Photo: Make It Vancouver, December 2016, 6*6 booth set-up
One of the really cool things to happen at Make It Vancouver in December was all the great feedback I received from other vendors about how much they liked my booth setup - the colour scheme, the lighting, the display pieces. It really meant a lot to me. I have tremendous respect for our maker community in this city, and especially at a large show like Make It, one sees many unique and beautiful booth setups. To be singled out and complemented by more than a few of my peers was something special. It's not easy coming up with an eye-catching display, and even with the praise, I'm no expert.
I had been selling my newbie attempts at jewelry making for just under a year when I did my first market at the beautiful Heritage Hall on Main Street in Vancouver, BC. It was Fab Fair, organized by the talented silversmith Nancy (whose last name escapes me). Her work, and manner, were both elegant and sophisticated. Her table layed cleanly with simple wooden displays that perfectly matched the vibe of her minimalistic and classic jewelry. She said something to me that weekend that I never forgot, and took to heart.
Basically, she told me my table display was a complete mess. It was busy. It was disjointed. It did nothing for my jewelry. She said I needed to think about what I wanted my jewelry to say to people, who I was, and design a display around that.
I was a bit crushed. I had the cute little hot pink mini chaise lounge from Eddie's Hang-Ups. I had proper necklace stands. I had a very busy black and white floral tablecloth....I had my jewelry layed out all over the place. And I finally had an objective look at what I was offering people visually. It wasn't much.
I didn't know anything about branding. Remember, I really did launch into all of this on a complete whim and got swept up in the fun of making, starting out on the market circuit, meeting people, buying more supplies.
At any rate, I did take a step back. I went out and bought black tablecloths right away. And I tried to make a bit more of a cohesive statement. And each year, as my work changed and my confidence grew, my displays kept changing. I used large squares of mirrored glass (not great for transporting). I've used painting canvases (gets dirty very quickly). I really liked my vintage display of white-washed wooden crates, and cool printer's tray. It allowed for height variations and wasn't too bad to move around from show to show.
When I made the change to Slate Jewelry, the look had to change again too. I knew I wanted something pretty stripped down, portable and even leaning to an industrial look. Pinterest is great for researching display ideas, and I spent quite a bit of time mulling over the set-ups I liked online.
But there were key points that had to be addressed:
1. I had to be able to easily transport it, by myself, in an efficient, packable way.
2. It had to embody "Slate" - blank slate, clean slate.
3. It had to have a hard table-top display surface.
This is how I addressed those must-haves:
1. Folding necklace stands and the wooden blocks that stack easily in bins. For a 6" table, I can get what I need into one average sized tote bin, and it's not horribly heavy. As well, the wooden blocks provide me with height variations and a myriad of layout options.
2. The grey colourscheme = slate. The slate place mats (Urban Barn). The uniformly hard surfaces. The tablescape is a subdued landscape meant to showcase the jewelry. When I had the pretty vintage set-up, so many people were interested in the display pieces and didn't even look at the jewelry. It was very frustrating.
3. The topper: I love my boards. No ironing, wipe up spills, no blowing tablecloth. 2*2 pre-cut boards from Home Depot topped with self-sticking vinyl planking. I can fit pretty much any average market table. Works like a charm!
So with market season about to launch into full swing, have a look at how you're showing your wares. We all work so hard to make our best products, but we really need to look at how we're are visually selling them too. Ask yourself - if you were shopping, would your booth make people stop to look? I've got more to say on this if you're interested in hearing it, so I will endeavour to get another blog out on the subject. And if you ever want an objective opinion on your set-up, I'd be happy to offer my two cents.
As for me, Make It Vancouver starts on Friday (April 21), and I'm looking forward to setting up on Thursday. Will my booth look like the picture at the start of this blog? Mostly, but there's a few changes. I have to do what's best suited to the work, and so it goes.