The Studio – Jewelry Blog by Rio Grande

Business Know-How with Marlene Richey: Post-Show Savvy—Ten Things to Take Away

Apr 17, 2014
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Marlene Richey
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The lesson of any wholesale or retail jewelry trade show? It isn't over until it's over. The show doesn’t end when you start tearing down your booth. The ripple effect of sharing your work with so many people can linger, sometimes for years.

When I ran our jewelry design firm, I began keeping a spreadsheet of show-related sales, with date, customer, and what they purchased after the show was over. One time a customer called three years after a specific show and ordered a ring. She had kept the postcard I gave her at the show on her refrigerator all that time and saved up enough money to finally purchase it. This was a valuable lesson--the memory of a show can live for years .

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One post-show success story: Metalsmith Kristin Lora, who made this little airstream trailer, is a veteran show exhibitor. She connected with Marlene Richey at one show and thereafter sold her work in Marlene's Portland, Maine gallery.

As you're packing up your booth and getting ready to leave the venue, don’t worry if you haven’t sold all the pieces of jewelry you'd hoped to. It's easy to feel disappointed when you don’t reach a goal. You'll probably begin to think about the booth fees, expenses of doing the show, the time and the work put into the show, the standing and smiling and answering the same questions over and over again, the frustration of not making as many sales as your neighbors seemed to be, and the exhaustion of the whole affair. Not to mention the slight to your ego. I have experienced all of this firsthand more times than I would like to admit. I have worked myself into a state of self pity, cried, and sworn I would never do another show. But along came the next show, and there I was ready to write orders and sell jewelry. All smiles.

Here are ten things that can help you get successful outcomes from a show even after the event is over:

  1. Follow up with people who showed interest in your work. Take time to contact them, answer their questions, and let them know they can still purchase the piece (and, until there are laws preventing it and if you they're out of state, they'll get it tax-free and save a few bucks!).
  2. Did you meet anyone from the press? If so, be sure to send them images of your work, your bio, your artist statement, and contact information. This is one of the most valuable things you can accomplish at and after a show. Find out if they're writing an article about a specific subject such as pearls or green tourmalines or local jewelry designers so you can send appropriate images.
  3. Look closely at your final numbers. Write out a list or make a spreadsheet. What were your exact expenses? What were your exact orders or sales? Does the bottom line tell you that the show is worth doing again? Does it have potential? Were there mitigating circumstances that affected the show attendance, such as a snow storm or a huge political event? One time we did a show in the Berkshire Mountains and on the Sunday of the show, world famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma was giving a free concert in the same town. The show was was painfully quiet that day.
  4. Reflect honestly on what the show taught you about your work. What pieces were picked up the most? Which ones sold the best? What "look" was most popular? Were people complaining about the prices? What should you make more of and expand upon for your next show? What pieces, even if you love them, generated no interest? Don’t make any rash decisions about pulling work or revamping your line after only one show, watch for an emerging pattern—this can take a couple of shows. What is popular at one show might not get a second glance at the next one and vice versa.
  5. What contacts did you make among the other exhibitors? Did you learn about other shows which might be a perfect fit for your work? Did you learn about online venues or meet new suppliers? Did any exhibitors share words of wisdom? And the fun part—did you get a chance to barter with other exhibitors?
  6. How did your booth look? Were you able to work comfortably in the space, or are there things you would change? Do you need more or better lighting? More polished signage? Did your booth look professional, enhance your brand, draw attention? What booths were you impressed by at the show and why?
  7. What did you learn about displaying your work? What would you do differently next time?
  8. Did you make any contacts with local stores or galleries that might be willing to carry your work? If so, can you take a day and visit them after the show? On more than one occasion, I've had luck selling to local stores at retail, open-to-the-public shows.
  9. What ideas and suggestions did customers give you that you could incorporate into your jewelry? Listen to your customers, they often have great ideas and suggestions you might never have considered.
  10. And finally, start your long-term show sales spreadsheet today!

Give serious thought to all the wonderful opportunities this show has given you to improve your jewelry, your booth, your brand, your selling skills, your prominence in the field. And take stock of the contacts and the friendships you made. Remember that even if your booth isn't crowded with customers, the time you spend there surrounded by your work and other creative people, may reward you in surprising ways. As an illustration of this, I spent one dreadfully slow show writing out the beginning of a business plan for a retail gallery that I ultimately opened in Portland, Maine.  Not exactly what I had in mind as a take away...but very worthwhile!

