Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Little Sunshine to Help Things Grow - Part 3

Just as things were starting to pick up for my jewelry business, the church project we were building was done and it was time to move on. We had been in the north, but it was October, and we just don’t start new projects when snow is about to happen. There was a church in Port St Lucie, FL who needed to get their pre-construction work done in anticipation of building – prints have to be approved, sub-contractors and materials found and a lot of little details worked out. So we were off to Florida!

I didn’t know much yet about finding craft shows on the internet and we weren’t really sure how long we were going to be in Florida so planning was difficult. I also didn’t realize how many craft shows there are in FL in the winter – or that many of them are “professional” shows which are very strictly juried, have high entry fees, have very strict display requirement and do not benefit any local organizations. I knew I wasn’t prepared for that yet ... but what to do? I ended up selling at a flea market for a couple months. The flea market definitely was NOT my best venue – my handcrafted items in with a lot of foreign made bargain junk. I didn’t fit. And it was the beginning of the big hikes in gas prices -- fewer people were coming to Florida so there were fewer tourists in the flea market. But I was getting some exposure and learning more about the business part of a jewelry business. The creative part had come easy – the business part was a process ......... a long, slow process!! We were blessed to meet a couple other vendors who had years of experience in flea markets and craft shows – I learned SO much from them! Before we left Florida, I was also able to get into a couple local craft shows and a festival – they were good experience and I picked up a little more knowledge from them.

At my early craft shows, I’d gone alone, or sometimes took a friend. At the flea market, my husband was able to go along with me. With Keith there to keep the selling going (and yes, to keep an eye out for light fingers), I was able to concentrate on making jewelry “on demand” – if someone saw a style they liked, but wanted it in a different color or wanted it on a post instead of a French Hook, I could make it while they waited. That service now makes up about a 1/3 to 1/2 of my craft show sales.

Keith is a pretty handy guy and when I suggested that I still needed to do something different for my displays, he understood what I was needing and why. It became our Saturday ritual to go do the flea market in the morning and early afternoon, then pack up and stop at a restaurant to eat on the way home. At those dinners, we began working out the plans for new displays that would better meet our needs and suit my jewelry. I was up to about 40 designs of earrings and 5 designs of necklaces. And because I use Swarovski crystals, we needed something that would allow plenty of light to show off their sparkle. The next display would also have to be very portable, easy to assemble and take down, easy to store and be a more refined way of displaying my work. I had decided that I wanted white so that no color would reflect and distort the colors of the crystals. But not just any white – the kind of white finish on a white grand piano – that deep, rich elegant white. I had been looking at displays on the internet and we spent a couple Saturday evenings haunting Home Depot looking for ideas. We finally came up with a plan. More later....