Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Truth In Advertising

final booth 1

Wow... I hardly know where to begin.

The past 6 days have been an absolute roller coaster of emotions.

Rather than give you a play by play of each day of the show, and try to put a positive spin on things, I feel compelled to be completely honest... I just have to say it... after months of preparing, the show just plain sucked. There you have it. I don't want to look back on this as a totally negative experience and I know I can't just leave it at "it sucked", you need to know where that is coming from. The idea of this show in my hopes and dreams over the past several years verses what I actually experienced have left me feeling completely drained and utterly disappointed.

You might want to pour yourself a drink and grab a snack... this one is a doozie.

final booth 2

To start, let's get the money thing out of the way. I don't want to focus too much on sales, but I want to be realistic about the results of the show. Anyone that has met me in person knows I will pretty much share anything. I don't sugar coat much. So, let's just get this over with. I invested nearly $6000 to be in this show. That doesn't include the cost of the materials to create the jewelry, only booth fee, display costs, travel expenses, and show what nots. I had sales totalling just under $4000. That means I paid triple what I would to participate in a local (Rochester) two day show and made less than what I usually do. Yes, my sales were a big disappointment. The rational part of me knows that it wasn't my work, my work ROCKS! and I know thatyou hundreds and hundreds of amazing people that follow my blog are chomping at the bit to have new work posted. (Thank you for your emails telling me so!!) So, I am hopeful to make up the loss, but... this experience was supposed to be about so much more than just the sales.

final booth 3
final booth 6

What is the most disappointing for me was to discover over the four days that the show was absolutely NOT what was sold to me in the prospectus or through reviews online. It was not a Fine Art Show, it was a street show indoors without the fried dough. Period, end of story. Okay, I take that back... that isn't the end of the story, obviously. For me this was going to be about finally standing side by side with the best of the best. I thought my work, both in jewelry form and in the form of everything I have worked so hard to do to get to this place, was going to be recognized. And it wasn't. I felt like a single cow in a herd of cattle. No different from the rest. Sure, my coat might have been shinier and my fur pattern pretty, so to speak, but I was still just one of many and felt completely overlooked.

I took this paragraph from the OOAK Show website on the page for exhibiting at the show. This is an idea of what I thought I was in for...

"The One of a Kind Show is an extraordinary holiday shopping event featuring fine art and craft from a juried selection of North America’s most talented artists. The 4-day show provides an outstanding opportunity for exhibiting artists to sell to thousands of highly qualified and enthusiastic shoppers in an ideal location and premium environment."

First of all, I was shocked to learn that many of the artists exhibiting at the show are NOT juried in. Wait, let me correct that, they were juried in once, possibly 10 years ago, and since then have been able to place a deposit on the last day of the show and return the following year without being re-juried. There was a meeting on Friday morning where artists were informed this would be changing and everyone would be juried for 2012. The uproar was so great that show organizers retracted that decision... except for jewelers. The jewelry category will now be juried annually. No wonder I was wait listed for 3 years, with everyone buying their spot for the next year, it is impossible to get in. I was given an "intent to return" form which would have given me preferential treatment should my slides be approved. As you can probably guess, I did not turn it in to the Artist Services desk.

final booth 4

Without completely disrespecting the crafters showing their wears, I want to say, personally, I do not consider the following "fine art and craft"... silk screened t-shirts, belt buckles made in China with fabric glued on, rocks with a piece of wire stuck in them so the rock looks like a duck, and homemade cookies. And those were the types of things just in my aisle. So much of what was at this show was NOT handmade (even the homemade cookies). And as my friend Lindsey put it so well in a comforting text message to me... I'm sure both the woman selling $5000 gold jewelry and the man selling $30 silk screened t-shirts were frustrated that the other was there. To top it off, my booth was directly across from a show sponsor. The sponsor was a corporation selling "French skincare products and beauty beverages". The women, dressed in black from bead to toe, were so aggressively selling their mango juice at the special show price of $29 for 4 bottles that people were literally using my booth as a quick pass through to get around and away from the crowd waiting for samples. Frankly, it was insulting.

