Sunday, February 06, 2011

Craft Show Recap

Yesterday I had a craft show that was a bit unique -- an ALL jewelry craft show.  Held in McLean, VA, it was the 4th Annual Jewelry Showcase, and I've exhibited ever since its start.

Now, it's nerve-wracking enough to be in a craft show with pottery, woodwork, 2D art, and the like and worry about other jewelery vendors, but to be in a show where the entire body of work IS jewelry takes an entirely different level of nerve and let's just go ahead and say it -- confidence.

I wasn't worried about my jewelry -- the show promoters do a good job of mixing things up, and there are only 42 exhibitors.  I'm used to doing shows with 300 vendors, so I was glad for the calmer set-up and the quieter chaos.  (Don't you like how that word pairing sound?  "Quieter Chaos"?)

No, what I was worried about was my energy.  See, at shows I am ON.  I am excited and exuberant and cheerful as a Jack Russell Terrier who hasn't seen his master in a week.  I spend so much of my time working alone and living in a rural area that I look forward to the actual show date -- all the freak-outs over "do I have enough inventory?" by necessity are now over and now it's time to have fun, invite people to come into my booth and play dress-up, and relax.
a necklace that sold at the show

Fortunately, over the past six or seven years I've built a solid customer base in the Northern Virginia area and many of my customers have come to be good friends.  One brought me a gift of hot chocolate mix and cinnamon sticks, and many gave me enormous hugs.  Awesomely, a lot of them bring back their jewelry boxes to recycle, and I fill them up again.  These customer-friends always seem to come right at the beginning of the show, so they got my spirits going in a wonderful way.

Another thing that made this show wonderful was meeting a Bead Soup Blog Party participant, Sandi Volpe.  I'm always nervous meeting for the first time fellow beaders who've read my blog -- isn't that crazy?  When people come into my booth to look around or perhaps buy, I'm totally fine chatting.  I think when I meet people who I've "met" online, I get shy and wonder, "Am I what they expected?" and feel like a sixth-grader at the school dance.

Sandi, however, is a LOVELY person, inside and out, and just as real as she can be.  You know what I mean by real?  Someone who doesn't have a shell, or a reserve -- just a really sweet person you'd all love to know.  And she brought me the most lovely gift...

side one....

side two.

The flowers are watercolors done by a friend of hers -- extra special!  I was so touched.  I absolutely CANNOT solder.  The two times I tried, I burned my fingers, singed the paper inside the glass, and breathed in too much of the sal ammoniac fumes, even with ventilation, so I love to own this artwork.

The show was an enormous success, but I would be lying if I said it wasn't a tough show for me to get through.  It was harder to be chipper and find energy, but in this business, if you're not, you're toast.  Your potential customers walking down the aisles can sense it, and they won't enter a booth with a bad vibe.

Marketing is just as important, and these days, really, MORE important, than how beautiful your jewelry is.  If you're negative, if you ignore your customer, if you don't smile, if you sit in the back of the booth and read a book and barely look up to acknowledge their presence -- your chances of sales drops dramatically.

By The Big Harumph

Marketing stats say you have only three seconds to attract a customer to your booth.  Granted, the way your booth LOOKS has a tremendous amount to do with that, but you can't deny the power of personality.  

Believe me, I know how hard it is to be Miss Congeniality when the crowds are low and the heat is hot and you've got that one customer that wants to pick apart everything you've made and tell you everything that's wrong with it.  I did one outdoor show when a swarm of stinkbugs decided it was mating season on my tent roof.  And at one show, I had a customer hurl a sign at me because she disagreed with where I said Larimar comes from (I was right, by the way).  So it's safe to say, I've been there.

