Whether you’re just beginning to dip your toes into the world of beading and jewelry making or you’re a professional designer there is one kind of event that gives you an unbeatable way to find just what you’re looking for. I’m talking, of course, about a wholesale bead show!
What is a Bead Show?
A bead show is a trade show in which all the vendors specialize in selling beads and other jewelry making components. From one of a kind artistic lampwork beads, to hill tribe silver, hand carved bone, stone, painted wood, seed beads, semi-precious, Czech firepolish and pressed glass and of course Swarovski crystal, you will find it all and then some at your local bead show.
Many vendors also offer stringing materials, finished jewelry or jewelry kits, and even tools. Bigger shows offer classes by big names in bead design who’s designs you might have seen in some of the major beading magazines.
Why go to a bead show?
Most bead shows charge a nominal entrance fee (usually under $10, most often $3-$5) which can make some people reluctant if they’ve never been. Sure, you can save the pocket change and shop online, with many of the same companies and get the same exact products but there are some major advantages to coming to a bead show.
The first one is that there is nothing like seeing the beads in person. Computer screen settings can really affect how you view the colors which make it tough to match the beads you may already have. Seeing how light interplays with your crystal is invaluable to knowing how a particular color will look when incorporated into a finished piece.
You can also get a good sense for sizes and heft as well as the feel of the beads. Armed with that information you can then order more online and know exactly what you are getting! Additionally, some vendors have short series of unique and beautiful beads that they don’t even put on their websites because there are so few of them. These beads are often only available at bead shows so it’s worth to take a look and see what you might be missing!
The second advantage of attending the bead show is educational. Vendors know a lot about their products and if they aren’t too busy ringing up sales, you can learn about new colors, shapes, styles, and the latest trends from the very people in the business! Venders might be able to suggest colors, designs and give you a whole host of new ideas.
Your fellow beaders will be there to learn from too. Even if you don’t take a class, you’ll be able to admire and appreciate the beautiful jewelry everyone around you is wearing (and show yours off too!). The atmosphere is fun and friendly and you might be able to get some tips from people who’ve been in the business for years!
Besides experiencing the beads in person and learning something new, attending a bead show is also a great way to make personal contacts, not only with venders, but with other beaders as well. We’ve had some of our customers make sales of the jewelry they were wearing right at the show! The seasoned designer will always not only bring along business cards but several finished pieces just in case.
Finally, the biggest draw of course is the deals and sales! Bead shows are where the savvy shop to get the very best prices and biggest discounts! We have $1 bins, $2 strands and 50% off bins that will knock your socks off!
Bead Show Tips
If you’re just getting ready to attend your first bead show, here are some tips so you can make the most of your experience.
If you have a project in mind, write down some ideas, check the websites of the vendors who are going to be there and start thinking about what you’re looking for so you don’t get distracted by all the beautiful beads and go home with an impulse buy that you don’t know what to do with. Not that going with the flow is a bad idea. Sometimes if you don’t know what you want to do or are feeling “beader’s block” it makes sense to show up with a blank slate. Let the beads that draw you inspire your next project rather than going hunting for what will fit your ideas.
When you first get in, make a quick round of the vendors, marking the ones who seem to have the things you’re looking for so that you remember to return. If something really unique and beautiful catches your eye, however, it might be a good idea to snap it up, especially if quantities are limited (and even if they are not, it is not unusual for professional beaders to show up and clean a vendor out of some of their more interesting and beautiful beads).
If you are looking to turn a hobby into a business, make sure to collect business cards (and hand yours out if asked), connect with venders and other beaders via social media and show off your creations! This can increase your business greatly and springboard you into becoming a professional!
If you have any other tips and tricks you’d like to share, let us know in the comments! Meanwhile, come by to see us at our next show near you! For a listing of our bead shows click here.
See you soon!