So I thought I would go through some of my process of what I do to get ready for a jewelry show.
Needless to say, you have to have your jewelry pieces ready. I want to offer a broad selection of items so I'm including: earrings, pendants, bracelets, necklaces, tiny adjustable rings, and hair accessories. I have quite a bit of inventory, but am only bringing a portion of what I have because I do not want my booth to look overwhelming with too many choices. In making my selections, I include a range of prices from $3 to $75, to have something for everyone's pocketbook.
Each item I make has an inventory code. Every item begins with J, representing jewelry, followed by another letter which indicates the type of item. For example: JP is pendants, JE is earrings, JN is necklaces, you get the idea. This is followed by the number assigned, starting with 1. After each item is given an inventory code, it is photographed and placed on an excel sheet. There is a separate sheet for each category. The sheet includes the inventory number, photograph, brief description, and pricing code. Then all items are backed on a card, with the exception of bracelets and necklaces, which have tags.
Another Tip: Since I sell on Etsy, I need to make it easy to locate a piece of jewelry that has been ordered. All of my necklaces go into a large coin envelope with the inventory number on the front. I store them in a shoe box, standing up, in numerical order. When I get an order, I just check the number on my listing, then go and grab it out of my shoe box-- saves a heck of a lot of time.
Pricing had become such a headache, I have a certain price in mind when I sell an item. If I am selling the piece directly, it will be a lower price than if I am selling it where there is up to a 50% commission on the jewelry. I would set my price, then if it was going to a shop, I would up the price, otherwise, sometimes I would just be barely covering my material cost. This would involve going in and repricing each item on both the spreadsheet and jewelry tags taking way too much time.
My solution was to switch to a color code system. I would create price ranges for each color, and this color would go into the spreadsheet. On the jewelry tag, the small color dot is placed on the tag. When I am doing my own shows, I have the price codes, printed on postcards that are laminated, and set on the table for customers to use. See the example below.
If I am taking my jewelry somewhere else that has a commission, I just change the price value assigned to the color, but never have to update the spreadsheet or change the tag.
How I track this is to create a word document with the coding chart and new prices, the place where the jewelry is, and the date.
How you present your work is just as important as creating the work itself. It doesn't matter how beautiful your jewelry is, if you do not take the time to package and display it in an attractive way to pique a customer's interest, you will just end up with people walking right by your booth.
Here are some of my suggestions:
Label & price everything- you will lose customers if items are not marked. If you are like me, if it doesn't have a price on it, I won't ask.
Build Your Brand: How you package and label your product should be consistent with the theme of your product. For example, my theme is earthy, so I built my packaging and branding around that through the use of materials and color palette. For more information, see my article, Building a Brand for Handmade Jewelry
It is important to be consistent with whatever you decide- what is the theme running through the pieces your make and how can you convey that?
Create Your Display to Reflect Your Brand: When deciding on how to create my table booth display, I opted to stay in the brown, green and red/orange color range, with a sprinkling of other earthy colors. My display pieces were mostly found at the local thrift store, selecting old wooden boxes, cases, books and bowls. Burlap is used through out the display to tie everything together.
Raffle Item: I am including one raffle item for this show, a polymer clay choker necklace that I will raffle off at the end of the 2 day show. I am doing this to help me build a mailing list. To enter the raffle you need to fill out a card with your name and email address.
Prepare Your Table Display Ahead of Time: Don't wait to the day of your show to try to figure out how you are going to arrange your table display- do this before you get there. I figure out how everything will be arranged, then I take photos on my phone. When my tent is up and I'm ready to set up the table, the phone is my quick reference.
Try not to overwhelm your table with too much product- it can make a potential customer feel fatigued or overwhelmed with too many choices, sometimes less is best, and simple is elegant. Put your extra items under the table and fill in as something sells, or if it is a weekend show, fill in the gaps the 2nd day.
Pick Your Pieces to Wear: Don't forget to model your jewelry, pick a few items from your collection to model during the show.
Packing Your Car: I try to keep as much of my jewelry in the container it will be displayed in if possible. Since many of my pieces are in wooden boxes or cases, I simply, lay the jewelry flat and close the lid. When I am ready to place it on the table, I just have to stand them upright.
For height, I use a few round wooden containers, so I place my necklace stands inside of those, with the necklaces already on them- again it is just a matter of lifting out and placing on the table.
Necessary Supplies: Don't forget to make a list of your necessary supplies, here are some of the things I include: jewelry tool kit ( plies, cutter, ear wires), calculator, scissors, glue, the Square for taking credit cards, change ($1 , $5 & 10"s) I only price things at whole numbers to avoid having to deal with change, inventory list with prices, sign up sheet for mailing list,packaging materials such as bags and boxes, receipt pad, pens, business cards and listing of shows.
There is nothing worse then to be at a show, miles away from home, knowing you have forgotten something important for the day to run smoothly. Last year , the first day of the Tinicum show I lost quite a few sales because my phone was not working properly so I couldn't use the Square to take credit cards.
Phone: Don't forget to charge your phone, especially if you need it to take credit cards.
Photograph Your Booth: Make sure you take plenty of pictures of your booth for future reference to set up your booth, for any shows you may apply to that want a picture of your booth setup, for your FB page and website.
So these are some of the things I do, although I am sure I am forgetting to include some details. When I am planning for a show I stop creating jewelry a week before hand. The week before the show is totally devoted to getting everything ready for the show. I then pack my car up the night before, and the day of show, I am relaxed and ready to kick back and enjoy the fruits of my labor! For me, this process works, but I know there are lots of ways to approach this job- and I would love to hear from you about how you tackle the preparations. Leave a comment!