The Life of a Handmade Jewelry Show Girl

The life of a show girl is pretty glamorous, right? Well, that depends on the type of show girl youre talking about! For us handmade jewelry show girls, the life of an artist who travels the country to showcase jewelry at national and local trade shows can have its ups and downs.

Display set up "before"...

Display set up "before"...

Working at a trade show is, in general, a lot of hard work but its always worth it. Heres a snapshot of my life as a handmade jewelry show girl:

Show Girl prep begins way in advance

Aside from crafting handmade jewelry for the show, I have to figure out my display, which changes with the venue and my mode of transportation (plane, train, or automobile). Then, depending on whether the show is a high-end fine craft show (like the American Craft Council shows) or a more down-home show, I need to determine which of my handmade jewelry pieces I want to showcase.

Displays might change, but the experience does not

...and "after"! 

...and "after"! 

This is my favorite booth because it makes customers feel like theyre walking off the trade show floor and into a posh jewelry store. Unfortunately, I cannot always bring it with me, because this booth setup is only suitable for when I can drive to the show.

The entire thing breaks down into a bunch of metal rods, wood, glass, and plexiglass, along with the displays, lights, flooring and walls. All the pieces fill my car from top to bottom and it weights a ton (or so it feels like!). 

When I fly, I can only bring a few parts of my display cases and lights. Even with this lighter load, Ill end up taking three large suitcases (each weighing about fifty pounds), and two carry-ons with me. To say the least, this amount of luggage is as awkward as it is heavy.

Set up day is a very long day

It starts with a whirlwind of building the booth, putting up lights, and adjusting the tables. Then my creative side is unleashed, when I spend another two to three hours laying out my handcrafted jewelry just so. A preview party typically follows booth setup and usually lasts until 9:00 pm. PhewIm exhausted just thinking about it! 

By the time Im done for the night and ready to check into the hotel, Im in serious need of a snack and some shut eye—both of which are vital to surviving the next three days of presenting my best self and work to the world.  

Meeting new and old friends makes all the work worth it

When the trade show is in full swing, theres nothing I love more than chatting with fellow artist friends and interesting customers, meeting new people, hearing crazy stories, and, of course, selling my jewelry to customers who are just as excited about the pieces as I am!

When customers respond enthusiastically to my work, the feeling cannot be beat. As an artist, Im always hoping my jewelry makes a connection with someone I think all artists feel this way. And when the crowd is responding to what they see both my work and the work of my fellow jewelry show girls you can feel the energy increase on the show floor. 

The travel, good food, and great company feels like a mini-vacation

After those energy-filled days, I close down for the night and join my fellow artists and jewelry show girls for drinks and fabulous meals at great local restaurants. Overall, attending a show is a treat. I get to spend time with friends and enjoy a mini vacation during the evenings, which is just icing on the cake after a great show.

Lori Gottlieb