Chapter 5 - Jewellery Parties

Most women have been to a sales party of one sort or another at a friend's home. It may have been a jewellery party, it may have been a party featuring sex toys, or it may have been a Tupperware party back in the 1970s. The model is well established and it's not going anywhere any time soon. It works.

At its most basic level, a jewellery party is simply a small version of a market stall, hosted in someone's house and featuring a captive market of potential customers, all of whom will be carrying cash with the intention of buying something, and all of whom will feel a certain obligation to buy at least one item from you. When it comes to sales opportunities, it doesn't get much better. How much you sell at a party, and whether you get invited back, depends on you and your jewellery.

How does it work?

Jewellery Parties are ideal start up businesses for women, particularly for women who are not in a position to work regular hours due to family or other commitments. Parties take place in the evening, and run for only a few hours at a time. If you are unsure about whether your new business will succeed or not, or you need to maintain a day job while it gets off the ground, a jewellery party business is ideal.

It works like this: You find a hostess, someone who is happy to have you in their home selling your jewellery. The hostess invites her friends, family and acquaintances to the party, where wine and other alcoholic beverages are often consumed in large quantities. You arrive an hour or so before the guests, set up your tables and jewellery displays, and wait for your potential customers.

Many jewellery party organisers work for large party plan companies, and offer only the jewellery provided by that company to their customers. They stock a number of items themselves, and offer other items for sale via a catalogue, taking payment there and then, and ordering from the company after the party ends. Essentially, these women are little more than sales people, working on a commission basis for the larger party plan company, who make the real money.

A number of women mix and match their jewellery, ostensibly working for the party plan company, but also selling other lines of jewellery they source elsewhere. The party plan company's name is often a help in setting up the initial party and tempting the hostess, but the real money is made on the externally sourced stock, on which profits tend to be far higher.

The true entrepreneurs bypass these companies entirely, and source all their jewellery themselves. They manage their own parties, find their own hostesses, and build up a client base over time and through recommendations. These are the women you should strive to emulate if you feel that jewellery parties are the route you wish to go down.

How much does it cost to become a Jewellery Party Organiser?

Assuming you are going it alone, and not becoming a poorly paid consultant for another company, your start-up costs will be quite low. Similar to market trading, you will need a fold up table or two, along with various display items such as velvet covers and busts. You will also need some business cards to hand out to as many guests as possible. Business cards will prove to be your life blood, as they are where your future parties come from. If your stock and presentation impresses people, they may want you to host a similar party at some point in their own homes.

Jewellery Party Display

And that is pretty much it. As with market trading, there are no utility or rental costs. Your biggest and most regular expenditure will be on stock and packaging, all items for which your customers pay you directly.

Jewellery parties are an ideal entry point to someone who wishes to become a jewellery retailer. They allow you to learn which items sell well to which sorts of people, and they allow you to build up relationships with suppliers that can be used later if you decide to branch out from parties and start attending fairs or markets, or even if you decide to open a bricks and mortar shop at some point in the future.

Jewellery Party Display
Is there a downside to Jewellery Parties?

Well, yes. The potential earnings from a good jewellery party are considerably lower than what can be made at a busy fair or market. While it's true that you do have a captive market, that market is quite small. At your best party, you're unlikely to turn over more than £1000. A more modestly attended party could yield as little as £500. When costs are factored in to this, profit is not huge.

But having said this, jewellery parties do provide many women with a lucrative sideline income, especially if they manage their stock right and don't try to sell the same stock to the same women again and again. I'll be discussing this in more detail later, but fresh stock is the life blood of all jewellery businesses, and failure to introduce new lines is one of the most common reasons jewellery party businesses fail.

We've gone from a shop on the high street, to a market in the open, to a home in the suburbs. Can we possibly lower the entry point for jewellery retailer any further? The answer is yes, we can. The Internet has created the armchair business woman, and it is to her that I now turn.