Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

Jewelry and Coffee with Rena
Video Episode 7

by Rena Klingenberg.

Shortly after I started selling my jewelry, I had to face down a fear in order to take my business to the next level. Here’s how I did it.

The Jewelry Rena’s Wearing
in This Video:

Silver hoops and tribal pendant

Necklace: Polymer clay adjustable pendant necklace by Wired Orchid Jewelry.

Earrings: Sterling silver teardrop hoops from JoliJoli.

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  1. Tamara says:

    Good Morning, Rena – I also find that every time I talk to a shop owner, I’m stepping out of my comfort zone. I’ll wander around the store looking at everything, trying to get a read on the store and the situation, and working up my nerve to speak. When the owner says hello, I still take little wee steps into the conversation. It’s definitely not something I’m good at.

    Also, this year I found I was stepping out of my comfort zone by making a shift in my business. In the past, I found I had been trying to determine what would sell in a store or to a market, and make that. I felt it was right for me at the time to step back from that and get in touch with who I really was as an artist, make that, and let it lead me to the right market. Of course, still taking into consideration having various price points, and things like that, to attract sales, but from a place of representing myself authentically. That was uncomfortable, because of the fear of rejection of my authentic self. I felt more in control trying to read a market and do that, than to delve into the unknown of what was really inside of me, and trusting that there was a place for it.

  2. Thanks for sharing the script story. It reminds me of when I worked in an office and was required to make certain statements in response to repeated questions. I literally typed these responses on small pieces of paper and taped them on my computer or tacked them on the wall. The only problem was finding the right statement fast enough to sound “natural”.

    Stepping outside your comfort zone is something we all have to do at some time or risk staying in the same spot forever. I have just agreed to do a show where I will be wrapping stones, bones, and who knows what else, on the spot for customers at a gem and mineral fair. I will be exhibiting my own jewelry as well. I don’t know why I agreed to wrap for this show. I usually take my time designing my own jewelry and I’m not fast. Perhaps it’s because they asked me to and said this was a show with exhibitors waiting on line for someone to die in order to get in? Am I jumping in over my head? Now I’m scrambling trying to learn how to wrap odd shaped things quickly and artistically. I’m outside my element and not comfortable. Hopefully in two weeks I’ll be glad I stepped outside my zone.

  3. I had to laugh at your comment about just deciding to get it over with. Like you, I started with a script, and still use that technique for getting myself started. (I learned that from 30 years of teaching and having people come into my classroom to observe me! 😉 ) However, I am still scared every time I have to approach a shop owner, even those I have done business with before. I think it is the fear of rejection. Now I’ve got to work on THAT!

    Thank you for your informative newsletter. It has been so helpful over the years!


  4. I can’t believe you posted this! I have been avoiding calling some boutique shops because I’ve been freezing at the simple idea, even though I’ve been encouraged by friends. This makes me think that maybe I can, actually, approach this afterall (with a script, lol). Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this!

  5. Rena
    what a helpful post. Thank you! I think most artists are uncomfortable selling/promoting their work (I know I am)…my other problem is pricing. I want the item to sell, so I tend to under-price. Or so I think. Maybe not? =D
    I’m going outside my comfort zone this summer…setting up an ETSY store. I’ve been resisting for so long, thinking it will be too much work. But the timing seems right, esp. since I’m not so busy during the summer and my 2 weeks vacation will afford lots of time to make jewelry for the new shop. I’m exited and rather scared too, but will forge ahead!

  6. Marcia says:

    Thank you, Rena, for sharing! I, too, will be stepping outside my comfort zone next month when I am a ‘featured’ artist at a shop in another town where I sell my jewelry on consignment. I will be doing some type of jewelry making demonstration and visiting with customers.

    At first I told the shop owner that I didn’t want to be ‘featured’ because I would feel like I was in the spot light – yikes! However, the more I thought about it the more I realized it really wasn’t much different than selling at a craft show and it might just help me grow as an person (just doing it!) and as an artist (working my craft in front of potential customers).

    The shop owner was thrilled that I changed my mind and is even advertising my visit! I love what I do so it should be easy (gulp)! And I won’t need to deal with the money and packaging end of it like I would at a craft show. So its all good – now I just have to quit worrying about it!!

  7. Virginia Jones says:

    Dear Rena,

    I am so glad I found your web-site. I have so many motivating articles that have encourage me to shake off my fears and step forward. I loved, loved your video on stepping out of your comfort zone. You have given me more insite to how to handle my fears.

    Thank you Rena,

  8. Sheryl’s comment about teaching for 30 years and being afraid to approach a shop owner reminded me of another event I had forgotten about. I had been asked to give a class on making a simple jewelry item by a gem & mineral club I’ve done shows at. I chose to teach them how to make a birds’ nest pendant.

