Aug 132010

Every show is unique – I never know exactly how I’ll be set up until I get to the site!  Today, I am setting up in the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha for the Art in Bloom festival.  This show is unique in it’s garden setting…I’ll be outside in my 10×10 tent with an 8′ table (provided by the Gardens).

I try to stay organized in between shows, but it always helps to have a checklist to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything.  Here’s a list of the things I make sure I have for every show:

Display materials

  • Tables
  • Table coverings
  • Earring, bracelet, ring and necklace displays
  • “Floof” (sometimes a vase with some dried flowers or other interesting items that will bring attention to my booth but not draw away from my jewelry!)
  • Business cards and holders
  • Risers
  • Shelves
  • Mirrors
  • Guest book
  • Signage, including credit card acceptance, return policy, artist statement, etc.,
  • Wheeled cart or 2-wheeler to haul boxes to and from my car

Point of Sale (POS) materials

  • Cash box and bank (1’s, 5’s, coins to make change)
  • Receipt book to write sales in
  • Calculator
  • Cash register (optional)
  • Pens
  • Charge slips (for knuckle buster type credit card sales)
  • Knuckle buster
  • Credit card swiper
  • Clipboard (for customers to use when signing a credit card slip or to write out their checks)
  • Bags for items sold (I use small recloseable plastic bags that I pre-stuff with a business card and anti-tarnish strip, and organza bags to put the jewelry and receipt in)
  • Notebook (write up custom orders, customer questions, items to replenish before your next show)

Cleaning materials

  • Window cleaner (for displays and mirrors)
  • Lint brush
  • Paper towels or lint-free cloths
  • Trash bags (you’d be surprised how often you are NOT near a trash container!)

Personal items

  • Tissue
  • Chapstick or lip balm
  • Water
  • Small, easy to eat (and not messy) snacks
  • Eyeglasses
  • Baby wipes (nice if you are outside and it’s hot!)
  • Chair if not provided by the venue
  • Anti-bacterial hand gel

Jewelry supplies

  • Spare beading wire, crimps, ear wires, clasps, chain, jump rings, wire…anything you can use to make a quick change or repair.  I’ve gained many a sale simply by offering to change a style or ear wire or clasp for a customer, on the spot!
  • Tools you will need to perform those quick changes or for projects (see next bullet).  Don’t forget a crimper, pliers, cutters as essentials!
  • Projects to work on.  Rather than reading a magazine or book, I recommend jewelry makers work on easy projects during down time.  Not only does it show that your work is handmade and created by YOU, but many times, people are interested enough to cluster around your “demo”…a booth that’s full of people draws more people in!  Just be sure you are working on something that you can put down at a moment’s notice if a customer needs help or has a question.
  • Work surface and/or beading mat.

If you are outdoors, you’ll also need a tent or canopy (check with the venue to see what is acceptable), weights and/or stakes.  Add in sun screen, bug spray and a fan if needed!

And FINALLY….don’t forget your jewelry!  I’ve known a couple of people who did a fabulous job of setting up their booth, then realized their product was back home by the back door!

Dec 312008

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve! Time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished for the year and start thinking about what’s on the plate for 2009.

I went back in “history” and found my 2008 goals so I could review them and see how I’d done.

Goal: Get more proficient with PMC.
Result: Not a complete FAIL, but I didn’t work hard on honing my skills with PMC. This will definitely make the jump to 2009 as something I’d like to continue to work on!

Goal: Work with that torch.
Result: Ooh, yeah. I wouldn’t say I mastered it, but I did have some stunning success with soldering, fusing and expanding my skills here. One of my proudest moments was the soldering of those teeny tiny axe pendants in July for the LumberJills. I really love “playing with fire” and hope to continue to learn and sharpen my skills (hahaha, pun intended) in 2009!

Goal: Grow my jewelry business through higher end and more personal showings.
Result: I did get into higher end shows in 2008, with the Grand Cities Art Fest as the crowning glory. Not a lot of personal showings, but I didn’t take the time to market them either. Do I really want to do “home parties”? Not sure…probably need to think through next year’s marketing strategy more thoroughly.

Did my business grow, however? Resounding YES…proving that even in a tough economy, people like and will spend money on handcrafted goods.

Goal: Create one piece per week.
Result: Well, I know I made more than 52 new pieces in 2008. But one per week? No. I still encountered some crunch time, but I took some down time as well. So while I may not have technically achieved this goal, I’m placing it on the “DONE” side of the board. 😉

Goal: Write one article/project/review for Beading Help Web per week.
Result: Life got in the way of good intentions here, plus there were other business factors that took their toll. However, I’m still committed to BHW and to helping other beaders and jewelry makers out there…I do plan on putting more time into the site next year. 🙂

Overall, I feel good about 2008 and my accomplishments. On to deciding what to focus on for 2009!!!

Later this week, I’ll share some of the “out takes” or bloopers of 2008…there are some doozies!!!

Oct 192008

I’m so excited – I was notified last week that I’ve been accepted into the Omaha Visiting Nurse Association’s annual Art & Soup event! Sixty artists are invited to attend, with 50% of sales going to the VNA. In addition, chefs from 25 restaurants create incredible soups to taste while patrons browse the gallery. It’s a very exclusive event, and I’m ecstatic to be taking part!

From the VNA’s web site:

Our compassionate staff provides care to all individuals regardless of age, color, creed, neighborhood, or ability to pay. For more than 110 years, the VNA remains true to its mission to develop and maintain innovative programs that bring comfort and healing to the sick, frail, young, injured and the dying. Our overall goal is to provide peace of mind, quality of life, and independence for the client, their family, and their loved ones.

The VNA provides wonderful services for those in need – and I’m pleased that I’ll be able to help them in their goal to raise over $100,000 at the event.

