new work meet the maker

Gift Show Wrap Up

Hooray for April! Which is to say, hooray March is over and out. Yay, for the big show being done with, for the peas starting to sprout, for school vacation, and for the start of the regular retail art market/show season.

I know that some of you are waiting to hear how the wholesale show went, and the short version is: It was a total bust.

The long version, for those who like to read about disasters, is below.

The Boston Gift Show was the wrong show for me and my product in every way. It turns out I just can’t compete with the manufactured jewelry that the souvenir shops that attended purchased in gobs. And, even though I was in the “handmade” section, I had buyers asking me who my manufacturer was. To answer that, (first I’d take I’d a deeeeeep breath, then) I’d explain that each piece is made by hand, by yours truly. When that wasn’t enough, I had to explain that hand crafting my pieces was actually a choice, and no, I wasn’t interested in learning more about having my pieces cast overseas (in China!) for a higher profit margin. (Insert blood-pressure-controlling breathing exercises here)

Boston Gift Show booth shot

The good news is that now I know which kind of shows not to do, anyway. The smallish person inside me wants to say that it was a waste of time, money, and resources (read: babysitting favors), but it really wasn’t. In preparing for this show, I started to seriously think about the wholesale aspect of my business. For the first time, I clearly defined a few lines of jewelry and nailed down the pricing, as well as got the catalog done and onto the site. I can use the promotional posters at my regular retail shows, and I sent postcards out to most of the New England craft galleries. Having my brand out there can’t be doing me any harm. So, not a total loss, but I’ll admit is stung a bit to do so horribly. As a friend put it, doing this show was like I took a weekend-long business course. She’s so right. I went to school, and I’m pretty sure I just graduated magna cum laude.

I know that doing anything new is risky in some way or another, and shying away from risk is not something I am prone to do. So guess what? I’m applying to another wholesale show — the Buyers Market of American Craft — soon, and never looking back. 

Here’s to getting schooled, and learning lessons.

I have some other AG Ambroult news for you, too.  Stop by in a few days to hear about what I was up to this past weekend, and the new “product” I will be offering. In the meantime I’ll be finding my way back to the online spaces I have missed in the past month.

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12 responses to “Gift Show Wrap Up”

  1. Dana Barbieri

    Good for you Amy for charging forward. Your booth looks wonderful btw! xo

  2. Concetta @ Glittering Shards

    Well…what can I say except yay to you for being empowered to know where you stand and what motivates you. Shall we start a new currency to show the value of the making process, the loving touch of makers with material? Happy Easter Amy! xx

  3. Mrs.Fox

    Greeting friend, sorry you had to experience this but the learning opportunity you whole heartedly embraced I think was worth it. When you know what you don’t want it’s so easier to focus on what you do want. :) Here’s to much success at The Buyer’s Market of American Crafts. :) Happy Easter to all of you. Give a hug to Ru and Lu and a kind hello to “A”. Big hugs.

  4. ER

    always the risk taker and always the optimist. that’s why I love you and your work so much! thanks for sharing this story.


  5. Heather

    Having an opportunity to take a stand, and to really know exactly what you feel is important can be a blessing, even inside a bad experience. Your booth looks beautiful, and I just might have to stop in and say hello on my t rip to Boston this summer :). Happy weekend Amy.

  6. Jacqueline

    Dearest sweet Amy, what an experience! Yay for you to embrace this experience, learn from it and move forward! You booth looks amazing!! I love it. Looking forward to more of AG Ambroult news!! Happy Easter weekend! Love to you!

  7. anne

    I’m really impressed that you handled things so well! How frustrating it must have been. Congrats for forging ahead and making the most of your experience!!

    Great job with your booth. It really looks professional and I love the jewelry displayed on the moss!

  8. Mousy Brown

    Wow I bet that was one huge deep breath you had to take! So glad you are able to see a silver lining…and big good wishes for the next one! Look forward to your mysterious making, Happy Easter to all of you Em xx

  9. erin

    I think its great that you went and learned more of who you are as a creator and business. Your work is amazing and it means so much to know that someone spent that individual time hand creating something. Your booth looks ahhmazing too!!

  10. Francesca

    Very interesting – so, basically, there was no understanding of or place for handmade? What are you doing with respect to the wholesale aspect – can an artisan do wholesale?

  11. Susie

    first of all, your booth looks incredible and that is something you can take with you to any show and maybe playing with the big dogs got you there. so that’s good. second, big dogs suck. No really, my experience at the stationery show a hundred years ago was awful. although, nothing is wasted. lessons learned, contacts made, experiences to chalk up. It’s all useful going forward, as you know. as for your questions, artisans can definitely do wholesale for the right price. Or the right model. Like if your designs are being made by you (big price) or by your small staff of Amy trained metalsmiths (slightly smaller price) which you will need since your order minimum will be so big. my two shekels. xoxo

  12. Nicola

    Oh, Amy, I am sorry, but I have to say…your booth is stunning!

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