Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Biggest Things I Learned From My First Craft Fair Booth

As a follow-up to my previous post on my first ever craft booth last year, I wanted to just bullet some of the biggest things I learned from this experience and want to share with you all. Part of what helps you improve on any task at any job or even in life, is looking back on something you've done, and determining what your biggest lessons learned are, and how you can do it better next time. In my time working at retail and in the corporate world, there are a lot of things that are perhaps out of your control such as other people opinions, perceptions, overall culture of the company, etc.... but anything that IS within your control, you will greatly benefit from self-reflection and assessing what you did well or didn't do so well, and how you can try to improve on that for next time. Without this, you may do the same thing over and over, expecting the results to change. There's a word that owns this definition........ lol 

Whether you're a fellow crafter and thinking about having your first booth (or perhaps second, third, etc, and not sure where you could improve from your previous attempts), know someone who's asked you to help them out at their booth and have NO idea what they're really asking of you, or just a shopper and are curious what all goes on in the background to those booths you pass by at a fair and think "gosh, how are they *enter phrase/observations/perhaps insult (some aren't as well prepared as they'd like to be, take my attempt for example)*...?", just remember that it takes a lot to get good at doing your job well sometimes, and for crafters, making things may be easy but it's sometimes like a full-time job with the added tasks of organizing, planning, marketing, etc that make it difficult. 

So, on to the lessons learned!!

  • Come Prepared!!
    • Have everything priced beforehand!!
    • Be ready for ALL types of weather!! Check the weather report and/or have displays/setups readily available for extreme heat, wind, rain, cold, etc
    • If you can wing it, perhaps bring TOO much for certain!
    • Start planning MONTHS ahead of time so that you're not rushing or stressing at the last minute, and no matter how much you want to spend 1 hour doing something that will help you this time but won't help you ever again and needs to be tossed after this show, maybe you *should* spend the 2 hours instead to do the thing that will help you in ALL shows in the near, or even far, future...
  • Be catchy! 
    • Sure, I had my "banner", but since it was blowing in the wind so much, it was barely visible at times. That and no one really had any idea what I made....
  • Specialize; don't have too much going on.
    • I am thinking that there's a slight chance I had too much going on for people to get properly interested in my wares (and the lack of better, vertical, displays probably didn't help either)
  • Research!!
    • Research what's 'hot" or "in" at the time of year you're in, research the local shopper and perhaps even price range that might be an option of buying your items to make and price accordingly, research the time of year (right before Xmas can be either quick gifts or even preparing for upcoming holidays), and research the weather!
  • Have a variety of items and prices!!
    • But stick as close as you can to one, maybe 2 or 3 genres, as long as they perhaps relate or can be grouped together. For example, if you enjoy sewing, but you also enjoy knitting, you can have various displays and setups for your sewn items (let's say baby items like diaper covers, bibs, burping cloths, etc), you can partner up your crafts with perhaps knitting some of the baby items (knit baby hats, knit baby booties, etc) and/or you can have items for "big brother/sister" that are either for them only, or can be a pair with their baby sibling, or things like knit scarves and dress-up type items for big sister, or even items for mom to use either with baby or..... The possibilities really are endless. Did any of you ever play the game when you were younger where someone says a word or phrase, and you try to say something that's close or relates, and you see how far off you can tangent? (Lion, Lion King, Mufasa, Africa, continents, Europe, England, Queen, Knights, King Arthur, etc)
  • Have various ways to pay, if possible!!
    • If you can, have cash on hand for breaking $20s, giving change (or even for taking payment for your $1 bin/clearance items, yay for getting rid of old stock!!), but also have a way to take a Debit/Credit Card!! For my purposes, I used a Square reader and it helped GREATLY as it not only allowed me to accept cards, but it also provided a way to keep track of my inventory digitally! The site also provides sales tracking through prolonged use, allows you to upload images (albeit little thumbnails, but you know your stock well enough to discern items by a tiny little image, right?) and set the prices so if you lose price tags or some silly thing, you find the item and it's ALREADY PRICED in the app for you! The only other thing I might suggest is just making sure you have a fully charged phone, way to plug in/charge your phone or pc, or some sort of backup battery so that you don't kill your phone while posting updates of your day AND taking monies for what you're selling! ;) 
  • Look busy but open to discuss!!
    • Have something you can be working on that's like what you're selling so the shoppers can actually SEE that you in fact made all these items yourself and you didn't contract out and/or you're not re-selling what you purchased on some site. On the same strain as this, be ready to discuss what you're doing and how you are doing it/how did any of the other items but if possible, also...
  • Have someone with you to co-chair.
    • Whether it's a parent, a friend, sibling, whatever... have someone there with you that's familiar with what you make/do to help talk to customers, someone friendly that helps strike up conversations with people as they walk by to garner interest, and last but not least.... you *do* have to go to the bathroom at some point, right? This person can also help you cover the booth when you need to use the restroom, if you want to grab a bite (whether behind the booth display or at a food vendor down the row) or even if you just want to stretch your legs and/or see who else is selling at this fair.
So again, these are a lot of tips, and I'm sure there are many more to discuss, but I feel they are some of the most important to think of when wanting to prepare for a craft booth/show. These are also just my thoughts, reflections, observations from my first time. With all the research I did, there are some things I tried to do that didn't work out too well FOR ME, but there are also things that I ignored either on reasons that "this won't work for me, gosh!" or even "ya know, I really want to do this, but I just don't have enough time!"

