Selling Jewelry at Work
by Rena Klingenberg.
If you’re employed outside your home, selling your jewelry at work may be an excellent sales venue for you. But don’t stop there: Your spouse, friends, and family members may also be a good source of sales when they take some of your jewelry to their workplaces.
First, I’ll share some success tips for selling jewelry at work. Then you’re in a for a treat – jewelry artists Norma Hislop and Diane Rico generously share their experiences with selling jewelry in their workplaces!
Tips for Selling Jewelry at Work
First, Get an OK from the Boss
Some companies are more flexible than others, so it’s a good idea to check with your supervisor before bringing any jewelry to work.
Be sure to emphasize that you’ll be showing and selling your jewelry only during lunch hour, break times, after work, etc. – not on company time.
Theft may be another concern for your boss – what if your jewelry is stolen from your desk or locker? You may need to reassure your supervisor that you understand the company isn’t responsible for any loss or damage to your jewelry while it’s on the premises.
Have a Breaktime or Lunch Hour Trunk Show
With your employer’s permission, schedule a jewelry trunk show for a lunch hour or breaktime. You’ll make the most sales if you plan to hold your show on a payday. And if you choose the payday before a major gift-giving occasion (Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day), you should do extremely well indeed!
You might set up your trunk show in the company’s conference room, cafeteria, break room, patio – or literally do a “trunk” show out of the back of your car.
Because you may not have time set up displays, it may be best to show your inventory in jewelry rolls, stackable trays, or other easily transported containers.
As added enticement to the company’s management, you can offer to donate a portion of the proceeds to a favorite charity.
Be sure everyone in the company knows about your trunk show – you might place a flyer in everyone’s mail slot with the date and time of the show, or send out emails (with your supervisor’s OK).
Let Friends or Family Show Your Jewelry
at Their Workplaces
I have a friend named Angie who loves my jewelry and occasionally asks if she can take a batch of it to work with her. She builds up anticipation by letting all her co-workers know ahead of time that she’s bringing it in.
Then she comes over to my house, selects a few dozen pieces with specific people in mind, and takes her mini jewelry trunk show home with her in a small cardboard box. I include a pouch or gift box with each piece Angie takes with her, so they will be easy gift purchases.
She keeps the box locked up in her office except when people come in asking to see it, or when she takes it to show to friends who work in other departments. And she sells nearly everything she takes to work with her.
Then, when Angie brings back the cash and checks she’s collected for me, I compensate her as though she’s hosted a home jewelry party – with either custom jewelry or pieces she chooses from my inventory.
And everybody wins!
What if You’re Not Permitted
to Sell Your Jewelry at Work?
If selling things at work is against your employer’s policy, you can still find ways to turn co-workers into jewelry customers without breaking the rules.
You can quietly publicize your jewelry business by wearing a different spectacular piece of jewelry every day, without saying a word. People will make a point of coming by just to see what cool earrings or necklace you’ve got on today.
Slip your business card or brochure to anyone who’s interested, and let them know they can see more of your jewelry on your website – or that they can earn free jewelry by hosting a jewelry home party. Let people know you can take orders and do custom work.
If your jewelry business activity is forbidden in your workplace, be sure anything you do to promote it stays under the radar so that it doesn’t interfere with anyone’s work.
Norma Hislop’s Story:
Opening New Doors
for Selling Jewelry at Work
I looked around closer to home, my friends, where I work – and realized that they all have reasons and occasions to want to maybe buy my jewelry. But they also work killer hours, which means that they don’t have time to shop.
A Christmas Jewelry Show at Work
I asked our company president if I could put up a little display before Christmas (and I mean tiny, under $1000.00 inventory), and she said “YES! DO IT!” And even though I only made one sale then, it started people asking me about making pieces for them!
