Trade Show Series (cont.) Guest - Yvonne Irvin

Monday, July 18, 2011

Our third Guest Yvonne Irvin is a whirling dervish of energy if I ever saw one. The first time I witnessed this master of color I knew we'd be friends! If you haven't met her - make a point to visit her when she's at one of the shows you attend. If you have - you'll understand when I say - talking to Yvonne is like that old phrase *"ninety or nineteen to the dozen" - she's energetic, outgoing and her personality is just as colorful as her product line! Most of all - I consider her a great friend.  I just adore her! So without further adieu- meet Yvonne Irvin.

1. What brand do you fall under (if any): Independent Jewelry Artist, Business Owner; Artisan and/or other:   ARTIST/CREATOR/Manufacturer of MyELEMENTS

2. What type of Trade Shows do you attend as a vendor (not buyer) and how many shows do you attend: BEAD SHOWS average 15 a year

3. How far in advance do you plan for each show (I.e. inventory, advertising, hotels):
Depends on size of show...Bead & Button & Bead Fest are my two largest so I need to get hotels/help lined up for that way in advance. As far as inventory...I make 80% of what I carry so I am always in the studio when not at shows.

4. What type of advertising do you use, if any:
Show calendar on web site, facebook, emails to customer list, sometimes in show flyers

5. Do you have any tips to prevent loss/theft at shows:
Keep an eye out, but bottom line is...I can’t live that way, constantly worried about someone taking my work...if they need it that bad they can just have all the bad mojo that comes with thievery and I also curse them with festering boils! :0)

6. Do you have a timeline for when and how to apply for tax permits or certifications for other states? And a good way to keep up with multiple permits and tax payment deadlines:
This is a real hard thing for an artist I love creating...all the business side is not my fav...I have some states that I WILL NOT do shows in just because they want me to file a claim every month even if I only do one show a year in their state (that's a waste of my time!)
then there are some wonderful States that will give you a transient tax number & you just fill it out after the show send your check & get on with the business of creating...I love writing checks to those states & thank them for being so user friendly.
As far as when to apply...check in months in advance to get your permits...we know how slow the wheels of bureaucracy turn....& good show promoters will have contact info in their contract about who to contact etc.

7. What suggestions do you have for display ideas that meet both convention center guidelines and fire marshal specifications:
For me display means sturdy, not heavy and ease up & down. When I started shows 6 years ago I asked my clever husband to make me shelving sturdy enough to hold my lights & jewelry displays. Also easy to assemble/disassemble.....
A place for my jewelry creations made from my product highlighted to show folks what they can do with my wares.
my art is very bright & no busy patterns on my displays/table coverings...I am there to sell my work/beads not win a interior decorating prize....I think clean & simple is best,,,its to show off what you have to sell & I utilize my space accordingly.
I have been at shows where people would set up grids etc & use a clothes pin to hold it together, first time someone bumped into their table half their display came down...I avoid this by having a sturdy, strong & still attractive display.
Most fabrics are fire retardant these days...I have never had issue with mine...common sense plays a role...don't drape organza/lace/plastic over super hot halogen bulbs.

8. Can you share tips for increasing sales:
BE WELCOMING! First & Foremost...let people know you are glad they are in your booth...don't push... just be your normal friendly self...when you go to someone's booth & their face is in a book or they are yakking on the tells me they are not concerned with whether or not I buy from them. This is my job & it’s a lot of work.....but I am just happy to be's a lot of energy doing these shows...& I am ON from the time the show starts till I close up at night...usually by Monday after a weekend long show I have no voice from talking so much...but how wonderful; for me to be making a living selling & making my art...I am so very happy to be able to say that.
Also important to have samples made from what you are selling...not everyone will know what to do with your have the finished product so they can see what can be done with what you have & keep it fresh...that is one reason why I have repeat customers who seek me out at shows...after 6 years they still never know what Yvonne has up her creative sleeve.

9. Outside of shows, how do you market yourself or your brand:
I do gazillions of residual sales on my Etsy site, once folks buy from a show they get home & like what they have made & voila I get an Etsy order from them...I am pretty technically Etsy has been a wonderful source for me...but you also get out what you put into it...I work it everyday!

10. Do you use a standard setup for every show you attend or do you adjust your setup for each show:
Adjust for each show...some shows I have larger spaces than others.
every show has its quirks....I will never forget my first Bead & Button show...I get up to Milwaukee go to set up my booth & realize the table top is only 24 inches wide...I need lots of real estate to put out enough product to make a good I was missing space for over 8 full trays of was awful...then a wonderful vendor had an extra sheet of plywood & I extended my table, now I have extenders made from gator foam take to shows I need to.
.. You have to figure out what kind of set up you want...
Some shows I do it’s just one table, others I have huge double booths...just depends on what kind of money is to be made at the show...I need customers & lots of them because of the low ticket price on most of my items. So I have to have room for all those customers so they cannot be crowded while picking & choosing....but if you are selling 75 dollar beads then you don't need as much room.

12. Optional: What makes you continue to attend shows as a vendor – I.e. money, marketing, social networking:
This is how I make my living...certain shows I know are going to be great, others I can talk my husband into going along somewhere different seeing a part of the country we haven't seen before & make it a mini that's always fun. Its trial & error these shows...just have to talk to other vendors & then just do different promoters’ shows & find which ones work best for you.
This business is A LOT of work & it’s much easier to have a REGULAR JOB & Get a REGULAR PAYCHECK...but for some of’s just not enough...I have to do my art & making other people happy with my creations & making a living at it...well I wouldn't have it any other way!
13. Additional comments:
An added bonus is some of the other vendors you meet ...well it’s just fantastic to enjoy the camaraderie of other creative like minded souls!!!

* Ninety or Nineteen to the Dozen literally means: pumps in coal and tin mines could clear nineteen thousand gallons of water for every twelve bushels of coal. Today it’s used to describe someone talking or moving at a breakneck speed.

Find Yvonne using these links:
Like Yvonne's comments to our questions - tune in Friday for Marsha Hedrick of Amazing Porcelain

Thanks for reading. Check a box. Leave a comment.


yvonne said...

Thanks Kelli

you are the bestest!!! & I actually sound like i got a little something going on!!!
you are true blue!

Lisa Peters Russ said...

Yvonne is one of the best surprises for me when I go to a bead show! If she is there.. and I know we are going to have some time to chat -- It makes my day! She is so energetic and artistic! and she is also a true friend and a very honest person who tells it like it is and I LOVE THAT About her! The Bead world would not be the same without her colorful style and personality! She is very special as is her work!

The Hole Bead Shoppe said...

lol Yvonne! You're wonderful.

@Lisa - I tried to give an accurate description of the Yvonne we know! I just wanted to do her justice! =oD She's so funny and loving! Thanks for reading and posting. xoxo

Pixybug Designs said...

I came across Yvonne years ago on Etsy and I Love Her art and supplies! I also love to tell my customers about her handmade MyElements pieces & they are always fascinated! I think a Lucy's garden charm bracelet with MyElements dangles would be awesome!

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