I will be one of the vendors/demonstrators at the Trunk Show this weekend. This is the only public show left that I do, as I approach a sales venue with a fair amount of trepidation. I really don’t care for selling direct, as I find it difficult not to take even casual comments deeply personally. I can intellectualize that comments about the beads are not comments about me, my taste, or my skill level. I can understand that “fiscal responsibility” (even if it is not a trait I personally possess!) is a balancing act – some times you might love something but be unwilling to fore go paying the phone bill! I seldom have anyone say anything deliberately mean to me – but sometimes the offhand comments sting like crazy.
I know, from talking to other bead makers and jewelry makers that when it comes selling – I am most certainly not alone in feeling this way. The stings and barbs of offhand, or deliberate, criticism – or just the dread of it – can take the fun out of doing shows for lots of people. What if people don’t like your work? What if they say it’s too expensive? What if they say it looks cheap or badly made? What do you say when someone points to your work and tells their friend – “I can do that for half the price?” It’s not socially acceptable to drag them out back and quietly strangle them – no matter how tempting that might sound. The person who asks “How long does it take to make that?” may be genuinely interested – but boy, you can’t help feeling that they are trying to figure out how you got the nerve to charge so much!
If you are going to do shows and sell your work – this is just one of the things you have to learn to cope with. If it doesn’t bother you at all – you can count yourself as a very, very lucky person. Go for it – sell up a storm. If it bothers you, well, you need a strategy and some coping mechanisms.
Plan out your answers to those questions. Rehearse them before hand. Strategize with friends – what’s your best answer to . . . ? Remember – being sarcastic, nasty or rude will not translate into sales – unless you are maybe selling whips and leather goods.
Learn how to price your wares – so that you do not feel defensive – you know that you are perfectly justified in your pricing and need not excuse your decisions to anyone. (May I respectfully suggest either taking Catherine Winters’ class on pricing and or getting her book?)
And finally, if worse comes to worse, hire someone to work in your booth with you. Take a friend, load them up with your jewelry, buy them lunch, give them money, and let them field the questions. They aren’t going to feel personally insulted – they will see the questions for what they are – expressions of interest and the invitation to start a dialogue that can lead to a sale. They aren’t emotionally involved in the work the way you are. This is my approach.
However, I LOVE doing the demos – I love to show people how magical beadmaking is, and how incredibly fabulous the glass is. Some people hate having people watching them while they work – I love it. I love it when someone is as captured by the glass as I am – they are drawn in to the heat and melting and the flowing. They catch that sense of wonder and they want more!
So – come on down Saturday, come see all the pretty beads. We have a wide range – from dainty florals to dog bones! I will have beads for sale in one room – but I will be demoing in the other. If you want to ask me questions – you’ll need to find me at the torch! Where I will happily answer any question you have. Including, I promise, “How long did it take you to make that?” 😉