BUT YOU CAN DO IT!  And the dividends are huge.  Maybe you won't sell a lot that day but if you go back to that show, or you do another show where those customers might venture, they'll remember YOU were the one with the smile.  And smiles definitely are contagious, both to the customer, and to you!  Start smiling for no good reason and it's kind of hard to quit.
My dearest husband, taken by my son Zack, so it's a teeny bit blurry.
When the show was over, though, I was so darned glad to see my husband come to help me pack up and drive me the two hours home I could have cried.  This wonderful man drove two hours to help me set up, drove two hours home, drove two hours to come get me, and (ok, you've got the math by now), two hours back.  He shrugs it off since his daily commute is over 70 miles each way, but I know he did it because he loves me.

And then I hit the bed to watch a movie.

Me, again taken by my 8-year old, so a little blurry.  But by then, so was I!

Hug the ones you love.


  1. I am so glad you had a great show and I understand how hard it can be to be upbeat at a show. But the customers do appreciate it when you tell them about your pieces and interact with them. Love the watercolor flower necklace - it is just gorgeous. You do have a wonderful hubby to help you! Now, rest and relax and rejuvenate with that hot chocolate!

  2. "If you're negative, if you ignore your customer, if you don't smile, if you sit in the back of the booth and read a book and barely look up to acknowledge their presence..."

    OMG--I totally so agree with this. I've seen this routine at the local fairs! I always get the impression that they are better than you or me in this case--and that they are doing me a favor by displaying their jewelry. I've even had a few vendors huff at me when I ask a question about their crafts. HUFF!

    Excellent post! I love it and totally agree!

  3. Thanks for another wonderful post - showing enthusiasm throughout an entire show is definite a challenge for me - glad to hear I am not alone :-)

  4. What a cool post! I have only been on the "customer" side of a show, but I can understand what you're talking about. I know it's a turnoff to not only see them sitting reading, but also to see them talking to each other, and ignoring you, the customer.
    I knew that had to be your hubby, he just had that special "I love you" smile on his face. What a great couple of guys you have in your house!

  5. I'm glad your show went well. I've done all jewelry shows too.

    Smiles and enthusiasm let the customer know how passionate we are about our craft. If they were looking for a disengaged vendor then they would have gone to a big box store instead!

  6. I'm glad the show was a success. Now you can relax - for at least a few hours - lol.
    Great looking soldered pendant - I have never tried soldering, maybe some day.
    Thanks for the great post.

  7. right on! so glad it was energizing and you got to connect with cool people who care about you! both necklaces are gorgeous--the one you sold, and the one you received. makes me want to solder!

    go you!!

  8. glad the show was a success, sorry you are not feeling well and i must say your son takes darn good pictures!

  9. glad you had a great show!! i feel the same about shows...the anticipation before and then once set up and smiling it is wonderful :)

  10. What a trooper! Knowing how you have been feeling and then to do a show and be so bright and cheerful, that's great and I'm glad the show was good back to you!

  11. Hey, do you have room for another one to watch tv in bed with you ... I hear the pillow calling my name! Your jewelry is beautiful, but I know it doesn't sell itself ... I mean it does ... but you have to help. I'm glad you had a Grrreat show!

  12. I haven't done shows for years but your post brought back memories...good and oh I'm so tired memories! So glad it turned out for you...and aren't we lucky to have such wonderful mates!

  13. so glad to hear the show went well.
    i've never heard of an all jewelry show. i participated for years in an all pottery show, Oregon Potters Association with over a hundred booths..i was nervous.
    it's wonderful that your customers seek you out each year and are considered friends too.

  14. Lori,

    You inspire us all, with your smile:-)

    Thanks for including me in your post, what a nice surprise.

  15. OMG! I had to laugh out loud over the stink bugs. Bless your heart. How does one handle such? You I am sure handled it with grace.

    I agree on paying attention to your customers. When the seller is just chatting with her booth mates I usually just walk on by. A smile would not have cost them a cent and they could visit when while breaking down the booth.

    Hope you get rested up and feel better.

  16. Hi, I'm really happy for you that your show went well. You are so right about smiling at your customers, fabulous post!

  17. Congrats on a good show. It is always lovely to come away from a show feeling good about it. You are so right about being on stage when you do a show. You gotta do it and it can even be fun. Sometimes when I come home from a show, my face hurts from smiling so much. Your hubby rocks! And please tell Zach that I think he is becoming quite the good photographer.