Every show will be different, every shopper is different, with different goals, budget, needs... Your task is to determine how YOU want to cater or adapt to those changes and what your end goal is. Do you just want this to be a hobby, or do you want to make this a full-time gig. Either way, the choice is yours, and the amount of effort you put in to this, just like in everything in life, is what you're going to get out of it.

Let me know in the comments if this has helped you think about/prepare for a show, if you have any questions, or if you even just have any general comments! I'd love to hear from you!!

Until next time, craft ya laters!! 

First Official Craft Fair Booth!!

I know this is loooooooooooooooooooong overdue, and I apologize but I have just been so incredibly busy these, has it been 10 months?!?!

Anywho, I wanted to share with you all how my first ever official craft booth went back on 11/1/14!!

I had gone to bed late the night before, it was Halloween after all and we had our yearly party with friends over till well after midnight, so when the alarm went off at 6:30am, I did NOT want to get up! But I still needed to make sure I had all the things I would need as well as, **sigh**, make a last trip to Wal-mart to get things I hadn't bought before. By the time my mom got to my house, the car was packed, I was back from my errand to Wal-mart, I was sans coffee but I was ready for my first ever craft booth at the Cedar Park Recreation Center!! Whoo!!

My boyfriend followed us on his motorcycle so that he could help setup the canopy I was to use, and we got there around 8:45am with a crisp breeze and the sun just barely making its way up over the horizon. We got the canopy raised and positioned between the 2 vendor tents on my sides and got the car unloaded with my tables and stock. Boyfriend said his farewells and went to hang out with his brothers, and my mom and I got started setting up!

The full-ish setup...the Xmas tree is front right and you can barely see it....
We opened up the tables, set the tablecloths/pretty curtains on top and I started putting out my merchandise to sell. The wind however had different plans... I couldn't use the 2 cardboard based displays I'd nabbed from my 2nd job working retail because, well, they were light-weight cardboard and the wind was too much. I also couldn't use my little easels to hold up my jewelry boards (from my Easely Amused display) nor the wood necklace/earring displays as the latter were being knocked over by the breeze and the easels just...slid...on the tablecloth/curtains I'd put on the tables (the curtains were sheers so verrrryy slippery...whoops!!) That's ok, I can work with this, everything just has to be laid out on the tables instead, that's not *too* bad...right?

The tree with a few of the perler ornaments on it....and a brass picture easel attempting to hold it down against the weather.
I also, in my non-preparedness, hadn't yet decided which mini canvases would be ornaments, sooo.... yes, I was also attempting to glue ribbon to some of them in order to hang them on the tree along with the perlers that needed only an ornament hanger pierced through a bead and they were ready to hang.

My front table display was a 2' fake desktop Christmas tree however, as I was going to be putting my perler sprites and mini art canvases on and around the tree/table, setup as ornaments. As I wasn't prepared for the wind, I had no weights to hold the tree down, so the tree ended up falling over about 3 or 4 times, but we just kept picking it back up, putting the ornaments that had fallen off back on, and it was fine!

The early morning sun by this time was peaking through the canopies so a better picture was not to be had. :(
One of the biggest problems I had however, was that I hadn't had time to price everything before we got there that day. I will NEVER do this again!! Why? One, it shows you're unprepared, so the shoppers that walk by while you're still pricing may be confused and/or feel that you're unprepared, and so may just walk on... Two, it makes it impossible to really catch anyone's attention and be friendly or have a discussion if you're distracted trying to make sure everything is priced after the fact! Also, I was unable to price all the individual pieces of jewelry so instead, I ended up putting price tag stickers on the TABLE within groups of items that I felt were similar enough to be priced the same. This entire way of doing things not only added extra stress to the morning, but made even myself confused on prices here and there later on!! It's better to price things when you're calm, at home, and can really assess how much you feel is acceptable for selling your hard work.

