Oh, what a busy and fun weekend it has been! I’ll start first with yesterday (Sunday), since Saturday’s going to take a long while to go over.
Yesterday I woke fairly early, given my long day the day before, and got in a little bit of morning pages before everyone got up and Shra and Devin came over. I got in my first stretch-sewing practice by taking in the bodice of Shra’s Halloween costume (a very cute ladybug!), and later in the afternoon, I set Jackie up at the machine and she learned a little bit about sewing. 🙂 In the meantime, I wrote up Etsy descriptions for all the FabMo inventory, and discovered I had good photos for some of the items, so I posted them, then wrote a note on my announcements section that I will be posting more FabMo inventory soon. This sets my mind at ease — I had been worried about FabMo people coming to my Etsy shop and not seeing anything resembling what they’d seen at the fair. Now they will. 🙂
I’m feeling a lot more expansive and inspired after the fair; I’m going to write a journal entry about this later.
It was a long day, but a very fun one, far more fun even than I’d hoped. Jackie was a huge help, both physically (by keeping things going when I wanted to take a break or do some shopping) and emotionally (by giving me feedback on my selling style, and just being there!), as were my other supporters who showed up: Erik of course (he was in and out), my parents, Shra and Devin, EurJean and Bobby, Thomas and Brian P, Patrick, Kevin, and Hansel. I don’t think I would have been nearly as comfortable if I hadn’t been surrounded by familiar faces all day long; as it was, I experienced no nervousness at all! Also, many of my fellow exhibitors, and of course Jonathan and Hannah of FabMo, were acquaintances as well; the community could not have been made up of nicer people! I even made a friend, jinnyly, and have invited her to our pre-Thanksgiving dinner in two weeks. 🙂 She was my neighbor on the left, and Jackie and I really enjoyed her company throughout the day.
I think, going into the event, I had practically no expectations. I hoped it would be fun, that I might make some sales, that I would learn something about craft fairs and what they are like, and that’s about it; I was looking to publicize my Etsy shop and get experience, mostly, I guess. The exhibit definitely exceeded all my expectations except for the sales, and in that area I’m pretty sure it’s because my prices were higher than everyone else’s — and even so, I’m satisfied with the sales I made; the FabMo community is not my target audience anyway, and the crowd seemed to be composed of fellow crafters as much as it was members of the public who were really looking to do shopping.
I am so overwhelmed with thoughts after the fair, I just don’t know how to put them into a coherent post. I’ll bullet-point instead… a cop-out, I know, but I still want to write my Livejournal entry on creativity after this!
My findings from the FabMo Exhibit:
- My research and advance preparations really paid off. There was pretty much nothing that happened that I wasn’t prepared for — that I could have prepared for — and there were tons of details I was very glad I’d thought of in advance. Examples: putting my URL and Satsumabug on all my receipts, setting out little cups of the eye-pillow fill mixtures so people could touch and smell, remaining standing (instead of sitting) and greeting everyone who came by with a smile. Some of these methods/ideas had unexpected benefits: kids loved the eye-pillow fill (and the candy dish!), and people really liked the mini-pouches and enjoyed looking through them.
- My prices were really high, but there was a lot of interest in what I’d made. I think the reversible totes might have flown off the table if I’d priced them quite a lot lower — say $20 — but I do feel they took me longer than that to make. I can’t help but feel that the other artists undervalue their work, but then, everyone has their own pricing philosophy and their own goals. Also, I wouldn’t have had enough inventory available if the items had gone quickly, so perhaps in the long run it will prove more fruitful that I had a full display all the time… that is, if people end up buying from my Etsy shop (where I will lower some of the prices) instead.
- You can’t predict what catches someone’s eye, or what people will notice. I mentioned to everyone who looked at the totes that they were reversible, just for something to say, and I’d guess that about half the people had already figured that out (or read it on my sign), while the other half gasped and said, “Oooh, reversible! What a great idea!” So it’s probably always better to point things out than to remain silent!
- Since it was a very crafter-filled crowd, people really appreciated the work that went into my omiyage pouches and my rugs. I saw several people look at the price tags and put the items back down again, but some of my fellow crafters also looked at the prices and nodded. I do feel justified in continuing to ask rather high prices for these clearly labor-intensive creations. I put so much time and thought into making them, I’d rather they go slowly than that they just get snapped up thoughtlessly because they’re cheap and pretty.
- The omiyage pouches received many compliments, but no sales, and I think that’s at least partly because we weren’t able to help potential buyers decide what they could do with them: people would ask what they were for, and I had no answer. I think people (and I do include myself) aren’t willing to shell out upwards of $40 for something they don’t know what they’ll do with, even if it is unique and beautiful. On my Etsy listings I give some suggestions, but I still don’t have definite answers, and I think I’ll need to come up with some if I want to sell these pouches.
- The rugs attracted possibly the most attention. People liked the eye-pillow display and were drawn by the scent (several remarked, “Mmm, I could smell these from over there!”), but for most people, eye pillows are nothing new. (Though there were a few individuals who seemed perplexed… and some of them remained so even after I explained. 😉 ) But nearly everyone had something to say about the rugs, even if it was just “This is really amazing!” Many older women told me stories about how they’d made these rugs when they were children (one lady with a British accent said she’d made some at boarding school), or watched their mothers, grandmothers, or great-aunts make them (one lady said her grandfather made them, from scraps her grandmother cut up!). Some remarked on this in passing, while others really stepped into their reminiscences and seemed genuinely touched in some way by seeing such rugs afresh. Younger people just seemed impressed by the technique. This confirms my original idea — that my braided rugs would be the most unique item in my inventory — and encourages me to make more, and to experiment with the shapes and techniques to create other items besides just round rugs.
- I had thought I would leave the craft fair grateful for the chance to stop crafting for a while, but instead I’m inspired to make more and more! All the exhibitors were showing beautiful work; even if some of it wasn’t to my taste, there was no table where I looked at the goods and thought, “Ugh, this stuff is crap/useless/stupid.” Everything was incredible and much of it was just really really creative and interesting. It was an astonishing display of real brilliance in our community, and as Erik remarked, seeing everything together really puts into perspective what we as a society throw away on a regular basis. SO much beauty that could have just ended up in landfill for a thousand years!! On a related note,
- One of the most unexpected benefits of the craft fair was the amazing inflow of ideas! I had to pull out my Moleskine and start writing down the ideas as they came. Sometimes Jackie and I got ideas from our observations and reflections, and sometimes people just gave me ideas when they looked at my stuff. Examples: wrist rests from the same basic template as my eye pillows, iPhone pouches, sari rugs. I now have a store of ideas that can last me well into next year, and I’m so excited to start trying them out.
- I also made some unexpected contacts, not just including new friends and renewed acquaintances! One lady saw my rugs and said she’d inherited a lot of wool scraps already cut into strips for rug-making; she took a card and said she’d let me know when she dug them out of storage. Another lady took a card and said she would contact me about selling at a Japanese cultural festival that happens in Millbrae in early October; she said she thought my pouches would do very well there. I really hope to hear from both these people!!
I think that’s everything I can think of at the moment. It was a really wonderful experience and I’m looking forward to doing it again next year! It gave me so many insights and ideas, and I had such a good time.