April 22, 2011

Fairs and Festivals...What to do?!

I am at a crossroads with this jewelry gig.  Perhaps it's time for a Rune or Tarot session...gotta throw the bones, read the tea leaves or something akin to voodoo to get some answers!  I'm just not sure what kind of business I'm interested in creating.  When my daughter was little, I started making jewelry again after a long hiatus.  I'm not one to sit around and the stay-at-home mom gig, although fun for a while, didn't work for me after a while.  I got so much joy out of making jewelry and was so incredibly excited, my creativity spillithed over (did I just make that word up?!)!  I took classes to learn new skills or to brush up on old ones.  I churned out piece after beautiful piece (well, I thought they were).  I started participating in fairs and festivals around town.  The more shows I did, the more I was invited to.  I could have literally done one every weekend of the year!   My tax lady strong-armed me into getting my business license which opened up another ball of wax I wasn't really ready for and didn't particularly like. Although I'm very detailed in much that I do, keeping good financial records is unfortunately not one of my strong points.  It makes me cringe and turn into a procrastinator or all-out avoider, neither of which I am not in my non-jewelry life.  It's like I lose my mind or turn into another person. A child-like resentment rears its head and that baffles me constantly.  What gives?

These are the people who miss me!
What emerged most glaringly out of my doing all the fairs and festivals was that my family didn't like me doing them AT ALL. They missed me. They were resentful.  They turned clingy.  My husband, while trying to be supportive, was definitely struggling not to let me see how put out he was.  He's really very proud of me and loves that I have this outlet. However, it was so apparent that he had trouble when it turned into a business. Unfortunately, it's the kind of business that requires nights and weekends.  Not cool when the guy who works 12 hour days, six days a week has to come home only to cook and clean because his wife is MIA preparing for another show.

So what to do?  I'm trying to be laid back about how this all evolves.  I'm really determined to go with the flow. I didn't particularly like how doing all the shows seemed to take the joy out of the actual creating.  I seemed to be creating the same thing, the "big sellers," over and over rather than coming up with new designs.  I got lots of requests from customers to fix pieces that I didn't even create, which is a bummer as it's quite unfulfilling.  Listing things on my Etsy site, although considered easy by the masses, takes too long for me!  It is a drag...for each item you list, even if you save templates and reuse a previous listing, you're spending at least 20 minutes an item.  You have to measure, take pictures or scan, crop the pictures, write a description or alter your previous one to fit the new item...I just would rather be off in my sweet little workshop CREATING.

My sweet little workshop
So, out of all this, I've come to feel that I should only keep the stuff I make to order on the Etsy site. The new creations I'm now just showing via Facebook or through Photobucket or Flickr.  I can't even decide which is best between those modes of presentation.  I've suddenly turned into an indecisive Libra!  Yikes.  I don't know if the new way I'm presenting my stuff is cool or a cop out.  I just am annoyingly indecisive.

What I am sure of, however, is that I won't do three-day shows anymore.  I just can't.  I know it's opportunity missed, but my family has to win on this one.  I have also decided that I will only do shows that make me happy, even if I don't sell a lot.  There needs to be happy-inducing criteria met here:

  • The other vendors have to be normal, nice people and not intense, scary carny types.  You just can't believe the weird subculture created by some of the vendors that go from show to show.  Kooks!  Their intense energy and cattiness makes me want to turn tail and run for my liiiiiiiiiffffffffe!
  • Christine-A "Normie" vendor!
  • The show entrance fee has to not make me cringe.  I need to be okay and be able to make my mortgage and car payment even if I don't sell anything. The show's percentage of what they take off sales can't be too high. I'm unwilling to gouge my customers.  If I feel guilty charging for my time as it is, I don't want to have to tack on 20% more so I can pay the show's fees.   I'm having trouble paying for my own time as the price of all my materials has not gone down with the recession. Silver is at it's highest
  • The show's customers can't pay parking or an entrance fee.  I just think that sucks.  It's why I don't do shows at the Del Mar Fairgrounds anymore.  I didn't want to stick my loyal peeps with a $9 fee to just park and then walk a mile to the show, only to pay an entrance fee to the show.  Ridiculous.  I don't call that a nice day shopping.  Why come when you could park for free at a mall that's already close to your house?  Yeah, the merchandise isn't going to be handmade and potentially one of a kind like it would at one of the shows, but when there's a choice, most are gonna say "screw handmade, I'm taking the easy route!  Get me to the mall!" 
  • The show's promoter or venue has to already have a loyal following or have good advertising for their events. There's nothing worse than participating in a show that expects its vendors to bring in the customers.  I always hope to gain new customers that didn't know about me...not to give my loyal peeps a chance to cheat on my and buy someone else's loot!  I know that's pretty paranoid, but sometimes it feels that way.  One always hopes that one will retain the peeps' loyalty through sparkling, innovative, consistently-amazing designs and fantastic customer service.  Still, it's nerve-wracking...So, it's important to pick a place that's awesome on it's own and has it's own followers who trust that whatever the venue presents is going to be fantastic!
  • A venue with a very loyal following!
  • It can't be too far from my house.  I used to do a most magical show up in Solana Beach at Out of the Blue. I really loved that show even though I didn't really sell much there.  The camaraderie of the women who participated was wonderful and the shop itself is delightful!  The talent these ladies had was something to behold. It was very inspiring to me.  However, the shlep was hard to take on monthly.  And shows are a giant shlep, even if you're trying to pare it down.  There's just STUFF to lug.  The gas for the trip from Fletcher Hills to Solana Beach ended up giving me anxiety.  The emails that were generated throughout the month planning each show gave me anxiety.  We're talking an average of 40 emails a month!  My kids and husband were not surprisingly most put out by this show in particular.  Not sure whether it was the monthly prep or the million emails...I was either in my workshop, on the phone or on my email and computer creating media for the ads.  I had to give it up.  Makes me sad because Debi, the shop's owner and the Mermaid Mercantile's head mermaid, is super good with advertising, getting the word out, getting her shop and artists in print in magazines and newspapers...and you want to talk about creativity?  She has loads!  She's a force to be reckoned with.  But a mama has to do what a mama has to do and that meant I was out...I miss being a mermaid sometimes!  
  • Out of the Blue where I did The Mermaid Mercantile (cute, no?!)
  • The show has to make me proud to be a part of.  That's more of a visceral thing and something my intuitive and hugely visceral Pisces self has used to pare my schedule down to just two or three biannual shows a year. A HUGE reduction in what I was taking on.  I now do just these happy three.  One I haven't actually done yet, but I'm planning on it. It's with my ex-mermaids, that talented, inspiring bunch, in a cottage by the sea.  The Mercantile didn't work for them either for whatever reason.  It did, however, work on bringing us together!  I'm looking forward to that one as I hope to revisit the spark of creativity they elicited in me.  There's something about being in shows with this group.  They're not the creepy carny types. They're not cutthroat and so competitive you feel like you've got to watch over your shoulder lest you be stabbed in the back.  They take joy in each other's success. They willingly mentor and encourage.  They have a "one for all" mentality that's happily refreshing to me and not threatening in any way.  In the words of that former (I'm completely sure she once was) queen of the craft-fair, creepy carny, Martha Stewart, "It's a good thing!"  

So, what to do?  I guess do my pared-down three and try to bring my craft back into the love zone where I lose track of time creating new pieces or learning new skills. That's a beautiful thing!  

1 comment:

  1. It is a beautiful thing. Gotta keep it in the love zone!
    Miss you!