Trunk Show Advice

Please Help! I will be doing my first trunk show in NYC next week
and I’m a nervous wreck! Originally, Bergdorf Goodman’s had placed
a verbal purchase order for a large amount of goods from me in 18k.
When I delivered the goods I was told that the previous buyer ( of
many years) was no longer there and that they would not honor the
order (as it was not in writing…my fault, I know!!!) When I burst
into tears in the new buyers office she decided to offer me a ten
day trunk show instead. I’ve never done a single trunk show let
alone a ten day one in a really ritzy place…yikes. So, I am
looking for any insider advice, to do’s, don’t do’s,

I have horrible jewelers fingernails and frizzy hair. I thought
perhaps I should have fake nails put on and dress like the Bergdorf
customer? Do I bring business cards? How about being outgoing, I
don’t want to appear aloof nor do I want to seem too pushy. Blah,
blah, blah…any words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks so much, and if any Orchidians will be in NYC Oct 16 thru 27
PLEASE stop into Bergdorf’s and introduce yourself! I’ll need to see
friendly empathetic faces!

Hi, Dawn, Aside from the advice I know you’ll get, I want to say that
I think the main thing about “demeanor” is to look like you’re
having a great time. Enthusiasm is contaigous. That doesn’t require
you to gush-- be yourself, but be friendly and available. If you
have (shortish) stories to tell about your inspiration or processes,
people will feel more invested in you and your work. But you have
to sound as though it’s the first time you told the story, every
single time.

It is important to dress tastefully, though there is room for
personality to show-- you’re an artist, not a sales clerk. But
people won’t feel comfortable buying their style from someone who
doesn’t appear to have any.

Good luck, and have fun!


Hi: Bummer, but at least they are doing something for you and it
could turn out to be really interesting and great.

I have been in the city many years (more a craft jeweler, but 22k)
so never have gotten as far as you!

I would suggest something simple and black and pants will really
work and would suggest wearing a lot of your better pieces and when
they are admired, say “this is also for sale”. I used to buy things
that way. It was nice to see how something looked when it was on
someone. And, it will give you a classy look as well. Run that
buy one of the buyers or one of the assistants to see what they

I would not bother with the nails, I would even let them know that
you are the jeweler and here is your proof. Make it part of the
chit chat. A top with a nice dropped neckline is good for showing
off the necklaces. I don’t know where you are from, but here, a
revealing neckline is very in. Right down the street on 5th Ave and
about 51st St. is a neat cheap department store with very in things
aned you can probably find a great top there. I think it is called
H&R or H&M. Looks like it is for the very young, but you would be
suprised at what you will find.

I will put on the calendar to stop buy and say Hi. Good luck.

Pull yourself together (I don’t mean that unkindly) and take a deep
breath. You are an artist and if they’re offering you a ten-day
trunk show (no small potatoes for the cutthroat NYC competition!)
then make the most of this opportunity. Bergdorf’s obviously thinks
this will be worth their while as well as yours, or they wouldn’t
have offered it.

I’d make sure you are well-groomed, but I don’t think fake nails–if
they aren’t what you normally do–are the way to go. Don’t try to
be someone you are not, and don’t try to be the typical Bergdorf’s
customer, if you’re not. Sell your artistry! Sell your story–why
you make jewelry, what inspires you, what the benefits of your work
are to the customer (how it will make them feel when they wear it,
status, etc–whatever sells the Bergdorf’s customer). I’ve only
been to Bergdorf’s once, but my impression is a status-y,
well-moneyed (or major credit card debt, LOL) customer. Work the
benefits and be proud that you have this opportunity. Wear something
somewhere between mainstream and “Total Artist”–you don’t want to
put people off by your outfit, but do want to catch their attention.

I have never done a trunk show so can’t advise about the business
cards…I always have biz cards on me but definitely talk to the
buyer about your questions ahead of time…i.e. how do they process
orders (I’m assuming they ring up the item and pay you?), packaging,
etc. Cover as many bases as you can think of. What do they want
you to tell customers when they ask where your work is available
(since Bergdorf’s isn’t actually carrying your items at this point)?
Many customers may assume that they can come back to the store and
buy your work, so definitely find out how to handle this.

Above all, SMILE at your customers, and have fun! I enjoy shows
(despite all the work, the sometimes slow periods, etc) because I
love to interact with my customers and spread the bliss of my
jewelry whenever I can. :slight_smile: Good luck! Jill

Hi Dawn!

First, don’t worry. You will do great. Turn this situation into a
super positive experience for yourself.
You are soo fortunate to
have this experience, lucky girl!