VNA’s Art & Soup is February 22, 2009. Save the date – I hope to see you there!

Jun 162008

What a weekend it’s been!

We arrived in Grand Forks Friday afternoon, and dropped off a few things at the Town Square location where we’d be setting up. Things were already bustling – artists and food vendors setting up booths and festival volunteers were everywhere to help and answer questions.

Because of the threat of rain Friday night, I decided to wait to set up until Saturday morning…we spent the evening visiting with my brother, sister-in-law and niece and had GREAT pizza at Mike’s Pizza in East Grand Forks.

Saturday dawned bright and sunny, and in the morning I had the pleasure of meeting Ruth Smith in person. Ruth and I met on the Michael’s message board, and it was terrific to match up her face and voice to her written words and jewelry creations! We gabbed about jewelry making, and I also met her friend Lynn…both are wonderful gals!!!!

I also got to chat with Mark Landa, who is a friend from “back in the days” when we both worked at the Target store in Grand Forks (we won’t go into how many years ago that was….). Mark is a great guy, and was actually the one who encouraged me to send in an application for the show!

Sales were great – pendants, earrings and rings were big hits. Chain maille (which I really highlighted) outsold strung and wire-worked items. I had a lot of positive comments, met a lot of wonderful people (Pixie and Sheila…can’t wait to see you next year!!!) and had a huge surprise and honor from the Downtown Leadership Group.

At about 11:00 on Saturday morning, I was told that I’d been chosen as “Best in Category” for jewelry, and was asked to be at the center stage for presentations and awards for “Best in Show”. When my name was called to stand with the other 8 outstanding artists (I’d seen some of their work and was absolutely amazed by it!!) I proudly held my burgundy ribbon while the names of the Second Runner Up and First Runner Up were announced.

The the big announcement: “Best in Show”….and my name. I was astonished, and thrilled that the show judges had deemed my work to be “the best” out of 130 artists who had been accepted into the show.

I was presented with a nice plaque, a monetary award, and told that for the 2009 Grand Cities Art Fest, I’ll be the Featured Artist – with a primo spot, photo shoot for the cover of the festival brochure, and my artwork will be used for the Art Fest t-shirts!

I’m still stunned…busy thinking about all the plans I need to put in place before June 2009…and all the jewelry I’ll need to be working on!!

Thank you so much to the Grand Cities Art Fest officials, the Downtown Leadership Group, all the volunteers, and patrons of the 2008 show…I am so excited to have been recognized and had so many wonderful folks stopping by and visiting with us.

See you next year!!!!

May 052008

Been a couple of crazy busy weeks here!

At the end of April, my son was confirmed and we had a number of out-of-town guests. It was great to visit with all the relatives, and have everyone’s support for Jeremy’s big event.

Hematite and Pearl Mother's Bracelet

Hematite and Pearl Mother’s Bracelet

Last weekend, I participated in an art show in Lincoln, NE with the ARTitudes gang. Over the course of a few hours, we transformed an unused warehouse (formerly a hair salon!) into a fantastic looking art gallery. We had many compliments on the set up – and like magic, by 7:00 Sunday evening, the gallery disappeared and the warehouse returned. Each ARTitudes show benefits a local charity, this spring’s show donated 20% of all proceeds to Lighthouse in Lincoln. I had the opportunity to chat with Executive Director Bill Michener…what a fantastic guy, and a great program for youth in Lincoln.

In a few weeks, I’ll be heading out to Grand Forks, ND for the Grand Cities Art Festival…lots to get ready for that show as well!

I haven’t forgotten about Mother’s Day, however…some of the terrific projects you still have time to make for Mom before Sunday include Beading Help Web’s Mother’s Bracelet with Charm, a Multi-Strand Mother’s Bracelet, and of course, my Hematite and Pearl’s Mother’s Bracelet crafted with beads from Generation Gems. If you haven’t ordered your personalized beads from Generation Gems yet, why not give Mom a “gift certificate” on Mother’s Day for the bracelet and let her help design it!

Apr 182008

What’s worse…knowing or not knowing????

I sent in my application for the Grand Cities Art Festival on the March 15 deadline. I was a bit concerned, because I didn’t have a good photo of my set up (the jury required three photos of your work, and one of your display), and certainly not one in the dimensions that were outlined in the application. However, hubby suggested “Send this one” (from the ARTitudes show last November/December) and I did. I thought I had pretty good photos of my work though, submitting three pieces that reflect my best skills…Crowning Glory, Owl’s Eyes, and Lab Work.

Days and weeks passed. I felt like it had been years since I’d sent in that app! I checked email, snail mail and the Grand Cities web site daily for a response.


I figured it was a done deal – my photos weren’t good enough, my work wasn’t “artsy” enough, something just wasn’t right. then today, I came home to a thin (very thin) envelope with the festival logo in the return address.


I slowly tore open the envelope, and slowly pulled out the single sheet of paper inside. It didn’t even occur to me that my checks (booth and advertisement fees) weren’t falling out with the paper. I read….



Hoo boy. Take out that Craft Show Checklist and beef it up a bit!! I’m in!!!! Two day, outdoor show…with THOUSANDS of people walking through.

Now, of course, I’m stressing that I won’t have “enough” product to sell. I have a rather large three-day show the first weekend in May, so I will need to get busy! I told hubby that I will need to have my pliers permanently attached to my hands all the non-working hours between now and June 14!!!

My friend Amy suggested an article or blog entry on how to enter a juried show, and I’m going to have to prod her to help me out with it (I’m really not an expert…my only advice is to read the instructions CAREFULLY) because I think it’s a great idea.

That’d be after I get another Endless Maille bracelet completed……