Monday, October 22, 2007

Not All Brainstorms Are Good...

At my 2nd craft fair ever, I learned that a single prop can draw customers to a craft table. But the good decision to go with the perfect prop can be trumped by 1 dumb decision that cost me customers.

Two days before The Fall Thing at Phinney Ridge Community Center, I braved the terrible traffic from Bellevue into downtown Seattle to reach a large, high-end dept. store, offering the mystery props for $35 each (originally $1000!) It didn't take me long to select perhaps the only item left that could actually sit on my table & wouldn't take much room to store. Exactly what I wanted -- in fact, PERFECT!

Let me introduce Monique, formerly known as Mira. Monique was special because her arms & hands were both above her waist, allowing me to remove her bottom half, a huge advantage over other mannequins whose arms below the waist required them to stand, possible only after building a brace. Furthermore, I could store Monique's extra body parts in the attic. And look at the pose of her hands. Perfect for displaying jewelry! Even her makeup was perfect. (Did you know that if you first apply concealer, you can add human makeup to Monique?) And Monique looked great in tiger fabric from my first fair! (I'm trying hard not to think this discussion is creepy...)

As I played with my craft show table arrangement the night before, I had another brainstorm. I store my jewelry in the black velveteen trays from my new product case described in the Aug. 28 blog post. Those trays would display the jewelry beautifully if tilted up on blocks!

Oh, I was so very proud of myself! I was definitely on a brainstorming roll.
That's when I should have quit & gone to bed. Instead I stayed up all night typing pages & pages of text into a grid, where each cell in the grid contained the description & price of one item for sale. Because I didn't have time to cut the grid into cards & place them near the item described as I'd planned, I couldn't quickly answer the simplest customer questions, like "How much is this?" At least 5 very enthusiastic customers came by to look closely at my jewelry & ask a few questions, but scanning pages of grid cells under pressure isn't easy -- especially after no sleep. So many lessons to learn; so little time!

Despite my own major misstep, I really enjoyed this show. My table was 2nd just inside the entry door, so folks definitely got to pass my booth this time. And Monique drew many of them over for a closer look. I hope the new layout is more sophisticated & effective than the Fremont fair table. What do you think?
The feedback from shoppers was extremely positive. I sold Steely Blue despite wasting this wonderful woman's time to search for the price & description. In fact, she came back 3 times to bring 3 more people to see the jewelry during my frustrating search for the price! Even shoppers that didn't wait for my fumbling searches asked to be put on my mailing list. Another big plus about this show was the opportunity to meet more EtsyRain sellers. Participating in the online forum together for months now, I feel I know them since our brief face-to-face at the craft show. I left the fair exhauted, but smiling inside about the new friendships, the enthusiam of potential buyers, and my satisfaction with the 'look' of my table. But the top 2 items on my To-Do list are ==> match up the description cards with the items AND remove Monique's lower half from the hallway floor. Or at least turn on the light so the unexpected sight isn't so scary!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Would You Buy a Nameless Bead?

Back in July I was browsing through one of my favorite bead haunts telling myself over & over to get home while I still had some money. But on my way out, I saw some strands of gemstones I hadn't noticed before. I have no self control about beads, so I began looking through the hanging strands. Wow! This strand of wonderful rich olive green dazzling with pearlescence caught my eye. The beads were each uniquely & irregularly shaped... and I guess the new phrase is "organic looking," yet beautifully faceted & highly polished. But the flashes of color that bounced off the surfaces as I turned the stones are impossible to describe. And they were expensive! And they were unlabeled! And even the owner didn't know what these unusual gemstones were. Feel free to guess!! Any gemologists out there? Because computer monitors show colors differently, let me emphasize that the main color in the stones is olive green. The only other color is black in lines through the stones. Also, the expensive strand had 2 broken stones. The unpolished mineral inside the break had many tiny specks of sparkle, which I think would polish up beautifully when faceted, accounting for the pearlescence, in my opinion. The stones range from very dark olive (almost black) to medium-light olive. They are completely opaque.

Nameless or not, I fell in love with these stones & couldn't wait to wrap them in herringbone weave of antiqued Sterling silver wire.
Then I made these earrings with olive green crystals, also wrapped in herringbone -- a really nice match, I think. Obviously I was in a very herringbone mood.

I will learn from this experience IF BEAUTY HAS VALUE. Or maybe it only has value if it has a well-respected label. Since I spent significant money on nameless beautiful stones with no hesitation, my opinion is obvious. I hope I was right :) Take an anonymous poll on the right & tell us what you think.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Time to Be Creative!

Time for change, like the dramatic change from green to orange & maroon leaves on NW trees. Time for me to get busy with what I most love to do. The last 2 weeks have been a total creativity marathon. With apologies to my blog readers, I let many routine things slide to immerse myself in the creative process. It was not entirely emotional self-indulgence, as THE FAST-APPROACHING HOLIDAYS added motivation. Ok, panic! Pre-holiday time is particularly busy for crafters.
Panic increased when I decided to try 1-2 more craft shows in Oct/Nov, hoping to tempt early Christmas shoppers. Besides, with its gorgeous colors, fall deserves its own colorful array of designer jewelry. So I've been enjoying myself. Here's a small sample of the fun I've had & the artistic inspiration found all around us in the Seattle area (when it quits raining :)
For Autumn Berries, I've been saving A-grade citrine, garnet, & topaz (2 shades) teardrop gem-stones for just the right design. Then on a clear day in late Sept, we drove through Stevens Pass & saw these beautiful colors. (photo by Don Paulson) Instant inspiration for Autumn Berries & Autumn Leaves! I'll add other new inspirations to my Etsy store every day or 2 through Oct/Nov. Life is good :)