Overcoming Shyness in Selling Your Jewelry

by Rena Klingenberg.
Overcoming shyness is a roadblock for many creative people. Do you dream of selling your jewelry, but find yourself too shy?

Here’s how I conquered my shyness and got my jewelry business going.

Sparkly gold heart pendant

Filigree heart – artist unknown.

Don’t Be Stopped by Shyness
or a Lack of Confidence

This article was inspired by a question I hear often from jewelry artists who dream of selling their work, but are too shy to actually do it.

A question from Remona expresses it very well:

“I launched my jewellery collection with friends for the first time (I froze when I had to talk). It was an exciting day – out of 20 people that attended at least 18 people purchased a piece of jewellery.

But the excitement and motivation since the launch has gone completely and no one has booked a party or placed an order. How do I overcome my lack of confidence to approach shop owners and new clients?”

And here’s my answer, to Remona and all jewelry artists who are too shy to sell their work:

Marketing is a Necessary Part of
Selling Your Jewelry

It’s important to accept the fact that selling anything requires constant marketing.

We may have the occasional friend or relative asking to purchase a pair of earrings to match a dress, or a bracelet they can give as a gift.

But if we want to sell our jewelry on a regular basis, we need to be constantly making people aware of our jewelry and where they can purchase it.

Although I may sound brave in writing, I’m quite shy in person and on the phone – and I do know how you feel.

It isn’t easy for anyone to promote the things they’ve created – and I know that shyness or a lack of confidence can make it even harder. So let’s deal with that first.

Too Shy to Contact Shops and Customers?

When I first set out to sell my jewelry, I kept procrastinating and finding excuses to postpone the tasks that felt scary to me (such as phoning shops to make an appointment to bring my jewelry by, or requesting a booth application from a show promoter).

A wise friend who noticed my lack of progress told me, “the biggest hurdles are the mental ones.”

Fear puts up roadblocks that have as much power as you give them.

And the first step to conquering one of these roadblocks is to pinpoint exactly what you fear.

When it came to marketing my jewelry, I tended to make mountains out of molehills, and I vastly over-dreaded things like approaching a shop, or requesting a show application, or talking to a potential party hostess, or following up with an interested customer – to the point that I just could not make the contact with them.

What’s the Worst Thing
that Could Happen?

I finally asked myself, “What am I dreading? What’s the most terrible thing that could happen when I try to sell my jewelry?”

And I decided that the very worst thing that could happen was that the shop, customer, or show promoter might say “No.”

I gathered my courage and made the connections I had to make.

And sometimes people did say “no”. But no shop owner or customer has ever yelled at me or done anything terrible when they said “no”.

So even though a negative answer wasn’t what I wanted to hear, I discovered that it was actually pretty painless – nothing like the brick wall I had turned it into in my mind.

That realization was very empowering.

Naturally not everyone will say “yes” to carrying your jewelry in their shop, accepting you into their show, or hosting a jewelry party.

But with each marketing effort you’re still making progress; you may have to get through a few “no’s” to get to a “yes”.

You Can’t Take the “No’s” Personally

First of all, not every piece of jewelry you make will suit the taste of every person on the planet.

And that’s a good thing, because designing jewelry that’s intended to please everybody results in generic-looking jewelry that appeals to nobody.

Be unique, and you’ll have a market.

And accept the fact that some people will be wild about your unique jewelry, while others won’t.

But usually a negative response has nothing at all to do with you or your jewelry.

A potential party hostess’ finances may be tight, or her home may be too small. She could be dealing with a difficult family situation, or going through a tough time at work.

For a shop, it may be the wrong time of year to add more inventory, or their sales may be slow, or they may be overstocked with jewelry already (which are not good situations for your jewelry business anyway).

Ask the “no” people whether they can recommend anyone else (or another show or shop) that may be interested in your work.

Often these people are glad to help you with a referral even when they can’t buy your jewelry themselves.

I’ve acquired some excellent customers and discovered great new shops this way. So you may even turn a negative into a positive!

People are really very nice to jewelry artists – in fact, they tend to admire your skill and think quite highly of you.

How to Be Comfortable
When Presenting Your Jewelry

Now let’s focus on a do-able strategy for being comfortable when you present your jewelry.

If you froze up during your first presentation experience with your friends, then don’t have a “presentation time” or games when you do jewelry parties.

Instead, set a party up as an open house, where people come and go during a specified time period, and you simply interact naturally with people individually or in small groups as they look over your jewelry.

Eliminate the part that worries you, and play to your strengths.

Are you nervous about approaching shops and galleries?

I used to be, until I realized that the store isn’t doing me a favor by accepting my jewelry; instead, I’m doing them a favor by offering them a unique line of jewelry art that their customers won’t find in other shops.

That boosted my confidence, and made me able to talk to them about the beauty of the stones I use and the originality of some of my one-of-a-kind pieces.

Are you uncomfortable with actually selling your jewelry to individual customers at shows or parties?

At one time I was certain that was something I would never be able to do – and I know you can’t be any shyer or less confident about it than I was!

All you have to do is change your focus, and here’s how:

The Secret to Overcoming Shyness
with Your Jewelry Customers

The secret lies in realizing that you’re not pushing people to buy your jewelry.

Never think of yourself as a salesperson, because you’re not.

