Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Bead Biz - Finding Art & Craft Shows

Before you run off to find a market to sell your jewelry, take a moment to think about your customers. Are they busy mom's on the go, fashionistas, alternative artsy indie girls or no-nonsense business women? Each one of these women go to different types of shows. You'll need to put on your detective hat to find the right fit.

I can only offer you my experience and what I know. My customers are women in their 30's - 50's. They are usually married, work and have disposable income. They love handmade items and the arts in general. They support their local art museums and organizations. They collect handcrafted items. They aren't worried about trends, but see jewelry as an expression of their individuality. They love to give gifts that are meaningful and well thought-out.

My best shows are art fairs and shows that are hosted by arts organizations. I wouldn't do well at a country-craft type show. My customers aren't there. I do better in urban areas in larger cities. Knowing these things about my customers and where to find them helps me plan shows that have a greater chance of success for my style of jewelry.

Where to find shows?

*Ask other artists/crafters.

*Go to shows and see what events your favorite artists are doing.

*Get connected with the local art groups in your area.

*Find out if your state has an arts commission or council, here is a list of them.

*Network with guilds/societies in your area. We have a fiber arts guild & a bead society. Both put on shows for their members and announce upcoming shows in the community.

*CraftLister is a list of craft & art fairs.

*Looking for big shows? Sign up for Zapplication, most of the larger shows use this service.

In general, it's better to attend a show before you sign up for it, especially ones that charge higher fees. Stay away from 1st year shows, it's such a gamble. Exceptions would be organizations that you want to support.


Nerissa Alford said...

Thanks so much for the great info! I'm bookmarking it for future use :) I'm still a show newbie with only 1 under my belt.

Alice said...

Great info! I found out the hard way that, like you, I don't do well at craft shows. My best business comes from art walks and gallery open houses, and from shows that I host in my own home.

For my home shows, I team up with my friend who sells Mary Kay, or with a Papered Chef person, or a person selling other quality items. This way, we benefit from each other's mailing lists. We serve finger foods and refreshments, and have a great time. You can bet the ladies that come are ready to buy!


TesoriTrovati said...

Great tips Heather! I only do one show a year called ARTS Night (A Reason To Shop)in October which is also a fundraiser. I am considering the Festival of the Arts that is similar in February/March (that would be enough of a separation). I try to focus my search on events like that in which the purchases will help a cause I support. Your clientele sound just like mine! If I had the wherewithall (is that a word?) I would travel to larger cities and have oodles of time to create my masterpieces...but for now, galleries and high end boutiques are going to be my focus. But all great tips in case I decide to enter farther afield. Enjoy the day! Erin

Heather Powers said...

Alice, that sounds like a great way to team up and market with other small businesses.

Nerissa - shows are a great way to get instant feedback on your creations. Each one will be a learning experience. Enjoy them!

Erin - I also only do one show a year with a cultural center that I am happy to support. You should go for the second show, it never hurts to try and see how it goes.

Good luck everyone on finding shows and selling your jewelry.

rafi said...

very good information,
I will be visiting you soon. to look for more information thanks