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Selling Handcrafted Art Jewelry Step 1: Art Fair Participation

Updated on September 5, 2013

Consider Selling At Art Fairs

Handcrafted Cuff
Handcrafted Cuff

What To Know About Art Fair Participation

In jewelry making, selling your wares wares can be a most wonderful full or part time pursuit for anyone wanting to become anart jeweler. Maybe you just started trying your hand at making a few earrings or a necklace or bracelet for yourself and your family. After getting some “wow’s” from them, maybe you were asked to custom make more pieces. Voila! Now you’ve started taking your first commissions. Regardless of how you started making your own jewelry, the urge to pump it up a notch, take the challenge of selling your work retail, can often quickly rise to the surface. So why not consider art fair participation?

Art fairs, if chosen correctly and with prudence, can be an excellent way to begin a retail art jewelry business. Art fairs or street art fairs offer the opportunity for not only immediate gratification (if your work sells), but they provide a real life chance to interact with potential customers. You can talk to them about their likes and dislikes and get invaluable feedback and your first real market research about your jewelry line. You can not only get feedback on the individual price points for pieces, you get to let potential customers try on your work so you can double check your sizing. You’ll also learn how to display your work best. And while that may take trial and error, again, if you do your homework first, this can be an exciting and challenging part of the whole sales process.

Having said that, the emphasis here is on “if chosen correctly and with prudence”. Why? Well, unless you do your homework first, you could stand to lose money instead of making it. And you do not want to lose money especially when you’re just starting out. I’ve seen far too many students of mine back off doing art fairs because they didn’t succeed right away. Again, they failed most of the time because they didn’t do that invaluable research, that always necessary research. The worst part of this was that it hurt their confidence right out of the box when their failure had little or nothing to do with the quality or sales worthiness of their work.

A bad first fair can be bad for many reasons, none of which may be your fault
or have anything to do with your work and its saleability. Doing your homework involves researching the best fairs in your locality first. Next, pick one or a few of your preferred ones. After that, no matter how excited you may be about entering a fair, walk one or all of those fairs first. Talk to jewelry vendors there, see if you can find someone who has done that particular fair multiple times. Get the other vendors feedback about the fair. Allow yourself to get a first hand “feel” for the fair.

Next, and perhaps most importantly, see if the prices you’re intending to set for your work fits in with the general price points and quality of the other jewelry vendors at your chosen fairs. Is the art fair juried or not? If it’s not juried (reviewed and approved by an arts committee), you could be taking a real chance entering the fair since you won’t necessarily know what quality standards the fair has. That could mean your booth may be positioned next to someone with low quality items. That’s why you need to visit and walk any show you’re looking to enter before you sign a contract for a booth. So, also be sure to find out about the traffic your chosen show/s generate as well as determining that the quality of the show in general meets your standards.

There are additional considerations when thinking about art fair participation. Do you know how to estimate the inventory you’ll need to bring? Do you know how to develop ajewelry line? What about a wire jewelry line? Are you objective enough to know which pieces in your jewelry line might sell well? What would your best sellers be? Where are the “bread and butter” pieces in your line?

Finally, you need to assess your costs to realize your break even point. How much will you need to spend to build your necessary inventory? How long will it take you to make your inventory? What will booth fees and tent costs be? How much will you need to invest in both display items and booth decorating? How will you design the layout of your booth for maximum traffic flow?

Although there’s a lot to learn before taking that first step into art fair participation, it is also a very viable and often exciting adventure. There’s nothing quite like getting first hand feedback on your hard creative work. There’s also nothing quite like the thrill of standing in your own very crowded booth.

In conclusion, once you've learned how to make wire jewelry, you've got to learn all that you can to start learning what's the best way to sell it. You can find one of the best ebooks on how to sell your jewelry by clicking HERE.

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