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Game of Shells: Abalone Crowned 2014’s Top Trend

Apr 16, 2014
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Heather Apodaca
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Abalone shell has been named the top jewelry trend for 2014 by JCK’s Jennifer Heebner. The shell’s swirling rainbow of colors gives designers a pop of eye-catching blues, greens, and purples to work with and a piece of abalone wrapped in silver (or gold or base metal) is simply stunning. Check out The Studio today for some great abalone inspiration, take a poll to share your experiences with this iridescent beauty, and see the poll results to find out what your fellow jewelers think of abalone!

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Jewelry Industry News: Enter the Annual Lewton-Brain Foldform Competition!

Apr 14, 2014
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Amy Cliser
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The 2014 Lewton-Brain Foldform Competition is now accepting entries! In its third year, this competition is for those who love to produce the inspiring shapes and textures of foldforming sheet metal, a process whose invention is credited to Charles Lewton-Brain. Prizes include Rio Grande gift certificates, coverage in Art Jewelry magazine, exposure on Ganoksin, as well as a video to celebrate the winners. Check out today’s blog post on The Studio, to get the scoop on how to enter!

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Education at Rio Grande: How Full is Your Techniques Toolbox?

Apr 10, 2014
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Viqui Sanchez
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New to making jewelry? This coming June, Rio will offer the Jewelry-Maker’s Techniques Toolbox, a 5-day hands-on learning extravaganza of jewelry techniques! Taught by designer, jewelry maker, and teacher Jim Dailing, this class will cover every basic technique jewelers need to stock their just-gettin’-started toolbox of skills. Find out more in today’s post at The Studio…

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Finally! A Calibrated Ring-Sizing System from Tool Designer Kate Wolf

Apr 8, 2014
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Kate Wolf
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It’s been a jeweler’s battle for decades, heck, centuries! Precise and consistent ring sizing. Shouldn’t a size 6 ring always be a size 6 ring—at the showroom counter AND on the bench? So why isn’t it? Because not all sizing tools are created equal. Enter Kate Wolf and her new TRUE-SIZE ring-sizing system where every tool is precision calibrated to every other tool in the system for accuracy and consistency. You’ll never use another sizing system again.

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Creating & Coloring Jewelry with Reactive Metals and Anodizing

Apr 7, 2014
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anodizedbracelet

Anodizing is a simple and fun way to add color to your niobium work. What, you don’t work in niobium?? Why not? Niobium is hypoallergenic and naturally silver-gray with an extraordinary capacity to take on color using nothing more than a micro anodizer and a cup of electrolyte.

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Get in the Jewelry Game on Rio’s Facebook Fan Page

Apr 3, 2014
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Amy Cliser
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Every week or so, Rio Grande posts a call for entries on its Facebook fan page. These quick little contests call for jewelry and art objects that meet various parameters. We’ve asked for everything from filigree jewelry to cloisonné pieces. From PMC pieces to horse-themed jewelry. Take a look at today’s post to learn how you can “get in the jewelry game,” and have your craftsmanship admired by thousands!

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Non-Traditional Engagement Rings: Are Diamonds Still Forever?

Apr 2, 2014
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Heather Apodaca
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Wedding season is almost upon us. And while diamonds are usually the darlings of the jeweler’s bench during this time of year, more and more couples are requesting sapphires, rubies, topaz, and other colored stones for their engagement rings. Will your work reflect this colorful trend? Check out The Studio today to get inspired!

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Just in Time for Mother’s Day: Jewelry Supplies for Handmade and Personalized Gifts

Mar 31, 2014
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Bernadette Bennett
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Mother’s Day is right around the corner! Are you looking for a boost in sales? Need ideas? Personalized pendants, rings, and bracelets for moms and grandmas are still a leading trend. And Rio has the supplies you need to stamp it with love for Mother’s Day. Here are a few items that’ll get you started on a stamping trend, and just in time for Mom’s special day.

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What Are You Working on Now? Show Us Your Stuff AND Enter Our April Contest!

Mar 27, 2014
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Molly Therese Bell
feliciathree

What inspires you these days? What materials have you been experimenting with? Nearly every month we present you with another “What are You Working on Now?” contest, in which we invite readers to submit a picture or two and a description of what’s on their bench right now. Well, this month’s winner, Felicia Cinquegrana, has won a $20 Rio credit, and April’s contest has officially begun. Show us your stuff for a chance to win!

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