How Can I Be More Successful at Jewelry Shows?

by Penelope Worsham.
(Northern California)

Necklaces by Penelope Worsham  - featured on Jewelry Making Journal

I have been making jewelry for six years, showing it at farmers markets and art and craft boutiques.

Jewelry Booth by Penelope Worsham  - featured on Jewelry Making Journal

My jewelry is some beaded, steampunk and eclectic pieces.

But, I have not been really successful.

Jewelry Booth by Penelope Worsham  - featured on Jewelry Making Journal

I’m sharing some photos of my booth and you can go in close to see the pieces.

I am in a quandary as to where I go from here.

Jewelry Booth by Penelope Worsham  - featured on Jewelry Making Journal

Thank you.

Penelope Worsham
Penz Jewelz

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  1. your jewelry is very nice. it really depends on the show. if there’s a lot of people at a show you have a greater chance of selling more jewelry. also try to get some customer emails to build up your customer list, and notify those customers of your upcoming shows.
    Also try selling other ways, like if you run into someone who knows you make jewelry, they can buy some off you. People like nurses, teachers, etc… who work a lot and don’t have much time to go look and buy jewelry themselves.
    I also like to ask my customers what kind of jewelry they would like, and I try to accommodate their tastes. Can make for more sales in the future.

  2. Penelope, great insights from Katrina (above)!

    Here are some additional thoughts I have for you:

    (1) I don’t know what types of shows you have been in, but often the problem is the show itself. There may be too many jewelry booths, or too many vendors with cheap manufactured jewelry, or it may be a show that attracts bargain-hunters. Or the event planner hasn’t done much to promote the show. You may want to investigate other shows that have less of those issues.

    (2) As Katrina mentioned above, it’s really important to build an email list of people who are interested in wearing (or gifting) your jewelry, so you can notify them of your events and also when you have new jewelry designs available. With a good email customer list, you can have good sales even at a bad show.

    (3) At your shows, do you hand out flyers listing your upcoming shows, locations, and dates? When I go to shows, I always pick up those flyers from vendors whose work interests me. I want to see their work (and possibly shop from them) again in the future.

    (4) Is it possible that your jewelry prices are too low, so people aren’t perceiving the value of your jewelry? That can really suppress your sales.

    I hope some of these ideas help, Penelope. I do think your jewelry looks well made, and in styles people would like to wear.

  3. Tina Valencia says:

    Penelope~ if you don’t have Rena’s jewelry booth ebook, i highly, highly recommend it. It took my craft show sales to a much higher level and made everything so much easier, the single best move i’ve made in my jewelry biz. You should be able to find it here~

  4. Missy L says:

    Tina, I was just going to recommend the same thing! Great minds think alike, lol

  5. Becky Clemmons says:

    I agree with all comments above. Big thing that’s helped me is getting the word out before the show. Email your schedule to everyone, hand it out to neighbors, people at your local stores, etc. Then the day of the show, do the same with every purchase and have extra lists available. When a purchase is made by check, I send out a hand written thank you after the show, again with a list. Also, as Rena pointed out it can be the show itself. Too many jewelry vendors, bad placement of your booth, etc. Good thing is that you learn something from every show! Keep at it; your work is beautiful!

  6. Penelope, I also agree with all of the above, and would like to add: if you have been to a show and had poor success, avoid it in the future. Jewelry is a very saturated market, so be unique – make what you love, but with something special that no one else you have seen is doing. Also, consider what pieces of yours have sold, what characteristics they featured and use that as a grounding point around which to create new work. Finally, jewelry styles follow trends just like everything else in fashion, so keep your designs fresh but that can span many trends and styles. If someone can wear a piece with a lot of outfits and on many occasions, it has a higher selling potential. Good luck.

  7. Joyce Martin says:

    I too am finding shows are saturated with jewelry. A big plus for me is taking credit cards. Square is great. It uses your cell phone and an affordable reader that plugs in. You need a bank account and the money is there in a day or two. They fee is 2.75%. You set it up to do sales tax .

  8. Your booth is set up nicely and your jewelry is beautiful however I have found that making just one item does not get people in your booth. For instance, I just see necklaces at your booth (with earrings to match.) I did not sell many necklaces last year, and the ones that did sell were long necklaces. So my suggestion is diversify a little. Make other things other than necklaces. Have some earrings there too. I sell more earrings during the year than anything else. But see what other things you can make. This Christmas i made the beaded snowflakes for Christmas and i made 150 of them and sold every one. Just think about what other things you can make that your customers might like. Not everyone buys necklaces. I hope that helps….

