Wednesday Craft: The FabMo show and its after-effects

FabMo table

The clearest photo I got of the whole display

Thoughts on FabMoTAB

A couple of months ago, I decided to spend less time on crafting and more time on writing. I planned for the FabMo boutique to be my last hurrah of sorts: the big splash before my quiet transition to writing and working on the graphic novel. I’m glad I made that decision, because (a) it left me much more relaxed at the show than I would have been, and (b) if I’m only going to do one show a year, this one is a wonderful choice. I had even more fun than I did last year, and my mood of happy inspiration has lingered for days and spurred me to update the Etsy shop with new items and improved old listings!

FabMo table

A closer look at the tabletop

It’s always hard to corral my thoughts after a show, so I’m pulling out the ol’ bullet points again. Some quick thoughts on the commercial end:

  • FabMo might not be the place to sell purses. Handbags are the single most common item made from FabMo fabrics, so it’s hard to compete with sellers who do purses exclusively (several of them had giant carousels or vertical displays just bursting with bags!).
  • I needn’t have worried about my prices being too high. Last year, when I was just starting out, I did everything more slowly and clumsily, and I didn’t have a good sense of how much time things took. So my prices were higher than they should have been for what I was selling. This year, I made nicer things, and I also looked around at some of the sellers I’d envied last year, and realized their items took less time than I previously imagined. Now I’ve decided: my pricing is fair for what my buyers get!
  • As always, it’s tough to predict what people will notice. Next time I’ll make a more specific list of “points of interest” about each type of item, and remember to talk those up to people when they come by.
Bags sign

The handbags sign in action!

As for my experience at the show, like I said, I really enjoyed myself. It was much busier than last year, but we still got lots of FabMo crafters, so I had the pleasure of speaking to many fellow artists. Getting an approving “good work” from them felt like winning a prize, every time. And then there were these two ladies… they got so absorbed in dissecting my brooches that they barely looked up when I interrupted their “is that a yo-yo?” “no, I think it’s a pleated circle” discussion with “yes, it is a yo-yo.” They weren’t rude, just so totally caught up in creative analysis that they forgot the artist was right there listening! I traded with Chelsea of CuppaFog for one of her delicious clutches, and also bought an adorable bird ornament from another seller. There were so many fabulous creations at the show, I couldn’t at all blame the visitors who floated dazedly by my table, eyes glazed, murmuring, “It’s so amazing! Everything is so amazing!” or “I’m so in awe of all you artists! You are so creative!”

Wrist rests

Wrist rest area, after I'd sold out of the grapefruit ones

My favorite part of crafting is always connecting with people, and this show provided that amply. Several friends came out to support me (Esther, Wei-Ling, Albert, EurJean, Tamara, and Dana: thank you!!), and my parents showed up around noon with a Thermos of piping-hot homemade butternut squash soup (and my mom sold three things for me while I was eating!). One of my favorite visitors was an adorable little girl who read every sign and bellowed (if a small girl can be said to bellow) its contents to the world: “YOGA MAT TOTES! EYE PILLOWS!” When she saw my braided rug, she exclaimed, “IT’S A MOUSE RUG!” (Which of course made me think of Mo!) She was a treat… and an awesome reader! I also loved the lady who bought a wrist rest, left, then came back just to tell me that she wrote on the visitors’ feedback form that she would attend any class I taught! I was so taken aback, I’m not even sure I said “I have no plans to teach,” but after the show a fellow seller asked if I’d be willing to teach a FabMo workshop on how to make hair ornaments! I said I would… so the lady may get her wish after all!

Updating the Etsy shop, post-FabMo

Petit Toque before & after

Petit Toque: New versus old shots

After the show was over, I rested for a day, then got straight to work taking hundreds of photos and listing new items in the shop. Standing behind that table all day, engaging with prospective buyers, really reminded me how limited an online retail space is when compared to the lively, multi-sensory experience of a show. I looked over my old listings and realized they weren’t doing my items justice, so I fixed them up by tightening the description and adding new photos.

Gold Mine eye pillow set

Gold Mine eye pillow set: new & old

In my revisions, I tried to more fully evoke the sensory experience of each item: the weight of the eye pillow or its scent, the texture of the fabrics and the subtleties of color and print. I think I also remembered how quickly a lot of people walked by my table, and connected that to web users quickly flipping through thousands of search results on Etsy. Just because someone’s sitting at their computer doesn’t mean a seller gets any more milliseconds to “hook” them!

Chamomile

Chamomile fill mixture

So I reshot a great many of my items for brightness and clarity, and experimented with new angles and details. One brainwave led me to photograph my chamomile and lavender eye pillow fill mixtures, since people always like those at the shows. I’ve added those photos to some of my plainer listings to add interest. (Single eye pillows can be kind of boring to look at, depending how well the fabrics photograph!)

My goal is to have all new items listed by the end of the week… and then I can get back to cleaning the house, which looks like an artsy-crafty mini hurricane ripped through it. πŸ˜‰

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