Judith Bloedjes combines porcelain and silver in her jewellery. Eight years ago she took the plunge and decided to take part in SIERAAD, which at that time was held in the Rai building in Amsterdam.
Foto: Rob Severein
SAF: Why did you choose SIERAAD?
Judith: I had arrived at the point where I wanted to build up my reputation, meet collectors and clients and sell my work. Presenting my work to a large public for the first time was terrifying – I was overcome by doubts and uncertainties: Am I doing this right? Do I have enough work? Can I recover the costs single-handedly? Somewhere along the line I was able to let go of these emotions.
SAF: What’s in it for you – materially as well as immaterially?
Judith: In the first two years I was able to just break even, but in the third year I actually started to earn something, which is still the case today. How much I make varies each year, but generally speaking I am happy with it.
Purely from a financial point of view I should have decided to stop participating in SIERAAD after the first two years and my accountant would have agreed with me. However, the experiences of my colleagues at the fair made me decide otherwise. Now new participants come to me asking me whether or not they should continue and I stimulate them to keep going.
Immaterially I get a lot out of SIERAAD as well – all the contacts I have been able to make, good relations with customers, galleries and collectors. For instance, I have sold my work to art historian and collector Marjan Unger, which was part of the jewellery collection she donated to the Rijksmuseum. That my work is on display there, is of immense value to me.
The contacts with colleagues all over the world are important, for you keep each other informed about what to see and do. My taking part in the TV program KUNSTUUR also turned out to be very useful, for after all, you and your work are on TV in a program geared to a specific target group. When there is a rerun of the program I notice this immediately in my mail, and reactions from customers and galleries.
SAF: Did the fair leave you with any regular customers, of the fair or otherwise?
Judith: Certainly. I have some regular customers who buy something of my work at the fair each year. The first two years were difficult because the public has to learn that you are not someone who’s here today and gone tomorrow. Visitors see you again each year and follow your progress. Being present at SIERAAD means investing in the trust of visitors.
SAF: What does the fair do for you, before and particularly after the event?
Judith: I can tell by the publicity before the fair opens. More people check my site, apparently they orient themselves ahead of time.
The effects of the fair are noticeable long after the event, in my case sometimes up to 2 years after an edition. People will have saved up for a specific piece of jewellery and come to my workshop or to that one particular gallery to finally purchase it.
SAF: What would you say to people who are still hesitating whether to participate in SIERAAD or not?
Judith: “Be sure which way you want to go in this business and make a brief business plan. Plan on participating in SIERAAD for 3 years and then take stock of the situation. Present yourself at the fair with original and convincing work, showing an interesting mix including wearable and saleable pieces. If you attend for a number of consecutive years, be sure to show a substantial percentage of new work.
Create your own profile. There is nothing wrong with observing how others go about things, but visitors will remember you precisely because you stand out.
Another piece of advice: high-quality business cards or flyers always pay off becaue people are able to find you even after the fair.
Conclusion: the longer you partcipate in SIERAAD, the more you will profit.