Friday, April 12, 2013

Jewelry Booth Progression

The spring show season has definitely gotten underway and many of us are sprucing up our booth displays prior to our first shows of the season.  I made some big changes this year and that got me to thinking about how my booth has evolved over the years.

I first started selling my jewelry in the staff room at the elementary school where I taught, but in 2001 I launched out to our small town's equally small farmers market.  I have to chuckle looking back on those booth set-ups, as well as my early jewelry-making attempts.

Dig the cloth napkin covering a wood shelf that I propped up on a book to give it a little height!  The crushed velvet table cover is a nice touch too!  Ha!

I was always one of the highest selling booths at the farmers market--but I had to keep almost everything under $15 or it wouldn't sell at all.  Simple stretch bracelets, sold for pocket change, was the best I could manage to sell in this venue.

After a couple of summers sizzling at the farmers market all day, I bundled up all the courage I had and applied to an art show that raised money for the art gallery of the local community college.  My booth set-up wasn't much more sophisticated, but I could sell somewhat more expensive pieces and my design sense was improving too.

Same crushed velvet cloth, but I added a few props.  There is still no cohesive look or theme.

I did a bunch of church bazaars and such also, but eventually, I landed my work in a gallery in a neighboring university town.  This helped me set my sights a little higher. With the advantage of a more moneyed and diverse crowd at the gallery, my confidence grew and my jewelry reflected that growth.

In 2006 we moved to western Washington state.  It took awhile to get my bearings again jewelry-wise.  I knew by this time that church bazaars and farmers markets were not a good setting for my work, but I wasn't familiar with the shows and opportunities in my new hometown.  The state history museum sponsored a holiday jewelry show the second year we lived here.  I did well, but felt ashamed of my display, when I looked around at everyone else's.  So the profits from that show went into an booth upgrade.

The next holiday season, I screwed up my courage again and applied for my first art show that was juried by a panel, instead of just one person. I was accepted and I knew that my booth had to look polished and professional for this venue.

As you can see, I got a black knit-type material (it was actually intended for bathing suits) and had a table covering made.  I can throw it in a box between shows and it never wrinkles, but it cost a small fortune.  I purchased some risers, some bracelet bars and new, much nicer quality necklace busts. Then I designed matching business cards and earring cards in my signature colors. I have participated in this show every year except one, ever since.

Two summers ago I was juried into my first outdoor show.  I had a lot of anxiety about this one.  It was a fundraiser for an organization that provides housing for women and families in transition.  A great cause,but it was clearly the fanciest event I'd ever vended at. It cost $60 a ticket just to attend (not the venders, but for the guests).  It was a catered affair, with live entertainment, and an auction.   So I brought along a friend for emotional support and help.

I had a 10'x10' space; the most room I'd ever had before.  There was room for 3 tables. My display was a bit sparse, when spread out over this much space, but it was OK. At this point I had bought 3 white wooden trays (see below), which allowed some of my jewelry to be set against a lighter background. The clear plastic risers and gray bracelet ramps were purchased from a department store that went out of business.  I went back to this outdoor event the next year and was no longer nervous!

In the meantime my design aesthetic had been changing.  My jewelry had become more rustic, rather than traditionally "pretty".  My jewelry might be described now, as boho, with a touch of whimsy.  My display, while nice, was very formal and a bit sterile, I thought.  I wanted to warm it up and bring it into alignment with the work I am currently producing.

I am in a transitioning stage now.  Last month a did a small local show and my display shows some of the changes I am starting to make.  The rustic wooden boxes turned on their side (see below), look like vintage finds, but they are actually faux vintage.  I got them at a local department store called Fred Meyers, (I think it is just west of the Rockies).  I liked these boxes so much that I later bought 2 more.  When a fine crafts store in Tacoma, WA closed down, I bought several of their jewelry displays, one of which is standing to the left of the "vintage" boxes.  At the foot of the earring display is a half round of cedar bark, that I had leftover from when I used to weave baskets.  It turned out to be a great way to display my necklaces.

