As promised, here are the things I learned from the event I went to on Saturday.

I should note, however, that even though the event was not a success for me, I don’t regret doing it.  The fee I paid for the booth was a donation to PAWS/LA, an organization I’ve supported both financially and through volunteer work for many years now.  Furthermore, I did indeed learn some practical lessons from  which I definitely needed to learn.  Yeah, I wish I could’ve sold more jewelry, but overall I’m cool with what transpired.

So here are those lessons:

1)  Know your event – As it happens, I did know my event and that it was a definite possibility I wouldn’t sell much.  But what I didn’t figure into it was just how dog-oriented the event really was and how that would figure into not selling jewelry.

More than one person seemed surprised I was there at all, and some even asked what I was doing selling jewelry at this particular event.  I told them that I was a long-time supporter of PAWS/LA and this was a part of that support.  They also asked if I was selling jewelry for dogs, to which I said no (I generally don’t "believe" in dogs wearing things like jewelry or clothes, unless it’s for practical reasons like keeping them warm or safe in some way).

The picture above shows me holding the type of wares sold by most of the other vendors.  This is a doggie umbrella.  You can’t see it in the photo but there is a chain that hooks onto the dogs collar in the center of the umbrella.

Everyone had dogs with them.  Dogs don’t generally like shopping for jewelry.  A couple of dogs tried to jump up onto my table to see if I was giving out treats (like many of the other vendors were).  One dog knocked some necklaces down on the grass with his paw.  It’s no secret that I adore dogs, and none of this really bothered me, but it was painfully clear that this was not the event for me to sell loads of jewelry, dog-themed or not.  I did, however, get to engage in one of my favorite hobbies–petting dogs.

2)  Run through everything in advance.  Mick and I briefly practiced transactions, made sure the authorization process worked, etc.  I also set up my display in advance and I’m so glad I did.

3)  Think about the practicality of the price tags you use.  I made a big mistake here.  The tags I used were really big.  Sure, they were easy to read but they got hopelessly tangled together and with all the chains on the jewelry.  BIG PAIN IN BOOTY.  This also really hampered people in looking at the jewelry and made the whole process much more awkward than it had to be.

So what tags to use?  I’d use small plastic tags that can be easily cut off either by the purchaser or at the point of sale.  I’d probably stay away from adhesive tags since they can have a gummy residue which is annoying to remove.

4)  Pricing.  this is something I’m still very unsure about.  It’s so freakin’ hard to strike a balance between adaquately compensating yourself for your work and pricing your work so that customers will buy.  One of the problems is that as an independant craftsperson, it is impossible to compete with jewelry made overseas in factories for a fraction of what it costs to make my own jewelry.  That said, my feeling is that many of our pieces could’ve been overpriced, though I’m not sure.  In the future this is one of the areas that I will be looking at most closely.

5)  Understand that people have potential customers have a variety of tastes.  Not everyone is going to love your work, and not everyone is going to want to buy it.  But if you stay true to your own style and feel strongly about your work and talent, there will be other people who feel strongly about it as well.  Now if I could only find them!  😉

3 Replies to “Lessons Learned”

  1. Julie says: June 9, 2007 at 9:28 am

    Oh wow, I never even thought about how much effort would go into something like that! Your display looked great, and I thought it was funny that people asked about jewelry for dogs. I can’t imagine my two Border Collies going for anything other than a bandana around their necks. I know you’ll find your audience – I always get compliments on your jewelry!

  2. holly west says: June 6, 2007 at 8:28 am

    I’m not sure I’d say that silver and gold findings are expensive–I’d just say that real gemstones and sterling silver or whatever are used and leave it at that. Or is that what you meant?

  3. Antoinette says: June 6, 2007 at 8:22 am

    On the point of price… The shops that I’ve talked to that have seen my jewelry all said that my prices were good. I’ve also been to a number of art and craft fairs and looked at similar jewelry and checked the prices. If anything, I’m low.
    You have to take into consideration (and I plan on making a little sign like the one you had up on the table)that solid silver and gold findings are expensive. If I only used plated findings, the piece would be much less expensive (but the quality would also be less).

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