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Tuesday Tips (Thursday This Week) - How did that show go?

Maybe some arty bead displays?

Really, truly I am not that organized. You only have to look at my dining room table to know that. But I do have a little penchant for the numbers game and evaluating any show that I do, bead or otherwise. Remember last week when I talked about that tedious inventory and planning process? When I got home I went back through the beads I brought to see what sold and entered all that back into my spread sheet. During a show I have very little feel for what’s selling. Now I know that in San Antonio I sell bright colours. Everywhere else I sell blues and greens. I also know what’s still in stock and can better plan for the Austin show in August. Best of all that inventory system is in place and I don’t have to do that tedious task again!

But I think there’s more to evaluating a show than what you sold. What was the attendance like? The organizers of a good show will let you know what the estimated attendance of the show was. This is a good way to get a feel for how well the show was promoted.

A picture is worth a thousand words!

Are you a good match for the show? Think about the type of beads that were being sold at the show. In my case, I really wasn’t a great match. There was a lot of bright sparkly beads out there. Most people were buying bright sparkly beads and frankly, I don’t make bright and sparkly. I looked around at the type of jewelry people were wearing and for the most part it wasn’t anything like the style of my work. Nothing really wrong with the show, it just wasn’t a great match for my work.

What could you have done better? Think of a show as a learning experience. One thing I noticed was that people had questions about my beads but didn’t really know what to do with them. I think a lot of the people who stopped by were quite new to beading. Next time I will be bringing along a lot more examples of how you might use art beads. A picture is worth a thousand words as they say and this is one place where I could really up my game. Something you can turn over in your hand might be even better.

Finished jewelry with your art beads?

Do you see any future sales from the show? I used this show make a start at a quarterly newsletter. I also had several inquiries about wholesale at bead shops in the San Antonio area. Good thing I typed up that wholesale policy for Summers Studio the day before we left :-)

There are heaps of ways you might evaluate a show. This is just a little sample of the basic way that I look at it. It was my first bead show but it’s the same thing I do for other types of shows I do. However, you decide to evaluate the success of a show, it will give you a bench mark for your future efforts.


  1. Lots of great tips, thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks for sharing lots of good info. I love your work and it would have been very exciting to see it displayed all together!

  3. What type of inventory sytem are you using? I think that is the hardest part for creatives...that tedious task of keeping inventory and keeping it up to date. Any secrets?? Also I was thing as I read your post that I love your work and your pictures are great so in addition to bringing some work with you a little handmads photo book might also be what people need to get ideas. Your photos show your work so nicely.
    Cara Rae

  4. I have a coupon for a place called A & I Books, where you can put photos into a template and have a brochure printed. I plan on making one to take to the two shows I have been doing each year.
    The problem that I have with inventory is that I have so many one of a kind pieces. I wouldn't even know how to inventory them without pictures. It's a real problem for me. I have many times sold the same piece twice. I just sold a ginko leaf on etsy that I knew I didn't have anymore of, but didn't realize I still had one listed on Etsy!
    What you say about sample jewelry is right on. I too was startled to find that most people at shows don't know what to do with my pieces. Fire Mountain's catalog is full of "suggested uses" so there you go. Don't be surprised if customers want to take photos of the jewelry. I let them do it, my purpose is to sell the pieces, not keep copyrights on my jewelry. Kits are another way to sell your work. It's easy to print out an instruction sheet and a picture of the design on the computer. It takes longer than you think it will though, so make sure to include the assembly time and printing costs in the cost of the kit.
    I love those owl beads!

  5. I show my jewelry at an art gallery the first Friday of every month (well most months anyway). I've noticed that many people intentionally leave their wallets at home and only bring a certain amount of cash so they don't over spend. While that's a good idea for them, it's not so great for me.

    When they find a piece of mine they like, I give them a business card with my website and email info, plus write down the name of the piece they liked--but by the time they get home they've either lost the card or lost interest.

    Most other shows I attend (which are only a handful each year) the people are buying cheap, and are even willing to buy mass made stuff. Selling is difficult!

  6. A picture is worth a 1000 words, indeed! I have done simple stringing with some of my beads, but for the most part am clueless when it comes to doing more intricate designs. Thanks for showing us the pics.

    The inventory idea on keeping track of what sells best where is a great idea, too.

    Thanks so much!


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