Lexi Erickson is the President of Wubbers University, and is a well-known author, teacher, and frequent contributor to Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist Magazine.
This is a busy time for our Wubbers U instructors, with many doing shows and making extra pieces for their galleries and shops. I attended two shows here in Denver this week-end and noticed many jewelers with a wide variety of techniques. There was a wide selection, and all different levels of technique and abilities, and I was having a hard time deciding what to purchase. It was very enjoyable to visit with the individual artists.
While almost everyone had done their homework and their booths were delightful and professional, I did notice some things that stood out… and not in a really positive way. I’m sure none of these are thing YOU would do, but it is always a good idea to reflect on your craft shows to evolve and improve.
1. Present your work in its best light
I noticed that everything and anything was used as a display, and while there were some winners, there were some displays that didn’t show off the jewelry in the best light. One display that comes to mind was a beautiful handmade quilt used as a table cover.
It was lovely, however, it was such a busy background that the jewelry got lost in the design of the fabric. A simple, non-patterned background would have been much more effective and would have been more elegant to show their beautiful jewelry. The pieces, which were brightly multi-colored with beads and dichroic glass, and lots of movement and dangles, did not get the attention they deserved. Unfortunately, they just blended into the background. As I looked over the artist’s work, one potential customer approached the table, then said “Oh, my, just looking at this makes me dizzy!” and walked off. I felt really bad for the artist.
At another booth, I saw some great beads with macramé and kumihimo. The main problem was these pieces looked shopworn and dirty. They had been handled a lot.
Present your work in the best light. Make sure your displays play a supporting role to your jewelry. If you find that customers notice your displays more than your jewelry, reconsider how you are presenting your work. Only put out your best work, and be sure that work is clean, polished, and ready to wear.
2. Provide Fantastic Customer Service
I approached another table and saw the artist and a young man sitting down behind the table and holding hands, giggling and kissing, oblivious to anyone around them. I didn’t want to interrupt them, so I passed them by. Now everyone has heard not to eat or read while in your booth, but this was a bit over the top.
Another lady never looked up and just kept texting as I stood in her booth and looked at her jewelry. As I passed by a second time, about 20 minutes later, she was still texting.
Acknowledge your customers when they walk up. Give them the same customer service you would expect from a brick-and-mortar store. Say hello, allow them to browse, and if they seem interested, let them know you are available if they have any questions. And remember, while too little engagement can be a problem, so can too much. Too much talking can drive customers away and take the focus off of your jewelry. Find a happy medium.
3. Don’t Undersell Yourself
A couple of things really stood out: one was a huge pink poster board sign that said “50% OFF EVERYTHING” and another artist who said, as soon as I approached her booth, “Buy one piece and the second piece is 50% off”. Now maybe I don’t understand, but to me those two different booths gave me the impression that the jewelry presented were leftovers from their summer shows. The artists didn’t seem to value their work. Why cut your profit before anyone ever sees your work?
You can always offer a discount later in your conversation, IF you feel the need.
So if I have anything to share, it would be to make sure your pieces stand out and catch attention, and make sure they are polished and clean. And finally, don’t spill your popcorn in the lobby. Give people a chance to look at your work and to buy it at the full price. You made it, and it is your own creativity and outlook on life. Don’t sell yourself short!
I would love to hear what you have to say about marketing! Leave a comment telling us about your marketing tips, and dos and don’ts. Let’s share what works. And may all your upcoming shows be profitable and enjoyable.