As for those thousands of "highly qualified and enthusiastic shoppers", I have a few thoughts on that as well. First, the size of the show is so massive with over 600 vendors that the people attending were like deer caught in headlights. It was just too much to take in. People stop in a booth only to wonder what the next booth holds and the next and the next and the next... and then can't remember where they saw what. The ones that did stop and browse my work were incredibly kind and full of wonderfully uplifting compliments. They really made it easy to maintain a smile and continue to repeat, for hour after hour, that "I hand make each and every bead you see and each design is unique." Sadly, I heard more often than not that the person was shopping for this person or that person and they weren't sure if she liked colorful things. I'm not like the saleswoman at the booth opposite me, I won't try to convince someone to buy something they don't love. Maybe my salesmanship is lacking, but I just can't represent myself in that way. The mix of people attending was as broad as those exhibiting. I saw older women wearing full length fur coats and I saw over weight women wearing acid washed jeans with cropped tops that had no front teeth. I am not in anyway knocking any of the people I saw... just putting out there they range of people attending.

final booth 7

To say this weekend was an eye opening learning experience feels like a vast understatement. I wouldn't be who I am if I didn't try to find the bright side to all this, though. So here is what I am going to hold close to my heart when I look back on this experience...

* I got to spend the first two days of the show with an awesome, awesome person. Bev! I can't thank you enough for your support and I hope you know just how much having you with me meant to me. I am a better person for knowing you.

* I never would have pushed myself the way I did, creatively, if it weren't for this show. I created more than 250 pieces of jewelry I am proud of in just 6 weeks. That is really saying something.

* I had been feeling for a long time that I was torn between two worlds... teaching and showing. I know now just which path I should focus on. I have never had a teaching experience I didn't love... I have had show experiences I never want to have again... why didn't I realize this sooner?!

* Oh how my friends love me. I was sent text messages and emails of encouragement and support that will stay in my inbox as visible reminders of just how lucky I am. I love and thank each of you... you know who you are.

* I spent Friday to Monday with my sister. We haven't slept in the same room since we were kids. I loved having her with me. I know it was a physically demanding weekend for her, and being there was difficult in more ways than one. Bonnie, there isn't another person in the world I would have rather spent that time with. Thank you, and I love you.

On that tear producing note, I plan to spend the next couple of days continuing to process everything and recover. I feel a little raw right now... I know it won't last... I'll be fine with some rest. This is the most wonderful time of the year and I plan to make the most of it with my family. I came home to a house covered in handmade snowflakes! There is a little girl here revelling in the magic of the season and I am going to feed off that. There is so much Momma-making to be done before the 24th!! I can't wait to get started. And as I make lots of love infused goodies for the family, I'll be updating my website with all the jewelry goodness I have to brighten your holidays too. Each and every piece is filled with love, people. And hey... all you need is love... right?

howdy neighbor

42 comments:

amy said...

the booth looks amazing. your jewels look amazing. You did good. I'm so sorry for the show but now you know your path and that's important. I can't wait to see that jewelry on your site!

koko said...

Oh Kerry, I know you don't know me, but I've been reading and giddily waiting to read a happy report about the show. I'm so sorry you were so disappointed by it. You amaze me in your search for the silver lining, though. I wish for you a happy, peaceful, love-filled holiday season with your family and friends.

pam ferrari said...

Your jewelry is a gorgeous. Your booth looked amazing. Sorry your sales were down. Hope you have a wonderful Holiday with your family.

Shirley said...

As I go thru the bumps in life, I pray I will remember your awesome take on what could have been a very bitter situation. Not that it wasn't hard, but your wonderful outlook on finding the positive is truly priceless.
There are many types of shows, competitions, galleries, etc. that tout themselves as being for the high style, discriminating clientele. Your work is stunningly beautiful, creatively designed, and makes one feel so well loved. I just don't think those folks deserve to be blessed by your works. Call me selfish. But those are the people who think the horrible creations on Project Accessory are awesome! Seriously.
So, I'm glad that teaching brings you such joy, because you make everyone better when you share yourself. Hugs, and Blessings of this Season!

Annie said...

Your work is lovely, I'm sorry the show was a disappointment!

Bad planning and bad curating of a craft show is SO wrong when folks put a great deal of time and money into their own items. It must have been so annoying.

Rag and Stone said...

Holy cow. All I have to say is, good for you Kerry. Shows are so creatively demanding, and really do push you to be better.....at whatever it is you need to be better at. Your space is gorgeous, and so is your work. I can't tell you how my heart breaks to hear it is not what was promised, nor what should be expected from something called a "ONE OF A KIND" show. Cheers to the bright side, and the wonderful holiday season ahead!

Anonymous said...

