It’s coming on Christmas, and no I’m not about to break into The River by Joni Mitchell. Okay, so maybe it's not coming on Christmas for the rest of the world, unless you count department stores. However, I have about three events left for the year, all of which are after Halloween, and two of which are after Thanksgiving. Generally, I find Thanksgiving doesn’t generally bring many sales for me, but we’ll see if my Harvest Raggle Taggle Fairy Dolls can fix that.
Christmas, though, tends to bring a lot of sales. So, while the rest of society might still be trying to figure out which candy to hand out to trick-or-treaters this year and putting the finishing touches on their costumes or trying to decide what sides will be offered with the turkey and if the pies this year should include the apple with cheddar cheese or pumpkin and whipped cream, I’m blasting Christmas songs in my room, working on Christmas and winter related products. Ice house and Christmas fairy doll, anyone?
Holidays and seasons in and of themselves tend to offer a plethora of inspiration. One needs only to walk into JoAnns or Michaels, or, if you’re on the East Coast, AC Moore to discover any amount of craft supplies geared to holidays or seasons. This would be one of the reasons we often unsuccessfully attempt to put blinders on while walking past the fabric sections. And while I, personally, also draw inspiration many times from beloved books or favorite movies, and online through many google, deviant art, pinterest, tumblr, etc. searches, ideas and inspiration and ways to make the ideas happen, also come from the people around me.
Truth is handmade entrepreneurs owe a lot to the people around them. I am lucky to have Handmade in South Bay, my own personal Algonquin round table, where I can not only learn tricks of the trade and have help in growing my business, but also vent my frustrations and celebrate my successes. I am lucky to have a boyfriend who always asks what I’m working on and not only shows interest and compliments my abilities and work, but also offers ideas happily, like having the acorns for my squirrel fairy garden look like they are wrapped like a gift, and enjoys seeing me excited about my work. And I am lucky to have a mother who offers honest opinions of my creations, gives suggestions for making them better, acts as a sounding board and often bears the brunt of my frustrated rants and overly excited babbling, as well as the countless other ways she supports me (I could write a novel-length blog about her alone).
What it comes down to is this, Acorn Tops would not be where it is today if not for the support I get from my friends, family, and boyfriend. They all have a hand in it and many of my inspiration I owe to them. I am more grateful than I could ever put into words.
How do you define a good show? The ideal situation is to sell out and get back what you make tenfold, right? I mean, let’s be completely honest here. This is a business. This is my job. This is my source of income. Idealism, however, is not always the handmade small business entrepreneur’s friend. That is to say, craft shows tend to be hit or miss. Even shows that proved to be a big hit one year, sometimes turn out to be a miss the next. There are many reasons for this, whether the organizers changed the layout, the date of the event was different, the economy, or something as simple as weather.
Branching out, which is necessary to grow the business, results in taking the chance on that event we’ve never been to before, which may or may not be good. Yet another risk we entrepreneurs tend to take. Brave little guys aren’t we? But there’s that word again. Good. What exactly are we saying when we define an event with this term?
So, selling out seems a little far-fetched, at least for me at this point. No, this is not pessimism. It’s more acceptance that this has been the trend thus far at my events. This then means, I’m probably not going to walk away from a show a sudden millionaire or even a thousand dollars richer. (Wouldn’t that be nice, though?)
If we define a good show in terms of money, then based on experience, research, and learning from Handmade in South Bay and fellow member’s experiences the money earned must equate to multiple factors, including booth fees and gas. Let’s say at the end of the event, you glance at your receipt book and spontaneously break out into celebratory song and dance for making all of $200. This must have been a good event, right? But let’s take into consideration what you spent on the event. Everyone have their calculators out? Let’s say you spent $40 on gas and $150 on the booth fee, that’s $190, meaning you technically only made $10. That is not enough for groceries, for rent, not even enough to restock the product that sold. A bit of a downer, right?
To figure out a good show a very basic equation should look something like this: (gas)+(booth fee)+(materials to make more product to restock)+ (daily expenses whatever they be)+ (etc.) = good show and celebratory song and dance.
As this is a business and a job, finances are a BIG part of it. So where do we, as handmade small business entrepreneurs find our umbrellas when our receipt books and wallet decide to rain on our parade? If we just defined good shows by money, especially while we’re still young and growing, face it, we’d all drown. There’s another way we can define good shows.
Handmade small businesses are not just making product and collecting money and working social media. We are also in customer service. And could anybody deny our clientele is a big part of what can make a show good?
This is not to say that it isn’t frustrating to have people walk into the booth, spend hours gushing over your product to never take that next step and actually buy it. This is not to say it doesn’t make us want to pull out our hair when someone distracts or steals a potential sale. And this is not to say that it doesn’t make our teeth grind when a customer criticizes or demeans our work. (Handmade small business entrepreneurs must be saints for some of what we put up with.)
On Fairy Wings and Acorn Hats
The magic behind it all!