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Life of a Jewelry Designer: Trunk Shows

By Michelle Ecker on August 24, 2015

Serena Van Rensselaer was originally a student of Art History and Cultural Anthropology, but while studying abroad in San Miguel D’Allende, she discovered her untapped passion and aptitude for jewelry design. She is now an inspired creator, perceptive businesswomen and shrewd gallery manager in Manhattan’s picturesque Soho neighborhood. We recently visited Serena’s gallery and spent the afternoon speaking with her about the industry.

Here is part eight of our series, “Life of a Jewelry Designer.”

Life of a Jewelry Designer: Trunk Shows

While reluctant goodbyes are bid to summertime as temperatures begin to drop, many people also anticipate a recurrent lull in their social schedules. Deprived of long, sandy beach days followed by seemingly endless al fresco evenings, it’s easy to feel optionless when it comes to cold-season activities to organize with loved ones.

Lucky for business-minded design enthusiasts, however, this apparant platuea presents the perfect opportunity to schedule an effective trunk show. After all, what better way to spend a cool autumn evening than surrounded by friends, sharing hors d'oeuvres while browsing beautiful jewelry creations?

“Trunk shows are a tremendously fun and convenient platform for jewelry promotion, especially for stylists who are new to the industry,” Serena shares. “Because they’re hosted in the home of the artist or the artist’s friend, the financial weight of fee payments is lifted as well.”

Without the burden of market regulations, artists are also able to implement more creative promotional expression than they’d otherwise be permitted in a more structured setting. If hosting a trunk show sounds like something your business could benefit from, here are some worthwhile suggestions to help you get started:

  1. Plan the show as a weekend-long event,” Serena says. “Try hosting a kick-off opening on a Friday evening, then schedule an open house to continue throughout Saturday and Sunday afternoon.”
    • a. This takes a lot of pressure off opening night, for both you and the guests. Without having to worry about making quick sales, you can enjoy the party and play host more effectively.
    • b. Similarly, you want your company to enjoy themselves without feeling pressured to make a purchase right away. Typically, after being well-hosted and enjoying themselves at a thoughtful party, invitees will return over the weekend to support the business.
    Life of a Jewelry Designer: Trunk Shows
  2. Get creative with your venue design.
    • a. Even with a small budget, a great deal can be done in an effort to reinvent the space in which you’ll be hosting your friends. Consider attempting to coordinate the decor to suggest the theme of the jewelry you’ll be sharing. If you’re showcasing deep auburn-colored accessories inspired by Thanksgiving ambiances, for example, maybe you could adorn your jewelry displays with bright yellow and orange mums and serve warm apple cider. This pleasant harmony will help inspire shoppers to visualize themselves wearing your jewelry at certain upcoming events.
    • b. And remember, you should always provide your guests with something to eat and drink. If you don’t offer them anything to do at your party other than shop, they may feel coerced into making a purchase. As a trunk show host, realize that the shopping should almost feel like a secondary option for guests, whereas relaxation and mingling should be the leading activity.
  3. Listen to feedback!
    • a. “Any face-to-face sales event presents you with a great opportunity to receive some constructive criticism,” Serena advises. “Listen to your guests’ feedback! You’d be surprised at how helpful passing comments of shoppers can be next time you’re in the studio brainstorming new designs.”
  4. Be prepared with business cards.
    • a. “This is crucial!” Serena says. “Many times, guests will arrive with friends who haven’t heard of you or your business yet. And lots of these visitors arrive unprepared to shop! But if they browse your collections and they’re interested in your designs, it’s important to have the ability to direct them to a website, or to give them a means of getting in touch with you. You don’t want to limit any new client interactions to the 3 days of your trunk show. Pursue a more long-term relationship!”

Want to learn more? The New York Institute of Art and Design offers an online jewelry design course that can teach you how to create and sell your own unique line of jewelry. Request your free course catalog today!