A few months ago a friend of mine hosted a Party for Arbonne, you know that company that sells overpriced skincare products? It works like Tupperware and Mary Kay, there's a consultant and she comes to your house for a party and you get so much free stuff depending on how much your friends buy. (Do men ever do this kind of thing?) There's always a demonstration, with Pampered Chef it's making food, with Arbonne it was foot baths and facials. The funny thing is, I was told my face would be SO amazing when I woke up the next morning...it felt exactly the same. Throughout this highly structured evening, I was disappointed in not being able to talk to the other girls there. I didn't know anyone other than the host, and for once in my life, I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and talk to people I didn't know. We even spent part of the evening with towels over our faces! By the end of the party I was covered in thick creams and only thing I was interested in buying from the catalog (after having to look up the price in a separate booklet) was over $70, after that I was pretty much turned off to Arbonne.
Even though my experience at the Arbonne party left much to be desired, it gave me an idea. Lot's of companies operate through parties like this. I've been to many of them myself, though I've never been in a position to buy very much, I've seen women throw down a lot of money to order products that, in my admittedly limited experience, seem to be overpriced. There are even jewelry companies that sell in this way. I hear people say things like "oh what a nice necklace, is that a Lia Sophia?" So, could it be "oh what a nice necklace, is that from La Petite?"
Last year my husband and I were forced to sell our car. (Her name was Tahloullah) She needed some repairs that we were putting off until was had the money, and then the transmission went out. With the other repairs still looming, we knew it would be unwise to try and save her. There certainly wasn't enough in the bank for a new car, and not enough in our paychecks for a car payment so we were forced to go without. In Chicago, it's not hard to not have a car, but it does create some unnecessary stresses. One of them for me was craft fairs. I took a leap and signed up for one in the suburbs knowing I'd have to rent a car to get there. The day of the fair was unbelievably hot and not a lot of people came and sales were down for everyone, that combined with the money I spent on the car, it was a bust. I swore, never again! So if I can't do fairs, what do I do? The best way to get people to find my work and love it, is to put it in front of them. That's about the time I was invited to the Arbonne party, which gave me the idea to try it out.
I pitched the idea to a few key people, my husband, mom, and dad of course. They loved the idea! So I contacted a good friend of ours in Kentucky, Linda, I knew if I were to be successful at this, she was my best shot. She loves my stuff, loves to host parties, and has a ton of friends that are my target demographic. She was up for it! We worked out a weekend, I bought a bus ticket, and started sending out invites!
I made portable, table top displays, bought a few things, and started cranking out new designs. (Even though I told myself no new pieces, I never listen!) I have no clue how much women make as consultants for home sales companies, it can't be a lot as I've never met a woman who did it full time. But, if I was selling my own work, not some product from a catalog, would people be into that? Turns out...they are!
The house was packed! From my experience at the Arbonne party, I did not have much structure. I got up and gave a little spiel about who I am, what I do, and what my jewelry is, and hoped the women would be content to talk among themselves. It was truly incredible to look up and see all these women with earrings and bracelets in their hands, and then a little nerve raking trying to get all the orders done in a timely manner!
The party was a total success! I made more money than I could have hoped for, and the reactions to my work were incredible! While I was setting up, a man came in to drop off his two daughters, as he looked around at my displays he asks, "what company is this?" I can't tell you how much pleasure it gave me to answer "mine." This is my business, I made all these things, there's no factory somewhere cranking out pieces for me to sell, there's no marketing department printing materials and setting up websites, there's no one else doing this, it's all me.
Perhaps the highlight of the evening, while I was tucked away in the corner of the living room feverishly altering bracelet sizes and waiting on a phone signal so credit cards could be processed, was what Laura told me. Laura is my mom's best friend, I grew up with her kids, and she and her husband are like surrogate parents. She picked up the most expensive necklace I've ever made and without hesitation said "Ok, I want this." I was a little stunned to be honest. I thought I'd be holding on to that one for a while. As we were talking about lengthening the necklace, she said something I don't think I'll ever forget. She told me she was proud of me, proud of what I had accomplished. From her, it meant so very much, and her purchase almost made it more meaningful. Not only was she telling me my work was good, she was buying it!
The party was amazing, and I want to do more! Even though my husband and I have saved some money and plan to buy a new car soon, I still want to do parties! Not only is it a low financial investment on my part (I don't have to pay a pricey booth fee, just some free stuff to the host) it's a really great way to connect more with my customers. I love talking to customers, even more so here because many of them were also my friends!
I'll end this post by saying, if you are in the Chicago or Louisville areas and are interested in hosting a party, get in touch with me! Either here, through Facebook, or via my website! Below are some pictures of some of the new designs I told myself I wasn't going to make right before that party!
You can find the rest of my work on Etsy (top right hand corner of the blog, or click here to go directly to the shop, and you can now also go to my website!
|Minimalist Pearl Bar Necklace|
|Dew Drop Coin Pearl Necklace|
|Brown Stripe Pearl and Stone Pendant|
|Garnet and Pearl Fall Statement Necklace|
|Fossil Stone Pendant|
|Coral Swirl Pendant Necklace|
|Fleur de Lis Pearl and Shell Pendant Necklace|
|Mauve Pearl and Sterling Statement Necklace|
|Iridescent Stone Pendant with Peacock Pearls and Hammered Steel|
|Pink and Peacock Pearl Statement Necklace|
|White Pearl and Silver Stardust Bridal Necklace|
|Silver Pearl Bar Pendant Necklace|
|Green and Pink Pearl Tree of Life Pendant|
|White and Mauve Pearl Bridal Statement Necklace|
|Silver Coin Pearl and Turquoise Celtic Earrings|
|Encircled Pink Pearl and Garnet Earrings|
|Mauve Pearl and Silver Ring Earrings|
|White Pearl and Stardust Bridal Earrings|
|White and Mauve Pearl Bridal Earrings with Sterling Rings|
|Silver Pearl Cuff Bracelet with Blue Agate|
|Triple Strand Cuff Bracelet with White Pearls and Black Onyx|