Last week, I went to my very first jewelry event: The Antique Jewelry and Art Conference, which the organizers lovingly refer to as Jewelry Camp. I almost didn’t attend: it was two full days , a decent amount of money (money that could have been put towards my company!), and my first collection of necklaces are anything but antique, so I thought “what if there isn’t any good networking?”
In the world of launching my business, working full-time and attempting to hang out with humans other than myself, all while finding moments to just sit on the sofa and read, I confronted every coffee meeting, event and email with a clinical “is it worth it?”assuming that each choice either helped me or distracted me, that there was a right and a wrong, that life must be lived in a linear fashion, pointed towards a pinnacle of success.
I don’t think that I’m the only one: every day, we’re tweeted a Buzzfeed story or emailed some Medium piece about maximizing our time, about the 10 Habits of Billionaire Founders Under 20, about the 2 hour work week, and a belief sets in that we will make it, that our company will be successful if we can just remember to check our email only at 10am and 4pm and meditate each morning. Our life shows a tinge of worry around the edges and the weird things in our sketchbooks get a little boring.
Thankfully, the fear that I might miss out on a valuable moment overcame the fear that I might be wasting time and I think that also, a tiny forgotten part of me told me to just go. So, I got on Metro North at 7am. I didn’t meditate that morning. It was okay.
There were no potential investors there or ecommerce masterminds, and I left with a grand total of four business cards, but I spent two days surrounded by people – collectors, historians, appraisers, women who simply love jewelry – who are obsessed with the very thing that I’m obsessed with. We flipped through rare books about 1960s costume jewelry, touched filigree dies from a 1920s factory in Providence, and learned that rhinestones were originally pieces of quartz discovered along the Rhine River. That feeling of finding my home, of settling into myself, was the most satisfying moment I’ve had since I decided to start a company over a year ago.
If you’re a new designer, or even an experienced one working in a different medium, go be in your new world, find people who inspire you and hang out with them. Take the time, to attend events, go to classes and walk around shows. It will bring passion back to what you do and remind you of who you are, and without that understanding, success is impossible.
Here is more about Jewelry Camp, along with four additional must-attend events. And if you work in a field other than jewelry or even some minuscule niche, know that there are events out there for you too.
1. The Antique Art and Jewelry Conference:
Two days of lectures by scholars and jewelry world executives on topics ranging from the symbolism of jewelry in Renaissance paintings to the birth of Art Nouveau and the history of U.S. jewelry manufacturing. Every summer in New York. More info here.
2. Tucson Jewelry Shows:
This is an array of gem, mineral, fossil and bead shows, along with wholesale trade shows, spread out over the city of Tucson, Arizona. Look out for some amazing turquoise. Every winter in Tucson, Arizona. More info here.
3. JA New York:
This 108-year-old trade show brings together designers, suppliers and industry insiders. Whether you’re looking for materials or looking to sell your pieces to retailers, this show covers all price points and aesthetics. Every summer and winter in New York. More info here.
4. The MSJA Expo:
The MJSA Expo is the largest and oldest jewelry trade show. Come here to connect with the industry’s top suppliers and manufacturers and attend seminar programs. Every spring in New York. More info here.
Here is where you source the broadest array of gold, silver, diamonds, diamond jewelry, gemstones, platinum, pearls and palladium, while showcasing your designs to retailers. Every spring in Las Vegas. More info here.