Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tick Tock and It's Christmas

Observations about many women I know ==>> We LOVE to receive jewelry as a gift. We enjoy buying jewelry as gifts for others. BUT many of us feel guilty about buying jewelry for ourselves! Why is that?!!

So in case you're still stuck for the perfect gift, I can help you out through Dec. 22. (That's when I join my family to search for snow.) In fact I've really enjoyed making a collection with Christmas in mind, though most designs are suitable for year-round pizazz. You'll find these at classicbeadwear.com & can email your order using its "Email us" link.

Please remember that my last mailing will be 12/22, & beginning today through 12/22, postage will cost a little extra to assure Santa's delivery by Christmas.

Meanwhile, HAPPY HOLIDAYS, everyone!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Snow, Craft Fair, Flood...

Can plague & pestilence be far behind? As luck would have it, the fair I'd been most optimistic about, the 1st ever Redmond, WA Holiday Arts Fair, was a 1.5 day event, and to greet the big event was a forecast for the Seattle area's first real snow of the winter. Panic! Raised in New Orleans, I do floods; I don't do snow, even after 34 years here!!

I'd been gearing up for my 2 back-to-back juried craft shows (Renton & Redmond, WA), working hard each night with little sleep. The Renton Hassle Free Fair in mid-November (see blog 11/19/07) missed all the crazy weather. Rain, drizzle, showers, rain, rain, and drizzle we can handle. The very next weekend was the Redmond Fair. Day 1 was a Friday night from 5pm-9pm, & the weather was typical-Seattle winter stuff -- cool with showers -- no problem. Except that after 7pm the only folks still around were the vendors. Either any craft show on a Friday night should shut down by 7pm, or the customers had heard the warnings about snow -- warnings that were definite about its arrival, but vague about exactly when & exactly how much. Maybe Friday night, but definitely by sometime Saturday, maybe 1 inch, but possibly 3-4 inches. And sure enough, on the fair's big day (day 2) I awoke to see big fat snowflakes falling & sticking, with 1" already turning my car white. Could I drive through slick suburban streets safely? What if I risked life & limb & noone came? Or would we all arrive, but get stuck with our wheels spinning in the fair's parking lot after hours of the big, fat snow?

To my great relief, I didn't kill anyone during the drive & customers did show up! Even before the snow disappeared & the sun came out awhile. And a few dear friends braved the snow & came for moral support. Plus my friend & jewelry-phile Linda arrived to help me, as promised! What a joy to have their support and good company. Despite the fact that 3 of us jewelry vendors were located right next to each other & a few other minor glitches, whenever customers show up with wallets, it's a good show.

Monique donned 4 looks during the show, which was fun.
Friday night she started out wearing a black silky scarf knotted on the side. Saturday she wore a white faux-fur band around her head in the spirit of the holiday. When someone jokingly commented about her bald head (I prefer to think that her baldness was edgy), I covered her head with my Mom's sheared black turban hat, circa 1970. Finally, a neighboring vendor (Silk from the Hartz) who makes gorgeous hand painted silk scarves, practiced tying one on Monique's head to find new looks for women undergoing chemotherapy. It was easy to agree to this experiment for such a cause during the show, especially since these scarves were gorgeous. I ended up buying Monique (and me) this striking red/pink one, which I do believe helped draw folks to the table.

From the Redmond experience I hope to discover how much table decor is enough to attract customers without overwhelming the jewelry, which must be the focus. Maybe you can help me by voting in TWO POLLS on the right. I do enjoy introducing potential customers to "my new employee, Monique," which serves as an easy ice-breaker to build rapport. So Monique is a keeper, but how much Monique is too much? Please feel free to Comment. I need feedback.

Another problem I'd like to solve is how to re-do my jewelry set up so that it's quickly displayed & quickly removed. The neighboring vendor sold very nice earrings... only earrings. Each pair was mounted to attractive card stock printed with her logo & contact into. The earrings & attached cards filled each velvet compartment in trays removed from her product case. She laid out the pre-filled trays in 2 neat rows across her table that was covered with attractive cloth. With minimal other display apparatus added to the layout, she could pack up everything on her table and head for the door easily within 20-30 min. Meanwhile I was still removing & packing Monique's arms!! I hadn't even started on the jewelry yet.

