Education – Annette Piper

18 05 2009

Educating yourself and your clients should be a very important aspect of your creative business.

Naturally, you, as the creative talent behind your endeavour need to know the materials you work with, how they can be worked most effectively and how to look after them.

Experience will count for a lot, particularly in the skills knowledge area, however specific materials knowledge is very important and your customers will appreciate your expertise.

Don’t necessarily accept what a supplier of your materials says – particularly if they are a new supplier or not well known to you. They may be repeating something they have heard, were told, or, unfortunately in some cases, making it up to ‘sound good’.

By asking lots of questions of your suppliers, they will hopefully take on board your interest in the facts and bolster their own knowledge. You will benefit from their efforts of educating themselves and in the process learn more yourself.

Seek out information through courses, appropriate texts, information sites and forums. If someone not qualified offers you their opinion on materials, take it on board – but question everything if you’re unsure. Even professionals get second opinions!

As a gemmologist and jewellery designer, I am fortunate to have a good knowledge of gemstones from my years of study and work in the trade. However, even I get occasions when I’m not quite sure if a stone I am buying is represented correctly. It may be just a little niggle of not being sure, but I’ve found it’s a wise niggle to listen to!

It can be quite an adventure to educate myself further on a little known stone and ensure that I know exactly what it is I am working with. The end result of course, is that my clients know precisely what each stone in a piece is, including any treatments it may have had.

Be sure to share your expertise with your customer.  On the other hand, don’t overwhelm them. Offer your knowledge as part of the selling process. They will gain confidence that you know what you are talking about and in time you will become an expert in your field – at least to them.

Know your materials - can you name all the gemstones pictured here?

Know your materials - can you name all the gemstones pictured here?

 To read more from Annette, visit her blog at and view her jewellery at


Shows – Annette Piper

18 09 2008

Shows.  I love them.   I really enjoy getting out and meeting prospective and established clients, showing my new pieces and sharing my passion.  


The not so good points are the early starts, late finishes (I’m ALWAYS the last one to pack up – people are like moths to a flame when they think I’m going!), plus the packing, the loading into the car and then all the unpacking at the end.  Oh, and the tablecloths – the ironing of the tablecloths before the event is always a long, drawn out affair!


I haven’t ventured into doing any really large shows like expos, trade fairs and so on.  Instead I tend to stick to smaller events and arts/crafts shows.  I did do a large art/craft show one year.  It cost a fortune and was a massive learning curve.   I did well, although not as well as the fees might have suggested!  


I’ve also done a couple of markets although they tend to attract the wrong crowd for me.   Some have surprised me, most didn’t.  Those ones that give you a slightly sinking feeling when you say ‘yes, I’ll come’ are usually the ones that make you wonder why you bothered getting out of the house that day.


Finding the right show for you is difficult.  It can be a hit and miss affair if you take everything that is offered.  The best idea, if you can manage it, is to visit the prospective show as a visitor and gauge the crowd, the other exhibitors and make an educated guess at how you might fare if you were participating as well.


I have found one of the best ways of finding shows is through your clients.  A loyal client can be your eyes and ears on the wider horizon.  They may go places you don’t and may happen upon an event where they think you will do particularly well.  Remember, they are already your client and will automatically associate with more of your target market base.


It is also important to remember that it can take time. If your product is aimed at the higher end of the market, people aren’t going to just stop and offer you money immediately (although a couple hopefully might!).  The majority are going to want reassurance that you will be around next year or the year after that, that your product is of high quality and that you can be trusted.  But once you have gained that trust, the show that was a bit questionable the first time round may become one of your best venues after some time.


Once you are there, though, regardless of it is a success or not, remain happy and upbeat.  Enjoy your time there and people will be attracted at your positive energy and hopefully that will translate into sales!


Happy shoppers at Annette's jewellery booth

Happy shoppers at Annette's jewellery booth