You are fabulous no matter what!! I love that you are on a teaching path though---I think it feels right...
Kim (Texas)

Maybe Another Time said...

Kerry you have nothing to worry about, your work is stunning and unique...your returning customers know that!
Enjoy your time with your family over the Christmas period and look forward to the new year. I have 3 over excited children waiting for the big man in red! Warmest Wishes
Gill in the UK.
http://www.etsy.com/shop/maybeanothertime

The Beading Buddies said...

Kerry, I'm sure you don't remember me but I'm a huge fan and follower of your work. Totally Twisted is my 'bible.' I too was anxiously awaiting a blog full of positive statements about the OOAK show and keeping my fingers crossed for you. Sorry to hear it wasn't what you hoped for but you seem to have great attitude despite it. I know you learned from it and good did come from it. I'll be watching and reading your posts and wishing you the best. Happy Holidays. BTW, the jewelry and booth did look amazing...not to cluttered or overwhelming and very inviting. Great Job!!!

Azure Islands Designs said...

Your booth is amazing, and of course your jewels are gorgeous!!!

You know I think sometimes we need a turning point... something in our lives to head us in the right direction...sadly this OOAK show was it for you!

You are a strong, talented woman...you will learn from this experience and move on...

Enjoy the season, your family and your work...these are your loves, you are so right...that is all we need!

Cheers

amyfibre said...

Ouch! I'm so sorry the show was such a disappointment, Kerry. But good for you for processing it and learning from it. Have a wonderful holiday season with your family and friends. And I'll be another one looking forward to seeing your jewelry up for sale.

MsBaubles (AliBaubles) said...

Awwww Kerry, I'm sorry to hear about your experience, and your disapointment. Your work is amazing and so inspiring (each day one of the first things I do is check your blog to see if you've posted any new happy shiny bright goodies) and knocks my socks off (along with hundreds of others), even if they might be black socks with brown boots ;)

Sue Hubbard said...

Kerry,
I'm sorry to hear that the show was so bad. When you first posted that you were doing that show I was hoping to hear that it rocked. But now that I hear how bad it is just makes me sad for you. I know it's hard when you put all the time and love into your work and the whole thing turns out to be not what was presented as a fine art and craft show and not what you expected it to be. But I can tell you that you do have lots of people who do love your work and understand what you put into each and every piece. Also you are lucky to have such a great family who supports and believe in you. I also want to say that you are not only a great bead maker and jewelry artist but you are also a great photographer and writer too! So, keep you head up and have a wonderful holiday with your family and get those unsold pieces online for others to buy ; )

TesoriTrovati said...

You are an amazing soul, Miss Kerry. You are able to turn the lemons into the most incredible sparkling lemonade! It is too bad that this show is touted as it is. I get a postcard to attend each year and it certainly sounds great. I am glad to hear your experience. Your booth looks great, you produced amazing mini works of art and you got to be uplifted by someone special to you. I wish you nothing but sparkles and cuddles with your sweet family this happy season, and look forward to what treasures you will share with us!
Enjoy the day.
Erin

Krys Mann said...

I am so sorry the experience was what it was. I so enjoyed the countdown to it and was somewhat sad on day 0 there was no eye candy coming. On a positive note, I think your online sales in your shop will be fabulous as they will come from people who love and truly appreciate what you do! Enjoy the season!

Spirited Earth said...

your booth set up beatifully set off your gorgeous pieces..shows are such a gamble ,even the good ones that do everything right, don't always produce good sales..and this one sounded like a big mess..understandablly disappointing to put so much work into lovely pieces and then have funky products and booths in the show.

Elisabeth said...

Kerry - I am sorry that the show was awful, especially with all the time and effort. I hate when shows suck when you have forgone family time or had to farm out the kids to helpful friends to make it happen. But, and I hope I can say this in the super supportive way I mean it, to know that you, stunning, creative, published you, had a bad show, means that it doesn't happen to only me :-) and that I should just keep working at it and the right path will open up for me - as it has for you! BTW, when you have your first/next lampworking class I am so in!

Katie said...

Kerry I met you a few times and used to design Jewelry too and was lucky enough to be in a few magazines with you. I consider myself privileged to be able to view your work. I LOVE coming to your blog and website just to look at the gorgeous pictures. You evoke everything a OOAK designer is and should be. Since I've had my daughter and taken up knitting I don't design jewelry anymore so I love indulging in your work. Keep your chin up! Your an amazing woman!