Thinking about my last trunk show, here is some advice I can give you
in regards to your questions:

  1. BG is ritzy, but the people who shop there are just people looking
    for cool stuff to make them feel good and show off to their friends
    and maybe pass along in the family. Nothing more nothing less. + you
    obviously fit the bill anyway considering they offered you a trunk

  2. I would (as cheesey as it may sounds & knowing all of us on this
    list probably have fingernails and hands from hell!) get your nails
    done. Even just a quick cleanup manicure and file with a neutral
    polish is important. And dressing up a bit doing the smart casual
    thing is probably good too. If you feel a bit self-conscious about
    your hair, pull it back then, but, I wouldn’t worry about looking
    like anyone but yourself though!

  3. Bring business cards YES- especially since they cancelled the
    order on you…take advantage of being there, and sweep up as many
    customers and potential customers as possible.

  4. Be outgoing, but not fake if that’s not you. Have confidence in
    your work! Offer to help people try things on, let them touch and
    hold (don’t forget a mirror). Recommend what type of event they could
    where a piece to: “That’s looks great, I could really see you wearing
    this for a dramatic evening event.” or “This looks so great on you
    because it could be worn casually with this nice sweater you have on,
    or dressed up a bit. You wear it really well.” If they are not going
    to buy, GIVE THEM A CARD, tell them you can always be contacted if
    they change their mind. If someone is “just looking” and start to
    meander away, thank them for stopping by, and ‘hey here’s a card if
    you change your mind’. No sweat…stay cool.

  5. People are starting to shop for the holidays, so you really lucked
    out with the timing of your trunk show. Is BG doing some press for
    you? If not, send out some postcards and invite people, magazines,
    other stores…

I would have a walk through BG a few times, scope out the customers
and the vibe so you are comfortable with it when you go in.

Besides that, best of luck, maybe I will pop by if I am in the 'hood.

Take care,
kim fraczek
handmade glass jewelry designs &
jewelry creations using CAD/CAM software
(646) 387 3180 mobile NYC

Hey ! We’re with you ! Take a deep breath and repeat until
stunned. Wish I could offer more than my best wishes . Good luck,

Kym Zorn Long
Alchemy Inc.

First of all ,congratulations on getting to do a trunk show at
B,G.'s. Now relax. Your jewelry must be pretty special or they
would not have invited you to do the show—tears not withstanding.
Just scrub your hands so they are free of jewelers rouge and other
compounds. Dress so that you feel comfortable–and just be yourself.
Don’t feel intimidated by all this. Most of the people who see your
beautiful creations will be holding you in awe. Hold your head up and
remember, you are a talented person who makes
beautiful jewelery. You create beauty— others have to buy it. Lots of luck. Alma

Dear Dale, I have never done a trunk show so feel free to take these
suggestions with a grain of salt.

Take someone with you, someone who has a lot of public poise. This
will ease your tension and if this person knows you and your work
well they can speak higher of your work than you could. If it is a
friend or family member they may be willing to help for food,
accommodations and/or a percentage of the gross from the show. This
puts you as part of a selling team and you are the expert on the

Yes your appearance is important; look as good as you can but don’t
try to look like someone you are not. Make the most of all of your
positive attributes. Remember the customers and store employees will
be excited to be able to see and talk with the creator and artist and
they want the genuine person. Be yourself in all of your glory.
Congratulations this is a great opportunity, I am proud of your
accomplishment. Enjoy the process and have as much fun as possible.

Best wishes, I cannot be there in person but I will be there in
spirit. Please give us all an update on how it all went.

Cathy Wheless

Hi Dawn, Congratulations! If you dress “salon chic” (all black, or all
white, very tailored) it works well for selling, but they may
perceive you as a salesperson – which can actually work out well,
because you can choose when and whether or not to divulge that you
are the artist.

If you dress “upscale artsy” (flowing chiffons or complex textures,
congrueous color palettes) you have to be much more outgoing and
work the “rather egocentric” angle. You need to be able to back-up
the flamboyant attire with a flamboyant personality – emotional and
emotive word-play weaving tales of jeweler’s magic. Dressing like
this, for many people, is like wearing a mask, and it frees them up
to be much more dramatic. Many people want to purchase a story as
much as they want to purchase a piece.

Definitely get a manicure, and wear your pieces. In either style of
dress, your hair needs to be styled. Also in either case, your
clothing NEEDS to be upscale – good cloth, good cut. Most people
do not go to Bergdorf’s to go “slumming” – they expect a level of
sophistication and an aura of belonging.

Tell us how it goes!


First - Congratulations! A 10-day show is a huge accomplishment,
particularly since you managed to pull it out of a near - disaster.

