FINALLY! I'm writing up my thoughts and memories of the recently-attended Tucson Gem & Mineral Show. It was our first time to sell there -- though we've bought items there before, I've worked in Tucson in my other field (higher education), and Shannon has worked for many years during gem show time at the booth of the awesome shop Natural Stones (normally based in Santa Fe).
I can't say sales were stellar (we were in the Radisson Suites at the Tucson Bead Show there) -- but we had an amazing amount of unexpected fun with our booth-neighbors, Beaded Chic, LLC. Their somewhat tame name belies the delightful outrageousness of these gals -- a Mom/Daughter/Friend team -- Donna McClaren (the Mom & lampwork artisan and one of the jewelry designers), Leah, her true blue friend and sales/manager/gal Friday, and Jenny - Donna's daughter -- also involved in jewelry design, sales and merchandising.
It's very clear that Donna's a veteran. Of lots of stuff--but especially bead shows. She was over at our table coaching us, the novices, in the most amiable way -- from start to finish. She gave us invaluable tips like:
- Never book yourself at a bead show that features $200,000 baskets at the front door (you guessed it -- we did, and so did Donna -- but we won't make that mistake again...)
- Bring knitting projects, for the slow times. (They practiced what they preached)
- Wear corsets, so your back doesn't kill you at the end of the day, and so people will always remember you as 'the gals who wear corsets'. (Again, they practiced what they preached -- and they looked awesome!)
- Make friends with the hotel's bar staff, so they'll give you (what we lovingly called) 'pink coffee*' in a 'sippy cup' (a coffee cup with a lid). This results in greatly reduced pain and suffering of staffing a table on a slow day for 8 hours straight with no lunch or bathroom breaks. *zinfandel, or beer, depending on your inclination.
- Ignore the guys who come around to tell you they just sold $5,000 in dichroic glass, especially when you know they know you only made $500 so far that day.
- Resist the urge to buy stuff from all the other vendors at the show just because you're bored. If you do have to buy something, buy it from Bead Chic, LLC or the awesome vendor behind them, Bar-Maids, selling eco-luscious skin care products (including foot massage cream for when you get back to your room with your aching tootsies).
- When traveling for a show and dealing with hotels, be sure to: a) print your confirmation e-mails and take them with you, in case something tries to go haywire with your reservation.; and b) make friends with the desk rep as you are checking in. Think UPGRADES and EARLY CHECK-IN and LATE CHECK-OUT!!! Also, that way the desk rep will know you're just another working stiff like them and not like all those other snooty customers who ask stupid questions and just annoy them in general.
- Never mix personal money with business money (unless you have to buy some pink coffee just to survive)
Seriously, it was all great advice. And we learned that Donna is a true Renaissance Woman in every sense of the word. She has a high-end customer relations position in the corporate world by day, and by dark of night she creates gorgeous jewelry (I followed her advice and bought two necklaces from her before the show was over). She also loves the Renaissance Faire world and knows how to dress the part. The group sells at such events, and also Steampunk and Celtic events -- and they know the routine on those as well.
Their specialty is classic and contemporary art jewelry, using precious and semi-precious gemstones, pearls, metals, and Donna's own handmade lampwork glass beads. The company is based in south central Pennsylvania. Their next show is coming up soon - April 8 - 10, Bead Fest Pennsylvania. They do about 4 - 5 shows a year, but their biggest show is the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire in Manheim, PA (Sept. 23-24, Sept. 30 - Oct. 1, and Oct. 8-9), if you can catch them there. For a great view of Donna and her unique Donna SPIRIT, watch this short video on 'Steampunk Merges Fashion Technology and Science Fiction' -- she's the second model during the modeling sequence, wearing the large feathered hat.
If you can't find them in person (then I'm sorry for you, and...) you can always find them on Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest, here:
I've included a couple of photos of Donna's work, but the photos don't really do them justice. You have to see them up close and personal to realize how amazing they are.
As soon as I can get my act together (still recovering from Mom crisis I talked about it last week's piece) I will start posting some of the new things we got to sell while in Tucson (in the Bead of the Week feature). Please let us know what you think.
p.s. If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy Bead Love in Venice.
Until Next Time,