Welcome to November!

Normally at this time of year, I am in full holiday market mode with weekend events and pop-up shops. But unfortunately, COVID has made in person shopping impossible, leaving makers and artists no choice but to move their work online. It’s been quite a change for everyone, with both pros and cons to this evolving internet market landscape.

PRO: Folk can now see amazing handmade work by local makers from anyplace in the world, at any time of day, as long as they have a device that can access the internet and a signal strong enough to stay online. That’s kinda nice.

CON: If you don’t know a maker (like me) exists in the first place, it’s pretty hard for someone to serendipitously find you online. But let’s say someone does find my website (and since you’re reading this, you obviously HAVE, so thank you.) they will have to depend on the accuracy of my photos (and internet speed) to form an opinion and make a purchase. I will admit that I’ve gotten better at pictures, but I get frustrated when I can’t capture natural stone colors how I want to. And even if I think I’ve gotten it edited just right, computer screen colors can vary, and I’ll never know if what you’re seeing on my site is how you’d see it at a show.

Colors and displays aside, jewelry shopping is also a very in person experience that involves more than just your eyes. There’s a feeling that comes when a specific stone finds you, and I have no idea how to recreate that kind of magic online. But, if magic is truly magic, then it should still happen, right?

PRO: I don’t have to haul all of my work from place to place in suitcases. I’m always worried that I’ve forgotten to bring something with me, and my bags are pretty heavy at baseline.

CON: I’m proud of my current in-person display, and this year you won’t get to see it.  My set up has certainly come a LONG way since my first show with Minneapolis Craft Market. I remember how nervous I was for the event. I planned and planned and planned, completely sure that I had thought of everything. On the big day my friend and I arrived early, unpacked the suitcases, and put my jewelry put on display. All I had to do was stand back and look friendly and conversational.

My Very First Show Display

Only a few people stopped to chat, and those that did were mostly friends who knew I would be there.

Looking around at the displays of vendors with consistent traffic, I noticed that their work was set up on higher, multi-tiered shelves. I hadn’t even thought about eye-level browsing! For the rest of the day, I watched as shoppers walked by my table, looking around at everyone else’s items up high, completely missing my jewelry on display down below.

At my next event I added height to the display, once again feeling overly confident that I had “figured everything out”.  Was I a success? No. My work was certainly more visible to passers-by, but now I had a new problem. Extra shelves meant more surface area to put things, and I had set out too many items to look at. It was cluttered. Once again, no one could really “see” my work. I had gone from being “too low” to “too much”.

I took this two-show-Goldilocks experience to heart, and started over. I emptied my heavy suitcases, took over my daughter’s toy corner, and dug in. I rearranged trays, boxes, and shelves. I moved necklaces and earrings from one side of the chaos to the other, overthinking everything. Eventually the puzzle pieces came together and I zeroed in on my current arrangement. For the final touches, I threw a purple tablecloth over everything to make the different levels look smooth, and set my work out on stunning wood slabs from TIMBER AND TULIP. I love the energy that the wood brings to my stones. The exposed grain catches everyone’s eye and the attention doubles as motivation for keeping my displays uncluttered. I store my larger inventory behind the table and bring things forward throughout the event, energized by those moments when a customer finds what they’re looking for. It’s like a completed treasure hunt for both of us!

Here are a few photos of my current display; the evidence of my determination to figure it out

I wish I could host a small and safe solo event this year. I’ve thought about setting up my table and taking appointments for in person browsing, but the doctor in me knows this is not realistic. Holiday shopping events are far from essential, and no matter how you try to arrange things, it’s still irresponsible to promote one with COVID cases on the rise. Maybe I’ll have an online “live” trunk show at some point. If I figure it out and choose a date I’ll let you know on Instagram and Facebook.*

With my backstory of display determination in mind, I’d like to tell you about this month’s stone, JASPER.  It comes in an endless array of patterns and colors making each piece quite beautiful and one of a kind. I have been using some lovely oval stones for the jasper I AMulets that I make year-round (look HERE to see them), but I also have these amazing jaspers that I’m excited for you to see. You can create your own jasper I AMulet with one of these special stones, add one to the I AMulet you already wear, or choose to put one on a chain as a solo pendant. It’s up to you. But remember, if you see a stone you like, it’s one of a kind; nab any jasper that calls to you

I’ve decided to pair jasper with the affirmation I Am Determined, an intention that I think fits my approach to November (and the end of) 2020. This month will be a meaty one with all the emotional trimmings: election 2020, COVID surges, and a big family holiday. Honestly, if you add in the hurricanes, fires, and Gd knows what else, it’s our collective determination to survive that will sustain us. No, jasper won’t erase the challenges ahead, but using it to set a determination intention will help you to stay focused and grounded throughout November’s tumultuous course. If you are willing to be honest with yourself about your current situation, it will be easier for you to move forward toward your goals with a positive and realistic outlook.

Here are some of my November intentions:

I am determined to: make it through Election 2020; meet this next round of quarantine head on; and figure out a physically distant, emotionally uncomplicated, family holiday on screen.

However you choose to word your own intentions for the month, stay determined to hang in there.

May your November be safe and healthy!


* Do you follow me on Instagram or Facebook? Please do! On IG I’m @melissacmark and on FB I’m @melissacmarkllc

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