I am so humbled that Aida, designer of Trinkets for D, has taken time out of her busy schedule to share some experience and words of wisdom with me! I'm so thankful for the relationships I have created in the artisan community, and so I would like to pass this along to the rest of you.
After meeting Aida via Instagram, I was inspired to venture out into the world of fairs, trade shows, and the like, after growing Carolina Karoleva Designs. Here are a few questions I had asked Aida in hopes of enlightening me for my path to future growth.
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What made you decide to turn your love of jewelry making into a business?
A few years back, my family was facing a huge, financial commitment with my youngest son's autism diagnosis (he is the D in Trinkets for D). I was working full time then and my husband was practically stay-at-home in order to drive him to all of his therapies and doctor appts. My full time job at the time had a better health insurance benefit. We weren't able to make the bills, so I decided to come up with something that I could learn on my own, and generate some added income. I am a creative person, so I knew that creating something would also benefit me emotionally and psychologically through this time. I chose jewelry because fashion and jewelry design was always a dream of mine. The 'our story' tab on my website, chronicles our families personal journey.
How do you distinguish your brand from all of the competition? Do you have any key strategies on building awareness and a loyal customer base? Who is your target niche?
Its been a work in progress for sure. As an artist, with time you develop a personal style. I think in the begining you try a little bit of everything, but the pieces that show your true self are the ones that make a stronger connection with people. I had a customer once tell me that as she stood in front of my table and looked at my work, she could see who I was. That really moved me. And I decided at that point to stick mostly to the style that I am passionate about. My pieces I find are bold, personal and definitely bohemian. I tend to go for Buddhist pieces, Gypsy and Native influences as well. There is an underlying spirituality in everything I do. My target niche… I would say earthy, bohemian, artsy folks mostly - young and old, men and women.
Have you found more success setting up displays at fairs rather than building your followers online?
For me personally yes. For whatever reason, I have been drawn to more and more fairs/bazaars/festivals. I love the personal connection. When I started, my goal was not this… I hoped to eventually become exclusively online. I'm not sure that its better. I now find myself in a place where I don't have time to keep my online store stocked because I'm balancing being home for my family, and constantly stocking back up for the next festival. My ultimate goal is to find a middle ground. I do sell some online based on requests that I get from people that see pieces that I post on instagram or Facebook. I am thrilled to be able to sell to them this way.
Is there any advice you can give to artisans who are thinking of venturing into the world of festivals, expos and the like?
The first year is a learning process. Don't let disappointing shows get you down. There will be many shows that for one reason or other, you don't sell at. Either the show was sold to you as a huge draw, and no one shows up… or, your vibe isn't exactly what those folks came looking for. You will inevitably learn a lot from all these experiences. You make connections with vendors and customers that will lead to success later on.
What's your favorite part about the face to face interaction with your customers?
What are some potential downsides to in person sales?
What are some potential downsides to in person sales?
I loooooove the personal connection. I don't usually tell people about my family's story up front. I never want a 'pity sale', however whenever possible I share with them after purchase. It usually gets them to open up and we make a lovely connection. I also find sooooo much inspiration at shows. I love artsy kids. My soul sings when I'm around them, they inspire me more than anything. Oh, divine youth. The downside is definitely those people that want a bargain. My prices are VERY reasonable. I am not out to gauge anyone, simply to make a living. But there are some people out there that regardless of how low something is priced, they still try to make a deal. I always knock off a few bucks to people that buy more than 1 piece or are repeat customers. But, I have had some uncomfortable situations with people that really want something for practically free and try to tell me that 'they can make it themselves'. I think any artist has confronted that.
How do you manage your business and home life with your family between designing, shows and everything else?
Ha, ha, ha…. balance. It's absolutely crazy. I can't even tell you. While my kids are in school, I try to dedicate 3 full days while they are there, to creating. The other two week days go to home stuff, and shopping for materials for my work. Of course, most weeks don't go according to plan and I end up doing late nights. But, I am grateful. A little over two years ago it became evident that the last piece of the puzzle to my son's well being was for me to be home, so I quit my full time job and my husband increased his hours at work. This gives me the ability to put my children and family's needs first, while being able to contribute financially just enough to get by. And… it simply makes me sooooo very happy to make my jewelry and go to these events. I have met sooooo many beautiful people that have made a difference in my life. I am grateful.
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Let us know in the comments below if this advice has helped you, or if you have any questions for Aida!