By Staci L. Smith
With it being show season, I remember why I work so hard, and put in the long days and full weekends to do these shows. It's the people.
I LOVE people. I love their uniqueness. I love their quirks. I love that we are all different. I think to do shows or work in sales in anyway, you need to love people. And most people love to talk (like me) so I often chat it up with customers. Whether I make a sale or not doesn't matter, because we both leave smiling, and in a small way, I feel I made a new friend.
When you open the door to coverstation though, you are sure to get feedback, and other input, good and bad. At first this can be upsetting, or even overwhelming. Some people will tell you what is wrong with a design, or you should leather cords, or you shouldn't have leather cords, or you should have more 20" necklaces, or no one wears 20" necklaces anymore.
I think we need to listen, to it all.
When I first started doing shows I was frantic, trying to make what everyone thought I should make. It didn't work for me, and often, it wouldn't sell. In the end, it wasn't MY art coming through, because I was trying to make what I thought THEY wanted.
However, I still listen, but you learn to filter it. You learn to discern what may or may not benefit your style. It's always good to have the opinion of others.
So if you are new to shows, listen. Take notes, and really think about the feedback you get. I know it has helped me to evolve as an artist.
Another way to "listen" is to observe what customers touch, try on and gravitate to. What is the most handled item? What item draws more people in, and where was it placed?
For example, I made daintier pendants for my last show.
This was the new display- the box is made from a .25 cent find at a thrift store
(Close up of some of the pendants and the new diplay. I added leather to the display to make it fit my style, and darkend the stain so my pendants would show up against it better)
another close up
Since I went all wild with my earrings, (lots of large bold ones)
I thought I should offer some smaller necklaces so the overall look of earrings and necklaces wouldn't be too overwhelming. I think I only sold 2-3 of them. I thought for sure my customer base would widen if I made some daintier stuff. Yet, they still went for my collage style chokers. Go figure. I will still offer the pendants, but it's a direction I won't pursue feverishly! So I will continue to do what comes naturally to me- big chunky jewlery!
Good luck to all of you doing shows right now! If you have any questions, let me know. I have been doing outdoor juried shows for 7-8 years now, so there a good chance one of my mistakes could help you out (cause I made a ton of them! Nothin' like learning the hard way.)
Listen, Observe, Enjoy!