Shows, Shows, Shows...…..what to do about shows!

Well, with Christmas almost upon us, I have now done my last show of 2018 and am working on a number of commissions before turning to my sketchbook to finalise the look of my new collection for Spring 2019. But less of that as this blog is about the wonderful, fun but confusing and frustrating world of shows.

I love doing shows – shows, markets, fairs, events – call them what you will, I just love doing them. I suppose the life of a jeweller can be quite isolated, especially if you are lone working in your home based workshop. For me, it’s great to get out and chat to other artists, people who are as passionate about what they do as I am. I also find that people tend to be so generous with their support and ideas – there are always exceptions but they tend to be the minority.

So, you’ve got the picture – I love doing shows and meeting other artists and customers and generally soaking up the atmosphere.

But here’s the rub (you can also tell I love ‘The Martian’ – my new favourite film. Matt Damon says that a lot!)

The Rub. Shows bring their own anxiety. Which ones should I do? Where should I go? Where will my product be well received? And so on and so on!

It really is a conundrum. From my own experience and from talking to other artists/makers, it’s a conundrum that is commonly shared regardless of how long you’ve been doing shows. You think that maybe I’ll test the waters with this show this year and it goes great, so you book for next year and it’s just not worth your time. You still enjoy the banter with others and you don’t want to make it all about the money – but we have to make money to live.

The dilution of hand-made products has been an issue for many years and this continues. One of the more expensive shows I did which promoted hand-made work had stand after stand of imported goods – I find the marketing of such fairs disingenuous and disappointing when they deviate from what they promote.

You also have to be careful when listening to the well-meaning advice of others. Their experiences, good or bad, won’t necessarily be duplicated for you. Everyone is different and your work is unique to you. You can, of course, benefit from what they say about the general organisation of a show – has it been well run, prepared for , advertised and so on……..that’s always good to know.

So how do you know which shows to do? I think the short answer is …..you don’t. You have to keep doing different ones and work out for yourself the best ones for your product.

This year I’ve done a variety of shows costing between £65 and £1,350 and my show sales have ranged from £140 to £3,012 but the bigger sales are not linked to the most expensive shows – it’s been a real mixture with some of the least costly shows generating the most revenue and profit.

This is one of the biggest issues I have for business planning next year. This is because choosing the right shows can have a significant impact on your year. It’s not just the cost of the show itself – when you think that there are only 8-9 weekends in the lead up to Christmas, a show that doesn’t deliver also represents a lost opportunity at some other show. I know I don’t stand alone in my efforts to understand the shifting sands of the event world.

So, what will I do for next year?

At this stage, I am planning to do regular local shows and use them predominantly as a platform to increase my brand awareness – going back to the same place time and time again so that people get to know me. Then I plan to pick about 4, undoubtedly more costly, more well-known shows further afield for the middle of the year. And who knows what I’ll do in the lead up to Christmas…..but I’ll keep you posted. I’ll also let you know how the shows go and if I’ve made the right decision in my planned approach.

Of course, I’ll definitely be doing the BCTF Trade Show in April.

For now – I want to say a huge thank you to the many people who have purchased my work in the last two months and whilst the income is great and important, it's just such a wonderful feeling to know that you like my work.

So, thank you and have a great Christmas and New Year.

, it’s also just so wonderful to know that you like what I do.

So, thank you and have a great Christmas and New Year.

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