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Lessons Learned: Know your Market!

July 20, 2008


I did my first official “big-girl” show last week, the Buffalo Indie Market. I had a couple of jewelry showings in the past—a school fund-raiser and a home party—but nothing that put me in the same league as other handcrafters and artists.

I had attended the previous Indie Market, so I felt that I knew what I needed to bring out of my inventory to have a successful show. Since I make my own lampwork beads, I figured that would be my hook—I could offer beautiful jewelry that would truly be one-of-a-kind. Isn’t that what people want?

I discovered people want beautiful jewelry that make them feel like they are one-of-a-kind. Big difference! Beauty is wonderful, but it can’t break the pocketbook! While my prices are at the lower end of the spectrum compared to some other lampwork artists, they are still more expensive that typical beads. Even though math is not my favorite, even I can see quickly this means my jewelry is going to be more expensive compared to other jewelry artists. And while people admired, complimented and fondled my higher end items, they took home affordable, budget friendly earrings and bracelets (of which I hadn’t brought anywhere nearly enough)!

Am I discouraged?

Not at all.

I realize that people may admire my lampwork, but need to opt for the smaller items that will make them feel special. And I want to sell my work to people, so they can take it home with them…I’m not a museum curator after all!

So I need to review and re-adjust my plan of attack for this particular market. If I had paid closer attention to the market, and less time thinking about how I could be “special,” I definitely would have been much more strategic about which pieces I brought to the show. It’s wonderful to be able to market yourself as someone who is unique, but don’t let it go to your head!

The most important lesson, is not to take it personally. If you have found a good venue, which I feel I have at the Indie Market, find a way to make the show work for you. Rethink the proportion of items you bring in each price point…ask customers what they would like to see…and add those things to your already existing beautiful items. Don’t think of it as changing who you are as a artist, but rather expanding your repertoire!


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