This is a maiden voyage for me. I have never guest posted before, so this is a little out of my comfort zone. Thank you Jen, who was my Bead Fest neighbor this past August, for taking a chance with me.
First a quick introduction, I'm Anne and the name of my company is Gardanne. I sell handmade glass and enameled beads and assorted jewelry components. All of my glass and enameled pieces are created at my lampwork torch.
When I started vending at the Innovative Bead Expo shows a couple years ago, many customers would hold up one of my glass beads or jewelry components and say, "I really love this, but what do I do with it."
Since making the bits and pieces for jewelry artists is my strength, I could relate to what the customers were saying. Making jewelry has always been a slow process for me. If I do need to make jewelry, what usually helps me is a visual, maybe a color combination from Pinterest, a walk in the garden, or drawing some pictures in my sketchbook.
Since a visual gives me a starting point when making a piece of jewelry, I thought that having jewelry samples using my components on display at bead shows would help my customers jump start their own inspirations.
Over the years I have learned that you can't be good at everything so I turned to several of my online and show customers for some help in the jewelry making department.
This lariat style necklace was one of my favorites from that trunk show. Kara used my enameled keys and keyholes as the charms on the end of the lariat. Since I have displayed this lariat at my shows not only have the charms become popular for more than just earrings, but I also end up selling about three rolls of the chain per show as well.
This is a photo of how Kara uses my glass headpins, my brain stops at a wrapped loop for these. But as you can see there are always several different ways to use the same component.
Another artist that has caught my eye recently because of the creative ways she uses jewelry components is Keirsten Giles of Lune Designs. I special ordered a couple pairs of earrings that she made for show samples, because I was not quick enough on the draw for the originals.
|Photo by Keirsten Giles|
These little tulip caps are my best sellers, every time I think my customers have exhausted the possibilities of what to do with this component, they come up with another idea. I know it would not have occurred to me to have waxed linen and seed beads coming out of these little caps but it totally works.
Picking out jewelry to wear before a show is always easy, I just take what I need from my display. Remember wearing your handmade items whether you sell the handmade bits, make the jewelry, or both is your best advertisement.
Last but certainly not least is Lorelei Eurto. Lorelei was my second online customer when I started this journey 4 years ago and she has certainly given me the confidence to keep moving forward.
Lorelei is a huge supporter of handmade jewelry components, but what I have learned from her is that you only need one handmade component in a necklace or bracelet to make a unique piece of jewelry. I am realistic, it would be cost prohibitive for most if not all of my customers to make an entire necklace or bracelet only using handmade lampwork or enamel beads. But just using one unique handmade bead in your jewelry designs will allow your customers to be able to own a piece of jewelry that no one else will have and still stay within their budget.
This necklace Lorelei made is a perfect example, the lampwork bead is by Mindy of Moogin, she a very talented lampwork artist. I have serious stringer control envy when it comes to her bead designs. In the photo above that one handmade glass bead that Lorelei included in her design makes this necklace one of a kind.
Supporting handmade is great, but an equally important message is creating unique designs. With a vast amount of jewelry designers in the marketplace being unique is what will make you stand out from the crowd.
I believe in full disclosure so before I purchase a piece of jewelry for a show sample I always tell the jewelry designer my intentions for the jewelry. I feel it is very important that they know their jewelry will be on display at my bead shows. If we are both in agreement I always request a few cards to hand out to interested customers since I do not sell my samples. Remember a lot of jewelry makers bring their non-jewelry maker friends to shows, and they are generally looking for finished jewelry. I also do not allow customers to take photos of the samples, inspiration is OK copying is not.
So have the samples helped sales at my shows? They most certainly have, and at the very least it starts a conversation, which leads to a connection, which may lead to future sales, and future friendships.
I hope you have found this post helpful, thank you to Jen and the entire Art Jewelry Elements team for giving me this opportunity.