There comes a point for every artist and craftsperson when we start considering the value of exhibiting at live events. Art shows, craft shows, pop-up shops, trunk shows, wholesale trade shows, and in-home parties all fall into this category. On one hand, getting more exposure for our work is a no-brainer, but on the other, putting ourselves (and our work) out there and dealing with the expense and effort needed to participate in live events can be quite scary, especially if we are doing it for the very first time. So, what should be done?
Depending on your personality, there are two options. First one is to jump into the live event scene and try to do as many events as you can within a relatively short period of time. This will give you a lot of experience really fast, but might be overwhelming for more methodical types. The second option is to ease into the live event scene gradually by participating in a few well researched shows at first, and then building upon these experiences before launching into the new opportunities to show your work.
Personally, I am more comfortable with the second option. That is why this year, I am participating only in a few select events before I start exploring new opportunities. The first one to kick off the year was Made In Montana Trade Show in Helena, Montana earlier this month. This was my first wholesale show, as well as the first show away from my immediate area. Apart from the excitement of meeting store buyers from across the state of Montana, navigating through an unfamiliar city, and learning about the differences between wholesale markets here and those in other parts of the country, this experience taught me a lot. I learned that, to successfully do out of town shows in the future, I need to streamline my displays and show booth furniture to allow for easier transport and faster setup. I also learned that Montana store buyers do not like order minimums and that selling wholesale in Montana can be quite different from selling wholesale in other parts of the country. I learned that nurturing relationships on social media can create a better impression than all the beautiful work and stunning displays at the show. Last but not least, I learned that a show cannot be judged by the experiences others have had there or by the initial personal appearance at the event. It takes participating in the event several times to fully determine whether the show is a good fit for one's work or not. That said, I will definitely be applying for Made In Montana 2020 and putting the lessons learned this year into practice there.
If you stopped by my booth at MiM 2019, purchased my items or just picked up line sheets, feel free to connect with me on social media, or send me a message by clicking the button below. If you did not see me at the show but want more information about wholesale opportunities for your store or wish to purchase from me as a retail customer, do the same to contact me. I'd love to chat with you.
See you again in Helena next year! Until then, keep an eye on the Events page on my website to learn where I will be appearing in person next.