Trunk Shows - Report from the trenches: 7 Steps to Success

Do you have Trunk Show phobia? Been burned by a less than fantastic experience? Fear you’ll organize a show and no one will come? Haven’t a clue how to begin?

Take it from a veteran designer with Trunk Show experience of dozens of shows yearly, it’s all in how you do it. Plan smart. Shows are a natural marketing tool and can add a great boost to sales.

A seven step plan to avoid pitfalls and maximize success:

• Step 1. Choose your designer

Fit your market niche or open up a new one. If you do mostly bridal, consider introducing colored gems. Seek out what’s fresh, new, exciting. The artisan look is hot now. Target designers with a story who promote it well. What styles appeal to your clientele - traditional, fashion-forward? Designers may do Trunk Shows for stores that don’t yet carry their line.  Use shows to test market new looks.

Pick a designer who’s “hands on” - providing logistic and marketing support. I provide a complimentary package including postcard invitations designed specifically for the store, ready to mail (stores order anywhere from 100 to 2000), press releases and digital photos for local media, interviews (I’ve even done live radio interviews during shows) and promotional materials such as catalogs and bio cards.

• Step 2. Set the date

You want maximum draw. Before the holidays - October thru December— - often packs the most punch. But Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day can also work. Will weekends or weekdays heighten the response? Consider an extra after hours party type event for selected clientele.

Designers often schedule even a year in advance, but generally a month preparation is sufficient. 

Avoid pitfall: Not choosing an effective date and time for maximum traffic.

• Step 3. Create the buzz

Consult with your designer, develop your PR plan and get to work! Plans can include ads (I provide camera ready ads), e-mail and Facebook blasts. Tell select clients, “We have a designer coming that I think you’d really enjoy.” The personal touch is magic. Have on hand pre-show catalogs, brochures, bio cards with the designer’s website. If you don’t already have some pieces from the designer, consider investing in a starter collection to tantalize clients.

Avoid pitfall: Not getting the word out.

• Step 4. A few days before the show

Check in with your designer to be sure everything’s set. Have an area in your store ready - generally 10 feet of linear space is sufficient. Mirrors are a must! Familiarize your staff with your designer’s line and story. Do you want to provide some refreshments? Have a Wish Book on hand to record customers’ favorite pieces - as well as contact information and birthdays.  Review store policies such as special show discounts, layaway and inventory procedure for show sales.

• Step 5. The big day!

Now’s the time to capitalize on your preparations and have fun! Let your designer tell her story and work her magic.

I love to connect with clients at shows and get feedback for future Collections. Your designer can add the personal touch - suggest pieces for individual clients, custom alter pieces for them. Customers love to meet designers and may even ask for autographs. Your goal is to develop repeat clients as fans who become collectors.  Have extra staff available to help as multiple sales often cluster - buzz creates draw!

• Step 6. Follow up

A must! Many sales often come following the show. Shortly after, contact clients who were considering pieces during the show but didn’t complete the sale. E-mail pictures of their chosen pieces. Contact their “significant other” for birthdays and anniversaries - from your show’s Wish Book. I add new clients from shows to my regular designer e-newsletters with plenty of tantalizing photos to keep interest stoked, a most effective marketing strategy!

Evaluate the show. What worked? What didn’t? What can you do better next time?

It’s highly recommended to have a selection of the designer’s inventory on hand after the show for follow up sales, based on what worked during the show. You’ve created the buzz, now’s the time to capitalize on it!

Avoid pitfall: Neglecting strong follow up.

• Step 7. Long range plan

Build on your success. For successful shows, set up a plan for regular shows with that designer. Your goal is to cultivate an additional loyal customer base that will add a new engine to your sales.

Remember, everything you put out in terms of promotion comes back, though sometimes not thru the same channel! All advertising has a good effect. Even in lean times, the smart move is to promote more. Trunk Shows are an ideal vehicle to expand your client base, generate sales, and add designer buzz to your store’s profile.

Mia Katrin is an award-winning jewelry designer featured in over 70 top stores nationally. She is available for lectures and seminars. To add her Collections or book a lecture:, 877 539-3569,


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