It's SHOW Time!

We’re pulling tents and tables out of the garage, unfurling company signage, and putting tiny price tags on trays and trays of jewelry… what does it all mean?!?!  SHOW SEASON!

Craft shows and street markets were the foundation of my jewelry business.  When I launched in 2009, my rickety website wasn’t getting any traffic and I did not yet have a firm grasp on how to approach the intimidating thing called “wholesale”.   Craft shows became the first method of selling my wares that worked, but it required the endurance to fail and try and again, as well as the willingness to celebrate successes.  Over the years, I’ve done hundreds of shows… from the Javits Center in New York City, to Seattle’s Fremont Sunday Market and everything in between.  I’d love to share some of my show stories with those of you who may be interested in selling your handcrafted magic under a white 10x10. 



My very first whack at a craft show was the Boulder Creek Festival in May of 2009.  I made 110 one-of-a-kind designs in preparation and quit my executive assistant job in anticipation of major sales.  I bought a five different shapes of jewelry boxes from Uline so that the packaging perfectly complemented the size and shape of the piece.  It took two carloads of furniture and props to create my elaborate display.  My mom flew out from Seattle to help and support.  However, by any measure, the show was a flop.  Only one necklace sold, and my mom was that hero.  It rained so hard that weekend that the market shut down on the third day.  I was devastated because I had put my whole heart into the presentation of my beloved work.   


The next year, I was ready to try again.  This time it was the Hill Flea, also in Boulder, CO.  The show was just one day, and I decided to participate last minute, so I didn’t have the opportunity to pour copious amounts of time and energy investing in preparations.  I didn’t sell much, but I covered the $40 booth fee, got some sun, and enjoyed myself.  I happen to have a photo of my booth from this day!

The Hill Flea, March 2010 

The Hill Flea, Boulder CO, 2010


From these early shows, I learned to temper my up-front investment in shows by starting small, because the most valuable learning comes from experience not guessing.  Don’t create barriers to starting by setting sights on big flashy shows, needing to have an extensive inventory, or requiring the booth setup of your dreams.  Instead, pick a show that’s local and affordable and get out there!  Create a display with items you already have or can borrow.  Consider sharing a booth with a friend. 

When you’re at the show, observe shoppers carefully.  What do they touch?  Does it seem like some design get glossed over?  Maybe some items need a different backdrop to be more visible?  Did the positioning of your display invite people into the booth, or block the flow of traffic?  Talk to other vendors: there’s a camaraderie among vendors and others will be more than happy to offer help and support.  Don’t just count your daily sales, the experience you’re gaining is even more valuable. 



After having a positive experience, I was more confident about booking my next show, and book I did.  Over the next many years, I booked shows most weekends during the summer and holiday season.  I started to LOVE them.  Having been quite shy and soft-spoken growing up, I learned to project my voice so I could be heard when talking to customers.  I got a lot of energy from shows, and they became more and more successful.  My designs, display, and car-packing techniques evolved over the years... 



Firefly Handmade Market, Boulder, CO, April 2011


Sweet William Market, Denver, CO, June 2011


Fremont Fair, Seattle WA, June 2012


U District Street Fair, Seattle WA, May 2013



Renegade Craft, Chicago IL, September 2015



In August 2013, my car, packed for Magnolia Summerfest, was broken into and cleaned out.  Losses included hundreds of pieces of jewelry, a vintage stewardess case full of supplies and tools to make jewelry at shows, my entire display setup, vintage steamer trunks and suitcases that I'd collected for years... I was devastated.  I seriously considered giving up on my business entirely and cruising Craigslist for a "real job."

After collapsing into tears for the morning, we leapt into action.  My friend and fellow jeweler, Sacha (check out her website!!!), happened to call and wish me luck at the show shortly after the robbery was discovered.  She met me at home and helped me reorder supplies, and then worked with me in my studio to create a small inventory for the second day of the show.  My parents, referring to past booth photos, found or made replacement display items.  With a lean collection of jewelry, I was setup on Sunday in a park just a mile or so away from when I now live.  The community supported me.  Komo 4 News came out to interview me, and even with about 1/10 of my usually selection of jewelry, my daily sales were right on track with the usual.  