You are a creative person who helps people with their problems. You’re blessed with the ability to solve people’s problems regarding accessorizing, gift giving, and anything else related to jewelry.

For example, your potential customers are wondering things like:

  • Which pair of earrings would be best for this Fall?
  • What should they give a teenage niece for her birthday?
  • Would a longer or shorter necklace length look better with their black sweater?
  • What do you have that would be a real pick-me-up every time they wear it?
  • What on earth should they give their wife for an anniversary gift? (Providing the solution to gentlemen’s gift-giving needs can be a great way to sell a lot of jewelry!)

These people are interested in your jewelry, and feel extremely relieved when you can help them out with a great solution.

So just smile and focus on providing helpful solutions – and feel how good it is to help people!

Decide that above all, you’ll enjoy yourself.

Every time you get out there and do a show or jewelry party, or pick up the phone and make a call to contact a shop or customer, it gets easier. And it’s incredibly empowering to actually do it!

If I was able to overcome shyness and build a successful jewelry business, then I know you can do it too – and I wish you a long and fulfilling jewelry career! :o)

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  • Autumn says:

    Wow Rena, thank you! I moved to a new state last December and keep putting off contacting stores. I think it’s time to swallow those “when/later” excuses and do it tomorrow. We have the newest phone book, so I think–no, I plan to sit down tomorrow with the phone, the phone book and a legal pad. If nothing else, it’ll teach me to hone selling myself.

  • Annie Hubbard says:

    Rena,
    I know what you are saying is true (in my brain). I think part of my own fear is fear that I may be wrong: that this isn’t what I should be doing. So far (except for one design contest that I entered and won) the only people I’ve received feedback from have been family and friends, and although it’s been positive feedback, there is always that little voice in the back of my brain saying “They’re just being nice to you.” “They are your friends.” “They are your family.”

    I’ve regretted some big decisions I made when I was younger in terms of career and have spent the last 25 years trying to correct my life’s path, so I think I’m scared that I will be wrong again.

  • Laura says:

    Rena,
    Thank you so much for taking your time and sending me your newsletter,but most importantly thanks for this post.I have been having alot of fear to contact Customers or even approach people who may be interested in my jewellery.I have been planning an open day for my jewellery but i fear that people may fail to come.I am from kenya and one of the things i fear or hate is to take my jewellery to shops this is because they offer very little money for the jewellery.They want good jewellery for pathetic prices that makes one get loses.I have been looking at people buying stone jewellery and am like oh my God,where do they sale such expensive stuff.thanks alot once more.

  • Sheila says:

    Thank you Rena,
    Reading your article is just the message I needed.
    I will read it again, right before I do my 1st sales presentation next week!

    Cheers, Sheila

  • You can do it, Sheila – and like me, you will probably be surprised that it was much easier and less stressful than you imagined. Good luck! 🙂

  • Ann Nolen says:

    This is great information and advise. I am not shy, but still struggled with the idea of “selling” and couldn’t see myself being successful at that. It just seemed uncomfortable. I was given some great advice to not sell, but just share my excitement about my jewelry.
    I can’t believe how much easier that has been, and I have noticed my sales were actually better.

  • Thank you, Ann, I appreciate your kind words. And I so agree, it’s hard to work oneself up to “sell” – it feels awkward and pushy. But sharing excitement, or helping people solve their gift-giving / accessorizing problems, is totally different – it’s comfortable, friendly, and providing solutions for people. A win-win for everyone!

  • Sue Shade says:

    This is a great article Rena. I am a quiet shy person and this is good information.

  • zoraida says:

    Great article! For the longest time I felt my jewelry was not good enough to sell and I just gave it away. Then I looked at other jewelry makers and vendors objectively, and decided mine was ok to put out there. In retrospect I realize it was just a lack of confidence on my part. I’m still shy about attending shows and prefer to sell online, but I no longer compare myself to other artists. That’s a great relief!

  • Moogie says:

    Although I know this article was written a while back, it still helps so much & I’m glad I came across it in a sidebar. I am another shy person around people I don’t know. (Gaining years has helped with the shyness!) I’ve been saying for a year that I need to have an open house. I had a “little” one this past holiday season & sold a couple of pieces. It was held in conjunction with my husband’s monthly bike workshop, so I didn’t even need to advertise. Although if I had my act together, I should have invited my friends & acquaintances. At least I feel closer to being able to have one now. Thanks Rena!

  • Moogie, thank you for letting me know how helpful this article is for you. I found it easier at the beginning to have friends and dear ones coming to my jewelry events – because I was already comfortable with them and felt “safer” with them. So I agree, it’s great idea to invite friends and acquaintances to any jewelry event (no matter how large or small). And be sure to mention that they should bring their friends with them! 🙂 Thanks, and wishing you all the best! 🙂

  • This piece says everything I told myself, and now I have a display shelf at a local bookstore. The problem now is, everyone who looks says my work is gorgeous, and I’m priced reasonably – from $5 to $40 – but nobody’s buying yet. It’s fair to figure that it’s the Summer Doldrums, and gift buying season may be when I sell a bunch – but that’s a “what do I do next? question.

  • Blanche, I think it’s time to raise your prices. If your work is priced too low, people may not value it; or they may feel uncomfortable underpaying for your pieces. Try bumping up your prices and see what happens!

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