    I was literally frozen with fear as I had never taught more than one person at a time. I didn’t know 40 people would show up or I would never have agreed to teach this class. What I decide to do was create packets of step by step instructions with photos, along with the supplies each person would need (wire, beads) so that I would barely need to speak.

    As it turned out, I only had to introduce myself and tell the class what we would be doing – one sentence! The rest of the time (2 hours) were spent going around the class to one person at a time. What a relief it was to have gotten through this. I was so glad to do have taken on that assignment and to see them wearing those pendants even today. I’m so glad I stepped outside my comfort zone!

  9. Hi Rena,
    This is great information that gets right to the heart of selling. It is scary stuff to sell things you make. It feels like personal rejection when you don’t make the sale. I owned my own business for over ten years, and although I got better at the selling piece, that was always the most challenging part of running my business.

    It might seem a bit strange if you visited my website that I would comment on a blog about jewelry making. I teach about the baking business but I have fallen in love with stamping jewelry. I don’t think I am very creative or artistic, but I do love to use tools and work with my hands, so maybe there is some connection. The information you give about selling is universal and priceless! Thanks for the great information

  10. Suzanne Sigler says:

    Hi, Rena,
    This may sound crazy, but I even shared this on an Autism/Asperger’s support group I’m in on FaceBook. I have Asperger’s, and one of the biggest symptoms of that is poor social interaction skills. Great, when I want to sell my jewelry, huh, lol. But your advice is so simple, and it’s so true, that I thought it was a great thing to share in our group. Thank you!

  11. Thank you, Suzanne, I’m honored that you found it so helpful and shared it with your group. I wish you every success in selling your jewelry!

  12. Such a friendly and inspiring video, Rena! Makes wish I could share a face-to-face coffee hour with you-I take mine black!
    Long before I made jewelry, I made and marketed my own line of clothing; and cold calls on stores were fearsome! But, I found that as soon as I started talking about my stuff, my passion took over and my fears dissolved! I believe that creating and marketing what YOU have designed enhances the selling experience for you and your intended market! We only need the slightest encouragement to share our goodies; and I have found that store owners and managers are at least polite and professional IF- we approach them when they are not busy with customers, and in a friendly, brisk manner. A little research will tell you whether your products are a good fit for certain stores and boutiques- being prepared with that type of knowledge helps a lot!
    I have experienced that emails-even with photos or web references-and phone calls most often get you nowhere; the in-person, prepared approach works!
    And don’t discount the chance encounter: I had a referral to a boutique in a fancy shopping area; and, upon arriving, first saw a potter’s shop that I had been talking about just the night before(with a long-time gallery owner-and friend- I have been selling to for years-a cold call initially). I stopped in to say hello; and walked out with a big check, and an hour later, a call to please return ASAP, because he had sold several items, and could I bring more! Easy to oblige; and he and his wife have become great buyers of my stuff! Ya never know…and, of course, I didn’t visit the intended store, because it was a small, exclusive area; one great shop was enough!

  13. Hello Rena, Your articles are always so helpful! I keep clicking on the links listed and open in a new tab so I can read it after I read “this” article. I now am sitting here with 9 tabs open all with YOUR articles waiting for me to read! 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing your wealth of knowledge! I do have a question that I don’t see in a link yet; In your script, when approaching a store owner what do you say? I know this will vary from person to person but in general how do you start the conversation? Saying “I make jewelry, do you want to see it”? seems very awkward of course. What’s a better way to get to the point in a pleasing way? Help please… hehe… more help please (as if you haven’t provided so much!). Thank you again for all you do!

  14. Hi Lovely Rena. I want to thank-you for giving me some courage re: going into a shop. My wonderful husband saw a sign in our town for “Local Artists”. We decided to go in and look around. I’d been wearing a piece I’d made but took it off before going in (that’s that confort zone thing again). We walked around this lovely store where my work would be precisely appropriate. We talked with the owner (a woman named Michael – pretty cool, huh?) and I told her I made jewelry and my husband went out to get the one piece I had. She seemed interested and I was excited.

    I have since been furiously making pieces but I have three styles (I’ve heard only two is better, I don’t know). I’m really loving the pieces I’m making (unusual for me) and my husband is doing the technical stuff. (He’s also said numerous times, “Betsy, your pieces are so much better than these other ones.” Nice of him. I now have the courage – thanks to you – to go in with my pieces. She can only say no (hope she doesn’t, I’m a bit fragile).

    This morning (I was up at 3:30 thinking about jewelry – a bit obsessed, I guess) and was trying to figure out how much wire I would need. The the light bulb came on and I said out loud, “what would Rena do?” I figured it out.

    Thank-you for being a champion of all of us. It makes it so much more fluent.

    Looking SO forwar to your next class,
    An appreciated Betsy

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