Are YOU Ready for Your First Craft Show?

by Kristal Wick, Author, Designer and Instructor, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

Everyone in your family has an entire jewelry wardrobe from you--earrings for their birthdays, bracelets at Christmas, necklaces for Mother's Day. In fact you've given so much jewelry as gifts, they can't even rotate through them in a year and that includes trips to the grocery store. You went to help your BFF with her garage sale and had an awkward moment when you saw dozens of your jewelry gifts in the $1 pile. And now you hide those small bags in the trunk of the car and sneak them into the house when your hubby is at work to avoid his constant inquiries, "Are those MORE beads?" Beadaholics, you know who you are! Perhaps it's time to fund your addiction ... er ... I mean "hobby." How about selling your creations at a craft show? Here are a few tips:
  • Visit the show before you participate if at all possible. Count the bags and pay attention to the crowd; are there are lot's of "looky-loos" or serious shoppers (they're the ones with the bags). Will your jewelry stand out or are there other sellers who have the same or similar offerings? Where are the most desired tables or booths?
  • Price your jewelry fairly. The most common formula is materials cost + time (pay yourself hourly) x 3 = price

    Too may artisans leave out their time calculation then wonder why they aren't making any money. The point is to make it cost effective to sell your jewelry, haven't you given away enough of it yet?! You are valuable, don't forget this. P.S. If you don't make money, how can you buy more beads?
  • Split it. If the thought of doing a show alone is too daunting or the price of the table/booth to high, split it with a pal and do it together. My fave craft shows are always when I do it with one of my peeps. You can take turns for potty and food breaks. It's also much quicker to set up and tear down with a buddy. Be sure your jewelry styles complement each other--not copy each other, to avoid any competition conflicts.
  • Charge it. Credit card purchases can be up to 80% of your sales, so you don't want to miss out! Check out Square ( as a simple way to accept credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express) using your iPhone, Android or iPad. Their fee is only 2.75% of each sale, the payments are deposited into you bank account the next day and they send you a free card reader. No contract or merchant accounts to set up. PayPal also offers credit card processing as well as has a card reader. Do a little homework and in no time you’ll have the right credit processing fit for you.
  • Inventory. Bring it all, even your least fave pieces. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and you might be surprised at what ends up selling. Also, pay attention to your best sellers and use this opportunity as a test market to inform you of your client base and what they're looking for. This can help you decide what to focus on for your next craft show. It's also good to have too much inventory with you and scale back while setting up. If you have extras on hand, you can easily fill in empty spots when items sell or adapt your offerings if you see something is selling rapidly. You'll be glad you didn't leave it back in your studio!
  • Displays. Uniform jewelry displays give your work credibility and a professional look and as we all know, image is everything, especially when it comes to jewelry. Folks will pay more money for your creations if your booth doesn't look like a garage sale. Test run your table or booth set up at home before the show. Use clean and non-distracting tablecloths and stands. Simple risers made out of two boxes with a board on top covered by a tablecloth or draping will add interest and allow you to display more items. Eye level is the sweet spot for shoppers so try to keep that in mind when setting up your display.
  • Roll it in. Plastic rolling carts are a great way to stay organized and ensure a quick set up. Fill the drawers with inventory and roll it in. You'll also want to bring some supplies such as extension cords, tape, scissors, zip ties, safety pins, price tags, boxes and bags.
  • Mailing List. Keeping in touch with your peeps is vital, so make it easy for them and keep a notebook where they can add their email and/or snail mail address. You can then turn that into your mailing list. Send out regular reminders (monthly/quarterly/yearly) letting them know about your show schedule, new items you're selling and any other news they would be interested in. Folks love hearing what you're up to!
  • Business Cards. Even if you have to print them up on your home computer, business cards are a must. They can be simple, but be sure you have your name, phone number, email and if possible some type of image of your work to jog their memory.
  • Notices. If you offer custom orders or private trunk shows, make up some professional signs and display them in your booth/table. It's also a good idea to display a sign of the credit cards you accept. Many folks assume you do not take credit cards so inform them front and center. They'll spend more money!
  • Last on the list is to have fun! You will attract folks to your work much more if you're having a good time and not worrying about selling. This is jewelry after all; it should bring smiles to everyone! Good luck.

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