That’s a quote from Brenda Sue, who I am honored to know.
This morning I posted in a Facebook group – B’Sue Boutiques Creative Group -a ‘reality check’ about a show I participated in yesterday. It was a Spring Home & Garden show sponsored by the Ozarks Board of Realtors. The proceeds from booth rentals benefited several local charities. That was one reason I wanted to be at the show. I am also friends with two local realtors who are women I admire. So, I went in knowing that it probably would not be a great show but I would use the opportunity to test out my new booth setup and network with other vendors. I was literally the only crafter/artisan there. And I sold several nice pieces of jewelry and lots of earrings.
My reality check post pointed out that I did not have a profit from that show – when you factor in the overhead costs of doing a show (which you absolutely must) and the cost of making the jewelry, I barely broke even.
But that is okay, because as B’Sue says – there are no bad shows! This show was a great show for me. I set up the new booth display – moving from purple overload to shabby chic – and figured out what works and what doesn’t.
I networked like crazy! I had tons of compliments on my jewelry and my display. And that is a huge plus. And I loved hearing them. I have a chance to get two wedding orders. One of those is a pretty sure thing. I handed out lots of my beautiful new business cards! I also scored an awesome tote bag from a friend in exchange for making pendants from two pins – a cute horse and a rhinestone studded accordion.
I did not always believe there were no bad shows!
When I was a decorative painter, hubby & I did 20-22 shows a year! We had many very successful shows and a few bad shows. Including a few where we had no sales or only ‘pity’ sales from other crafters. Most of those shows were bad because the promoters did a terrible job – bad signage, no advertising, etc.
Or the weather turned ugly – 70 mph direct wind that took our tent down in the middle of the night and dumped a bunch of jewelry in a lake.
So, What changed my “Tude?”
After a show that did not yield a profit I would spend days with “Why am I doing this?” -“What am I doing wrong?” – etc., etc., etc. And, honestly, lots of tears – big old pity party!
I was doing some things wrong – I wasn’t spending enough time designing my booth – that ‘branding’ thing. I was making jewelry I loved – a lot of beadweaving. That stuff is gorgeous but very labor intensive. Buyers admire the workmanship but don’t want to pay for the labor. I still love beadweaving it but it is no longer the primary collection in my line.
I fell into assemblage jewelry by chance – stumbled right into the middle of B’Sue’s group. I have always loved vintage jewelry and the vintage look. This was my niche and no one in my show area was doing it! This year is only the second show season where my focus is on assemblage jewelry. It sold very well last year – even in our small town local shows.
The big reason for my attitude adjustment, however, was my participation in the online class sponsored by Brenda. It was a pretty intense three months of learning about vintage jewelry, business practices, branding and developing a line of jewelry. For the first time in 16 years of jewelry making, I saw Lynn Leigh Designs as a real business.
I changed my focus from just making jewelry that I hoped someone would love enough to buy – to building my brand and finding ways to market my jewelry. I have just started that journey.
With all of the insights from the class, I realized that there are no bad shows. You gain something from every show (unless that wind storm comes along). I have a good friend that is a wonderful decorative painting teacher that says “you learn something from every class you take, even if it is that you never want to take a class from that teacher again.” And some shows are like that. I can’t compete with $5 junk jewelry from China so I will avoid shows that allow those dealers. If I take a chance on a new promoter and they fail to do their job, I won’t be back. But I have stilled learned something with those experiences. And some of those shows have resulted in referrals and other sales.
Again, there are no bad shows!
If I have a show with low sales, it just means that my target customer wasn’t there. It does not mean my jewelry is not good enough or overpriced or any of those other things I have said to myself in the past.
Yesterday’s crowd was there to buy veggies, bread and flowers from the farmer’s market vendors. They did not come in the door expecting to see jewelry. The fact that I sold anything at all was a surprise.
I am cutting down on the number of shows I do – to 8-12 a year. I am concentrating on juried shows so that I don’t compete with direct sales. I am sticking to my brand and expanding my line as I go. And I will see the value in every show I do!