  18. Lori- I LOVE the necklace that sold. Do you do your own bezels? I love the little bit of sparkle (light blue faceted stone???) with the white shell and turquoise. Its a great mix! It was fun to hear you talk about shows. They do FRY you! I too love when I am there, talking to people and other artists, but I need to sleep for a week afterwards:)

  19. I'm glad the show went so well. Now, take a few days off!

  20. Oh my gosh I love this post! I have only done one show and I know what you mean about being 'on''s exhausting..but so worth it.

    How sweet it is that your customers are loyal and that you don't shy away from readers. Get some good sleep and recharge.

  21. Hooray for another show down. I hope you have some quiet time to regroup and relax before you go into hyper drive for the next. Thanks for sharing your experience (and I'm still taken aback that someone threw a sign at you! wow).

  22. So glad the show went well! And how cool that you meet a fellow beader...bearing a gift no less! YAY! Kuddos to the hubby, so nice!

  23. Glad you did well and had fun. Love your gift necklace, the iris is gorgeous. Your necklace with the shell focal is also beautiful- nice colors. I certainly experienced the fatigue of craft fair life this past year. I did a 3 day show and needed a week to recover but it was really nice to interact with people. When they can try on your items and ask you questions they seem to be much more likely to make a purchase. I had a great time and made some really good friends along the way. I found the kind of crowd at different venues really interesting- I love to people watch so found it very fun!

  24. Anonymous9:43 PM

    What a useful post! I have always been a collector of jewelry. I hope you keep making great posts, I will check back again for sure.

  25. Yay, congrats on a successful show! It must have been tough to keep that upbeat demeanor the whole time but I suspect that your smile never left your face :)

  26. Lori, what a wonderful blog post!!!! Congratulations on the great show! You have a wonderful hubby, too. What a champ! BTW, Zack is a budding photographer!

  27. Anonymous11:49 PM

    Great that your show went well. Thanks for all the great wisdom and humor in your posts. Very enjoyable. Hope you feel better. tara

  28. Glad you have a husband that gives you the support you need. That is so very important.

  29. You may have been feeling a little blurry at the end of the day. But the smile on your face said it all.
    Yes, its so important to interact and acknowledge all of one's customers. It's a thrill for them and one for the seller too. Glad things went so well for you and that you have a couple of wonderful and supportive guys in your life.

  30. Congratulations on the show and that you were well enough to do it. I have never done a show of any description so I can only imagine...!

    You have great support in your family, to do all that driving probably with a smile on his face is indeed a testament of his love for you.
    Keep smiling Lori
    ps, love that gorgeous necklace!

  31. Shows are exhausting but also invigorating. So glad yours was successful. And that hubby of yours is a swell guy to do all that driving. You're lucky!

  32. Glad your show went great! And your husband seems to be super sweet. Sweet husband for a sweet woman:-)

  33. Congrats on a good show! But your pieces are amazing! Glad you made it back home. You do look quite toasty and comfy in bed!

  34. I would just like to give you a big ol' hug Lori! I'm glad you have such a wonderful family, that last photo of you makes me happy to see you so well taken care of and content.

    The craft show face - that's what I call those who like they are beign tortured selling at shows. I always think, why did you bother to come out if you hate being here?

    Thanks for sharing about your show, your work is so beautiful!

  35. Glad your show was a success! That's a lot of traveling back and forth. Now you can relax for a while!

  36. Anonymous3:47 PM

    so glad you made it through and the show was a success. and what lovely friends to bring you thoughtful gifts.
    now take it easy for a few.

  37. Congrats on a good show! :)

  38. WOw, loved this post. I have a large show in march, one that I usually do NOT do. I am a hermit, and have always found being around people nerve wracking!

    But, I am sure it will be awesome. My husband usually does the shows, and I create and sell online! Ok, I can DO this!! Thanks for sharing!!

  39. Sweet photos taken by the little guy!


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