There are no BAD SHOWS


Ginger 1

That’s a quote from Brenda Sue, who I am honored to know.

Brenda photo

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.

Bolivar 2

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.

Rose Build It

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!

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Susan Ferrell Bowerman
    Apr 17, 2016 @ 16:34:14

    Ginger, I think it truly takes work to find better shows. I’ve never done a juried show but I think I’d love to give that a try this year. I think your work is gorgeous, and I’ve had times when I’ve asked myself why am I doing this? The simple answer is because I love it. I think you and I and a few others took the branding part of the class quite seriously and I do believe it is going to pay off for us in the long run. You display and your work is gorgeous. In the right place, with your target audience, you will do well. Your work is amazing!



  2. gingerh1202
    Apr 17, 2016 @ 16:37:42

    Thanks Susan. I love your work also. Juried shows are hard to find in our area but I am looking. Also going to apply to a couple of ‘art’ shows in the area. I have a friend that is on the board of one of those groups and she is encouraging me.



  3. Aurora Designs Jewelry
    Apr 17, 2016 @ 20:00:45

    Ginger, I loved this post! Your display is very appealing and I was very impressed with how you chose to show your new line. It is so pretty and will definitely draw people in. Thanks for sharing your insight about your experiences over the years. You’very inspired me to look at doing some shows this year. I want to do juried shows, but I won’t rule out any…because “there are no bad shows”!



  4. Christine Cravens
    Apr 17, 2016 @ 21:30:16

    Ginger, thank you so much for sharing your experience and wisdom about selecting shoiws. I am looking forward to my first local market in August with my Mom and Sister 🙂



  5. Heather B
    Apr 18, 2016 @ 14:03:58

    I can’t thank you enough for this post. I can so relate to this and the “tears” and thinking that I’m not good enough. With the competition and my limited ability to do a lot of shows. What though do you do with pieces that don’t sell after a while do you re invent them?

    Happy Creating



    • gingerh1202
      Apr 18, 2016 @ 22:41:20

      Some of them I save to donate to charity auctions or fundraisers. I seldom take apart the beadwoven items but I give them as gifts. The simpler pieces I do reinvent them or just take them apart if possible – if they have been hanging around for a couple of show seasons. However, you never know. One bracelet I sold on Saturday I made in April of last year. A few of the earrings were ‘older’ also.

      One thing I have done at shows is put together “bundle” bags. I would put in a couple of older items with maybe a newer less expensive bracelet or a pair of earrings and then price the bag. The price would be the full price for the newer piece plus a discounted price for the other items. That was really popular and I haven’t done it in a couple of years. That way I move some older stuff at a small profit. I can’t remember what I called them either – it wasn’t bundle bags. Put the pieces in a zip bag with a label. Don’t allow any switching.

      I would love to see photos of your jewelry.
      Hugs, Ginger



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