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Location, Location, Location...

Posted on January 20 2016

It was early 2006, my jewelry-making hobby was starting to take off as a real business and Steve had finished his chemo with a clean bill of health from the doctors.  All was good with the world. 

Then one day Steve said, "we need to figure out what to do with the rest of our lives."  And, just like that, he was researching places to live and buy property.  California real estate was crazy at that time and it wasn't viable to buy another investment property there.  It didn't take him long to discover the tremendous opportunities in Houston, Texas. 

I had spent some time in Houston in the 1980's when I was a flight attendant with Continental Airlines.  I have to admit I had no desire to return - not in the least.  But, I couldn't disagree with the fact that the cost of living was low and the property market was strong.  I loved Northern California, San Francisco was my dream and I loved living there, but property prices were ridiculous and it didn't make sense to stay.  So, off to Houston we went.

Once we were settled into our new home I was able to focus on designing jewelry again.  One of our hotel guests in Costa Rica was originally from Houston and she told me that I HAD to do trunk shows at the Houstonian and I HAD to get into the Nutcracker Market.  For those of you who don't know, the Houstonian is an exclusive resort with a top-notch health club, spa and boutique.  The Nutcracker is a 3-day Holiday Market Extravaganza held in November at the Convention Center where hundreds of vendors set up booths offering everything from clothes to jewelry to personalized styrofoam cups and pasta sauce, all to raise money for the Houston Ballet.  I knew nothing else of Houston, so the Houstonian and Nutcracker it was.

I applied to the Nutcracker committee and waited for their verdict.  It was very competitive, especially in the jewelry category and I had come into the process somewhat late.  At the time I was making some very unique necklaces with vintage Lucite flowers that no one had ever seen before.  I got the call a week after submitting my samples and I was IN! 




I spent the next few months designing and making jewelry like a mad woman.  I had no idea what would sell so I created anything and everything.  I wanted to be sure I had something for everyone. I was also taking a metalsmithing/jewelry making class at Glassell, the art school of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, where I met fellow jewelry designer, Peggy Rauso.  I realized that it would be next to impossible for me to make enough jewelry to fill my booth, so I asked her if she would join me on this wild ride.  Luckily for me, she said yes, and we got to work planning our booth.

With about a month to go, my creativity hit a wall and I was a complete blank about how to set up and decorate my booth.  All I can say is thank goodness for friends!!  My best friends, Jon and Ron, stepped in at the ninth hour and worked tirelessly with me to create the look I wanted.  All of the booths at the Nutcracker are red (its a Christmas show) and my colors are turquoise and brown.  I had no clue what to do.  Let me just say that without those two my booth would have looked like a huge red box filled with jewelry.  Instead, here's what we created.




Not only did Jon and Ron help me set up (or I should say, I helped them set up!), my parents came and two girlfriends from Benicia, Judy and Lisa, flew in to help me work the show.  With Peggy and her husband and friends, we got everything up and ready for the long weekend. 

During the show, other friends came and helped us sell - my longtime friend Karen and new friend Kay generously offered their time and stood behind the counter answering questions and showing jewelry.  It truly took a village to make it all happen and I couldn't have done it without my friends and family.

Here are a couple shots of the crowds: the first was taken the first morning as people lined up waiting to be let in (you should have seen the mad rush when they dropped the barriers!), the second is my booth and the third is the walkway in front of my booth.



The four days were long and grueling, but well worth it.  Peggy and I sold a lot of jewelry and made some great customers and contacts.  One customer's husband has become a favorite customer of mine - every year since the Nutcracker, he has commissioned me to make a custom piece of jewelry for his wife's birthday and their anniversary; each year making a custom design using the material associated with the number of years they've been married.

Would I do it again?  I've learned to never say never, but right now it isn't even on my radar.  I have a great deal of respect for all the artists out there who sell their work at art shows.  It isn't easy and its mentally and physically exhausting.  Yes there are rewards, but for me, I think I'll stick to the cruise ships and retail stores!

Stay tuned for How It All Began, Part 4: Its True!  Houston is Hot, Hot Hot!





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