[settle in, Folks]
Last Monday, I participated in a small craft show hosted by my church. It was untraditional for several reasons: little advertising, program in the middle on preparing your heart for the holidays, free recipes, and no table fee. You heard me. It’s a brilliant idea: the church supporting members who have at-home businesses while providing a time for reflection and community before the Holiday Season (and let’s be honest, your family) rips your heart out and stomps on it. It’s a great way to start fresh and clear-headed.
I spent 2 weeks sewing at night after the kids were sleeping… finishing hats, a few half-aprons, some wine-bottle sleeves, and some garland. Pillows and Banners were there as an example of what can be custom ordered. I’ve mentioned before, I do love sitting at shows and sales. People-watching with a fountain coke and Jimmy Johns? Yes, please. I was excited to go. Hopeful, even. Know what? I sold two things. Now, I don’t think anyone that night had a fantastic evening. I really don’t. But, I found myself disappointed at the end of the night. Feeling like I’d worked really hard and people didn’t like me. Ridiculous, I know… but as an artist (?) crafter (?) homemade maiden (?), your personality and work are in every stitch, photograph, and fiber. When you don’t sell, you take it personally.
Now, 2 sold-items plus one sold-item 2 years ago and 3 shows total = me having zero business offering advice, but I’m a-gonna anyway 🙂 Some things to keep in mind as you’re perusing the crocheted toilet-paper covers, personalized ornaments, and soup mixes looking for gifts:
Generally, tables cost $25 to $100 at a show. You pay to be present and then you keep your profits. Those sellers have invested time, thought, and physical effort (let’s not talk about how many trips to the car it takes to set up) to be ready at opening. They aren’t there because this is an easy way to kill a Saturday and rake in $400.
If you feel that you could make something you see yourself at home… kudos. We’re happy to be an inspiration. But, please do not say that loudly to your companion as you walk by NOR ask the seller how she did this or where she bought that fabric. No.
It’s not a garage sale. Bargaining on a single item is a faux-pas, Folks. I will not sell you that bib for $5 instead of $10. I MAY, however, make you a deal on five of them. But not one. It’s an awkward conversation. Please don’t do that in front of people.
If you like the display, say so. Presentation is huge! It’s likely that the seller put a lot of thought into what to bring and how to make it stand out. If you like it, say so. It’s a huge compliment.
I did a few things right for this last show:
My items are really decent. Well-made, functional, definitely ‘Katie’. God bless all you family and roommates who’ve lived through Handmade Christmas Presents Past with me. Your loyalty knows no bounds. Good Lord… the bookmarks. I am so sorry.
I set my prices ahead of time, so I would not be tempted to change them when I arrived and saw the other items. I priced according to what I felt they were worth.
I decorated well. I grabbed frames and blankets and crates as I ran out the door to use for decoration and elevation. My table, if I may be so bold, rocked. I do so love styling an event. Or, as it were, an 8-foot table.
I used my recycled (cereal boxes), distinctive tags that Ry helped me stamp. They were a big hit with everyone. This saves me on buying ‘business’ cards and allows me to keep my logo consitent on different papers and fabric.
I brought knitting and my niece with me, so I wasn’t staring down browsers willing them to find me worthy of a purchase. I was doing something appropriate for the setting (knitting another market bag) and I was spending fun-time with my family. We had a great time together. I looked cute. I did. It was a great excuse to put on boots, the skirt, the necklace… ok, basically the same outfit the Asheville people saw a couple weeks ago. S’ok. It was new here. I felt good, and I think that shows.
The bottom line: I sell enough online to keep sewing without going to these goofy craft shows. Enough to keep me busy but not enough to make it a part-time job. No more sewing like crazy for two weeks just to watch Granny sell doilies all day long. Nope. I’ll stick to my happy, word-of-mouth, I’m looking for exactly what you’re making kind of sales.
And I’ll be giving away a lot more. Curt said something to me that night that really hit home. In the midst of my snot and tears he said, “Kate… give it away. Make what you love, sell what you can, and give the rest away.” And I said, “But it’s worth something! It’s really good stuff! I paid for that fabric! I stole time from you and my kids for that pillow!” And he said, “Yep. But the money doesn’t make it worth it. It’s their reaction to the gift and the effort that you really love. So, sell what you can to buy supplies and give the rest away.”
He’s exactly right.
I love that man.
You all win. All of you. All of you from last week win. Give me a little time, and you’ll get a little surprise in the mail to keep or give away. Numbers 10, 11, and 16– my favorites that made me absolutely laugh out loud, you get to pick: hat or knit market bag. The rest of you will get hats. Cute, happy hats that need a loving home. Make sure I have your mailing address, ok?
I am so very thankful for you.