Some of my single perler pieces and tic-tac-toe sets, mini canvases off to the side, and a nifty little container for my cards!!

Mom, don't take it now, I'm not ready!!! Also, we moved the scarves over the perler/art table since they weren't visible off to the side where they were before.
There's also the added fun of trying to get people interested in your wares when you have so much going on, and yet, so little, all at the same time. I'm glad my mom went with me as there were a number of older shoppers there and she was able to start conversations very easily with them, so that helps a great deal of getting people in the booth to at least look. I feel as though I was ill  prepared in ways of marketing and getting people's visual interest seeing as how there was a variety of things and no real "specialty", there wasn't a good advertising type banner or display (perhaps behind the perler/art table would have been good), but with my lack of weather watching, all of my items were flat on the table with the exception of the Xmas tree in front, so there wasn't really much to draw people in!
Ha! Got her back..... lol Also, the whole setup, minus some of the business name flying in the wind...I *really* wasn't prepared for the winds.

I'm still not 100% exactly what the guy in the booth next to us was "selling".
You can see how I had the jewelry in the middle, but also had my clutches and tablet cases on the outside edges. Both to try and have a visual variety, but also....they were heavier and helped somewhat keep the curtains down through the wind.
Another item I realized after a while.... I had absolutely NO idea what kind of crowd there would be at this event. I had been warned to research the venue and the shoppers that might attend, to not even have a booth this year in lieu of this proper research, but I wanted to dive in and try my luck! It was only a $50 booth fee after a while, no biggie, right? I didn't research well enough who would be there, what a good price range of gifts would be, much less take into account the season!! People were preparing for Thanksgiving, but they were also SHOPPING FOR XMAS PRESENTS!! Duhhh......

This means I should have had more general gift items, things that you could purchase for a mere $5-$15 and could give as a gift whether as a stocking stuffer or an actual gift.

At some point after we'd gotten everything priced, and displays were staying put (the wind started dying down thank goodness), I decided I'd follow one of the pieces of advice I'd seen online while preparing for the show! I would... LOOK BUSY!! Yes!! So....I started gluing magnets on the back of some of the perler sprites to give them...added appeal? Yeahh.... I'm not sure what I was thinking on that one myself. Really, I should have been working on an in-progress scarf on a loom, or perhaps brought some paints and canvases to make some fresh that day.... **shrug** Ya live, ya learn, yeah?

For those of you curious, below are the two cardboard displays that I nabbed from work and was REALLY super excited to use, of course, until the wind.

Double decker display for smaller/mid-size stuffs (was planning on making more tablet cases if I could in the future to really utilize these guys.

That "shelf" looking piece isn't nailed down so it can move back and forth, or just come out. Excuse the picture quality, I only got to take quick pics while they were in the back of my car. :)
All in all, I paid $50 for the booth for the event, and I took home about $150 for the day, which makes $100 profit for my first ever craft booth! I figured it was an exciting accomplishment and worth celebration, so I took my mom to a local pub down the street from my house and introduced her to Hard Cider ;). She's not much of a drinker, so just one of these made her smile, and the second started making her giggle...ahh, it's the little things, isn't it? :)

I learned a LOT of valuable lessons from this event, and there may be too many to share, but I wanted to share with you some of the biggest things. 

In my next post, I will go over a simple list of the biggest things I learned from my first official craft booth!

Craft ya laters!!

It's been awhile....

I've been working on a post to tell you all about my first official craft fair over the last few months from last November....this last year has just flown by in an absolute blur however.

A lot has happened since I last updated this blog and if you'll bear with me, I would like to just share what's been going on for me.

I was working a 2nd job towards the end of last year for a little extra cash, but also because I enjoyed being able to spend ~20hrs/wk getting paid to talk to people about crafts and getting deals on buying my own supplies (at Joann ;) ) and it was pretty alright, it just made me a little extra tired during the weekdays at my desk job.

I quit working at Joann in February 2015 as I believed I was 5 minutes away from being promoted to being a full-time trainer at my day job since I'd been doing training responsibilities off and on for years, and had just finished an 8-month 'pilot" of sorts performing various training and project management (for building training materials) responsibilities and tasks. Instead, management determined not only that they did not want to have a full-time trainer, much less that person be me, but that I should be removed from any and all training tasks I'd been doing and I was moved back to full-time on my main project in Support.

