Monday, February 24, 2014

It's Showtime!

I'm wrapping things up today at the Denver Gift and Apparel Show. It's been a really great event. I've made some wonderful contacts and added several new stores that will be carrying my jewelry! This particular show is a "wholesale only" event. Several people have asked me to explain what a wholesale show is and how it's different from a retail show?

A wholesale show is typically only open to approved buyers from stores and businesses. These buyers purchase merchandise in quantity to resell to their customers. Most of the time they place orders which are fulfilled by the vendor later. There are very few "cash and carry" transactions - except at the very end of a show when some merchants sell their samples at a discounted price. This system can work very well for someone like me, who produces products by hand. I don't have to produce a lot of inventory for the show - only a sample of the products in my line. When I head home to start creating, the pieces that I make have already been purchased.
View down the aisle
Wholesale shows are often quite large. I believe there are over 500 booths at this event. This event is a general gift show. The merchandise sold here covers a huge range of products; pretty much anything you could imagine selling at a store or boutique, you can find here. There are food products, clothing, jewelry, Christmas ornaments, artwork and the list goes on. Other wholesale shows focus on very specific segments of a particular market.

The booth space is defined by what's called a "pipe and drape" system. Literally, they are connected pipes with drapes hanging from them! This is what mine looked like when I arrived last Thursday.
Empty Booth
The show promoter typically provides only basic set-up; in this case, a chair and a trash can. The vendor can rent tables, lights, and displays if needed. Since this show is close to home, I brought everything but overhead halogen lights. After a couple of hours of unpacking and assembly, my booth starts to take shape.
Booth In Progress

Every show is a little different and the display is never exactly the same. Putting it all together is like a big jigsaw puzzle. It's all about height, levels and balance. My booth set-up has changed a lot of the years. I'm currently using natural slate pieces with white risers and gray tables. The colors work well with the jewelry and coordinate with my new logo.
Close-up of my current display.

By sundown Thursday, I have everything in place and ready for customers to arrive in the morning!

My booth did it's job Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Now it's Monday afternoon, the last day, and the event is winding down. In a few hours everyone will pack up and go home. Back to the studio tomorrow to start creating jewelry and shipping out orders! See you next time Denver Gift Show!

Sunday, February 09, 2014

From Blank to Beautiful

"Simplicity does not precede complexity, but follows it." -  Alan Perlis 

One of the reasons that I love working with metal, is the amazing changes you can make with just a few simple tools. I created these earrings using what are called metal "blanks" as a base. Blanks come in a variety of types of metal. You can buy them cut many ways, from basic shapes to more intricate patterns. Here I'm using simple sterling silver circles.

Circular silver blank. Not very exciting!

I use a special hammer to add texture and put a hole in the top and bottom.

Then use a different hammer with a dapping block to
curve the blank into a domed shape.

After that, I use a polish pad to achieve a soft brushed finish and
highlight the texture.

I wirewrap a faceted smoky quartz rondelle directly onto the 
textured blank then add a earwire.

Original plain blank next to a finished earring.

Completed pair!

 Here's the same design with amethyst stones. I've used a 
larger blank to create a pendant too.

The beauty of creating with metal. No limit but your imagination!

Monday, January 27, 2014

My Muses of 2014: Nancy Botwin to Brene Brown

2014 is upon us and it's a great time to assess how to make this year better than the last. While putting together my new planner, I decided to dedicate a page to some of the ladies who inspire me; women who I think about in challenging times.

Here's my not so fancy planner page with pictures of the ladies. They are, to say the least, a diverse group!

Who they are and why they're on the list, in no particular order:

Candice Olson: interior designer. You may have seen her on HDTV. She's uber talented, classy, and elegant; yet always seems fun, down to earth and generally a great gal. I love her personal style as well as her fantastic color and design eye.

Alicia Florrick: TV's "The Good Wife". I know she's just a TV character, but she's pretty fabulous. Strong, resilient, smart, sexy. She's well spoken, tough and looks great in a business suit. I often think of her when I'm scared to speak up. WWAD?

Marie Forleo: Business coach. What can I say? Wow! Such an positive, inspirational woman. She has a hugely successful company, has been on Oprah and hosts a fabulous free business web show every week. The best part about Marie is that she's not afraid to be herself! She's funny, kooky and always entertaining. There's no one quite like her.
Nancy Botwin: Another TV character. Nancy is from the Showtime series WEEDS. She's morally and legally challenged, self-serving and not always a girl your mother would approve of. So why is she on this list? She's a bad ass. I love Nancy, flaws and all. I think we'd all like to be as bad and brave as she is - at least once in a while.

Brene Brown PHD: Author, speaker, scholar. Well known for her books Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection. She's an inspiration. Brene is the highly evolved person that the rest of us only aspire to be. Thank goodness she's in the world to show us what is possible. She reminds me of the very best qualities that people have to offer.

That's my list of ladies to inspire me this year. All very different. I think they speak to  parts of who I am and also who I'd like to be. I'll try to remember to flip to their page to remind me of what I'd like to achieve in 2014.

I'd love to hear about women that inspire you! Is there anyone that you think about when you need an extra dose of motivation?