Here's a report by Komo 4 News

The theft was a blow, emotionally and financially, but I learned some things.  One take away was that I don't need to have such an extensive inventory: when a shopper feels a connection with me or the brand or the jewelry, they'll choose something to take with them and it's not helpful to offer them 200 choices.  Secondly, I'm resilient and can overcome challenges.  Lastly, I have support from family and friends who are willing to show up when I need them.  (I'm feeling this now, more than ever, in the early months of motherhood.)   



In 2014 I moved to Austin, TX and had high hopes for a Renegade Craft Market held in the thick of SXSW, a major music, film and technology festival that calls people from all over the world to party in Austin.  Disappointingly, the show was one of the slowest, in terms of sales, that I'd done in year.  However, I didn't know when the show ended that the buyer from UncommonGoods was in attendance and saw a piece I made called "The Globe Locket."  She reached out to me by email a few weeks later, asking if I offer wholesale.  This was the start of a game changing business relationship... but that's a story for another blog post.  The point is that your sales at the end of any given show are not the end of it.  You're building connections and a community by putting yourself and your work in from of people.  Opportunities will arise.  

Renegade Craft SXSW, Austin TX, March 2014



After taking a few year off of shows due to a global pandemic, I'm excited to be re-entering the craft show scene, and I'm not doing it alone!  Meet Cait Ormesher.  Cait has been an asset in the studio for about a year now, and one of the many talents to brings is "show prowess."  Doing a show is not a simple operation.  Planning, packing, lifting heavy, bulky objects, wrestling a tent, merchandising, dealing with rain and wind, wrangling the Square Up app... and doing it all while maintaining the composure to talk thoughtfully with all kinds of people.  I am so grateful to have Cait on the team, and I hope you have the opportunity to meet her.


Cait Ormesher

Fremont Fair, Seattle WA, June 2023


Thanks so much for reading, and if you're a maker interested in getting your work in front of people, I hope you take the plunge!  Maybe we'll find ourself booth neighbors?!  Below is a list of our upcoming shows, and we expect to keep adding, so check out homepage often for updates.  



July 14-16 Kirkland Uncorked Kirkland WA 

July 14-15 Derby Days Redmond WA 

Aug 27th Fremont Sunday Market Seattle WA  



  • Thank you for sharing! I loved reading about your early days in business!

    Lauren Gann
  • Great write up, Mom! Come on a Tuesday down to Lakewood and Thurs to Tacoma Farmers Markets, and find a festival on Bainbridge. .we can offer bed board and babysitting!

  • In a world adorned with beauty’s embrace,
    A woman of artistry found her place.
    With hands of skill and a heart filled with grace,
    She crafted jewels, each one a masterpiece.

    Her workshop, a haven of dreams and desires,
    Where precious metals danced with gemstone fires.
    Through intricate designs, her talent unfurled,
    She wove stories in silver and gold, a worldly swirl.

    With each delicate stroke, her creations came alive,
    Earrings that whispered, necklaces that would strive,
    To capture the essence of nature’s grandeur,
    In vibrant gem hues, sparkling with allure.

    Word spread like wildfire of her craft’s exquisite finesse,
    And soon her name traveled, a whispered caress.
    From distant lands, patrons sought her art divine,
    Her jewels now adorning royalty, a radiant sign.

    But fame could not sway her from her humble start,
    She remained true to her craft, with love in her heart.
    For she knew it was passion that fueled her ascent,
    To touch souls with beauty, her eternal intent.

    So let her be remembered, this woman so grand,
    An artisan jeweler with creations at hand.
    Her legacy shines in the gems that still gleam,
    A testament to her art, forever a dazzling dream.

    Steve and A.I.

    Steve Merwick

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