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Beading Resources > EncycloBEADia > Rev Up Jewelry Sales with Trunk Shows


by Jamie Smedley, Marketing Content Development Group, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

With ambitions for total world domination, it is easy to forget to work your jewelry business on the home front. Thinking big is important and getting creative with your jewelry business is the best way to make you stand out from the crowd. The jewelry industry is vast and you have stiff competition--millions of other jewelry designers have the same aspirations as you ... to make their business succeed.

How do you work your jewelry business? There are many ways to get your designs out there to folks eager to buy: opportunities such as selling online, selling to galleries, selling at open craft markets, selling wholesale and, of course, selling at home parties--A.K.A. face-to-face marketing.

In a world that is driven by chaotic schedules, many shoppers are hard-pressed to find the time in their calendar to attend shopping parties. Potential attendees will often decline attending or hosting because they don't have the patience to sit through a pitch or set up. Knowing that, and having solutions that take the pain away from attending or hosting a jewelry selling party can make your sales soar!

Name Calling

Let's start with a new name for the basic jewelry party. Many modern designers are now drifting away from the name ''jewelry party'' because direct-selling arenas (such as Avon® and Tupperware®) carry a stigma of mass-produced, pyramid gimmicks and hyped sales pitches. Instead, designers are gravitating towards a name that implies an upscale and exclusive opportunity known as the Trunk Show.

Besides a catchy name, it is important to host shows that connect with your buyers' personal needs. Everyone wants to feel like an event is personal and holds meaning for them, specifically. All of this is why having themes is so important.

Personalized Themes

Ditch the pitch! Making a Trunk Show work is about transitioning from the idea of listening to a salesy presentation to giving friends a memorable, fun experience. Remove the work for the host by offering to set up and breakdown yourself. The incorporation of themes geared towards specific buyers is giving a huge advantage towards reaching the right kind of buyer for your jewelry. This is especially helpful if you are a niche designer that specializes in a certain style or aesthetic.

There are many diversified buying groups out there. Below are just a few ideas for Trunk Show themes centered on personalized buying groups, schedules and lifestyles that go beyond the basic jewelry party. Which tailor-fit themes work best for you and your style is a personal choice--maybe you'd like to try them all or come up with your own.
  1. Out with the Girls
    This theme is focused on groups of girlfriends that want to have some giggle time while playing dress up, exploring new styles and making impulse purchases. This ''girls only'' theme is meant to be fun and lighthearted and works best when featured on a weeknight evening. Preferred snacks are light and easy; for instance, a fine selection of sliced cheeses, nuts, signature crackers and chilled wine.
  2. Style Savvy Social
    This theme is designed to fit guests who are just leaving the office for the day. It is a reality that many folks won't leave the house once they've returned home from their workday. Because of this, it is more convenient to receive this type of hard-working guest directly after office hours for an hour or two to unwind a little before heading home for the night. This show can be especially fun when guests take turns styling a new look for each other. Treat guests to an indulgent chilled Cosmo-style cocktail, dark chocolate and tangy fruits such as strawberries or dried cranberries.
  3. Mamma Mia's Power Hour
    For the ultra-busy mom with kids in preschool and early grades, finding the time to break away child-free is a challenge. For this reason, early weekdays may be the only opportunity to attend a trunk show. Demanding schedules and a lack of 'me time' will make this brief shopping experience an appealing treat in an otherwise hectic day. Ideally, this show is hosted from 9a.m. to 11a.m. because it is right after little ones are dropped off at school and daycare. Serve up some peppy refreshments such as flavored espresso with biscotti and get ready to have a power hour of jewelry fun!
  4. Office Opportunities
    Do you have co-workers that love your jewelry and style? This is a great opportunity because you already have a rapport with them. Why not prepare a personalized trunk show just for them that conveniently allows them to explore your designs during lunch or break times. Stage it with a quaint vintage suitcase full of jewelry-filled velvet bags that you can open and try on while eating a relaxing lunch. Have price sheets and custom orders ready for this popular abbreviated show.
  5. A Sunday Spree
    There are those women who are constantly on the move, and offering a Sunday afternoon trunk show that doesn't exhaust their only day off is essential if you want them to attend. This theme is geared towards a ''You work hard! Why not treat yourself to a well deserved shopping spree?'' attitude that rarely misses the mark! Keep it short and sweet ... and don't forget to laugh and have fun trying stuff on. Offer sparkling cider and non-greasy treats that don't require hand washing.
  6. Urbanites Unite
    This trunk show theme is geared towards young urban women that may be in college or developing their career and have an edge when it comes to style. These guests know what they want and aren't afraid to spend on their appearance if it makes them feel empowered or enhanced in some way. Have pieces that are trendy and present the show in an artistic, high fashion display. This show can be fun if hosted at a leading restaurant or cocktail room. Include the proprietor in the host rewards program (see below)--or offer to let them host a show themselves.
Have some other great theme ideas? Please, share them with our beading community through our Simple Tips submission page.

