Thursday, May 24, 2012


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!


Erika said...

Well, Staci, your collage necklaces are SO unique, and have a one of a kind style that people can't find anywhere else. That's why people go for them.

I think the small pendants are pretty though. And LOVE your new earrings.

Artisan Beads Plus said...

Love it, Staci! Thanks for the great advice. I agree completely that when we try to think about what others might want, we lose who we are in terms of creativity. That's a bad habit of mine that I've been working at!

Lisa Peters Russ said...

Excellent advice Staci! I love anything you make!

I remember when I first started out making beads -- People liked them, but they were too freaked out to work with them..(too heavy, too abstract, too this, too that) so I changed my style a little at first and then more and more.. I find myself now, trying to rediscover some of the older, bolder more abstract styles that I used to make that everyone wants now that they are using totally different settings, bezels, chain and accent focal's..

In the beginning it was "can you put holes in this" then it became "can you take the holes out"? -- not only have the bead makers changed alot in the last 6 years or so., but the designers have completely changed and its a wonderful thing because I feel now there is a designer for every bead maker and everything is so unique..

again, Listen and observe but take everything in stride is excellent advice..Tweak but don't change who you are as an artist..

Off the Beadin' Path said...

Very informative and interesting post, Staci! I love to see how others set up a display in a tent! It's an on-going process. My biggest challenge is a nice presentation that doesn't blow down in the wind! Like your tall shutters! Yes, we need to listen and watch, but resist going crazy with one of "their" suggestions! I think your very desirable, smaller necklaces will sell throughout the season, but your collage chokers are hard to beat! I'll be watching for more post-show reports!

My Life Under the Bus said...

So true my best sellers are my favorites every time! Your a great listener!

mairedodd said...

i agree with lisa -
you have to find your voice - and stick with it... you aren't looking to please everyone, you are looking to excite those with that aesthetic...
find your niche and do it as well as you can!
enjoy your shows! and best luck...

Julie Holmes said...

Love this post Staci. It is so easy to get derailed by other people's opinions if you let it happen...and even our own. I've made pieces I loved when they first came out of the kiln and now I think they're cr*p...but other people don't. We've got to make what calls us...and then stay out of our own way!

Heidi Post said...

I love your long daintier necklaces, and they look very cool on those boxes :) I like talking to the people too -- that is the fun part. I've only done 3 shows, and I'd really like to do more - that's something I'm going to have to focus on come fall. It gets to be nearly 100 degrees here in the summer and I can't stand being out there in that weather! Thanks for the good tips & info.

Linda said...

Great post Staci! We're artists not manufacturers--so it must come from the heart.

Libby Leuchtman said...

Wonderful post!

Linda Sadler said...

Staci, Just the information and advice I needed to read. I'm doing my first juried show this week end and it is hard not to second guess everything or be a little anxious.
Love your display!

Kelli said...

Great post Staci! My shows have started too. I think I gave up years ago trying to make what I thought people wanted. When I started making what I liked, and what spoke to me, my sales took off. So now, if they want something "different" from what I usually do, I'm happy to take a special order.

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