I lined my white wooden trays with some rustic fabric, as seen above, but eventually I plan to paint them to match the rustic boxes I got at Fred Meyers. To the right of the white box (see below), I made good use of a shallow woven basket I had. 

 I got the mannequin (below) at that fine crafts store that was going out of business. I think she added a lot to my display, and tended to catch the attention of potential customers.

Its been quite a journey and I have more ideas that I want to implement in the next year or so. The goal is to develop a kind of personal brand identity.  I want my rustic jewelry to be paired with a rustic booth display, with business cards, earring cards and packaging that reflects the same sensibility.  I'm not there yet, but I'm moving along in the right direction.

How has your booth display evolved over time?  What have you learned along the way?

Linda Landig
Linda Landig Jewelry


  1. Great post. So interesting to see how you have evolved. Those boxes are great. I love your mannequin!! I can sure identify with those early set ups. I only do one set up show a year now and that is our annual Studio Tour. I have been using the same set up for awhile and think I will change it some this year. I think it is important to continue changing your set up so that repeat customers are also draw in to your table and to keep it interesting for yourself as well.

    1. You make an good point about tweaking your setup to keep it interesting for repeat customers. I hadn't thought of it from that perspective before. Thanks.

  2. Thanks for sharing the evolution of your booth. This is something I desperately need to work on and you've given some great ideas. Christie

    1. I'm glad you found some helpful ideas in this post!

  3. Love the progression of your booth space! Love those trays too! Thanks for sharing.

    1. The trays are from Michaels. I grabbed them when they were on sale.

  4. Thanks for showing us your amazing display transformation! Mine is in desperate need of update, but since I have no upcoming shows on the horizon, it will wait! I think they should always be a work in progress, especially when your design sensibilities are as well!

  5. This was a very interesting post, particularly showing the progression of your displays. Very helpful! This is an area of my business that I am really trying to focus on and bring about some change. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Thanks for this post and all of the pics. Love the direction you're moving toward with your display. Never really thought that much about style of booth, just functionality - so my work shows up. Will have to reconsider that sort of thinkg. Thanks again!

  7. Thanks for the post. I love to read about the "behind the scenes" stuff. The more I read blogs about everything that goes in to jewelry designers' efforts, the more and more respect I have for you beyond your design talent. You have to know about display and merchandising and social media and PR and packaging and I don't know what all on top of being good designers. Wow.

    1. You are so right, Ann! There is so much one has to learn about in order to be successful in selling handmade work! One of the reasons I love AJE is all the behind the scenes looks are how jewelry components are handmade with glass, polymer clay, metal clay and metalsmithing. Each process is different and fascinating. So cool!

  8. Your table fabric made me have an ah ha moment. I think it's brillient to use fabric that won't wrinkle. I think the table cloth is really the foundation of the display and I always fret over wrinkles. So, I'll be checking the fabric stores for this type of fabric. It's worth the expense, especially to set the tone and image.
    My booth has had many changes. One thing that I learned is to have display items that aren't heavy. A few years ago, I had the bright idea to use crates as my display at the farmers market. They look wonderful and appropriate for the market, but oh my they sure get heavy to haul around, especially in the August heat. I also found that I needed something less bulky for my vehicle. Those crates would fill my vehicle very quickly.
    I'm still redesigning, as I think we all do. I'm always in search of light weight, folding foundation pieces.
    One thing I'm really considering is a display that has a focal, like your manikin. Something that the shopper will say to themselves 'Hey! What's that?' I have just bought a bright pink bird cage to hang. But I don't want people asking about the display items. I want them to ask about the jewelry. There is always a fine line, eh?!
    Thank you,Linda for sharing your evolution of your setup. It has been very helpful and I appreciate your time to post this information. Good luck and much continued success to you.

  9. What an informative post. Very timely for me. I'm doing two shows this year, and for the first time will need a booth, so I lingered over every word. Fun to see your booth and artistry evolve! I stopped in a store last week-end that was closing its doors and had 2 mannequins for sale. I should hop in the car and see if they're still available - yours really makes an impact!

  10. I am just plain blown away at the progression of your booths.


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