What I Learned From My Craft Fair

It was a partly sunny, partly windy Sunday afternoon at my first craft fair for Angel Tears. The crowd ebbed and flowed up and down the walk around my booth. I got a lot of compliments about the beauty of the crystals and colored stones, which I gratefully acknowledged. I perhaps made back 1/5 to 1/4  of my total first-year investment in sales, which surprised me for a first time outing.

It was a great day. A tiring day. A learning experience. Here’s some things I learned:

  • Give yourself more time than you think you need to set up. For me, two hours wasn’t nearly enough time. I know. What is there to setting up?
  • Be willing to change your layout on a whim. This spot enabled people to walk up and down both sides of the booth, and I had planned for only one side. Had to adjust so both sides could see the sparkle.
  • Some customers are chatty, some come up and say “I want this one.” Some just walk by and say “pretty.” Be friendly to all.
  • Know that setting up and taking down at a fair is a lot of work. I never underestimated the work that went into selling your wares, but I never experienced it, either. There’s a lot more to it than what you see.
  • Learn how to use your credit card reader (if you have one). My helper and I stumbled a few times in getting the darn thing to work. Embarassing.
  • Don’t take yourself so seriously. Know the day is important and stay focused, but don’t be a Debbie Downer (sorry Debbie) about everything wrong that happens. Product will blow over. Fall over. You won’t have the color or the shape or scene your customer is looking for. Oh well. It happens. 
  • Related to the above, offer to make a custom order. The customer loves a certain color or scene? If there is a real chance for a sale there, offer to make their request, unless it’s an intricate piece of work. Then it’s what’s there is there.
  • Bring everything you think you need your first time out, then trim down your supply bucket. In my case, no one wanted a receipt (except electronically), didn’t need extra  crystals or pens or, surprisingly a guest book. In my case, it was a snatch and buy business.
  • Hang your price sign high enough for people to see it. Setting it on a bucket that was holding down water jugs that held down the canopy was not an ideal site.
  • Have a helper. I can’t tell you how many times the moment’s rush almost got away from me. Maybe it’s just that I’m not a good multi-tasker. I can’t wrap and answer new questions and chat about where to hang Tears and replacing stock and trying to get the reader to work all at the same time. I’m a simpleton in that world.
  • Don’t sit all the time, nor don’t stand all the time. The small of your back and your hips will take the brunt of the abuse, and there’s nothing more embarrassing than standing up after a long time and moaning in pain.
  • And finally, have fun with your day. Observe and learn and listen. Learn where people want to put your piece, the colors they like, and which food vendor was the best. An art/craft fair is a wonderful people watching place. Don’t be afraid to make eye contact and say hello to those looking at your wares as they pass by. You never know who will come back and purchase something.

I was a nervous wreck all week, and all day before the fair started. The adrenalin kept me alert and adaptive. But when all was said and done, it was just another day.

A good day.

Be happy and thankful you were a part of it.

 

 

 

Art Can Be Found Anywhere

Vilas County, Wisconsin, is a small community of citizens in the almost-northern part of the state. Established in 1893, the county boasts a population of a little over 22,000 people. It’s a rural community, a farm community, and a tourist destination for fishing, hiking, and snowmobiling.

It also is the home of the Vilas County Fair.

The fair itself is small, held together by the carnival that moves in for three days and tradition of having your cows, jams, and art work judged by professionals.

The hearts and minds of artists dwell within this small community fair, too.

A competition that barely fills one pole barn, the artists of tomorrow are showing off their creativity, their inspirations, and their talent. Walking through an art show on this small of a scale can fill you with awe and pride and enchantment just as much as walking through the Milwaukee Art Museum.

No matter how big, no matter how small, you can feel the heartbeat of creativity in everything you see.

Take time to visit small art fairs, county fairs, and school art shows. You’ll love what you find.

 

Vilas County Schools Art

(for safety I did not take or record names)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Off To See the Wizard (of Biltmore)

6d3fa623e931a5471085ff1a8f7651afSagittarius personality traits

Sagittarius is a fun and exciting sign. The explorer and philosopher of the zodiac, they are typically interested in new experiences, new knowledge and new places.

As it is written, so it shall be.

This weekend I am taking an adventure I’ve not taken before. I am meeting my creative, crazy fun friend in the artsy city of Asheville, North Carolina — home of the Biltmore Estate.

No husband. No kids. No grandkids. No dogs. No cats. Just temporarily, you know.

Already I’m happy.

It has taken me 63 years to be able to go off and take a trip through the creative world with my bestie by my side. I can finally submerge myself in art of all kinds — painting, sculpture, jewelry, textiles. Something my hubby could not (in truthful conscience) enjoy.

It has taken me 63 years to get to this wide-eyed amazement point in my life. 40 years ago I was working downtown Chicago, too busy trying to make my way in the business world. 30 years ago I was busy being a newlywed and first-time mom, losing my downtown job and looking for a part-time one so I could be home with my son. 20 years ago I was busing being a full-time mom, trying to my hand at running a B&B while being a full-time soccer mom and baseball mom.  10 years ago I was busy working full-time again, trying to run from bankruptcy and dealing with one son’s college years and the other son’s high school years.

There wasn’t time for unique art galleries or writing blogs or going to live concerts. Guess I was just busy living.

But now the kids are working and raising their own kids and bankruptcy is nothing more than a bad dream as is the B&B experiment. Now is the time for me to reconnect to who I’ve always been. I’ve always been a painter, a writer, a stenciller. I have always had a love affair with the creative side of the world. From faeries to role-playing, from making my own jewelery to writing poetry. I’ve stuffed it into pockets of time and under the leaves on the wooded paths I’ve walked and in the drawers of dressing tables.

Now it’s my turn to play.

Now I get to discover and explore and dream and live the Bohemian life of an artist with someone who is as Bohemian as I am.

If only for 4 days.

I get to meet all kinds of people, people who heard the calling of the Art Muse and did something about it. I don’t need to live the dream to be a part of it.

If only for 4 days.

Make a point to take a side trip out of your reality too, now and then. It’s good for the soul. It’s good for the heart. It’s good for manifesting your creative future.

And it’s damn good for your friendship, too.