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Posts Tagged ‘Craft Business’

Horrors!

Husby and I were at a craft show where we met a bunch of people right away.  There were two couples working together, two guys working together, and one other guy who was hanging out with one of the couples.  I remember the women’s names, Gwen and Kate.  I can’t remember the guys’ names.

The show was set up on a marina and in the adjacent park.  I was amazed that my assigned space was actually on one of the boats in the marina.  So very cool, and nice that I didn’t have to set up a canopy as everything could be set up under the cover of the boat.  Husby and I set up right away and even though the show didn’t start until the next day lots of people were stopping by to see what I had to offer.

At one point I came to an uncomfortable realization.  I took Gwen aside and said, “I’m so embarrassed, but could you tell me what state we’re in?”  I would have asked Husby but he was off swimming.  Gwen looked at me like I was crazy and didn’t even answer me, as if I didn’t deserve to know.  Such a premiere show and she doesn’t even know what state she’s in?

I decided it didn’t matter, but as Husby and I were sitting around with these seven other people we had met I asked again.  “What state are we in?”  One of the men responded “New Orleans.”  I looked at him and clicked my tongue.  “New Orleans isn’t a state, and besides, if I was in New Orleans I’d know, and this isn’t it”  It was at that point I knew these people weren’t going to be my friends if they couldn’t even help me out in my addle-minded condition.

Husby and I went back to the boat slip where my display was set up.  To my horror the entire boat was gone.  Gone!  Gone with all of my products!

At that point I woke up.  I likened this dream to those where you go to school and realize you have no clothes on, or forgot your locker combination.  I never did find out what state we were in, and when I relayed the dream to Husby he said “I think you were in the state of confusion.”  Ha ha.

Am I having craft show anxiety?  Am I having social interaction anxiety?  Am I having house boat anxiety?  I’m not really sure, but I am sure the dream is anxiety-based.

Funny, I don’t feel anxious in my waking state, but maybe I should pay attention to my subconscious.  First order of business is to be sure to know what state I’m in when at a craft show.  Secondly, don’t trust being set up on someone else’s boat.

Here’s to a week devoted to researching shows to do in the 2013 season.

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It’s a chilly 2 degrees F today, with a windchill of -17.  Do people in Hawaii even know what a windchill factor is?  Suffice it to say we’re having weather fit for perfect preservation.

The missing link, preserved in a block of ice. Apparently.

With such bone-chilling weather it’s hard to imagine that in a few short months I will be outside doing summer shows and festivals, selling my wares. As a matter of fact I’ve already received two applications. One of the shows I’ve decided to bypass, but the other leaves me on the fence and riddled with anxiety over the decision to apply or not. My gut says pass it up, but my head says take a chance.

I was up late last night, scrolling through a list of craft fairs and festivals to take place in Wisconsin this summer. Why do I favor Wisconsin shows more than my own home state of Minnesota? Well, for one thing when I do a show in a different state it’s like I’m having a working vacation. For another thing Wisconsin has a smaller sales tax than Minnesota, which is nice when it comes to filing a sales tax return.

Now is the time of year I have to make some decisions. Business decisions. It makes me feel like such a grown-up, and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. I’m waiting patiently for a copy of Midwest Art Fairs to arrive at my house so I can really dig into the festival scene and schedule my summer travels from one craft show to another, to another…

Don’t forget, a schedule of my travels will appear in the 2013 Events page.  It’s empty now, but not for long.  I hope.

Stay warm!

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If you read yesterday’s post you know Husby and I endured a blown-away canopy followed by a beautiful, sunny autumn day of sales at the Sister Bay Fall Festival.  The thing that made me so nervous about applying for this show in the first place was the fact that it was a three-day show.  I’ve never done a show of that length before.  With one minus (blown-away tent) and one plus (lovely and lucrative day) everything about the show was even.  However, periodically throughout the day Husby was checking the weather report for the rest of the weekend.  It didn’t look good.

I spent the entire evening toiling over how I was going to manage the show with 20 mph winds and a 90% chance of rain with temperatures in the mid-40s.  At least I was satisfied with how we closed up shop on Friday evening, lowering the canopy and adding even more weights to keep it from flying away overnight. 

When I woke up Saturday morning I resumed my worrisome behavior, trying to decide if I should weather out the storm or shut down completely.  I weighed the pros and cons of sticking it out.  The cons won.

This is how it looked outside while I was pacing back and forth Saturday morning, trying to make one of the hardest decisions of my business life.

We rushed to the site of the show and packed up everything before the event was scheduled to begin.  (No, the canopy had not blown away this time, thank goodness!)  Before we made it back to the motel it started to rain.  And it rained for forty-eight hours straight with healthy winds coming off the lake.

I’ve always been kind of judgmental when it comes to people packing up and leaving a show before it’s scheduled to end.  I felt like a hypocrite and spent the rest of Saturday second-guessing my decision to leave early.  When it was still raining on Sunday I knew I’d made the right choice.  Not only would that much wind and rain have damaged my product, Husby and I would have been crabby and cold.  Thinking like a shopper I knew I’d never venture out in that kind of weather to wander around at an outdoor event.

