How to Talk about Your Work

    Like most artists, I became a jeweler because I love to make things.  All is well and good when I’m in my studio, hammering away, but when I need to talk about what I do it’s often hard to find the words.  Describing your craft and your passion is essential to marketing, yet for many makers this does not come easily.

                             For me, knowing what to say is the hardest part of doing craft shows.

                            For me, knowing what to say is the hardest part of doing craft shows.

 

    For me, fear really holds me back from talking about my craft.  It’s hard to strike a balance between providing relevant information, seeming friendly and engaging, and not coming off as pushy or too “sales-y”.  Seeming overconfident, pushy, or full of myself is such a big fear of mine that for years I took my sales tactic in the extreme opposite direction.  I traveled around doing craft shows, sitting quietly behind my table, smiling and trying (and likely failing) to look approachable.  I figured that I would let my designs speak for themselves.   If someone would ask a question, I would answer it.  If someone gave me a compliment, I would say thank you.  And if someone said something offensive, I would grit me teeth and bear it.  But as more and more craft shows are popping up, especially in saturated markets like San Francisco, it’s not enough to let your product do the talking.  

    I recently did the Crafty Bastard’s show in Washington DC with the help of my friend Dawn of Pooka Pure and Simple.  She’s a bath and body goddess, and didn’t know a thing about jewelry before she helped me work my booth.  Having her fresh eyes on my brand helped me to distill the important, relevant information that my potential customers would want to hear.  I spend so much time making my own work and talking with other jewelers, the basics of my craft seemed obvious to me and I assumed talking about it would be redundant information for potential shoppers.  Dawn set me straight about this right away.  “What?!  You’re a metalsmith!?! You need to tell people that.” She quickly advised me.  Over the course of the show, Dawn became an expert in my brand and taught me how to talk about my own work.  Here is what I tell shoppers now as they approach me and are looking at my work:

  “Hi I’m Kendra Renee, and I’m a metalsmith.  I handcraft each shape you see in my designs from sterling silver or 14 karat gold.  All my work is meant to be touched, so please feel free to do so.  Let me know if you have any questions.”

    It’s brief but informational, it’s friendly and leaves room for more conversation, and it’s confident but not sales-y.  With the holiday craft show season approaching, I urge you to spend some time thinking about how to talk about your own craft.

   Tips for crafting your show talk:

  1. Describe what you do to a friend.  What do they find to be the most surprising or interesting details?  

  2. It’s easy to forget your client may not know much about your craft.  Don’t assume they know anything about your process or technique.  What materials are you using?  How are you using them?

  3. Have a friend look at your product without giving them any information about it.  What questions do they have?

  4. Keep it brief.  How can you summarize your craft in 2-4 sentences?

Good luck out there this holiday season!