  9. Stacy A says:

    I found your display void of color and not very interesting. Maybe you should brighten it up a little? Add more interesting displays? I always choose my most expensive item and make it the “eye-catcher” then surround it with less costly items for purchase. I’ve found that having a “very” expensive item makes the others look more affordable…haha
    Also, have a variety of items – to be sold singly, not as a set. Sets are great but most people won’t spend the money for the whole set at once. Continue to make necklace and earring sets, but have 3 or four pairs of earrings to go with it or add some mix and match bracelets.
    I also have a sign-up box with a piece of jewelry on it that I will use as a drawing “SIGN UP NOW AND WIN THIS PIECE” kind of thing. You can build a mailing list fairly quickly that way.
    These are just a few things I have learned.
    Good Luck

  10. I have found that I sell earrings and bracelets more often than necklaces. I like to have 3 tall busts with 2 necklaces each to show how they can be “nested” and usually people end up buying both pieces.
    My earrings are the “fun”, eclectic pieces and I sometimes offer Buy 1 and get 2nd 1/2 off.
    Bracelets are really popular to stack right now, so I try to have several types that look good combined together. I have found that $20-25 is a good level for people to spend to stack. Try to display combos of coordinating colors together because most people can’t do it on their own.

  11. Penelope says:

    Thank you Rena and others for your suggestions. I do sell earrings and bracelets which I didn’t include in these photos. I do think having done many events that had way too many jewelry booths, even though they each were different, I think this affected my sales. I will take all these ideas and keep on pursuing my passion.

  12. Hi, Penelope–Your jewelry is wonderful–and it isn’t the problem (nor is the problem the abundance of other people out there who are making, and selling, jewelry at shows). Think about what entices you to enter a brick and mortar shop and spend time looking around. I’m guessing it wouldn’t be drawings to win free merchandise. (Those did not work for me, by the way. People came to my booth for a chance to win something but did not stay to make a purchase.) I’ll bet that what draws you in is the window display(s) and the store layout and presentation. The same holds true for your booth at a show. Because the jewelry market is so saturated (and let’s face it, all jewelry begins to look the same after you’ve seen enough of it), you have to make your booth enticing to potential customers with color and imaginative displays, as well as ease of access (your sign is wonderful and a great starting point). I know this because I had the same problem as you–my pieces weren’t selling, even though I knew they were well-made. So, I took another look at my jewelry, which is mostly rustic, and completely changed the look of my booth to reflect that. I purchased curtains/tie-backs, a rug, printed burlap coverings to put over the standard black table skirts, and funky display items. I also staggered the display to break up the visual field. It was more money than I wanted to spend–and the set-up/tear-down time for shows is much longer–but it has paid off for me in increased sales (which is also true for the stores in which I sell my pieces–better displays increased revenue). I wish you much luck. Your jewelry deserves to sell.

  13. Hi Penelope. Do you put price tickets on your items? I couldn’t see any on the photos. This can be off-putting for some customers as they (1) don’t like to ask about the price, or (2) assume that the item is very expensive if it isn’t marked with a price, and so won’t be able to afford it. Also I’ve found that if everything is set out in too ordered a manner, then people don’t like to touch the jewellery for fear of spoiling your display. Customers need to touch before they will buy! I’ve had braclets pinned to a board before where they looked nice but were difficult to pick up. As soon as I changed the display to somethjng a bit more ‘messy’ and made them mucb easier to try on then I sold a lot more. Play around with your set-up and see what happens – even a slight change in the position of things on your table can have a dramatic effect.

  14. Cathy Slavin says:

    You have a lot of good input here. (Isn’t Rena just the best!!)

    Another thing I might add to the mix, and this is based on my experience, is if you are making a higher quality item, be sure the venues you choose are comparable in quality and price, and broader in selection of items (ie not overly saturated with jewelry).

    Many of the shows in my area have items that are nicely made, but with lesser quality materials. One lady’s seed bead creations are absolute works of art. But the prices are much lower because the ladies who make them do not value their time (I’m just sitting around watching tv anyway) and therefore they practically give it away because they need the money.

    Because ours is a small community, the audience is also very small. The quality no longer draws people in from the bigger cities who are looking for quality handmade items. There are a few of us who have decided that we cannot lower our prices to compete with the others, and therefore are endeavoring to find other ways to market our jewelry.

    Bottom line is — it’s important to choose your venues carefully.

    And be true to yourself.

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