So now I have a nice little start where I work, with people who have always paid me and refer others to me. I wear what I make often, and check out what everyone else is wearing… the gals are all young and hip and keep me on my toes! 🙂
Male Co-Workers Are Great Customers
I put together a strand of all my colors of Swarovski crystal, and let the boys take it home to their loved ones to pick the colors they love. I give them samples and suggestions. They come back with all my stuff and tell me what she told them to tell me.
Then I make the custom orders, and apparently the ladies are VERY happy and hence, so are the guys. Personally, I think it has something to do with the boys not having to actually go into a store to shop!
I know this is “small time” stuff, dollar and volume wise, but I often wonder how it compares to the true cost, time, and effort involved in doing shows, vs. having a safe and comfortable environment at your job, with lots of interested customers.
A Brisk Business in Jewelry Repairs
Interestingly, one area of requests that I didn’t expect but get fairly often is to fix people’s broken pieces of jewelry. I wasn’t sure how this would work out, since most of the pieces are very inexpensive and I was afraid that the repair would cost them more than they may have paid for the jewelry to begin with!
But I just give them a quick look and set an hourly rate for repairs (I use $20/hr), and give them an estimate that no one thought was unreasonable!
Most pieces of jewelry have actually been very easy to fix, and everyone is happy to have their pieces back in wearable condition. These were all repairs that had all or most of the pieces already, so I didn’t need to get matching beads or findings, which also helped keep the price down. (And I didn’t have to spend the design / experimentation time that’s needed to create new jewelry – which I tend to undercharge for since I feel I am still learning.)
Jewelry Classes and Art Shows at Work
Now there is growing interest in having a beading class at the office some night after work, which I would love to do.
And I’m trying to put together an “Art Show” at work, where people could display their crafts, hobbies, artwork, websites, photographs, music, etc. – anything that people do to exercise their creative spirit.
We did one at another place where I worked a few years ago, and it was great! Everyone got to see another side of their colleagues’ lives, and it was quite surprising and remarkable how it boosted morale. Of course, there was also wine involved!
This time I’d like to include staff family members as well, since I know that there more people out there with great stuff – even jewelry-making people! Hey, who appreciates your work more – and who sees their spouses less? I’d like to get them involved in something so they are not always waiting for them to get home!
A Charity Event at Work
Now my boss wants to have garage sale / flea market party at the office that includes crafts, books, gently used clothing etc. There will be a charitable component in that anything that doesn’t get sold will be given to a local suitable charity if you want to make it a donation.
I also included that component in my Christmas sale – 10% of sales went to our local Christmas Wish (toy donation) run by a local TV station.
Another charity idea I’d like to share with you is done by the local bead store that I love, BeadFX, and a charity called The Corsage Project. To assist young ladies who can’t afford to attend their prom or graduation, people donate jewelry pieces that they have made and BeadFX rebates 75% of the cost of beads and findings bought at their store. Check it out at BeadFX Corsage Project.
Diane Rico’s Story:
Selling Jewelry at Work
without Publicizing It
I just started doing jewelry about six months ago. I did it because I saw the poor quality of party-plan jewelry that’s out there, so I just jumped in and started buying silver and supplies like nobody’s business. I plunked down about $7,000 in four months’ time. Imagine my surprise when I had to total it up for tax time!
At first I thought about ways to market my jewelry at work without too much publicity. Now I realize that sounds kind of dumb, as publicity is what a business is after. However, at my workplace – as is the case in many work environments – this is not permitted.
The Quiet Lunch Hour Jewelry Show
So I planned an informal jewelry show during lunch hour, and I emailed approximately 20 women about it – and asked them to also email anybody they thought would be interested. I told them that anyone who made a $40 jewelry purchase would be entered into a drawing.
Well, I went home and prepared two jewelry rolls with necklaces, bracelets and earrings. I carried it all in a cute little bag with wheels. I say “cute” because everyone was asking me where I got it – it’s green and has ladybugs printed all over it. Very bright. I use that as a marketing ploy because it draws attention, thus giving me the opportunity to talk about my jewelry whenever someone asks. I’m sneaky that way!
