3 Reasons Artists Should Go to Gem, Mineral and Bead Shows, Even if you Don’t Make Jewelry

 This may sound like crazy advise, but even if the art you create has nothing to do with beads, gemstones or precious metal, you are shortchanging yourself and your business if you don’t attend a bead show this season. Ideally, you should visit a major show like the Tucson Gem Shows, but if you can’t travel to Arizona, there are likely smaller gem shows within a few hours of your home.

Here’s why you must attend a gem show:

Inspiration:

Even though I seldom make jewelry anymore, I get inspired to do other creative projects every time I walk a gem show. You can’t see all those colors, textures and shapes without a burst of new ideas.

Trends:

Whether you create sculpture, wearables, fiber art or wall art, you need to be current on trends and any trade show will give you an overview of what’s happening in fashion, home and lifestyle. Even if you make vintage crafts, you MUST be up on popular colors and styles.

Original VS Knockoff:

For years I sold venetian art glass and beads handmade on the island of Murano in Italy. If I didn’t attend mainstream tradeshows, I’d have no idea that thousands of vendors now sell what they call “Murano glass” which is factory-made in China and looks to the untrained eye like the real thing. I wouldn’t have known why my sales of venetain glass slowed down and people thought the prices of the handmade pieces were outrageous. Learning that what you make is being knocked off for a much lower price doesn’t mean you should stop making that item, only that you must be sure your creations are different enough from the copies to warrant the much higher price. And, you should make sure that you or anyone wearing or selling your work knows your personal story and why your work is special and commands a higher price. (The designer whose venetian glass jewelry I sold had been an opera singer and her story was part of the intrigue. See “why your art needs a story” HERE. )

Gem shows are also a source of connection with other artists in different media. I’ve never attended a bead show that didn’t include vendors other than gems and jewelry. As is the case anywhere you assemble artists, you’ll find a high level of creative energy and opportunity to learn and network with like-minded people. And if those aren’t reasons enough, you’ll have good, clean FUN. Go play.

Creating More Meaning in your Work

Cathedral Rock TenThe late Anita Roddick knew “if you can create an honorable livelihood, where you take your skills and use them to earn a living, it gives you a sense of freedom and allows you to balance your life the way you want. ” As founder of The Body Shop, she created a business that was  wildly profitable while remaining socially responsible.

There are many ways to make a difference and they don’t have to be limited to volunteer or non-profits. If you’re like many of us, you dream of doing something more meaningful and making an impact but you do still need to earn a living.

As  social media specialist Jeff Korhan noted in his lawnandlandscape.com post yesterday,  “Social entrepreneurship isn’t philanthropy. It is augmenting your business model to include social needs alongside traditional profit needs.” Contrary to the beliefs of so many aspiring entrepreneurs, it’s not only OK to make a solid income from a socially responsible business, but your business is more likely to make an long term impact if your company is profitable. If you are continually worrying about adequate charitable donations to drive change, you aren’t going to be able to focus on the greater good.

If you’re searching for a way to create more meaning in your work, check out  the upcoming Inspired Livelihood workshop in beautiful Sedona, Arizona with Barbara Winter and Alice Barry, where you’ll learn how you can make a living and make a change in society.

Are you Missing these Opportunities to Sell Your Crafts in January?

This post was originally published two years ago today but is every bit as relevant today.

By now you are likely back to work after the holidays. I hope you enjoyed time with family and friends or just relished some quiet solitude, if that’s what you desired.

“Back to work” has a different meaning when you’re self employed, particularly if you love what you do and where you do it. If you are in an area of the country experiencing winter storms, you’re probably feeling extra grateful that you don’t have to bundle up and scrape the ice off your windshield before you brave the icy roads for your longer than usual commute. This morning as the airwaves buzzed with school closures, traffic delays and treacherous road conditions, I sure appreciated my self employed status. If you already work from home, is your business meeting your financial expectations? Are you finding your work fulfilling? How are you dealing with potential isolation?

Maybe you are still working for someone else but have promised yourself that 2010 is the year you’ll break free and start your own business.

Whether you’re looking for ways to supplement your income, increase the volume you are already doing in your business or just starting out, January is the time to map out your immediate and long term business strategies.

What are you doing right now, this week to ensure that you will have income this month?

If you’re thinking that people are not spending after the holidays, you’re missing out. Whether you sell a tangible product, information or service, January can be a strong month if you stay open to thinking differently about your potential clients or customers.

Think about all the people who receive cash gifts for Christmas! They may have been eyeing that handmade piece you showcased in December but were in the giving rather than “self-gifting” mindset before the holidays. Now, they have “me” money but unless you remind them you are still out there making fabulous stuff, that money won’t find it’s way to you.

What about the people whose new year’s resolutions involve eating healthfully or learning a new skill? Now is a better time than pre-holiday to market your personal chef, fitness training or voice coaching services. Let’s say you teach macrobiotic cooking or  jewelry making or sell supplies? Both the recipient of cash gifts and the new student are your potential customers.

There are also a number of little known holidays in January. Just google “January holidays” and you’ll find that today is National Bird Day. Who knew?  I have no idea who comes up with these fairly obscure days of celebration but had you known this earlier and planned ahead, you could have arranged a show and sale of your handmade bird ornaments or bluebird earrings at the Audubon club.

Think of what you could have done had you known that tomorrow is Dia de Reyes.  Tonight, January 5,  figurines of the Three Wise Men are added to the nativity scene. Before bed, Mexican children place their old shoes under their beds, where the Wise Men will leave them presents.

Next week is Japanese Coming of Age Day and the 24th is the Anniversary of Gold Discovery Day in California. (1848). My head is spinning with ideas for marketing your creative services and handmade crafts on those and other January holidays like Chinese New Years and Australia Day, both Jan. 26th. If you’re asking yourself what those  celebrations have to do with you, have you forgotten that you are reading this on the “world wide web”? As my friend Barbara Winter says, “your clientele is no longer limited by geography.” So, go explore what’s being celebrated in your neighborhood and around the world. Rather than thinking you’re too late for Christmas, you’ll find you’re early for some creative offerings or craft selling opportunities. What are you doing now to ensure you’ll have cash flow next month?