So for any of you who have their own business, you know that taking the next big step, whether it's taking classes, investing in equipment, having your website updated, whatever, can be a bit overwhelming. I have the procrastination gene, where my motto can sometime be " Why worry about it today, when you can worry about it tomorrow?" For those of you who have a similar affliction, I recommend highly taking a big step that actually has a date attached to it. For me it was the NEW ENGLAND MADE Wholesale Trade Show, in Portland, ME. I have a few, loyal wholesale accounts that I pretty much stumbled into, and have toyed with the idea of expanding my wholesale business for a while. Trust me, spending every weekend under a 10 x 10 tent is not my idea of heaven, and I thought a little wholesale business might allow me to be more particular with the craft shows I actually do participate in.
Above is a picture of my wholesale booth. My intent was a clean look - mARTini Jewels uses only sterling silver and 14K gold fill from recycled resources, and so I wanted to play up that aspect of my jewelry, without the shabby chic that can sometimes accompany recycled. I had looked into pedestals with bamboo boards, and just the pedestals online were $600! Yikes! I went to the ReStore and found the perfect item. ReStore, if you're not familiar, is a retail shop where people donate new and used construction items; sales benefit Habitat for Humanity. The panels above are cabinet doors with a thick, hardwood frame, we painted the insides of the panel burgundy and organized the jewelry with velcro dots. Oh, and by the way, they cost $5.00 each. My husband crafted the hangars at the metalsmithing class he attends, and voila! I was in business.
Pro's of wholesale: you only have to make one of everything. Shops order from that sample, and then you actually know what to make, and not hope you're making all the right items. Con's: Everything needs to be able to be re-ordered, so you need to know that you can get the supplies, know your "recipe" for making the item, and then having a style number for all of your items. I now know more about line sheets and order forms than I ever thought possible.
So, now that the show is over, what were the results?
Well, first of all, the show is a smaller market, and so my booth looked fine for Portland. Not so sure I could go to the Atlanta show with the same booth, but I held my own and then some compared to other new booths, and some veteran booths as well. I got lots of leads and about 9 new orders right at the show. Considering that if I were doing retail craft shows only, my season wouldn't have even started yet, not bad! Hopefully, I'll cultivate these relationships, get some reorders, add a few more accounts, and before you know it, I may actually get to see my family on weekends.
I'll finish with a joke I just read:
A doctor, a mechanic, and a potter win a multimillion dollar lottery.
When asked what he would do with the millions he had won, the doctor replied, "I'm going to buy and island, retire, and get some sun."
When asked the same question, the mechanic replied, "I'm going to close my shop, buy a Ferrari, a gigantic house, and travel."
And finally, to the same question, the potter replied, "I'm going to keep making pots until the money runs out."
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