As training is and was a pretty big dream of mine at this company, and I'd put so much into that goal for so long, this was a pretty heavy blow to my emotional stability. I was down and depressed for 4 months up until July hit and I sat down with my manager in my monthly one on one...with be given a written warning for my performance. I was caught quite a bit off-guard however as I'd been having monthlies with my boss in that period of time and he'd never mentioned there was a problem, and I didn't think my performance could be *that* low!!

July passed and I worked to improve my performance, but also took the last week of the month off to go out of town with my boyfriend to just get away and relax....The relaxing didn't do much good however as the day after we got back in town, I received a call from my mother telling me that my father had a heart attack earlier that morning and passed away. My boss allowed me 7 business days bereavement, but admitted that company policy usually is only 3 days, and it was barely only enough to take care of my mother and brother who'd flown in for the week (since he moved to Alabama 2 years ago) and neither of them were able to manage helping me with the tasks too terribly much. My brother was able to go to the funeral home with me the first time to help make general decisions on the funeral arrangements, but was unable to help any further as he was having difficulties, rightly so, concentrating for lengthy periods of time. It's easier for me to get through tough situations like these when I have tasks to focus on, so I was going what felt like non-stop that week in organizing the funeral with the home and being their main point of contact.

Anywho, I went back to work after the week and a half had passed, and of course had trouble focusing still for a few more days. Continuing on after the "main event", I was having to deal with additional stress as my father had taken care of EVERYTHING for my mother for 40 years (celebrated 4/20/15) and so I had to work to teach her how to adult (and still am working on teaching her these things...) My boss said he understands, and to just deal with whatever I need to as long as I'm getting my work done as well. I did what I could, but when I sat down in my next 1x1 with my boss mid-October, HR was there again. This time, I got questioned as to why my performance had still not gone up to where they expected it to be. I tried to stay calm but after the 4th time asked, I did happen to mention "perhaps I'm not quite over my father dying...????" They didn't seem much fazed and still gave me a final written warning, that if I don't get to where they expect me to be performance-wise by end of December, I'm to be let go.

In trying to ensure I was doing my best, I was running queries on my performance daily for the next 2 months and for all I could tell, I was doing fine; great even since I was usually in the top 2, maybe 3, of my team of 7! Alas, I was called in to a meeting room by my boss 12/10/15 and was informed that my work was not getting to where they want, steadily enough, and so they would have to let me go. No numbers, no stats like the other times, only the above statement and that I was "no longer a good fit for the company."


It's been almost 3 weeks now and I'm not even mad or upset. I was vaguely shell-shocked at first, and for the first few days or so, nervous about what I'm going to do and how I'm going to find another job and help make money to pay the bills.....To be honest though, I was absolutely MISERABLE working there at this point and just about dreaded going in every day.

My boyfriend and I discussed and decided that for the month of December, there's just not a whole lot going on in the ways of finding a new job; searching for new postings to apply to or anyone in the office to even interview! Therefore, I will re-start my job-search in January and in the meantime, I have taken these weeks to decompress and spend some time on me. I have also gotten a LOT of cleaning done to de-clutter and get the main entertaining areas of our house looking much better for when friends come over...especially for Xmas!

I have also been working on my craft room (yes, again... I's just SO hard keeping organized!) and might share that progress with you tomorrow. I spent 8 hours alone in there today and am maybe a little less than halfway done? That sounds so pathetic, I know, but I am only just getting out of the major depressive funk I've been in since February, and my dad's passing sending me to the lowest I've ever been in my life, and so I have not been in the mood to keep up with any cleaning. Each time there was even an attempt, things were just tossed in to my room until it was just about impossible to walk in there or even climb over anything to anywhere in there.

If you've gotten this far, I want to thank you sincerely for taking the time to read and let me share a little of my life this last year with you. I did do a little crafting throughout this time, and I hope to share that all with you as best I can recall (and find as many pictures as I can since I had to replace my phone and may be missing some....) but I felt bad for being gone for so long. Also, with posting this, I hope to not have to go over any of the main emotional parts again (unless there are any questions/comments and I will try my best to answer/respond to any that you have) and hope to just be able to try and get back to a bit of normalcy with crafting and telling you fine folks about what my hands and mind have been up to!

Again, thank you and as always...craft ya laters! :)