Patti Van said...

I am sorry the show was so disappointing! I know you don't remember me, but I took your lamp work class at ArtBliss in September 2010, and although I was a "silent" participant, I just finished your Snaptastic e-course. Totally Twisted was one of the first books I bought. I read your blog daily. Your work...and your attitude...are amazing and you keep ME going. THANK YOU! I hope you and yours have a Merry Christmas!!!

Diana P. said...

Kerry, as I read our post I was wishing I had your phone number because I literally just experienced the same thing (but on a small scale) about a week ago.

I did a local show that is well known in my area, I even scoped it out last year and it was pretty good! Well this year, people didnt really come, half the vendors were junk vendors in this "juried" show and I had promoters from Shen Yun, the chinese dance show across from me. I had to listen to their 30 second tv loop play ALL DAY!

I had set pretty good expectations in my head about what I would make at this show and was very sorely dissapointed.

After it was all said and done, I wrote the promoter a letter about my issues with their show. It took me several days to come out of my funk. I think I spent three days just rethinking my business!

The good news is that your work IS awesome and you have lots of people who know it! I'm glad you wrote this post...you are not alone! ::hugs::

~Diana

Alice said...

Ok, deep breath. First, this show in no way represents how people see your art. We all know you make gorgeous things and throw your heart and soul into it.

I'm glad you didn't throw yourself at the customers. That shows class, and that you care about the customer as much as you do the art. Like you, I would never sell anything if the buyer was hesitant. I want their experience to be positive, even if it means they are leaving the booth relieved that they didn't buy 'that piece'.

Doing shows can be very rewarding. If you ever want to trt one again, check out the venue a couple years before you try to get in. Ask the vendors (real artists) what they like and dislike about the show. Or host your own with area artists. Anyone who attends is usually there to buy.

I had a similar experience a couple years ago (but I didn't have to lay out that much money). The advertising stated all handmade, but 90% was cheap stuff from China. I just couldn't compete. To make matters worse, my booth was right beside a local bakery which was so well known that their line went in front of my booth. Virtually no one even knew my booth was there. I stopped going to that show after the second year.

I'm sorry this has left a sour taste in your mouth.

Alice said...

And another thing, did they give you a survey to fill out? If not, I would send them a very firm email and let them know why you are not coming again. It's their loss.

Wendy Brightbill said...

i have only done small shows around town, but shows are really my least favorite thing to do. there really is no knowing how they will go. i am sure that you probably have to go year after year to get a following. so sorry friend! at least you have an awesome following online and you can sell all of that jewelry to make your money back. thanks for being honest and real!

Ornamental Style said...

I so appreciate your honesty. I get tired of all the sugar coating that goes on in blog land so it is refreshing. You gave the negative and the positive and that's called realistic. Wherever you read those reviews of the show, be sure to add your voice. It's sickening that the prompters aren't honest and are thinking only of themselves and not the artists who put their hearts and souls into their work. Hopefully, you will decide to do some local shows and be able to use your display cases. I've done only a couple of small, business-related events (120-300 attendees) and was extremely disappointed. I've done three open houses and have done so much better. The jewelry's made and the display is ready so have an open house and invite everyone you know! You are wonderful and your work is gorgeous so whatever route you take, you will do well.

Yvette said...

Though I've never taken part in a sale on the same scale it does all sound so very familiar to me....

You have beautiful stock and hopefully it will sell so you won't be out of pocket for long.

As we say here in Blighty, 'chin up chuck'. Looking forward to seeing some handmde Christmas goodies.

Yee said...

Oh dear :( I wish your experience would have been different and I feel terrible because I know when you had initially asked for feedback I was one of the people who said that I had only had great experiences at the OOAK Shows that I'd been to in Toronto. Your description of the show wasn't anything like what I had experienced. I hope you aren't totally soured on the while thing. Everything you create is utterly beautiful.

Beckyfar said...

Kerry,
I LOVED meeting you and your darling sister! I was thrilled to see your work close up and extra thrilled to be able purchase 2 pieces. Your work is even more fabulous in person. So sorry that the show turned out the way it did. You are absolutely correct about the bizarre mix of booths. I would pass many of them and wonder how they were accepted into this "juried" show.
Your work totally rocks, your booth and displays were beautiful and you are an amazing artist!! My husband loved your"football mom" stories!"
Becky Farley

Anonymous said...