One obvious difference between our needs is that I sell necklaces, bracelets, and earrings, requiring different kinds of displays. I have a product case similar to my neighbor's, & I display some necklaces & some earrings in its velvet-lined trays.
I hang other earrings around the lip of a tall glass goblet. Some necklaces hang from Monique's arms. I drape others over a 3-tiered velvet-lined display racks, and I arrange crystal necklaces flat on a 12" glass tile on the table. If I'm alone it takes me 80-90 minutes to set up & 80-90 minutes to remove! Too complex & perhaps too distracting for the customer.
What I do know is that my arrangement looks much better in a 10'x10' booth, where I can place 2 tables in an L configuration. Butting the length of 1 table into the side of the other increases the rectangular space I want from 6'x2.5' to 8.5'x2.5'. I believe that additional 2.5' of length removes any sense of clutter. At the Renton fair, a very sophisticated younger woman who frequents these fairs really liked my table's look with the L configuration. However, the Redmond booth space was only 6'x10'. No room at all for an L, and barely enough room for Linda & me to sit behind my 1 table.

I also learned that 2 small lights focused on the jewelry draw customers. Venues large enough for a craft fair usually have inadequate lighting because it's too far away from the jewelry. Somewhere on the small table I must position 2 clamp-on lights with daylight bulbs. At the very least, it adds warmth & makes the table look more welcoming. Most importantly it brings out the beauty in the gemstones & precious metals of my jewelry.

Despite the technical issues I'd like to resolve, this fair produced more sales than any other for me. Furthermore, I learned that when shoppers are beginning to panic about Christmas, they will brave snow, but they won't stay out late. I'm hoping that next year I can try Redmond again in just the boring old rainy stuff, and that I've got my set up issues resolved.

Epilogue: 3 days after the snow came The Great Flood That Closed I-5. Luckily we were soaking up the sun in Cabo & catching marlin. (See post 12/11/07) Dumb luck is appreciated & always welcomed.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Life's Top 10

Now that I've reached the Age of Wisdom & Social Security Checks, I periodically look back at life to assess its top 10 events. I'm grateful that it's not an easy task. But I've just experienced another event in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico that made the list, & I'm so excited about it, I had to write. Since I'm all about my new passion in life, jewelry making, one might think the new entry in my top 10 relates to that. NO! I'm reserving "jewelry-making" as number 10 for some milestone lightning-bolt achievement, like creating something so very special that I love it just as much 3 years after creation OR Nordstrom decides to sell my jewelry OR a very exclusive "juried" craft show picks me as a vendor. Of course, I must first find the courage & confidence to ask for their consideration! Hopefully, one day...

I've had a good life filled with a wide variety of passions, so the Top 10 includes a surprising assortment. Here's my list in chronological order, NOT in order of importance to me --
1. Winning a 6 wk cruise for 2 from New Orleans (hometown) on a cargo ship, across the Gulf of Mexico, through the Panama Canal, and down the west coast of So. America, almost to the southern-most tip of Chile. As a 16 yr. old with no money who thought a trip to Mississippi was a big deal, this was HUGE!

2. Marrying GZ, my unique, opinionated, exasperating, lovable, & gentle husband of almost 39 years.

3. Giving birth to our daughter, my greatest accomplishment, my pride & joy.

4. Experiencing killer whales -- unexpected, up close & personal, in the misty silence of dawn on glassy calm waters of Puget Sound. The loud & profound sounds this huge pod made very close to our little boat as they plunged back into the water from repeated full-body leaps or spewed gallons of water from their blow holes still give me chills of awe...

5. Catching huge steelhead (5 a day!) on my #8 flyrod. Disappointed at missing the silver salmon run we had timed our Alaska trip for, we lucked into an amazing run of steelhead. For readers who don't fish, that's the icing on the cake PLUS the cake!! I'm not too proud to welcome dumb luck.

6. Becoming a grandma to 2 adorable little critters 4 & 1 years young. Grandma-hood is a very special club, where the secret handshake is the wide-open arms of an overjoyed, smudged-faced child, running toward you yelling, "Grandma, Grandma!" Absolutely nothing compares to that...

7 & 8. Two Personal Family Losses -- sad & of great significance to me.

9. Fighting the good fight last week in Cabo San Lucas -- See picture sequence below, showing 1 of 3 marlin I caught on The Sport Fishing Event of My Life, surpassing even the steelhead. GZ & I caught 5 total, with another 2 breaking the lines. By my 3rd marlin, my lazy left arm was trembling with so much exhaustion & pain that it's still recovering 5 days later. We released all the marlin back to the Pacific. But even without a huge 6' marlin mounted on the wall, I will never forget the physical fight of my life! There were moments when I wondered if the fish would pull me & our fearless skipper Milo overboard. And how did Milo escape the sharp, bony 18" bills usually aimed at his gut? And how did Cheryl pull in 80 -- 100 lbs of resistant, leaping fish muscle? Here's the action for just 1 of my 3 catches.

10. Reserved for that thunderbolt moment in my jewelry making. The excitement I feel while creating a new design
almost equals most of my fishing thrills & chills even without yet reaching the grand, lightning bolt creative achievement. Until that occurs, it's hard to imagine what could bump the #10 spot I've reserved for jewelry!