Beautiful Handmade Statement Necklaces and other Fabulousness from Neena Shilvock - Inspirations and Designs From the Week Gone by
Hello readers, thanks for coming by the Caprilicious Blog. This week has been coloured in blues and greys as we attended the funeral of a much loved friend at the weekend. I wasn't in much of a mood to make anything after the funeral, but I conditioned a load of old polymer clay, and the physical effort of moving that plasticizer around helped to put things in a better light.
So, how does one buy jewellery from a person who has identified herself as the designer and maker? During my shows in India, I am in attendance for the two days, walking around, smiling until my face aches, helping people try on pieces of jewellery, greeting people as they walk in and straightening out displays as they get mussed up by enthusiastic customers.
I try to be unobtrusive and let them wander around, just mentioning to each of them that they should give me a shout if they have any questions, but moving in quick smart to help, when it looks like they need help undoing a clasp.
I don't sit around chatting with friends, scrolling through messages on a telephone, chewing gum or generally behaving as if I don't care - because I do, I care very much. My friends who come along to help all take my lead and get with the programme. So what happens? Let me tell you the story of a few pieces I sold at my shows.
There was the lovely pair of earrings in the picture. I followed this couple to the display when it appeared that they might have an interest in them and the gentleman was turning the earrings over in his hands.
He asked 'silver?' and I go 'yes'. And that was all. He said 'I'll take it', while the lady stood by with dead eyes and an unsmiling face. I was about to launch into an explanation about the earrings, but he just pushed past me and went to the counter to pay for them. I wondered whether he was buying them for his girlfriend with the wife standing by ( or the other way around)! Surely not? But why then was she so disinterested? I wasn't expecting her to clap her hands together like a seal, but a smile, and a casual 'they're pretty' wouldn't have choked her.
Then there was a necklace made of white coral and fire polished Czech glass beads. I carry most of my stock to my shows on the premise that if no one sees it, no one's going to buy it. This one was making it's second appearance at a show.
And along came this couple. He picked up various pieces of jewellery and turned them over in his hands, peering at them through thick bottle top glasses. She followed two paces behind like a good Indian wife, obediently trying on the ones he liked so that he could see them on a 'real' person. She didn't say a word through the entire time, not even a nod or a squeak, as far as she was concerned the lights were on but no one was home.
He leaned towards me and in a loud stage whisper 'give me a good price and I'll buy it', he said. I am no good at this game. My prices are fair, and I even lower them a tiny bit to compensate for the money I will save from not having to make a Paypal transaction. But in India, bargaining is a sport, and I had to learn quickly how to play the game. I asked him what he thought was a 'good' price, and then moved up from there.
'Ha,ha, haaa,' I laughed 'I can't do that!'. 'How about .....' and so on - after all I have been brought up by my mother who is a champion at the art. I probably would've been too, I've just lived in the UK too long and lost it.
And all the while, the lady stood by, looking vacantly around, completely uncaring whether her husband actually bought the damn thing or not.
The Gypsy in Stilettos is a statement piece made using large, colourful beads, and I love it. My friend Sheela was standing by it when a woman walked in, looked at it in disgust and said 'this necklace should have had just the one bead, these beads are too large'. Sheela, who is one of the best salespeople I know, and can talk the hind leg off a donkey and make sense while she's doing it, was nonplussed - after all the customer's always right (allegedly). Was the woman accepting that she had no personality? Amazing!!
There is no answer to such an inane statement, but I am happy to report that the necklace was bought by a lady with bags of 'personality' who wore it home with a big smile, and allowed me to take a photograph of her wearing it as she walked out the door.
There were the seemingly enthusiastic ladies who tried on everything, moving jewellery from one table to another, leaving us to put them back and then walking out with nothing.
And an old classmate who said 'why is the necklace you are wearing so expensive - look at what I have on, it's only ......' and then conceding that her necklace was made of glass beads, and mine of semiprecious gemstone beads and an Ethiopian Coptic Cross which is expensive, but beautiful and irresistible to someone in the know.
And the lady who said that her older daughter had an art jewellery shop herself and she was looking for a birthday gift for her. Unfortunately, according to the mom, said daughter "didn't wear 'junk', only gold and diamonds, although she displayed it in her shop". I said "perhaps I ought to contact your daughter, maybe she'd like to put some of my 'junk' in her shop" and she had the grace to look shamefaced at her laissez faire usage of the word. 'No, no no', she said 'I didn't mean your jewellery was junk, just that it wan't gold and precious stones'. The younger daughter who was with her tried on a load of stuff, and looked great in them but wouldn't buy any, even though her mother offered to pay - who knows what that was about.
So, thus far, I've told you how not to do it. If this was the norm, it would've been a soul destroying experience and I wouldn't have gone back again. However, I've been back for not just a second, but a third helping, so it can't have been all bad.
These ladies put their pieces of Caprilicious on as soon as they bought them and had a picture taken at the show. It was such a nice moment and it felt so good to be appreciated. These are just a few of the ladies who make it a pleasure to carry my jewellery all the way to India. I am happy for people to come home and look through my cases after the show if they couldn't make it on the day and I never mind taking them out and putting them away over and over again - it feels like a privilege when I find people who like Caprilicious.
I found this meme on Mortira Van Pelt's blog, Inspirational Beading and thought I'd share it here.
At the tail end of the week, I received proofs for my tutorial in Bead and Jewellery Magazine. The editor is working flat out through Easter to get the magazine on the shelves for the 9th of April, and it is looking good, isn't it? I thought I'd give you, my readers a sneak peek. It perked me up no end!
That's me for this week folks. Have a fabulous week and I'll catch you next week, same time, same place. Oh, and Happy Easter!
Hey Neena. Sorry for your loss.
26/3/2016 08:39:57 am
Thanks Arti, it is always interesting to see another person's viewpoint - I for one am happy to chat about how each piece is made -ad infinitum -but people seem to think that they can be rude with impunity in spite of me telling me I am the artist. Perhaps they don't believe it? One woman even said so to my face:)
26/3/2016 10:38:16 am
The one thing I have noticed with customers is that most of them dont want to know how a piece is made - they start by asking what material it is but they feel somewhat offended or disinterested when you give them a little background. So I usually stay away from it and help them only with the payment
26/3/2016 11:08:41 am
Oh no, I believe that the jewellery I make are pieces of me - metaphorically speaking, of course. For every one who is disinterested, there are three that are really nice - and they are my target customer - the ones who will come back for more the next time I am around.
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