Let’s face it: Women are always looking for an excuse to get together and throw a party!
A few years ago, I was invited by a colleague to a handmade jewelry party hosted by her friends. The timing was perfect, because I wanted to throw my own handmade jewelry party, but wasn't sure how to get started. It was a great opportunity to soak up some insight from seasoned professionals. Now that I've hosted some of my own, I’ve learned that jewelry parties are a great alternative to selling at art festivals or craft fairs. Guests come to see your work, so you won’t get lost in the competition at the big shows. Jewelry parties are not only great for building relationships, they are also lucrative: I have made as much as $1,200 at my own parties.
From my experience both as a guest and a host, here are my top 10 tips (in no particular order) for throwing a fun and profitable jewelry party:
1. Be Prepared – Send invites out about a month in advance. I like to use Evite.com, a free online invitation service with a variety of templates. You can incorporate a product image, as well as your website in the invitation. Guests can RSVP to Evite.com, making it easier to keep track of numbers - it even sends reminders to guests before the event. Don’t get me wrong, traditional paper invitations are also a charming option! Use whatever works for you.
Typically, I invite 30-35 people to an event, ranging from close friends and family to work colleagues. I also encourage everyone to bring a friend. The events last a few hours, and I recommend hosting them on weeknights or Sunday afternoons.
On the day of the event, make sure that all of your jewelry is displayed before people arrive. Guests should be able to walk through the front door straight to your items without waiting for you to set up. It also helps to designate a specific area for them to pay and be cashed out.
2. Stock up. You can only sell as much supply as you have, so be prepared with lots of variety. Don’t walk away from a jewelry party regretting that you could have sold more if you only had more in stock. As a general rule, I aim to stock 3 to 5 pieces of jewelry per guest. I have a higher volume of earrings than necklaces, bracelets, or rings because they sell more frequently.
3. Create great displays and spread them out. Make your displays visually appealing. I organize each display around a theme such as color, style, or stone. This makes it easier for people who like a particular genre to pair items together, which means more sales for you! Remember, your displays are just as much a reflection of you as your jewelry designs.
Avoid putting all your items on one table if possible; spread things out so people can browse and breathe. I try to place displays around different rooms, using coffee tables, end tables and book shelves to provide different perspectives and lighting. Try different props – some pieces may look great laid out on a fun table runner; others might look great hanging off a vase.
Also, avoid clutter – don’t put so much jewelry out that the pieces overlap. We’ve all had the department store experience of fighting with a rack of clothing stocked with too many items – you give up looking because you are irritated by the chaos. Here is some more inspiration for how to display your handmade jewelry.
4. Go vertical with your displays. Jewelry sales increase exponentially when you bring the items closer to the customer’s eye level. You can get inventive with this without breaking the bank. I used a three-tiered cake rack to display earrings at a local art festival. I’ve seen displays ranging from painted tree branches to a funky metal statue that a friend purchased at the local Goodwill store. The sky is the limit!
I love the WallFlower displays made by Shelley Schott. Shelley’s store Paisley Mill sells jewelry frames in different sizes and styles, made to display a variety of accessories. She will also customize the frames: you pick the color and select between silver or black mesh for the center. As an added bonus, these can double up for your personal jewelry storage as well! Cha Ching!!
I also like the metal rack displays sold on Fire Mountain Gems – they are affordable and spice up the look of your displays by adding dimension. These displays are available in different heights, which will allow you to feature pieces of various lengths, from earrings to necklaces to bracelets. Play around with your displays and make them creative, just don’t lay everything flat – it’s too B-O-R-I-N-G!
5. Don’t forget mirrors. People want to see what the jewelry looks like on them. Have mirrors positioned throughout the venue to make it as easy as possible.
6. Recruit your friends. Designate a friend to be your cashier - this will free you up to answer questions and mingle. Have that friend record your sales in a receipt book, along with who made the purchases so you can thank your customers later. Designate a second friend to tidy the displays throughout the event. People tend to pick items up and move them around or leave plates and glasses out. It helps to have someone on the lookout making sure your displays look presentable for the next guest that comes along. I let my friends pick out a pair of earrings as a thank-you for helping out.
7. Come prepared with small bills and business cards. Come to the party with a variety of change; I usually bring about $100, with $1-dollar bills, fives, tens, and twenties to make change. Also, bring business cards to help spread the word and provide bags or boxes so customers have something to carry their purchases home in.
8. Go custom. Often guests will be inspired by a certain piece of jewelry, but would like a variation in color, size, or materials. If the product is easy to make, do it during the party. People love to customize their selections, so why not make them happy and make additional money while you are at it? If the piece is too complicated to make at the party, ask if they would be interested in having you make the piece later and send it to them. People love to influence the pieces that they buy. It makes their purchases more personal and ignites new ideas for you. It also provides a talking point for guests.
9. Supply good food and drinks. The more comfortable guests are, the longer they will linger. We all know everyone is happier on a full stomach! I keep the menu simple and informal. Typically, I provide drinks (wine, soda, lemonade) along with appetizers (such as bruschetta with tomato and basil, cowboy caviar with chips, veggies with hummus, and cheese with crackers) and top it off with a fun dessert (you can’t go wrong with Barefoot Contessa’s coconut cupcakes). I lay the food out on a table, buffet style, and invite guests to help themselves. If dealing with the food is too overwhelming, I find that friends are more than willing to bring along an appetizer or food.
10. Keep it relaxed. I try to spend most of my time focused on the guests and making sure they are taken care of. If you keep the focus of a jewelry party on having a good time, sales will come. The last thing people need is a salesperson breathing down their neck, so give guests some space and make the environment as casual and comfortable as possible. Be available for questions, be social and encourage guests to try the jewelry on. If someone asks for suggestions or feedback, jump on the opportunity but don’t pressure them to buy!
If your friends or family are hosting a home jewelry party on your behalf, then more power to you! Amber Nash provides some valuable advice in the following article, Throw a Unique and Memorable Jewelry Party, for jewelry parties hosted by others.