Thursday, December 28, 2006

More....

Steerhead Wall Art



I wanted to post a picture or two of the steerhead wall pieces I like to make. I buy frames from flea markets, secondhand shops and other like institutions and back them with masonite and paper, then attach the steerheads and finish with acrylic paint. The story behind them is that about 17 years ago I was teaching high school art in a small east Texas town and there came a day when we needed to decorate our door for an alma mater contest. Being a Longhorn, the inspiration for the steerheads was born and we won the contest. Not wanting to throw away the precious little creations I decided to make them into a large wall piece for my dad for Christmas, so I did. The original is still around and hanging at my sister's house and of course is not for sale. I sold out of my small wall pieces at the recent show, but have a stack of frames and steerheads ready for new constructions. They are made with one to fifteen steerheads.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Our Bazaar Experience



The bazaar is over, has been for a couple of weeks now, and we were very pleased, selling more than twice what we sold last year, and continuing to sell for Christmas via the website. Since this is all new for us, the show once again was a learning experience as we figured out what works and what doesn't. We had several returning customers, and all but one of them (and she promised a buy through the website once she knew a bracelet length) bought again. One customer even told us we were the next James Avery! I took that as a compliment, but I doubt that will happen--it isn't our view of our direction anyway. We got over our jitters (I did at least) about the prices on our jewelry, too.

One new thing we did this year came as a result of a request for a door prize donation. The $10 gift certificate we gave the bazaar coordinator resulted in our giving away the same coupon to anyone who bought something (they'd get 2 if they bought 2 pieces, and so on), and we also had an hourly drawing. In exchange for an email address, we gave a chance to win a $10 coupon. We got a smattering of emails that way; some people don't like giving them out but those who liked our wares didn't seem to mind at all. They especially liked writing with the cute jingle-jingle pens we found at Walgreens! Ah, Christmas! And of course, the chocolate-covered peppermint sticks (at Hobby Lobby, remember, folks?) were a big hit again. In summary, we plan to continue the gift certificate angle.

Lisa made some pretty Christmas necklaces; the ones with czech beads were very popular and we just about sold out of them. We will continue to have Christmas jewelry from now on--we did not last year. We also added the longhorn wall art this year. I sold all of the small ones: the purchasers understood them, and that is why they will continue to sell. I guess that's the essence of all sales of art and/or craft: the stuff will speak to a buyer, and they will just have to have it. We think the wall art is unique.

Our approach to sales was the biggest revelation for us. The first day we just didn't sell much at all, and we were kicking ourselves for coming back to the bazaar: last year just wasn't that great, we thought, and no one wanted to pay our prices. But we didn't expect Saturday! Friday, folks came out to buy the season's decorations, but Saturday they were buying gifts, and they bought jewelry. They bought jewelry! And they kept buying jewelry. Part of what made the change happen, I am convinced, is our approach to selling. We decided that at the moment someone looked at, touched, smelled, or otherwise engaged with one of our pieces, we would dive in with the name of the piece, what every component was, how it was assembled, how long we spent making it....in essence, we were telling the stories of the pieces of jewelry, and that helped people understand our pricing. It also showed them how much we love what we do, opened their eyes to our unique qualities, and hopefully for those who didn't buy this year, paved the way for many to look for us in 2007. Many returnees this year told us that they were hoping we would be there, and it pleased us to hear that!

What's left? Continuous tidying of the jewelry, and finding pleasing groupings. We found that bracelets looked good lying on top of our customized (tan) boxes, and incorporating a fluorescent lamp brought color and sparkle to the fore. Next year we are planning some corner shelving, and will expand to another table with all the wall art we will have. The grid Mike got us from the dealership was great for hanging those along with our framed company sign so we will continue to use that. We also got all of our boxes ready, with accompanying paraphenalia we like to give out, so that we didn't get all bumble-fingered with each sale. And we learned to never sit down.

That is about all that's necessary to shake out of the 'bazaar' experience for this year. Talk about the work, don't clutter the table, and be true to the vision. And enjoy the season! Said the young Grinch, "Oh, Christmas!"