I can’t believe how long it has been since I sat down to check in with y’all. That should give you a hint as to how all-consuming the preparation and execution of the two back-to-back craft fairs I signed up for were in the last couple of months. I took the month of September, and some of the month of October off from blogging. I knew (as I told y’all in a previous post) that I would be slowing down and taking some time but I didn’t know it would be THAT long! Aside from the craft fairs, I had a whole jumble of life stuff that needed my immediate attention. I’m glad to have started blogging, and throughout the last month, I’m glad to have had the ability to stop.
Let’s dive right in, shall we? It’s early in the morning. I have spent months preparing for this moment. Every piece of inventory that I made has had to be entered into my Square inventory database. I have made numerous lists to remind me of what needs to be done and checked things off diligently. All my inventory, display props, clothes, toiletries, and children are packed like sardines in the car. The peg board wouldn’t fit in the car and wouldn’t stay on the roof, so at the last minute, it had to be cut into pieces of a more manageable size, which means a later start to my drive than I had planned. But here I am. Keys in the ignition. Ready to go. (The crazy hair and exhausted look on my face are actually quite normal. You should see what I looked like when the craft fairs were over)! Also, it was nice to have some company up front on the drive. I think I’ll take Chevron lady on my errands more often.
The above picture was the beginning of quite a learning experience. I’ll now fill you in on what I learned after my first two craft fairs, which took place a week apart, both about 200 miles away from where I live.
- Getting ready for the craft fairs and starting with very little inventory, I should have given myself A LOT more time in order to not feel the “inventory crunch” I felt. I’m sure those that do this full time may have had plenty of time in the window that I had, but being the primary caretaker for two littles 24 hours a day (and with full knowledge that their needs – of which there are many – come first) I felt rushed. I do not like feeling rushed. Feeling rushed makes me not perform ANY of my tasks at my peek – including motherhood, which honestly, had me thinking I should just throw in the towel on more than one occasion. I’m glad I didn’t. Read on to find out why.
- Speaking of “crunch” time. It’s not just inventory you should leave enough time for. The big set up materials (tables, canopy) those are things I knew I needed but couldn’t work on getting until I got out to the city where the first show was happening and met up with my partner in crime, Melissa, from Dixie West Designs. None of the big stuff would have fit in my car to take with me, and she was being gracious enough to purchase the major items (folding tables and canopy). However, I didn’t get there until the night before the craft fair (It is about a four hour drive to get there when you don’t have small children – add my kids and make it 5-6 hours) and we didn’t have much time to shop for the items we needed (we also needed a few other small items that were, unfortunately for us, located at about six different stores). We were out late. It was a busy night, and again, we were rushing.
- Remember those littles I care for? Melissa has older children that looked after them while we were at the fairs. They spent some of the time there playing with them and some of the time back at Melissa’s house. Had that not been the case at the first fair, I would have packed up and gone home. Maybe your kids are different, but there is no way mine would have just hung out with me there all day and let me talk to people, network, make sales. etc. At the second fair, my husband came with us, an even better scenario for ME AND my kids, but I’m telling you right now, DO NOT try to do a craft show with small children and no caretakers for them. Even with the caretakers I had, it was tough, so I can only imagine how difficult it would be without them.
- The display – there is no amount of planning you can do that will fully prepare you for setting up your display at a craft show you have never done. I took the time to plan. I thought I had a number of good ideas. I took pictures, see? (No, the coffee wasn’t part of the display, but I took the picture on National Coffee Day so it seemed fitting). Despite my efforts, when we got there, the limitations of the space we had, plus, in our case, adding another crafter’s display into the same booth, made setting up a good display a challenge. At both craft fairs, we found ourselves rearranging our display mid-way through the fair because we were feeling like people just weren’t seeing what we wanted them to see, or that we, the crafters, were either too prominent or not prominent enough. I’m sure that once you have done this a few times, that part gets easier, but at the same time, I just did two very different fairs, and what worked for one was not at all what worked for the other. Here we go, second fair, finally feeling good about the display (minus the crooked table cover, which was fixed after this picture was taken)!
- There was some DRAMA at the second fair! I never expected that! Listen. When you get a booth at a craft fair, FOR THE LOVE OF YOUR SEAM RIPPER please do not leave your booth and walk up and down in front of OTHER people’s booths to sell your items. Doesn’t that seem like common sense? We had another vendor near us who did just that and we could actually SEE them frightening off or distracting our potential customers. People who otherwise would have taken their time and glanced in to see what we had in our booth didn’t, thanks to this other vendor. Eventually, the people who run the fair asked them to stop after another vendor complained, but the deed had been done (for quite a while) and we are pretty sure we lost business as a result.
THE TRUTH: Okay so, despite the drama, the challenges with my kids, the feeling rushed, etc., I had such a blast! Especially at the second fair (which was the outdoor one) even my kids had a blast. We met some wonderful other vendors, ate some delicious food, and had a lot of laughs. With all the travel and start up costs, I definitely can’t say it was financially lucrative, however, I can foresee a time when it would be if I stuck with it. As it stands, with my kids being as young as they are (and one still nursing) it will have to be a thing we do for fun a couple of times a year at this point, but it is definitely on my radar to amp up in the future.
A HUGE special thank you to Melissa at Dixie West Designs, without whom, I surely would not have gotten the chance to try this out. Y’all go check her out now and I’ll get working on my next post! Did I mention during this time we moved?! SO I have a new blank canvas of a house to decorate…hmmm…