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

A trunk show is an event where you make a personal appearance at one of the shops or galleries that carry your work. A trunk show is held for a specific amount of time, such as a weekend or an evening; you meet and greet the customers and sell a new jewelry line or a collection the shop does not currently carry. If you have sales reps, they can also have trunk shows for you and your line as well in their showroom. If you do not sell wholesale or have shops that carry your jewelry, no worries; you can create a "meet the artist or designer" event at a local coffee shop, event center or restaurant party room such as Panera. Trunk shows are a great way to build exposure, create excitement about a new line and increase sales. Maybe it's time to explore this type of event for your jewelry business?

There are a few great reasons for having a trunk show. Of course selling your jewelry is one of them, but it's also a huge benefit to the shop; they get to see what their customers like before buying directly from you and it gets folks in their door to purchase other items. It's also good for them to feature one of their designers and create an exciting event for their customers who love to have a personal experience with their fave creative genius. Trunk shows give you, the designer, valuable information with direct customer feedback you may not necessarily get through your online shop. So, before you make hundreds of a new design, you get to try it out on a smaller scale to gauge their reaction and perhaps tweak before a big launch.

What will it take?

Here are the top ten steps to get started:

1. Draw up a simple contract specifying the details such as what percentage of sales each of you will take, date, time, how sales will be handled, etc. You and the shop owner can sign it and each keep a copy. This is kind of like a road map for both of you.

2. Advertise, advertise, ADVERTISE! The shop should mail out postcards and emails to their customer base. Both of you should plaster the event all over your social media sites (such as Facebook and Twitter). You can also post the event on the local Craig's list, and send out a press release to the local paper. Posters in the shop as well as around the area would also help publicize the event.

3. Do a door prize with the winner receiving a piece of your jewelry. Capture their mailing and email address so you and the shop can keep in touch with them for future events and announcements. I give each attendee an entry slip and another one for every friend they bring along. I like to draw the name at the end of the event. The winner does not have to be present but must come to the shop to collect their prize. The shop owner can capture this with a photo and post to their social media sites.

4. Have a wine and cheese party with yummies or coffee and cookies depending on the time of your event. Create a festive and relaxing mood for customers to feel pampered. You may want to hire a chair masseur and give free 10 minute massages for the ultimate in indulgence. Make your customers feel special!

5. Create a kid zone with toys and a video playing to entertain the little ones while their mommies shop.

6. Dress the part. You may live in sweatpants while creating your jewelry but your customers want to "see" you as an official designer! Believe it or not, how you dress does affect your sales, so play it safe and overdress instead of underdress for the event.

7. Work on your story. Customers love the story of your inspiration and technique, so get ready to tell it over and over again with enthusiasm. They also love a good story card, so create a colorful postcard or small hand tag with your story and pictures of your creative process if possible for them to take home. Be sure to include the shop and/or your contact information.

8. Give an "event special" such as a 2 for 1 offer or a percentage off any custom orders (if you offer them). Display signage advertising your specials.

9. If you are planning a "meet the designer" event on your own, you may want to include another designer to take the pressure off of doing it yourself. Ideally, any other designers or artisans would offer different types of products than yours. It's very common to have too many jewelers at one gathering, so keep this in mind when planning who to team up with.

10. Follow through is very important. Fill any orders immediately with a thank you note for attending the event. Send a gift or flowers thanking the shop owner.

Once your trunk show is over, evaluate the outcome. Make a pro and con list with lessons learned to take with you to the next trunk show; whether it was a "success" or not, you surely learned some valuable information to apply to your business for the future. Enjoy!

Creatively, Kristal