by Dr. David A. Weiman
Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and BeadsĀ®

''How do I sell more of my handcrafted jewelry?'' is a frequently asked question online at Fire Mountain Gems and Beads, Ask the Experts. David Weiman, Ask the Experts jewelry marketing and sales contributor, has created a 5-part series to help address this popular topic. Here is Part 2 on hosting home jewelry parties.

Part 2: Creating profitable home jewelry parties!

A ''home jewelry party'' at someone's home, where the featured ''guest'' is your jewelry, connects you with buyers in a cordial environment. Jewelry artisans usually rely on friends or other contacts to host the party. You benefit from the warm environment and party atmosphere as guests meet you, learn about your beaded jewelry and, most importantly, buy from you.

Although there is no exact science to creating a home party, many follow a similar format: guests are invited to a host's home, jewelry is displayed for sale and the host is thanked with some type of incentive. The host usually supplies refreshments or catering, while guests are able to interact with you and each other. At their leisure, guests shop around while talking with you about specific pieces or entire collections. You have the chance to tell them in-depth about what inspires you, why you work with the kinds of beads you've selected, whether or not you can customize a piece and any other thoughts you want to share.

Finding Hosts:

Start with people you know. Tell them what a home party is by providing a brief information sheet. You can also use that sheet at other events to recruit more hosts, and you can convert it into a web page, as well.

If you're new to an area, or if you are not comfortable asking friends or others to host a party, contact party planners in your area (search the phone book or online) and talk with them about including jewelry or bead jewelry-making as a party option for their clients.

Some jewelry makers host their own parties, and if you're comfortable doing that and don't mind cleaning up, that can work well, too.

Host Incentives:

Most jewelry makers offer the host a payment and/or discounts in return for their hosting duties. Other expenses for hosting the party, such as invitations, postage, food and drinks are all negotiable. You might give the host a percentage of sales, a flat fee, a discount off future purchases or a combination of any of the above. For example, you might offer $20 in free jewelry to the host, along with 10% of sales in jewelry credit. You can offer incentives for the number of guests who come to the party, as well as an incentive for each new host you get from the party.

Whatever you decide, put details in writing so there is a clear agreement up front.

Invitations and Advertising

If you design and print the invitations for the host, it ensures that the correct marketing message will go out to the guests.

Pricing Your Jewelry

Deciding how to price for home parties is no different than pricing for any group of prospects: there has to be a ''fit'' between what they're expecting to pay and what you need to earn in profit. Learn as much as you can about invited guests, their style and jewelry preferences. If they love beaded jewelry and desire one-of-a-kind, artisan-made pieces, you're in great shape. If they're mainly bargain shoppers thinking they'll get a discount, you might want to pass.

Bring items in all price ranges. This way you can cater to guests with different needs, such as a holiday or birthday gift shopper with a few smaller things on her list, or someone looking to splurge on a unique quality piece for herself. A range of prices will also allow clients to see what you may be able to offer them if their needs change at a later time.

Be prepared for people to ask if you will customize a piece they like with certain colors or size beads they'd like. Customizing a piece can be a lucrative project.

Jewelry Making as Part of the Party

If you have teaching skills, bead jewelry is tailor-made for teaching at home parties. Each guest can pay an entry fee and make their own simple piece, like a bracelet or pair of earrings. You can bring an assortment of beads and other materials so that each participant can choose what they want.

Aside from demonstrating your skills, teaching gives guests a memorable experience and a piece of jewelry they can show and talk about with their friends! Each time they tell someone about the party, they'll be thinking and talking about you.

How to Get Started

If you're not doing any home jewelry parties now, consider setting a goal of doing one soon. Definitely within the next six months. Your success won't necessarily come right away, as it can take some time to build. But you might find that guests who attended the party will buy from you weeks or even months after having met you there.

If you're just beginning to sell your bead jewelry, you may find home parties a very comfortable way to start learning how to sell. Parties let you see how prospects respond to your designs in an intimate setting and you can practice how you want to describe yourself and discuss your pieces.

However you decide to do it, home parties are an excellent way to meet new people, sell in a warm and cordial environment, see the reaction to your new bead jewelry designs and sharpen your selling skills.

Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' online Ask the Experts brings you design tips and information from jewelry-industry professionals. You'll find new questions and answers on jewelry-making posted daily, so be sure to check back often for valuable information.

Additional Resources:

Dr. David Weiman is a respected expert in the field of marketing and selling handcrafted jewelry and a well-read contributor to Fire Mountain Gems and Beads "Ask the Experts". He is the author of Introduction to Marketing and Selling Jewelry, The Jewelry Selling Answer Book and The 5 Keys to Selling Handcrafted Jewelry (all available through Fire Mountain Gems and Beads). A free newsletter on selling handmade jewelry is available at his website:

Customer Comments

We would like to share some of the customer comments we received in response to the article "Boost Your Beaded Jewelry Sales Part 2: Home Jewelry Parties" 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.

''Thanks very much for the article on at-home jewelry parties. It had everything I needed to know in one place!''
- Diana

''Very interesting article. I need ideas for unique table display. Fire Mt. is the BEST!!''
- Ruth

''I really enjoyed this article! I never thought about a jewelry party! All of this is so new to me, I've only been doing jewelry a year or so and I just had my first show (it went well) but I think if I had read this article before my show I would have done better. You gave me a lot to think about. My daughter sells Mary Kay and she's always trying to talk me into having a MK party. Now I can try and get her to have a Jewelry Party for me! Who knows... we may have a MK and a Jewelry Party together! Thank you so much for this article... I feel that I can do so much more now and really get my jewelry business going. WATCH OUT WORLD... HERE I COME!!''
- Deborah

''Very informative article on home parties. I am just beginning to sell more and I did get a lot of new ideas. Thank you,''
- Judy

''Very informative, gave me some good ideas. I have not yet had a jewelry party but have been thinking about it for some time. Thanks.''
- Linda

''I just wanted to send my comments on your newsletters and "ALL" the information it includes. I have been away from jewelry making for a while and am now getting back into it for a definite way to relieve school stresses and also to sell, now that I've been updated by you all. Thanks so much, I really look forward to all the newsletters I receive daily. Thanks once again and keep up the good work.''
- Angel

''Your article on having a home party was very inspiring to me. It gave me the courage to give it a try! I am making the plans now to be prepared for the Christmas season...Thank you!!''
- Laurel

''The article "Boost your beaded Jewelry sales" part I and II were a tremendous help. I feel as though your company fills many shoes for me and my beading. Not only as a supplier, but for help and how-tos, to business advice. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful company so openly in so many areas to help people like me.''
- April