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

Apr 8, 2014
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Kate Wolf
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trusize

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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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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Bernadette Bennett
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Amy Cliser
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Business Know-How with Marlene Richey: Doing a Jewelry Trade Show—It’s Show Time!

Feb 20, 2014
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Marlene Richey
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In Marlene Richey’s first two posts on “Doing a Show,” she helped you apply, be accepted to, and prepare for your first jewelry trade show. In today’s post, she shares the nitty gritty on what you can expect at the show Itself—it’s show time!. Marlene has the experience and wisdom to break it down for you! Grab a notebook and get ready to take some notes and then knock some socks off at your first (or your next) big show!

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Rio Grande’s Secure Jewelry Displays: Protect your Investment!

Feb 14, 2014
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Amy Cliser
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We know it happens. You make beautiful jewelry, and lots of people want it. But not everyone wants to pay for it, so you have to protect it. Fortunately, theft is preventable and Rio Grande carries a number of displays that lock down your treasures in one way or another.

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Feb 5, 2014
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MariaElena Baca
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In part two of The Studio’s enameling series, MariaElena Baca sheds light on the choice between using a kiln or a torch to fire your enameled pieces. What are the differences between these two enameling methods? What criteria should you use to decide which method is best for you? Enameling 102 covers these questions and more. Come take a look and consider expanding your skills by taking an upcoming enameling class with the incomparable Ronda Coryell!

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Bernadette Bennett
floralcollage

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Business Know-How with Marlene Richey: Doing a Jewelry Trade Show—You’ve Been Accepted, Now Prepare!

Jan 16, 2014
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Marlene Richey
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In Part Two of Marlene Richey’s multi-part series on “Doing a Show,” she helps you prepare for your first big wholesale or retail show! Good preparation is key to a great outcome and Marlene has the experience and wisdom to break it down for you! Grab a notebook and get ready to take some notes and then knock some socks off at your first (or your next) big show!

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