show for the day. Do you know anyone who works in a busy office or school?
Promote the event onsite a few weeks before. If you are going to go into a business, work with the contact person to send her flyers or postcards for the event.
Home Parties and Open House Events
A home party is a trunk show in your home or hosted by someone else. It’s an easy way to share your jewelry with your friends and family and offer them a little relaxed holiday shopping. Take a chance on a holiday open house, it’s a nice throw your local customers, friends and family a little holiday jewelry party – who doesn’t love that!
And stop by the Jewelry Making Journal for tips Home Party Success.
Tips for Shows
No matter where you sell face to face this holiday season keep these tips in mind:
1. Adjust your inventory to the event and crowd. Design simpler pieces with gift giving in mind. Think earrings, simple pendants and bracelets and holiday/winter themes.
2. Keep your displays simple, clutter-free and don’t put everything out at once. Display your work in themes or sets (remember the merchandising lesson last week!). Use bed risers to raise your tables for easy shopping at events. Think neutrals for props and table clothes, your jewelry should stand out more than your displays.
3. Collect emails at events. Have a guest book at every event for people to sign up for your email list or ask them to enter their email when they check out with a credit card. Offer a special gift (free shipping or a percentage off to those who sign up.) More on email later – but don’t miss a single opportunity to collect emails from your customers or potential customers. If someone asks for a business card at a show say, “Sure, and I’d love to have you sign up for my email list to get special promotions and holiday offers.”
4. Create postcard invites. Use Vista Print to print up postcards and invites to events. Sign up for their mailing list and take advantage of sales.
5. Become a better salesperson. Engage with every customer at an event, a friendly hello and short little pitch about your work or what makes your jewelry unique will go a long way. If someone is looking at something intently, offer a mirror so they can try it on, if they say it’s for a gift, offer them a little story about the piece that has captured their eye. Don’t be shy, don’t feel like a pushy sales person.
YOU ARE THERE TO HELP and fill a need! No one likes to sell but everyone loves to share. Helping and sharing, hello! That’s being a good salesperson.
Use this give and take method of selling: when at your booth, greet, give a short and light pitch, let them look. Offer more information or ask if they have any questions if they stick around. Offer the mirror. Give them space to decide. Ask if they are buying a gift, let them know you have gift boxes if you do. Ask if they need any help with gift ideas. Listen to them and see what they really need. Let them ponder for a bit. Let them know you take credit cards. (And you better if you are doing shows!!!) While they are shopping, look busy doing something at your table. NOT ON YOUR PHONE. I also recommend standing as much as possible while you are there to sell.
Read this great article on Sales Techniques for Craftspeople.
*Look at your schedule, any weeks you’d like to book before the holidays?
*Research shows and options. Books events.
*Schedule your own Open House. Order postcards.
*Create a FRANK list and use your list to see who you know who works in an office, school or might like to host a home party or attend your open house.
Remember, all you can do is ask – a no won’t kill you. I promise!
Share your tips for events in the comments below.