While we were out at an antique/junk store on Sunday we happened to see our vendor neighbor.  I looked at my watch and saw the craft show was still, technically, in progress.  I teased her and asked why she wasn’t sitting out in the cold rain.  She said she wished she had done as I did and packed up Saturday morning before the rain started.  There were no shoppers and many of the vendors started tearing down on Saturday afternoon.

Long and short of it all, I worked one day of a three-day show.  I still feel a little guilty for begging out, but I’m also very glad my wares were safe and dry.  I’m very pleased with the money I earned on Friday, but disappointed that the weather didn’t cooperate in making what could have been the most lucrative show of my life.

To my fellow craft show vendors out there, I don’t recommend leaving a show early for reasons like poor attendance or low sales.  That’s the show to avoid next year.  If it’s a one-day show, stick it out to the end.  If it’s more than one day, and your product or your health might be jeopardized, pack up during the off hours of the show to avoid annoying shoppers and fellow vendors.

The decision to leave in the middle of this show was a difficult one indeed.  Now I’ll spend the next six months trying to decide if I’ll take a chance on it again next year.

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All right, so October isn’t exactly summer, but the Fall Festival in Sister Bay, WI (held Oct. 12-14) was my last outdoor show of the season.  I had high hopes, hearing from many it is the biggest festival on the peninsula.

Husby and I arrived in Door County on Thursday afternoon and went straight to the site of the craft/art vendor area to set up our canopy and a few props that needed assembly.  We figured getting a jump on the set-up would give us more time to prepare the displays the next morning before the show started.

After setting up the canopy and weighing it down with many weights on all four legs we set off to have a nice little supper of superb seafood chowder and breadsticks at the Cornerstone Pub.  Then we crawled into our cozy little motel bed for a good night’s sleep before the opening of what would be my biggest and best show ever.

The next day we arrived on site at 8:00 a.m., two hours before the show was to begin.  We were greeted by frantic vendor neighbors who were unable to set up their displays.  Why?  Because during the night the mighty wind blowing off of Green Bay took hold of our heavily-weighted canopy and positioned it in the middle of the road, after which someone had moved it into an open space two tents down from our assigned spot.  (How they moved it I’ll never know – there was about eighty pounds of weight on each of the four legs of the canopy.)  I’m grateful someone got it out of the road, but I was certainly surprised to see our canopy was the only one affected by the great winds of Lake Michigan.  Perhaps being from St. Paul, MN we were naive to the power of the autumn weather of Door County and misjudged how much weight was actually needed to keep the canopy in its spot.  Or maybe our assigned spot was really the Burmuda Triangle of Mill Street.

That ocean is Lake Michigan. That hurricane is the wind off the lake. That ship is my canopy. Burmuda Triangle I say!

With the help of our neighbors (craft show neighbors are usually awesome in their helpfulness to those in need ~ it’s a karma thing) we got the canopy back in its assigned spot and set everything else up for the day.

It was a beautiful autumn day.  Sales were tremendous.  Tune in tomorrow to find out what happens after our first very successful day of the Fall Festival.

A sunny street corner in Door County, WI

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Let’s talk a little bit about external validation.  Oh, such a heavy topic for a Monday morning and certainly not the kind of thing I typically write about here, but I’m interested to hear what anyone has to say about the subject.

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like a pat on the back or some congratulations on a job well done.  And hardly anyone wants to be criticized or judged.  External influences are all around us, every day, constantly, and affect who we are and who we will ultimately become.  The question is, how much of that validation or feedback do you allow to affect you? 

Carl Jung ~ my hero

We derive our energy either internally or externally.  Some people thrive on constant contact with people and feel invisible or inferior when their actions/opinions are not reciprocated with some kind of feedback (extroverts).  Others find enough satisfaction and validation within themselves and don’t have much need for what others think of them or their actions (introverts). 

What brought me to this subject matter today is realizing the difference between personal validation and business validation.   When it comes to introverts and extroverts on a personal level I don’t think one is better or worse than the other ~ they’re just two different ways of processing.  But when it comes to a business, it’s becoming more clear to me that extroversion will win over introversion every time.  Can a business actually have a personality that can be analyzed as introverted or extroverted, or is a business the reflection of the personality type of the person who runs it?

How well does a business grow without external validation?  If people don’t like the product they will not buy it and the business fails.  When considering an artsy/crafty business, is it better to be run by an extrovert?  Should introverts create simply for the sake of creating and keep the business aspect out of the picture?

I know, I know, it’s all a matter of the “target market.”  But then creating is still reduced to the amount of external validation one receives, the positive response to products, if the creator seeks earning a living from her creations.

How much external validation do you need?  How much work will you put forth to receive that validation?  Is the validation necessary to your perceived idea of success?  These questions apply both personally and on a business level.  I, as a business, have hit the wall of conflict.  Should I create what I like and hope for the best or kowtow to the masses and give them what they want?

Ideally I’d like to convince people they really want my product.  That’s salesmanship.  Salesmanship comes more naturally to an extrovert, which I am not.  But that’s a blog post for another day.

If you’re interested in finding out whether you’re an introvert or extrovert (in case you don’t know already), there’s a little online quiz you can take based on Carl Jung’s and Isabel Briggs Myers’ approach to personality.  You can find it by clicking here.  Let me know how it turns out.

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