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Hello Baltimore! What I Did at the ACC Show

Karin Jacobson new retailer show news travel

I just got back from the American Craft Council trade show and thanks to both the ACC and the city of Baltimore, I had a blast! The show itself is five days long—with two days of wholesale and three days of retail— so it makes for a long week, but a fun one! Shows like ACC give me the opportunity to meet with buyers from stores and galleries and to also sell to the design-loving public. Folks who attended this show came not just from Baltimore, but also all around the area, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C. I met some fabulous people and had a great time networking and showing off my designs.   

Karin Jacobson Jewelry Design in Baltimore at the American Craft Show
Clockwise from top left: my booth just after set-up; jewelry in the showcase; showing off my earrings of the day on Instagram; the marketing director for the American Craft Council is showing off my necklace on a local Baltimore news segment - free press!!

New Stores and Great Connections

The first few days were wholesale, which means I met with dozens of store buyers scoping the show for new design partners. In addition to my regular re-orders, I’m excited to add a fantastic new store, Angelo Jewelry in Charlottesville, Virginia, to my list of retailers!

Wholesale days can also lead to gallery showings, which are often orchestrated around a particular design theme.  While in Baltimore, I was invited to participate in a group show at the fabulous Aaron Faber Gallery in New York City opening in April, where all of the work will feature pearls!  I haven’t worked with pearls in ages and am really inspired to juxtapose the natural luster of pearls with the oxidized black of my origami shapes.

The show is great for networking and I got to chat with a favorite blogger/Instagrammer, Diamonds in the Library, who not only took spectacular photos of my work, but also gave me some great Instagram pointers! If you love jewelry, you’ll definitely want to follow her on Instagram.

Real-time Feedback from Customers & Colleagues

The show’s retail days, when I sell to the general public, were both fun and productive. In addition to selling a bunch of my new pieces (yay!!), I also had the chance to hear general feedback from shoppers. It’s a terrific way to find out what people are most attracted to, and what they’d like to see next. A very helpful and fun insight has been to find out how well the big Origami rings would sell. Personally, I loved them right away but wasn't sure how shoppers would respond to such large statement rings - it turns out that they love them too!

Origami rings by Karin Jacobson Jewelry Design
Here are a few of my Origami rings - these versions feature sapphires, pearls and rubies. (Photo courtesy of Sandro Photo.)

While I’m at the show, I make a point of meeting other designers to compare notes. Swapping tips with other jewelry designers is incredibly rewarding and inspiring! It can be so helpful to discuss everything from stores to techniques to suppliers to which shows are the best and why. For example, it’s great to know if a store is easy to work with before sending your precious jewelry their way, and if you know of a few people who already sell there you can easily just ask.

Mixing Work and Play

I spent the week rooming with my friend and fellow jeweler Rachel Atherley (whose work is amazing!), which made the trip feel like a hybrid of a serious work trip and a super fun girls weekend. After a long, tiring show day it really helps to relax and have dinner with a friend. Especially one who knows your industry inside and out.

Another major highlight was getting to visit with one of my dear friends, Paula, who now lives in D.C. and came to see the show. She split her time walking around to shop the show, and spending time in my booth so we could chat and catch up. She even gave me a break so I could go do a little shopping myself! 

Karin Jacobson and friend at ACC Craft Show in Baltimore, Karin Jacobson Jewelry Design
Karin Jacobson jewelry design shopping for handbags at Arza Design
Work meets play when friends come to visit! Here I am with my bestie Paula in my booth at the show.
When I was shopping at the show, I picked up this cute handbag from Arza Design.

Finally, it was nice to miss a couple of snowstorms that hit Minneapolis while I was away, and see the first buds of spring in Baltimore popping out on the trees. 

Spring buds in Baltimore by Karin Jacobson Jewelry Design
 We were having snowstorms in Minnesota ... meanwhile, in Baltimore, spring was springing up everywhere!

All in all, it was a great week! I came home both exhausted and energized (if that’s even possible), and excited for my next show in New York. I’ll have a recap of that event for you very soon!

Would you like to come visit an ACC Show? There's one coming up this month in St. Paul! I'll be in Booth #513 at the American Craft Show April 20 - 22, at St. Paul's RiverCentre.

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