We’ve talked about craft and bead shows before – as great venues for selling your work. But what about trunk shows? Have you tried this technique? If so, how did it work for you? In our experience, selling handmade jewelry through trunk shoes at galleries and boutiques can be both lucrative and rewarding.
For one thing, you don’t have to pay for display space! There are so many places that will agree to give you a spot, since they know a quality exhibition/sale has the potential to draw more traffic into their store and generate some ‘retail excitement’. Plus, they can benefit by receiving a commission from the sales of your jewelry with no up-front cost to them. Consider bridal boutiques, hair salons, spas or fitness centers, and even a shi-shi resort in your area. If you already exhibit your jewelry in boutiques or galleries, you can approach those retailers first since they already know you and are familiar with the quality of your work. If you’re approaching outlets that don’t currently carry your jewelry designs, this is a great way to establish a relationship with the store so they’ll be interested in marketing your jewelry in the future.
Always approach store owners/space managers in a professional manner, using a professionally designed brochure and business card – along with samples of your work and price lists. If the folks you approach don’t already know about how trunk shows are done, explain the benefits to them and help them understand that it’s a win-win proposition. If they’re reluctant, you can consider a 50/50 split on commission rates. Hopefully, though, most places will agree to something more in your favor, like the more typical 60/40 or 70/30 split. It’s always negotiable, but be sure to discuss and agree before a date is set for the show.
The store or gallery hosting your trunk show is normally responsible for publicizing and promoting your show; the best practice is a mailing or postcard advertising the opportunity to meet the designer and see all their newest creations. You should give the shop owner a CD with high quality digital photos of your jewelry designs, so they can include those in the mailing. Also don’t forget to e-mail your own current customers about the upcoming show!
How many times do you get the chance to display your jewelry to a targeted audience of customers? This will give you an opportunity to connect directly with the jewelry buying public and get feedback on your jewelry line, as well as find out what they are looking for. Trunk shows are usually set up in the front of the store's entrance in order to attract the attention of customers as they enter the store. You'll want to have an eye catching, professional display of your jewelry designs along with any relevant literature about your business and a prominently displayed business card. If the store agrees, you can also display an email sign up book to collect email addresses for future marketing campaigns. Be sure to dress professionally and be ready to answer questions in a helpful and friendly manner.
You'll want to pay particular attention to what customers at your show look at or purchase. This can help you to determine local jewelry trends and can help you decide what future adjustments you need to make to your jewelry designs. Plus, if you'll be pursuing a wholesale or consignment arrangement with this store in the future, you'll want to know what items will move best in their particular store. A trunk show can be a valuable research and learning experience, and has the potential to open up new markets for your handmade jewelry designs. If you haven’t already done it, why not give it a try? And please let us know how it works out by commenting here!
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Until Next Time,