When I did my show in the break room during my lunch hour, only four women showed up. I was dismayed.
However, every time someone passed by the room, they would stop in and buy something. I ended up selling $400.00 of jewelry in one hour. All I did was spread out my stuff and had a girlfriend sitting with me while we were eating, as though we were “just sharing girl things”.
I was stunned, to say the least. I got custom orders from that mini-show, and my business has grown ever since.
I had put up a website in November 2005. Although I didn’t get many sales from that, it did help me when people wanted to know if I have a catalog. I give out business cards with all my info on them.
The Jewelry Show in a Tote Bag
I also have a picture tote bag… you know, one of those “brag bags” that some ladies carry with pictures on the outside. Mine is red (remember, loud colors draw attention).
I always smile at everyone – it doesn’t matter that I don’t know them. I make small talk in the elevators, while waiting in line at the grocery store, or anywhere else. A smile will put anybody in a good mood. I have yet to smile at somebody who doesn’t smile back at me. (Probably thinking I’m crazy, but they smile back nonetheless!)
My tote bag has several pictures of my jewelry on the outside. For the middle picture, I put a postcard size of my business card emblazoned with the words “FREE JEWELRY”. That always starts a person asking what I do, and of course I show them my pieces of jewelry, if time permits.
Inside my picture tote I have a bag that measures about 6″ x 10″, in which I carry about 250 rings. The rings are sorted by size into three ziplock bags: sizes 5-6, sizes 7-8, and sizes 9-10. They’re already tagged and priced.
I also carry a bag of about 300 pairs of earrings, with each pair in its own 2″ x 2″ ziplock bag. This way, they are easy to glance at quickly.
I switch these items depending on the day of the week.
I have found that carrying earrings and rings together is a better idea than separating them. So I carry those on Mondays and Tuesdays, and I carry bracelets on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Fridays I carry my necklaces. Since they are bigger, I don’t want them getting crammed in there, so that’s all I carry on that day.
When carrying the bracelets you can also carry the rings. But don’t carry more than one or two categories of jewelry at a time, as that will confuse and overwhelm customers. If they want a piece to match the earrings / bracelet / necklace, in most instances they will ask you.
Also inside the tote I make sure I have a ring sizer, plenty of business cards, a calculator and pen in one of those little girly bags you get for free at cosmetics counters. I don’t recommend using a banking bag (you know the rectangular zippered pouch that’s used to carry bank deposits). That’s asking for trouble if a thief is nearby.
Letting Co-Workers Know
There’s Jewelry if They’d Like to See it
When I email my co-workers, I don’t offer to sell them anything; that way I know they don’t feel like they’re being pushed. Instead I say, “Hello, ladies, I’ve got my rings and earrings at my desk today. If you are interested in looking at them, please feel free to come by at your convenience. This is the first week of March (or whatever date it is); do you need a gift soon for anyone special to you?”
Then I just wait – and they always come. It has never failed yet.
I keep my jewelry in my little tote bag in a desk drawer. That drawer is locked when I go to lunch, unless I’m going to take the tote with me.
Every day when I get to the office, the girls all want to see what new piece of jewelry I’m wearing.
Your Hands Are Seen a Lot at Work!
If you sell rings, wear them as well as bracelets, especially if you work in an office. That’s the first thing people look at when you’re writing or typing something. Your hands speak louder than words. At work, our hands are what we use the most.
Oh, one more thing: In my emails that I send regarding my jewelry, I always include my website link in my signature.
Co-author Norma Hislop is Senior Quality Assurance Analyst at The Nice Agency in Toronto, Ontario, Canada – where Norma says, “We have the smartest president, managers, clients and co-workers going!” Her favorite place to shop is BeadFX – and she adds, “I wouldn’t have got this far without both of them!!!”
By day, co-author Diane Rico works in the Treasuries and Securities Department of a large financial institution. If anyone knows of a current link for Diane Rico, please let me know so I can add it here! Thanks. ~ Rena.