Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The End Game

I've been at a lot of art festivals recently that seem like they're just not doing what I need them to do. Someone asked me this weekend if my reason for exhibiting at festivals was more exposure, or more money. I told him (this was a friend, not a customer) that my only reason for working festivals was to make money. Exposure helps, but NO ONE spends their time in an art festival booth for exposure. :)

Anyway, the show was slow. It's been a great show in the past, but in recent years it's started to feel like I should look for an alternative option, because the buying customers seem to be few and far between. BUT I am a girl who prefers to look on the bright side, and I like a silver lining. So I'll share some experiences that made me happy this weekend:

First, I sold the highest amount of stone-set pieces (seven) that I've ever sold at one festival. I keep track of these because it's still kind of amazing to me that people buy them...they're my favorite pieces to design and create, and every single one has called to its own special customer. Sometimes a sale feels very impersonal - someone sees something they like, and they say, "I'll take this." I box it up and they pay, and we're done. Nothing wrong with that. But the cabochon pieces...they wait for just the right owner.

One of my first sales on Saturday morning was to a couple of "regulars", meaning that they have purchased from me before. They're on the mailing list when I notify customers of events, and they come out and support. Not that every regular buys every time - and I totally understand that they can't - but they have made several purchases over the years and are always interested in what's new.

This couple bought a jasper pendant for their daughter:

and the wife had been looking at another pendant, but was hesitating. The husband bought it for her, saying, "She just announced her retirement last week" so this turned into her retirement present:

She was so happy and it will be a special piece that she'll always cherish. I LOVE it when that happens.

I also sold my to a young lady, about eight or nine years old, who used her own money to buy her first pair of "grown-up" earrings. Miss Kylie had been to my booth with her parents, and was looking at some turquoise earrings. She asked about the stone and guessed that it was turquoise, and we had a little guessing game with some of the other stones in my booth.  :)  Her mom said the turquoise earrings were too expensive at $70, and we moved over to my $25 earrings. She fell in love with a pair of tanzanite bead earrings, but they went away to do more shopping and "think about it". About an hour she and her parents were back, and she bought the earrings with her own money. Her mother tells me that she's not been allowed to wear dangle earrings before, but this would be her first pair and she could wear them on special occasions. She told me that they take Kylie to lots of art festivals because they want to expose her to all sorts of art and handmade creations. (Gotta love these folks!!). And it was the feel-good moment of the weekend. They even let me snap a photo:

It's hard to see, but Kylie's wearing her new earrings. With a BIG smile. And I hope this is the beginning of a girl who loves and collects jewelry all her life.  :)

And finally, an established metalsmith and SCAD graduate, whom I know slightly but hadn't seen in a while, came by my booth to chat. As we were talking, she stood back slightly from my display, sort of took in everything, and said, "Your work has really...evolved." And I can NOT tell you how good that felt! I've been working hard to learn and grow, and it's just nice sometimes to have independent verification that that is, in fact, what you have been doing.  :)

So that was the good news. And there's really no bad news...I'm just stressed because I haven't had a day off since May 15th. And tomorrow I'm driving to Michigan for another festival, the Royal Oak Clay, Glass, and Metal Show. It's a two day drive and I still have replacement jewelry to finish...the work never stops.

I DID manage to finish this though:

All hand fabricated, chain, clasp, etc. My goal is to have three of these, what I consider my signature work, at each festival. I have one more piece I'm still (yes, at the 11th hour) working on, so I didn't quite make that goal at my last festival, but I had two, and a whole slew of the dot-and-line pieces.

Anyhoo, back to the cleanup and stone setting! If I'm lucky I'll be able to show you this week's pieces before I leave; if not they'll be posted once I'm home again.  :)

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