Sister,

I luv ya too. I had a great time regardless. And I hope you know just how special you and your work is.

Love, Sister

P.S. Readers: to give you an idea of just how big the show was and how if you maybe wanted to go back and buy something you saw after browsing the rest of the booths, I got lost on the way back from a bathroom brake for about a 1/2 hour and couldn't find our booth! g

Jessica said...

I'm very sorry that the show turned out how it did. I have soooooo enjoyed seeing your daily creations leading up to the show, and I would have loved to have had the opportunity to visit your booth and see all of your FABULOUS jewelry in person!! Take care & have a wonderful holiday!
Jessica C.
P.S. Come teach some classes in Texas! :o)

Tabatha said...

I'm so sorry to hear your show was a complete disappointment. You are my inspiration Kerry. Anything you make I love. So even though it was a difficult time hopefully we can show you are LOVE of your work and buy it up when you post it for sale here. Keep your head up! You are the best!

:) Tabatha

RockerJewlz said...

W-O-W. Sometimes we need a HUGE eye opener to fine tune the path we need to follow...and you got that in spades this time. Glad you now have better focus on teaching. You'll enjoy it even more now, so this was all really a blessing.

Cindy said...

Kerry, like everyone else I'm so sorry about the all of the bad parts. Somehow though you have left this post on such a positive note that I want to reread all of the wonderful points you raised. I think the time and energy you spent will help to clear the path to other good things to come now in your future, teaching or otherwise. I'm glad you can now say you did the OOAK show and move on - and enjoy the paper snowflakes that Lauren made and all of the your many family traditions....December will come and go in a flash!

Gardanne said...

Thanks for being so honest about your experience, and seeing the silver lining.
You really need to do an e book on your wire work Kerry, there are so many interesting paths for teaching now.

Stacie said...

I have been lurking here for a long time, and just want to say I am sorry it sucked. But to echo many of the comments here, your jewelry is beautiful and those that met you, the time spent with your sister and the incredible insights you have learned about yourself have to be worth the $2000 it cost to gain all of that. You bought an intensive, mind blowing and illuminating experience with your labor that I think will ultimately change the trajectory of your life, moving you towards the fulfillment of your sacred creativity contract. You are a sharer...so much better then being a taker. Sending lots of love to you...

Megan said...

I was so excited when I saw your new post to see how you did but so sorry that it was a crappy experience with some silver linings. Could you complain and possibly get some booth rental back. you would think one of a kind show meant everything should be one of a kind. Merry Christmas though and enjoy the holidays.

Brandi Hussey said...

What. A. NIGHTMARE.

Oh, Kerry, I'm so sorry it didn't work out for you. I know you had big hopes for this show, and frankly, reading the brochure myself I would have expected a certain level of quality, NOT mass-produced or bigger business booths. The show promoters are really damaging their own reputations by not delivering...

On the flip side, at least now you KNOW you want to truly focus on teaching, right?

Beadbug said...

I have always wondered about this show. I am so sorry it was such an eye opening experience but everything we do is a learning experience. Your jewels are amazing and your work will sell with little effort on line :)

Shaiha said...

I am so sorry about the show but it sounds as though it has lit the path for the next part of your journey. And no experience is truly bad if you learn from it.

Sally Russick said...

Oh Kerry! I know that at ArtBLISS you were so excited about this show! You ARE an AMAZING ARTIST and your work shows the love and care that you put into each piece! I am sorry to hear that the show wasn't what you had expected!

Nicole said...

Kerry! So sorry to hear the show was a dud ... I attended a conference last year that started off with the host insulting everyone in the room and what was even more shocking was that half the room was too stupid to realize the were insulted {eye roll} Have you heard of Brooklyn Flea before?! It really is not so much a "flea market" but a weekly market for vintage + handmade. There are a lot of great brands and artist who sell there. Martha Stewart is a regular shopper and just about every editor from the mags frequent it scouting for sources + content. You should check it out. http://www.brooklynflea.com/

mairedodd said...

all you need is love, indeed...
live and learn and keeping moving forward...

Laura Twiford said...

Oh Kerry, I am so sorry for what you have been through here at this show but it sounds like you have already turned it around into something positive! The very last show I have ever done, with my redware pottery, was like this for me. It got so that we just started to joke about the people walking around with their "s--t on a stick" It seemed as long as you stuck whatever you decorated, note I didn't say make either,on a stick, it sold. Sad. Enjoy the holidays!