Ready-Set-Success

Trunk show success happens not only when you sell some jewelry, but also when you enlist more people to host a Trunk Show. Having strong host-reward programs makes that step more appealing. Hosts will often brag about the deals they received or earned, and that will encourage others to host in order to take advantage of your reward programs--especially if there are more rewards for referrals.

Here are some basic rewards program concepts that you can expand upon:
  • Hosts that book a party and meet specified sales totals will earn select jewelry for free and/or a percentage off their items purchased.
  • Offer a fundraiser opportunity party, with host rewards going towards a favorite charity.
  • Offer exclusive discounted and discontinued items available only to hosts.
  • Offer increased incentives for parties booked from her show and repeat hosting.
  • Parties hosted at restaurants--give rewards to the business owner/host alike.
  • Give frequent shopping discounts or free bonus items once a certain amount is reached.
To set up and market your show, here are a few ideas:
  • If certain materials are of limited quantity, create action sales by letting guests know which particular styles are exclusively limited editions.
  • Book a party 7-14 days in advance. Send out invitations and do a follow-up call the day before if the invites are sent a week or more before the party date.
  • Have a small directional map to the location on the back of the invite to help guests find their way.
  • Keep a contact journal that logs name and contact information of willing guests that want notification of upcoming events and special promotions.
  • Carry a tool kit for on the spot adjustments of necklace and bracelet lengths. It is also a good idea to bring alternative earwires for those with metal allergies or non-pierced ears. Having these options available could encourage an instant sale.
  • Don't be tied up in the kitchen--keep treats simple with hassle-free clean up. Food can upstage jewelry if it is too extravagant and sticky or greasy foods can smudge or damage jewelry.
  • Lighting can make jewelry look amazing. Think about having clip-on lamps and standing floor lamps that are portable to add extra sparkle to crystal and faceted jewelry.
  • Set up your jewelry on easily accessible displays that are fun to look at, match the invitations and your theme and are easy to remove and replace jewelry. Always bring mirrors and cleaning cloths.
  • Save yourself hours of cleaning time by taking the time while breaking down your displays to clean fingerprints and such from jewelry with a quick swipe of a cloth before packing.
  • Be sure to send a hand-written thank you note to hosts. This is also a good time to offer your hosts repeat invitations and incentives.
Take advantage of these fresh Trunk Show ideas by customizing your host incentives, making some product pamphlets and invitations, then start hunting up some creative trunk show opportunities. Best of luck to you and let the Trunk Show adventures begin!

Design with ...

Customer Comments

We would like to share some of the customer comments we received in response to the article "Rev Up Jewelry Sales with Jewelry Trunk Shows," as featured in an email newsletter. Please keep in mind that the comments expressed below are those of our customers and do not reflect the views of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads.

"Enjoyed your article on trunk shows, have heard of them but didn't fully understand. I had thought of trying the "home party" idea, just hadn't developed the idea. So you have provided me with good ideas and theme ideas. Thank you!!"
- Susan

"AWESOME. Thank you for helping us not only make our jewelry but market as well."
- Kris


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Products sold by Fire Mountain Gems and Beads® are intended for experienced jewelry-makers and designer-artists;
children 14 years of age or younger should use these products with adult direction.

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