Hey Makers, Confidence is Sexy

I've attempted to go back and count how many art and craft shows I have done over the past four years. After several minutes of scrolling through old blogs and social media posts, I went with a rough estimate of 25 shows. I think that I can officially say that I have hit the "seasonsed" category, not to be confused with the "expert" category. I have only shown my work once this summer, giving me the opportunity to step back and be an attendee. This has totally refreshed my perspective on buyer and seller interactions. 

One thing that I should mention is that I am a bit shy in person and not at all good with small talk. Even in my role as a Social Worker, I am more of a "let's get to the point" kind of gal. During the first few years of showing my work, I was pretty freaked out. My conversations were awkward, I didn't know where to put my hands when I was talking (I know that sounds weird), and after the 2nd hour, I felt like my smile was fake.

There were a lot of blunders during these early shows. Examples, you ask? In the photo above, I had just busted the announcer's blingy necklace during a hug. Jewels (presumably faux) went flying and it was wittnessed by a couple hundred people at the awards portion of the show. What else could I do in that moment but laugh while she gripped what was remaining of the poor necklace? I only recently quit expecting to get a bill in the mail for damages. That was a couple years ago and an extreme example; but something seems to have changed in the past year and my comfort level has increased. I couldn't put my finger on it until recently. 

For any other news junkies out there, you know that there is a lot of reporting done on "consumer confidence" and it's effect on the economy. Let's flip this a bit and talk about "seller confidence" and it's effect on your handmade business.

It's no secret that we can be our own worst critics. Step back for a moment and think about how the vibes that we put out there about our products can have an effect on our customers. If someone compliments you on your awesome work and you undermine it by saying "it's just this thing that I'm trying out" or "I messed up on this part" or worse yet, "I don't really like this piece that much," imagine how your customer must feel. They are likely grasping for a response and have lost all desire to purchase your work. I regret to report that these are a mixture of quotes from myself and from other sellers who I have met at shows recently. 

 

We see our crooked stitches or missed brush stroke but our customers see a potentially beautiful piece of art to hang on their mantel. Don't kill that joy. Don't kill that sale. Confidence is sexy! Learn to take a compliment and until then, fake it until you get to the point that you understand that the customer is being genuine. 

Another way that I see this play out is in pricing. First off....always, ALWAYS, have your pieces clearly marked. Be familiar with your pricing. Don't let that item even leave your studio until you know how much you want to charge for it, then be confident in your decision. There is nothing more awkward than asking how much an item is and watching the maker work it out in their head and give an answer that lacks confidence. A low balled price is underwhelming and anything else just seems like a hasty decision. You have plenty of time to ponder prices as you are crafting it in your talented hands. 

So now that I have ranted over my own and other handmade sellers' pit falls in regards to confidence projection at shows, let's review some action steps:

* Allow customers to compliment your work and accept VERY graciously 

* Never demean or play down your work or talents, EVER

* Be confident in your price structure. There are plenty of resources out there to help you

* Represent your work well because your work is only as rad as you are

So what changed for me? My overall confidence in my products! I can't change my shy personality and don't aspire to. However, I feel that my confidence in my products is a big part of my success. PS: the announcer with the broken necklace, we shared a beer after the show. No hard feelings.