Thursday, March 17, 2011

Jewelry Parties

Since the festival season is on hiatus during the winter, I began hosting home based jewelry parties. I needed a way to keep the momentum building after all of the positive responses I gained over the summer. Plus I had no intention of slowing down in the studio, so I had to do something with my inventory before I had necklaces hanging from every corner of my home.

The first party was at my Sister's home in December. I felt very comfortable with having my first party at her house because it allowed me a chance to test it out and see how different a  house party was from a festival. My Sister is very encouraging and supportive so I knew this was a safe place to get my feet wet. She invited some of her friends and coworkers, provided tasty snacks and beverages for everyone to enjoy while they perused my designs and caught up with one another. The afternoon turned out very well. I enjoyed being able to interact with everyone in the more intimate setting of a home that a street festival seldom allows.

Having a jewelry show in a home also allows your guests to really think about their purchases and try things on without feeling rushed by crowds coming through. Plus you know they are coming to buy. Which was a little bit awkward for me at first because I felt reluctant about "forcing" myself onto everyone. Then I thought about another benefit of the facebook business page - I upload pictures whenever I create new jewelry, so they have seen my work and they already know they like my jewelry or else they wouldn't be coming to the party.

I've had 2 more parties since then. One at my Sister's friend's house in York, Pa. One at my house with my friends and coworkers, and this Saturday we are having another one for my roommate's friends.
I really enjoy having them in my own home because it allows me plenty of time to set up, and I can work the jewelry into the decor of my home. For example; I picked up 2 large old wood frames for $5 each, painted them, backed them with screens and inserted S hooks for the necklaces and earrings to hang from. I then placed them on my walls in place of our regular wall decor so they worked right into the room like they had always been there.

As with the festivals, I learn something new every time I host a house party and some of the rules are different than they are when attending a festival.
  • When setting up for a house party I consider the fact that this is a more intimate event. They already know who I am and why they are there so I try not to overdue it with the marketing. I leave my business cards on the table and my earring cards are marked with my information, but I do not hang up my banner or plaster my information all over the house. I just feel that this is tacky. This is just my personal opinion, you may feel otherwise. 
  • I also decided after the first 2 parties that I wasn't going to place price tags on everything. I may revisit this decision later on, but here is why I have decided that this may be a good idea; Hanging tags from everything disrupts the flow of my display. I don't really like them - although I know they are absolutely necessary when dealing with a festival crowd. Removing them from the home shows allows me to interact more with everyone. I make it known somewhere on an 8x10 framed sign that everything is under a certain price so my guests aren't apprehensive about asking and being shocked.
  • I made invitations that I can send in an email, facebook or snail mail. I had to design them for the first party, then I decided to order some off of vistaprint for the future. I put my contact information and a few pictures of my designs on the front and left it mostly open on the back for the information to be written in. That way I don't have to create new invitations every time someone offers to host a party for me. 
  • Be prepared to take orders. Mark them down with as many details as possible. I say this because I made an error with one of the orders I received at my Sister's party. I mistakenly marked down the wrong color of clay (the difference between a matte gray and a shiny gray). I made the piece sent it along and received an email telling me that this was not the color she originally ordered. I was embarrassed by this mistake and quickly made her what she had asked for and sent it along. Had I been more specific when I wrote the order down I would not have made this mistake. Lesson learned!!
  • Always provide the hostess with a gift. I base this on how many people attended and my sales.
I have really enjoyed the jewelry parties, and I look forward to doing more of them throughout the winter. But right now I am getting super pumped about the return of the festival season and I have BIG plans for my booth this year. To think the thought of being a street vendor last year made me so nauseous. Now I can't wait!! I will see you out there!!