Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Interview with Flea Chic Fab: Professional Advice For Selling at Art & Crafts Shows


Last month I met Nichole Aguero of Flea Chic Fab at the Arts on Stage event at the Peabody Auditorium. Nichole had an impressive display and many sales throughout the weekend. She and I had a talk about the differences between and selling at shows versus selling online. The following is an interview that I did with her to help my friends and blog followers who would like to get started or who need advice about selling at Arts and Crafts Shows. Nichole's vintage upcycled vintage jewelry is very unique and she also has a new Etsy Store for Vintage items.


Your display and customer traffic at the Peabody was very impressive. I love how you used vintage and found items in your work. How long have you been making and selling your work?

Thank you so much for your kind words. I began dabbling with various jewelry techniques about 2 1/2 years ago. Around the same time, my grandmother began volunteering at a local Thrift Shop where they were throwing away vintage jewelry with any flaw or imperfection. She began to save these discarded treasures, and after a couple of months she stopped by my house with two HUGE bags. She plopped them on my dining room table and said "I know that there is something that you can do with these". After many tedious hours of of working with various pieces, I realized that that when you combine old and new jewelry the result can be astounding. The start up of my business was a bit of a whirlwind, I did my first show 3 weeks after making my first recycled vintage piece. It was at this first show that I realized that I had a marketable product. My pieces sell best at Art and Craft shows, so I try to do at least 3 shows a month.


What other interests or hobbies do you have besides jewelry making, or what influences your work?

Since childhood I have been a lover of all things vintage. My mother used to say that I was born in the wrong era because of the hours I would spend watching old movies or reading about fashion and history from years long gone. Theatre was also a big part of my life growing up, so I was constantly surrounded by beautiful costumes and stunning jewelry. I vividly remember the first time that I went into a costume room, looking around at the rows of endless vintage clothing and the drawers full of costume jewelry...I thought that I had died and gone to heaven!! In more recent years, my biggest hobby has been scouring Flea Markets and Estate Sales for hidden treasures. Last month I launched an Etsy site White Elephant Wares where my primary focus is selling vintage items that I have found. I believe that all of these factors influence my work, my deep appreciation and passion for vintage is what drives me forward. It is what I get up and out of bed for everyday.


Can you tell me about the shop you and your parents opened in Lakeland, FL (
209 McDonald St.)? Is your family a big influence in your creative or business endeavors?

August was certainly a busy month for my parents and I with the opening of our brand new shop; Black Swan Bazaar. We have various artists and collectors which rent out space within the shop and a huge portion of the store dedicated to the consignment of home decor and accessories, including but not limited to vintage and antique items. Our primary goal is to provide our customers with a unique and affordable experience. As for my parents, they are my heroes. Throughout the years they have always stood beside me with encouragement and wisdom. I am very blessed to have them in my life.


Do you have any advice for online sellers who would like to start selling at arts and crafts shows? What is the most the important aspects of having success at shows?

Joining the art and craft show circuit can be quite daunting in the begininng. Much of what I have learned over the last couple of years has been from trial and error. My first suggestion is to PLAN AHEAD, before you enter your first show write out a business plan. Know your demographic; Who are you selling your product to? Once you have an understanding for who you are trying to attract, you can then draw out a sketch of what you would like your set up to look like. Each booth at a show is like a miny store front, if it is not aestheticly pleasing people will not show interest. Visit some art shows to scout out what other vendors are doing, this will inspire you to come up with a style that is all your own. It is also important that your set up it cost, time, and space effective. Typically (but not always) a vendor will be alotted a 10 X 10 FT space at each show, be sure that your set up will fit into this space. When I do a show, I know exactly how long it is going to take me to build up and break down my set up. Each item that I use in my display can be easily put together and each item has a specific place where it is packed in my car before and after the show. I have a system. Make a list of every item that you will need for the show (table, jewelry racks, chairs, cash box, change, etc.) and mark off each item as you set up. I see artists forget important things like change all the time, this will directly affect your sales. Make sure you’re display is neat and orderly, what do you want your customers’ first impression of your shop to be? Also, I would suggest that you invest in a white tent for those horribly hot summer shows! Another important step to take while you are in the planning stage is to sit down and research various arts and craft shows that you might be interested in. I try to plan out what shows that I am going to be in a couple of months in advance because most shows do have deadlines. Start with a small show, and get to know the other artists. Some of the best shows that I have been in, I have learned about from a vendor I spoke to at another show! I also make sure that at each show I have an available list for customers to write their email address on; this way I can contact them when I have another show in the area. I also like to take notes on each show (what was the turn out, how many sales did I have, what was the response to my product) so that the following year, I can easily decide if I would like to be a part of it again. The most important thing that I can tell you is to LEARN TO ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES! This industry is such that anything can change at the last minute whether it be the weather or the location of your booth. Always have a backup plan and a positive attitude, after all, we do have the best job in the world!


Do you have favorite tips for closing sales or favorite books or techniques for marketing and selling?

I have done a bit of research on marketing and selling a product and I found that there are a couple of simple things that you can do that will directly affect your sales. I greet every person that walks by my booth with a big smile and a positive attitude. While someone is looking at my pieces, I am sure to explain that each piece is one of a kind and that they will never see another exactly like it. Make them feel special, like that piece was made specifically for them. I think of every person who walks into my booth as a customer and I treat them as such. It is also very important that YOU believe in your product/art, if you don’t then no one will. Also, if a customer is looking at a piece (pertaining to jewelry and accessories) I always let them know that they are more than welcome to try it on, I want them to envision that piece as if it were already theirs. I try to make the atmosphere of my shop as relaxed as possible. I have read quite a few books on marketing, but the one that is on my nightstand at the moment is Dan Kennedy’s “No B.S. Marketing to the Affluent” which is helping me take my business and art to a different level.

Is there anything else that you would like to share about your work?

Above all, I love my art. Making and selling jewelry has helped me to evolve and strive to be my own personal best. I believe that every person needs a creative outlet whether it be drawing, jewelry, pottery, or theatre because it helps you learn about yourself. I feel incredibly fulfilled and blessed to be doing what I love to do on a daily basis.
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