Jewellery Trunk Shows Part 2 – Do’s and Dont’s


There are many secrets of success for jewellery trunk shows. Although they do not guarantee success or failure, some of them are very important to keep in mind when planning this type of show.

If you are the Jewellery Designer

  • Do your homework, find out as much about the event and agenda as you can. As the jewellery designer, you have the right and responsibility to know what’s going to happen & what you can do to help prepare for the event. Be prepared with questions about how to handle special orders, how invoicing works for pieces the jewellery designer brings, any discounts given & if they are shared by the boutique and jewellery designer, or if they will be absorbed fully by the boutique. The fewer unknowns, the less the stress on the day, and the better your performance as the jewellery designer will be. You’ll always have unknown variables at jewellery trunk shows, however, the fewer the better.
  • Do more homework, as the jewellery designer it’s your duty to ask the boutique what looks you should bring. Be time/season sensitive about the collection. Consider what day your show is, if it’s the office crowd & your jewellery trunk show is a weekday, bring jewellery that’s appropriate for them. If it’s close to Christmas, bring jewellery in sets, they’re an easier sell. Bring a range, especially if it is your first time there. You need to test the waters & don’t let any opportunities go by.
  • The jewellery designer should always be in control of how his/her jewellery is presented. Find out how much real estate is going to be allocated to the jewellery trunk show and if the designer needs to bring any displays. Always bring some if you have them, you never know if they’ll be needed. The boutique management may not always understand how the jewellery designer wants their merchandise to be presented.
  • Ask what the retail boutique is doing to spread the word about your jewellery trunk show. Promotion is vital to the success of any business. Make sure they have proper artwork and excellent photographs of your jewellery. Take the initiative to find out what local newspapers are in the boutique’s area and their contact information for community event coverage. Send them short press releases, or direct them to the retail boutique.
  • Bring extra invoices/note paper to jot down special orders. Bring lots of business cards. You’ll be surprised at how many people want a business card with the set they’re giving away. Bring extra things that retail stores normally give away because you don’t know how prepared the store might be. As the jewellery designer, it is ultimately your responsibility how the jewellery is perceived, from display to the moment the gift is unwrapped by the recipient.
  • Wear appropriate attire & bring an extra change of clothes just in case, I learned this the hard way when I spilled coffee on my white blouse 20 minutes before the show. As the jewellery designer, everything about you speaks about your line of jewellery. If you like you can bring extra jewellery for the staff to wear for the jewellery trunk show, this is a great way to display your pieces, but be prepared to give them away; unless they are too expensive to gift.  Embarrassment & poor handling of pieces can cause lasting damage. Having everyone wear your merchandise is great and nothing promotes the jewellery better than modelling it.
  • Remember the names of all of the staff that you work with on the day of the jewellery trunk show. Aside from the politeness of addressing each person by their name, it builds loyalty. You should follow up with a proper thank you note after your jewellery trunk show, a gift of your jewellery; if it is not too expensive, is always appreciated and will help promote your jewellery line for a long time to come.
  • As a jewellery designer you should offer to buy the staff coffee if you’re going to go out for one yourself. Aside from that being proper etiquette, it shows how much you appreciate their work. You should offer to take them to lunch, if there is time, but be mindful of company policies on that.
  • As a smart and respectable jewellery designer you should never do a jewellery trunk show at a boutique that does not regularly carry your jewellery designs. The reasons are:

1. The jewellery trunk show would not be properly advertised & turnout will be likely poor, since the boutique will not even invest in the jewellery, chances are, they will not invest in advertisement.

2. It will be embarrassing at the jewellery trunk show when customers ask what are the designs the boutique normally carries of the jewellery designer, and the answer is that they don’t carry the line. Interested customers will almost awalys ask what new designs the jewellery designer is bringing, and why this event would be different from the regular offerings.

3. It is also awkward for the boutique staff, knowing that the buyer/owner isn’t impressed enough with the jewellery designer’s designs to invest in merchandise. Also, it looks desperate on the part of the jewellery designer. This is never a good situation.

Lastly, the jewellery designer should bring at least a couple of changes of shoes, and consider flats. Most jewellery designers spend a great deal of time at the studio or office, often time in chairs, and do not know how difficult it is to stand all day (and tradeshows don’t count because booths are carpeted). Quite often, the boutique floors are hard surfaces, such as stone or tile. The hardship is usually underestimated!

If you are the Boutique Operator:

As a boutique operator and host of the jewellery trunk show, it is ultimately your responsibility to spread the word of the show. Here are some (if not all) of the things you should do: get free publicity by contacting the community events columnist in your local newspapers and radio stations, do advertisement in the local papers, call/email/snail mail your regular customers, print cards for walk in customers to pick up (these could be placed right under the designer’s show case and at the cash and given to each customer who visits the store, at least 4 wks prior to the jewellery trunk show). The more advertisement you do, the better the turnout and sales result of the event. The results are proportional to the effort!

As a boutique operator and host of the jewellery trunk show, it is your responsibility to organize and set the agenda for the day. Do let the designer know what to expect, so they can plan accordingly and bring proper jewellery, bring the proper displays and other presentation factors. The jewellery designer wants to help and you should give them as much information as possible for success.

As the host of the jewellery trunk show, like any good host, it is your responsibility, aside from proper etiquette, to do everything possible to make the guest, the jewellery designer, feel comfortable and appreciated. This would include: training your staff and getting them excited about the jewellery trunk show, they should offer (and company pay for) coffee or any refreshments & lunch.

For the jewellery trunk show, boutique staff should be properly trained to introduce the jewellery trunk show to every customer who walks into the boutique, as often many jewellery designers are shy and are inexperienced.

To build loyalty and a better relationship between the boutique and the jewellery designer, the boutique manager should take the jewellery designer out to lunch and get a chance to talk either about business, or just to get to know the jewellery designer better on a personal level, and vice versa. This goes a long ways to help build rapport and motivate staff as well.

As the host of the jewellery trunk show, it is very important to figure out the logistics, such as payment and ticketing, well in advance. It takes time to train staff, so be prepared on how you want it done. One option is to keep price tags of the designer’s jewellery separate, but it is much better to note this on each sales receipt, to avoid any confusion. All staff should be properly trained. Less confusion on the day the better, focus should be on sales!

Although no discount needs to be given, some boutiques do offer a 5% or 10% discount for the jewellery trunk show (not shared by the jewellery designer). Some boutiques offer a 5% “delayed gratification” discount to special orders, or orders to be picked up later.

To read about What are Trunk shows and their Benefits click here. To read about Trunk Show Experience click here. To read about Other Trunk Show Practices click here.