Craft fair home stretch, and thoughts on indicating value

What a busy day it’s been! My show m.o. is to aim to get everything done on the Thursday before, thus leaving me Friday for the inevitable loose ends and errands. So I spent today doing boringish stuff like making up price tags and description cards, photographing everything I don’t already have a decent photo for, and printing up coupon-code labels. And, as you may have noticed, I also wrote an extremely silly entry earlier in the day, preceded by a brief press posting first thing this morning!

I uploaded tons of pics to flickr today! Click the image to see them!

In the evening, worn out and way too warm (big west-facing windows and a somewhat open floor plan + any sunshiny afternoon = our house is an oven), Erik and I set out for a wonderful hourlong ramble on the trails at sunset, followed by a trip to the supermarket for an overly salty (but tasty!) dinner inspired by Mo’s picnic minis. Thank goodness for some exercise and getting out of the house.

As regular readers know, I fret an awful lot about pricing. I’m still fretting, and even though I’ve now tagged every item with a price, and created signage to reflect those prices, I’m still not sure these prices will do well at the show. However, after talking with Jinny last night and Mo today, I’ve started thinking differently about how we price and market our work. When I was looking at Jinny’s amazing inventory last night, there were certain pieces or details that I totally admired, but she would say casually, “Oh, that’s nothing,” or “It didn’t take that long.” Meanwhile, when she complimented some of my pieces, all I could see was how many flaws they had (her response? “Those details give them character.”) It’s well known that we aren’t the most objective judges of our work, but I hadn’t fully realized that our immersion in it causes us to make assumptions about how other people will see our creations, too. When I look at someone else’s work, I don’t see mistakes or imperfections; I see something original that either interests me or doesn’t suit my aesthetic. Since I’m not the creator of that item, I’m not blinded by the billion and one things I know about how it was made, and my vision isn’t deadened by the many hours I’ve already spent with that item from the vaguest concept to the final product. All this is just to say that it’s impossible for me to see anything I make with the same eyes as anyone else in the world! So, when I’m pricing a product or writing up a description of it, or even taking photos of it, I need to keep this in mind; I need to do my best to shut down all my own assumptions about how other people will respond to it.

I’ve been thinking about all this in relation to my display for the show on Saturday. If I’m going to price my items on the high end, I feel obligated to indicate why I feel they’re worth it; that’s what I’d want, myself, as a shopper. As a relatively new sewist, I can’t claim impeccable construction (as Jinny can), nor extraordinary design. Of course I do make my construction as perfect as I’m able, and I stand by all my designs, but there are definitely better shops out there when it comes to pure execution. So that’s not what Satsumabug customers are paying for. What they are paying for are the following:

  1. A unique, discerning eye for color, pattern, texture, and detail
  2. Original ideas and designs
  3. Objects that make everyday life more beautiful
  4. Quality materials
  5. A commitment to eco-friendly materials and practices (and no greenwashing!)
  6. Items that are one-of-a-kind and handmade with thought and care
  7. Me (which is not a joke, as I am much more than just customer service here!)

What I’ve decided, upon thinking about all this, is that some of these things come across clearly in my Craft Happy display (as it’s planned, currently), and some don’t. #1-4, and 7, should be apparent to any passerby who’s the least bit receptive. But #5 and 6 may not be as obvious, and if someone is going to pay more than $20 for something, I think they want to know all the reasons why. So it’s on me to figure out how to make it clearer to people browsing my display that everything is unique and eco-friendly, and that that is worth paying for.

I’ve seen it suggested that sellers work on their craft onsite at shows, to give potential buyers a window into the process. That’s a very nice idea, but the practical application is just awful when it comes to sewing. I’ve seen people hand sewing at fairs and they just look unfriendly and antisocial; I mean, they’re hunched over, looking at their laps. So I’m not going to be hand-embroidering anything in our booth! I’ve also seen it advised that sellers display photos of their process, but I can’t stand the thought of going to so much photography trouble, I personally would never look at such a thing when shopping, and I doubt photos of me sewing would do much for anyone. So I will have to think of some other way to help people see the value in how I make my items, and I’m afraid I may not have time to make much more for the display before Saturday.

My plan for now is just to talk to people, as much as possible, about how my items are made, and my eco-friendly, ooak-centric creative philosophy. I think that will work, since I do like to connect with potential buyers as much as possible. But for next time, I’ll be thinking of some way to make it more clear how I approach everything I make.