Sales vs Promotions , Pricing Your Goods , Customer Relations, Price Points, Selling on Online Auctions, Selling From Websites, Selling At Craft Fairs
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Selling At Home Shows
author: Sandy Paluzzi
Like the art shows we discussed last month, home shows can take many forms. They can be held at your home or at someone else's home. One person has even redefined the word home to include local pubs and coffee shops. She has found that the owners are glad to host parties for little benefit other than the increased traffic.
You can be the only exhibitor at a home show or you can share the space with other artists or product lines. Every year a friend has a co-operative holiday home sale here in Baltimore. Different artisans sell jewelry, pottery and basketry. This co-operative show works because there's a logical fit with the different product lines. One of the women we interviewed had her jewelry shown with pocketbooks. As both are fashion accessories and were in the same approximate price range, it was a good fit.
The women we interviewed handled everything for the party hostesses - they prepared the invitations, they brought the beverages and they brought the snacks. Some of them even brought display tables if the hostess lacked suitable presentation spaces. They all worked with the hostess to promote the party and suggested promotion start about two weeks before the party.
The key ingredient to the success of the parties was the atmosphere. Everyone stressed the importance of very low key, no pressure sales tactics. Stacy Rose of On The Wire Custom Jewelry put it well when she emailed 'Creating a fun and relaxed environment is imperative. The easier you make the party on the guests, the more enjoyable it will be for everyone'.
Home parties can be lucrative for artisans. All of the women interviewed did craft fairs as well as home parties. They all did better financially at the home parties. At least one of the women is making her living selling her jewelry. People spoke of four figure sales or of selling over 100 pieces at one party. Of course, like every other business venture, there are good parties and there are not so good parties. Again, Stacy Rose takes the slow parties in her stride, saying that even they can provide great word of mouth revenue.
All of the women I interviewed seemed to genuinely love the home parties. They each, in their own way, put their hearts and souls into making them an enjoyable event.
Lisa Richards, A Charming Bracelet, sells mother's bracelets as well as theme charm bracelets.
All of her jewelry is custom made for the individual client. She brings about a dozen pieces of jewelry to a show. Then she takes orders for personalized items based on the jewelry samples. She asks for a 50% down payment on the jewelry, but says most people will pay the total cost up front.
Lisa's hostess gift plan is more involved than those of the the other interviewees. She has price tiers with escalating gifts for different price points.
Lisa has discovered a great way to boost attendance at her parties - she offers a free charm to every invitee who brings a friend. She has done long distance parties. She has mailed her samples to friends many miles from her and let them take orders.
Christeena Hockins, Sea Glass Jewels and Company, grew up in New Jersey. She later relocated to Greece. She gives jewelry parties in both countries. Christeena's jewelry is all one of a kind designs. It contains a mixture of semi precious and sea glass beads. Christeena brings all the jewelry she has to the party. She does not take custom orders.
Christeena uses email to advertise her parties. She sends a lot of tastefully done email cards to potential party goers. She carefully selects her hostess gift by observing the hostess throughout the party. If the hostess has been eyeing a particular piece of jewelry, Christeena gives her that piece.
Christeena stays open to all possibilities. She has held lucrative parties in coffee shops and in Greek pubs. She has booked these parties with guests at traditional home parties. The parties have been mutually beneficial and a lot of fun.
Christeena subtly promotes her website at all home parties. Everyone gets a business card and a flyer which contains her email and website addresses. She has noticed an increase in traffic immediately following a show.
Jeanne Stewart, Peartree Studios, makes her living making and selling her beaded jewelry. Her creations are very eclectic representing many different moods.
The bulk of her sales come from home parties and she heavily promotes them both from her website and at craft fairs. She has signs on her fair booths, saying 'Want free jewelry - ask me how'. Jeannie gives her hostess 10% of the party's sales to spend on her jewelry.
Jeannie sends a full packet of information to her hostess. The party pack contains pictures of her jewelry, fliers and invitations. It also includes a pear for the hostess to place on her mail box so guests can easily find the party. The pear is Jeannie's mascot and she effectively uses it to promote brand recognition. Everything she does, including each piece of jewelry, contains a pear. She even found pear stickers to put on the gift bags she uses to hold the customer's purchases.
She brings ready made jewelry to the shows. She also brings pictures of past work. These pictures can inspire someone to ask for a custom piece. Jeannie takes custom orders when she knows she has the materials in stock.
Jeannie's advice to people just starting out was to make sure everyone you know promotes your business. You never know where that next party will come from. Some of her most successful parties came from a conversation her surgeon father had with nurses in the hospital operating room.
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