Second - Inhale Pink, Exhale Blue…! This isn’t World Peace…sadly.
“It’s Just Jewelry” - This is a mantra I have repeated countless
times over nearly 2 decades of regularly scheduled, monthly shows at
Saks in Beverly Hills, et al. (I’ve even managed to talk down a few
medication - challenged customers with the Mantra and a comforting

For a venue like Bergdorf’s - you should present yourself as a
professional. You are an artist, so you have some leaway, but for
emotional comfort and practical purposes, I would keep it simple -
especially since you will be wearing your jewelry, of course (!)
and you will also be demonstrating pieces from the collection.
Jacket, top with simply neckline, and pants are perfect. Keep to
solid colours and/or black simply because they will make for a better
background for your jewelry. The fake nails are a disaster - trust
me… But if it makes you feel more confident, get (or do) a simple
manicure, but with a clear polish, no colour - so you won’t have to
obsess about a chip. Don’t do anything radically new with your hair
or your clothes, or that’s all you’ll be thinking about. Your focus
needs to be on others, not yourself. And wear comfortable (but neat)

Do not let the idea of a “BG customer” be intimidating. You are
your best salesman. You know more about your work than anyone and
that’s exactly why you are there - to share the magic. If you love
what you do, and your designs have meaning to you - that’s what you
talk about. Let people in on the happy secret of the pleasure you
take in creating your work. It’s contagious, I promise. Absolutely -
yes - be friendly and warm, and smile. Always look busy, if only
fussing with the display or making notes. Some people are hesitant to
get “sucked in” by an over-eager “rep” or salesperson. Bored-looking
people are also a turnoff. Allow people their moment to approach and
cruise the case. In that way, you have a moment to take their
temperature, as it were. If they zero in on a particular piece, you
have an opening to comment on it - and introduce yourself as the
designer. If 2 or more are shopping together, and someone comments
favorably to another, use that as your foot-in-the-door opportunity
to say “thank you” and introduce yourself. If someone is wearing an
interesting piece of jewelry ( or anything else) compliment her -
start the conversation. Same if they mosey by with a cherubic child
or adorable dog. Say so - especially about the dog(!). Why not?
Everyone loves a compliment. If some keep on going - they keep on
going. But, others - because your kind words and interest
interrupted their train of thought - will stop for a moment, and
look, and - you have your opportunity to engage them. Some of my
best sales and best friendships happened because I took the time to
chat about things completely unrelated to jewelry (lol).

Don’t think that I am being mechanical about this - I am utterly in
love with what I do, and I’m most at ease when I am talking about my
work. Lots of folks will get it, a few won’t… This is Show Business

  • you are selling the idea, the romance, of your work.

Management will undoubtedly frown on your handing out your own
contact But ask all the pertinent questions of the
person who is setting up the show so there are no missed cues or
stepped-on toes. It’s only a stupid question if you don’t ask it.
DON’T ASSUME - You already had a taste of how well that works. Get
policies clear - and certainly get the procedures very clear - about
how, where, and when you deliver your work, how the paperwork needs
to be prepared, how you get paid for sales, and how you get your
unsold merchandise back. Usually, even for a trunk show, merchandise
has to be ticketed before it goes on the selling floor for big stores
like BG. They should have this all spelled out on paper
for you. I have no idea how BG works - each store has its own arcane
way of doing things.Do you do custom or special orders? Customers
will ask. Find out what the store policy is for that contingency.

Here’s a thought: Do you live in NY? If it’s practical, even though
the show is coming up fast, you might consider calling the dept.
manager and asking if you may come in a couple of days early and
introduce yourself to him/her and meet the sales associates.
(Unless the buyer has taken care of that.) It might take some of the
edge off the newness for you, and your best asset is a supportive and
enthusiastic sales staff.

Good Luck - !
Margery Epstein

Congratulations on your trunk show - what a great opportunity.
You’ll be a smashing success. In my studio I keep quotes stuck on
the wall which help me either be creative or feel happy about life.
Here is one I have above my work desk - sorry I don’t know to whom I
should give credit, but the message is great. Remember it and enjoy
all the rave reviews you get for your work.

"Remember that others are supposed to gain pleasure from your works
as much as you do, and who are you to stop them enjoying such
things? "


Dawn, CONGRATULATIONS!!! That is just too awesome. I agree with all
the others on the excellent advice you’ve been given so far. I would
like to add one more bit. Do spring for a manicure. No fake nails,
but definitely take care of your hands. I used to do a lot of
quilting and one of the things that was added to guest contracts for
the quilting TV shows was that the guest had to have gotten a
manicure. For some reason people just don’t want to see a close up of
someone’s “shopworn” hands. So, let your hands be dressed up nicely
too! :slight_smile: Most of all, enjoy your show. We are all rooting for you.

