This blog is meant to be a record of my adventures as a new home-based business owner. Starting my jewellery business was one of the most daunting things I've ever done, next to giving birth. Especially since I was (am?) pretty technically stunted. In this blog I will describe the trials, tribulations and, hopefully, eventual successes I experience while navigating the world of (really, really, really small) business. I also plan to use this blog to talk about all the aspects of jewellery design that fascinate me, keep me addicted, and cause me to spend thousands of dollars (What, honey? No, I didn't say thousands...) on gemstones, beads, findings, etc. I welcome your input, ideas, and stories of similar experiences in beading, jewellery design, or running a handcrafts business.

Monday, September 20, 2010

My Jewellery Booth

The first craft fair I participated in was organized by my neighbourhood Lions Club.  It was a Christmas craft fair at the community centre.  The table cost $35.00, and the sale hours were from 9:00 to 5:00.  I spent three weeks before the sale furiously making inventory, not sure how much I might sell, or even how much inventory I would need to cover my table.  A 6-ft. by 3 ft. table and two chairs would be provided.  My booth design left a lot to be desired.  For a table cover, I had a piece of black felt that I'd liberated from one of my bulletin boards at school.  I didn't know until it was too late that black felt is a magnet for lint, hairs and fibres.  I fashioned a necklace display from a huge piece of plywood that I covered with a layer of cotton batting and some black and green crushed velvet.  The plywood was propped up on the table with another piece of wood behind, like a picture frame.  I pinned necklaces to this display.  I also had a matching black and green velvet bracelet t-bar sort of thing, and a silver hand towel holder, from which I hung more necklaces. Finally, I had a copper rotating earring rack with holes for the earrings to be put into. The rest of my jewellery was strewn over the table. Even with a friend helping, it took us a good hour to take all the jewellery pieces out of the little plastic zip bags in which I was storing them, drape them onto the racks, and pin the necklaces on the necklace display. Repeat at pack-up time. 

I made about $100 that day, and came home with a lot of inventory.  Although that fair wasn't a raging success for me, I learned a lot from the experience, and from the other vendors at the craft fair that day.
Since then, I've done a lot of research on effective craft booth design.  I've learned to use different heights to create visual interest and to maximize display area.  I've learned to go with a colour theme in my display in order to create a feeling of harmony and minimize visual distraction.  I've learned tricks for storing and preparing my jewellery to make the set-up and take-down processes as fast and efficient as possible. One of these tricks is to pre-load your displays where possible.  For example, pre-load your earrings on the racks before leaving for the show.  Recently, my dad and I made two wooden earring racks that look a little like abacuses.  There are four copper wires that run from one post to the other, and curl into spirals at each end.  On these wires, I hang my earrings, all on homemade earring cards printed with my information, and the type of stone in each pair of earrings.  I keep these racks loaded all the time, and just cover them with plastic and store them in a closet.  I keep necklaces and bracelets in black display trays, which I keep stacked in a case, ready to just pull out and lay on the table.  I have several black velvet neck displays, for items like signature necklace and earring sets.  I have two sale baskets, in which I put bargains like simple glass bead earrings, and last season's bracelets, marked down.  A clear rack holding my beading birthday party flyers is the final touch.  The tablecloths are black and hang right to the floor.  Everything is black and copper, and I love the look.  This set-up is a lot easier and quicker to set up and pack away.

My booth design isn't yet perfect; I'm on the lookout for another earring display, and I need more long necklace displays. I recently bought 3 more black velvet neck displays.  I want to buy a banner for the front of the table.   I saw some aluminum fold-up tables at Wal-Mart $39.99 that I want to buy, and I could use another black tablecloth.  Here's a link to a website where you can make your own earring displays.  I plan to make a couple of these myself.

For many more ideas for craft show booths, check out this link.

Gotta get to bed--tomorrow night is Curriculum Night at school, so I'll be working late, and I'll have to be charming, which I really can't do on less than 7 hours of sleep.  Good night, all!

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