Last weekend I did my first big event. A Mind, Body, Spirit & Gift Fair in the Memorial Hall, Northwich.
Firstly, can I say that you never have too much stuff. I had less than two weeks to prepare for this event and it gave me a real kick to make some new designs (almost a proper “collection”!) and finish others which had been laying about on my bench for what seems like forever.
When I had finally got them all together in one place, I really thought I had made too much; but I can tell you that it’s really impossible to make too much jewellery for a show/event.
When you get your table together on the day, you’ll find that there is a space where something special needs to go, or you’ll want to make a statement display (maybe one colour or type of jewellery) in one area. If you don’t have enough stuff then it makes this sort of thing very hard to do. It also is a good idea to swap pieces over or to a different place place, at least once in the day. People go around these events in a circle, and more than once. Some even go away and come back, later in the day. Changing your pieces over makes it look fresh and may just give the right piece a time to shine and attract more customers. One piece of mine just sparkled so much that it enticed people over from the other side of the venue!
I had made a sketch of what I wanted my table to look like. I wanted my display to look unique but also in keeping with my designs. I didn’t want many mass-produced display items on there (they don’t seem to show off the jewellery very well), so I had to think of display items that I could make or customise. I will do a separate post about this later on! My assistant (husband, Chris) and I got to the venue about 8am to set up. I had been up till 2am the night before, doing the final pricing and sorting out, and up at 6am so I could wash my hair and look my best for the day (I am so grateful for make-up!). We didn’t have a large enough tablecloth but made the best of it, with my beautiful purple velvet throw over the top. Having the sketch made it easy to set up.
One thing I had done, was to put photographs together in a book of all my main pieces. This meant that as well as having something for people to look through, I could show people pieces that I had already sold. It helped to say, “look, you could have something like this” and have a picture for them to see.
Oh, I had added jewellery to my larger display pieces the night before and wrapped in cloth (to protect the delicate items), which made things even easier. I like things to be grouped in a way that makes sense and it took a while the night before to decide on where each of my best/most expensive items would be. If I had to have done that on the day, it would have been a nightmare!
I made sure that there were different levels on my table and also a mirror (very important!). I have got a little device that people can put an earring on and then put up to their ear (so they can see how an earring looks), which is very hygienic and it means that I actively encourage people to touch the jewellery. I think it’s most important to let people connect with the jewellery by touching and trying on.
It’s always a good idea to go round the front of your table and see it from the customer’s side. What I do too, is to go further away (when setting up), even the other side of the venue if it’s not too big, and see how my table looks from there. This time one of my pieces just sparkled and stood out, even from a long way away. It showed my lighting was okay (I used battery-operated, clip-on LED lights, but I still think I need better next time) and I was pleased that my table stood out.
All the detritus was stored away under the table and all the boxes (with new shiny labels on). I had pre-prepared some bags with tissue paper and labels, and these too were under the table. When I got a sale, I didn’t want to be fussing about with boxes and packaging; I wanted it all ready and to hand. I don’t like taking my eyes off my
table for too long – some things can walk off the table if you’re unlucky (not a problem at this event), or I might miss that important cue from someone who wants to buy or ask a question. Its the same reason why I don’t really sit down at events (I’ve done them for other people before this one) – I find it easier to talk to people and it keeps me on my toes (not literally!)
I was very lucky that my mum came and stood at the table now and again (in between going around the event herself as a customer). It gave me a chance to nip off to the loo or go get a drink. I don’t like asking the people either side of me, it’s unprofessional and they have their own tables to look after. Having mum (and now both my in-laws and mum’s friend) there also helped because I think that people saw a busy table and came over to see what was interesting all these other people. They didn’t stay long but it was a nice boost to the day.
I like talking to those who come see my table. Not too much, as it can either put some people off, or mean that you end up in a long conversation rather than selling. I like to ask people what their favourite piece (of their own jewellery) is. It is a bit of an ice-breaker, but it also gives me an insight into what they might be looking for. I made lots of new contacts – wonderful, even if they didn’t buy something. Someone who likes your stuff may not buy then and there but may either buy later, or tell friends/family about your stuff, or even both. Word of mouth is my best advertising, and I thank everyone who came to say hello at the event.
A good rule is to not forget to thank the organiser. Sarah Buckley, thank you! Sarah made me feel welcome and part of things. She provided all the information and helped in any way she could. I can’t thank her enough.
As well as making some profit on the day (hooray!), I had four new commissions to make. I couldn’t wish for a better outcome to the day.
Here’s to the next one!