Betty Leeper

Hello Dale, You’ve receive loads of great and I thought I
could add a few pointers that are also important.

Merchandising your work is an essential “draw” towards your work.
Try making the display necks graduated in height by creating a center
focal point (put your best piece here) and step down the other necks
on either side. They usually have blocks to do this. This is to
eliminate the flat horizon of necks. Add earring stands and
bracelets that coordinate with the work to tell the story. If
necklaces are a key item for you, you can put more than one
coordinating necklaces on each neck. You might want to ask the
manager if they have extra necks for you to use before you arrive
and if not buy or borrow from another artist.

You might want to think about how you’re going to set up the "story"
before you get there and draw a picture. If your displaying your
work outside the case as most trunk shows are, you’ll need to break
it down at night and either take the pieces with you or put them in
the store safe. You might want to take a polaroid of the display so
you can make it easy to set up each day.

Be sure to have the pieces priced which includes the store mark-up
before you arrive. The manager will provide you with the necessary
mark-up. You might also want to discount your work to a customer
that is buying multiple pieces. Bring your own calculator and know
the formula. For example, if BG mark-up is 55%, you take your
wholesale price $100 and divide it by .45 to get $222 retail. .55 +
.45 percent = 100 percent. To find the wholesale price again when
selling, take $222 and multiply it by .45 to bring you back to the
$100 wholesale price.

When people walk up to your work, introduce it by saying something
like, “This is Dale … collection that is created with 18k and
precious The pieces are designed from ancient
relics…” At some comfortable point introduce yourself as the
designer. When you see interest, pick up a piece and hand it to them
to feel the weight and encourage them to try it on. This is when you
start to talk specifically and romance the piece. Getting it in
their hands and on their body is a great tool.

Security is also important! The large ticket items you might want
to have closer to you and not at the edge of the case, if you’re
displaying them outside the case. If your display is outside the
case, remove all pricey pieces before you go to lunch. You might
also want to call security to let them know that you need them to
keep the camera on your area while you’re away. You are often
relying on sales people who are making other sales.

You also might want to create a contest with the sales people to
encourage interest/sales. Choose a dollar amount for the top seller,
say $5,000 for the 10 days. You already have the piece chosen and
you show them their incentive. If they don’t make the goal, you
might want to give them something smaller for their effort. Usually
there is a trunk show sheet that lists the daily sales. Be sure and
get a copy of this before you leave the store. This is your record
of the event.

I did many trunk shows for Neiman Marcus and I was often picking
compound out of my nails on the way there because I was usually
working until the last minute. Although, I just found out that #10
volume cream peroxide developer used for bleaching hair is great for
bleaching nails of nasty compounds.

Anyway, the sparkle in your eye and in your jewelry is the greatest
selling point. Just have FUN!

Cheers, Reba

Holy Smokes! Take a deep breath and focus on the wonderful
opportunity in front of you! You managed to make the proverbial
lemons into lemonade. I remember being a wreck for my first ritzy
show and it turned out to be fine. You do need to protect yourself
with some sort of written agreement regarding even though your show
is just days away. You’ll want to nail down things like, what’s
being shown, how it is priced, how much of a cut they get, how you
will be paid, when you will be paid, what happens with the leftover
inventory, etc…there have been posts on trunk shows in the orchid
archive so you can peruse those for as well.

The best thing you can do about your appearance is to relax. Wear
something nice that makes you feel confidant and comfortable, wear
comfy shoes, get a nice, simple manicure and try to have fun. People
are going to focus on the beauty and craftsmanship of your work and
not on your nails and hair. You are there to educate people about
your pieces and mine this experience for new contacts and
opportunities. Good Luck!

Genevieve in New Bedford where the fall color is spectacular and the
Portuguese food is fabulous! @genevieve_m_hunt

 "Remember that others are supposed to gain pleasure from your
works as much as you do, and who are you to stop them enjoying such
things? "                                                         

This seems like the perfect lead-in to a thread of favorite
inspirational quotes. Here are two of mine: Legend has it that Thimas
Edison tried 25,000 things before he found the right material to work
as a light bulb filament. He was asked whether it discouraged him to
fail 25,000 times. He responded, “I didn’t fail at all. I learned
twenty-five thousand things that don’t work.”

Another is a quote from Mother Theresa. I know she said this-- I saw
it on tape. “To be a saint is oh so simple. But to be simple is oh
so difficult.”

Here’s one more for good measure-- Many years ago, I was at a
ceramics workshop (back in my early days of being a professional
potter) and the presenter was asked, how does one develop a unique
style? The presenter said, “You just get your hands on enough clay.”

I hope you like these.