For the Love of the Craft

As I sit here preparing for my first craft show of the year, I am thinking about just how much work goes into preparing for a craft show. What’s funny is I know there are a lot of people out there who do a lot more preparation than I do.


Usually two nights before the show I double check my desk to make sure I do not have any recently created pieces still laying there. If there are pieces on the desk, they get put away into their respective places to make sure they end up at the show. Then I double check my packaging supplies to make sure everything is together. I really should do this a few weeks in advance to make sure I have enough, but I never think of that. Some day that will catch up to me and I’ll be making a craft store run just before a show.


The night before the show I take all of my items, tables, chairs, canopy, displays, etc. down to my living room and pile them near the front door. From here I usually take an inventory to make sure I have everything I will need. However, I have forgotten things on more than one occasion. Usually, it’s not something I can go without either. Perhaps I should consider making a checklist for shows to ensure I really do have everything. It would probably save headaches and fuel (from running multiple trips home).


Craft show days are usually early mornings. Depending on the show and its location, we’re talking earlier than most people get going during the week for work. It’s really amazing that crafters are awake, friendly, and functioning at shows sometimes because they’ve been up before dawn, loaded their gear, unloaded their gear, set up their booth and, depending on the time of year, are sitting there freezing cold or frying hot. I have trouble being cranky on a normal day when I get up too early. So remember, if the crafter at the booth in which you are standing doesn’t seem quite awake, they probably aren’t.


Craft shows are not often paying the bills. These long days and the wear and tear on the body are not always at the expense of big payouts. Even if customers might think things are overpriced, please keep in mind that this is often what it costs to be in business these days. It’s a hard market to be in. We do this for the love of it and possibly a little extra change. If nothing else, it’s enough to keep the business/hobby going.


Why do I write all of this? Not to make people feel bad for us and come out to support us, but because I really find the entire concept of craft shows to be quite ironic. People do it for the love of their craft and for the hope of making a little extra money. At least, that’s why I do it. I hope to hit it big eventually, but for now, it’s a labor of love. Before I got into this business, I would look at crafters and I couldn’t help but think “Wouldn’t it be easier to get a real job?” Now that I’m doing this, I’ve learned most of them have a “real job” and they balance their craft on top of it. It’s all done for the love of the craft.


Speaking of, perhaps it’s time to make sure I have everything I need for this weekend’s show. It’s supposed to be beautiful weather so I’m hoping we have a great turnout. If nothing else, I get to spend the day with my sister sitting out in beautiful weather surrounded by other great crafters and we only have to travel across town to do it!

This weekend’s show is as follows:

Manheim’s Artist’s Alley

Location: Manheim Railroad Station, 210 S. Charlotte St., Manheim, PA 17545

Time: 12-5PM


Hope to see you there!


Better Late Than Never – An Introduction

Better Late Than Never!

Hello! First, I want to say thank you to all of you who regularly read my posts. It means more than I can express. Second, I recently realized I have written all of these posts and never introduced myself. How rude of me!

My name is Gretchen Smith and I am a construction designer by day and a jewelry designer by night. Construction designer meaning I draw the plans for a residential remodeling company. I suppose the jewelry designer part is self-explanatory. I have been interested in designing and creating jewelry since I was young and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to move forward with my passion.

In 2008, I decided to move my jewelry designing from a hobby to a business. I enjoyed creating beautiful pieces for friends and family so much that I wanted to share it with others around me, too. I really thought I would always keep Gretchen Smith Jewelry as a small side-line business, but as time goes on and the business grows, I am feeling my calling to do more with jewelry. I am currently working on a certification through the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) which will help me dive further into the world of jewelry and gemstones.

At this time, my jewelry primarily revolves around sterling silver and gemstone beads. My goal for 2012 is to begin creating more wire and metal pieces. This will give me the opportunity to create true one-of-a-kind pieces and develop my own style. My hope is to continue creating jewelry that is affordable for every woman because I believe all women should have at least one piece of stand-out jewelry.

If you have not checked out my other sites, please feel free to do so

Gretchen Smith Jewelry

Gretchen Smith Etsy Site

If you have any questions about any pieces, please ask me. I love working with clients on the creation of one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces and also jewelry sets for bridal parties.

Okay, now I feel better. I really did feel guilty when I realized I never introduced myself.  Thank you for reading!

Photo courtesy of Len Bodnar

P.S. If you are in the Lancaster area this Saturday, June 9th, I will be participating in the Lititz AMBUCS Art and Craft Show in Lititz Springs Park. The show runs from 9:00AM until 4:00PM. Come on out and visit me!

Sticking to the Roots

As I approach my first show of the year this weekend, I find myself looking through my inventory and wondering if I’ll be “spot on” with my designs and style or if people won’t know how to take my style.

 I know, I should have more confidence, and I usually do, but I find myself questioning the first show each year. I think it reflects back on the very first show I attended. I sold a necklace and a pair of earrings. The small sale numbers didn’t bother me as much as the vendor across the aisle who told me I was “too high end for this show.” She told me I need to do glass and silver-plated metals in order to really make sales because people are more interested in having a lot of stuff than having a few quality items. I considered what she said quite seriously because she had customers in and out of her stand the entire day and she made a lot of sales.

 That show was in March of 2008. Over the past four years, I have thought a lot about what that vendor said to me. I explored doing less expensive jewelry. I explored using lesser-expensive materials. I had set my mind on what I was going to do and this idea of changing wasn’t working well for me. I continued to find myself falling back to what I liked. I love sterling silver and natural gemstones (even if they are modified for color, stability, etc.). I love simple elegance that can be worn to the office and out to dinner. I’m a fan of wearing jewelry that people aren’t quick to ask if I made it because it doesn’t look handcrafted.

 Now, I’ll admit I do make some pieces with glass and silver-plated metals. I want my jewelry to be accessible to everyone. I do keep my simple elegance style in these pieces. I believe every lady deserves a piece of beautiful jewelry and I believe every lady should own a piece of beautiful jewelry. However, I try to stick to my business “roots” as much as possible. Those “roots” involve sterling silver and gemstones.

 Why am I telling you all of this? Because I have learned an important life lesson through my jewelry business. This lesson is important whether you sell jewelry, work in automotive, or spend your day doing research in the woods. I have learned how important it is to stay true to my dreams and goals and the “roots” of my business. You might not have your own business, but it’s vital to stay true to your “roots” of life. These are those things you believe in deep down inside.

 Rather than creating the style of jewelry another vendor thought I should create, I have changed the type of shows I attend. Instead of changing what I believed was a quality product, I stuck with it and I am proud of it. I am much happier working with what I love instead of doing what someone else thinks I should do.

I tell you this to encourage you to reach for your dreams. Don’t put yourself in debt or danger doing it though. Do it slowly, but do it. Establish your “roots” and stick with them. Maybe we can get there together.

 Thanks for reading!