Monday, March 28, 2011

And Then She Was Home.

All I can say is WOW and then man oh day do I need to catch up on some SLEEP!

The show this weekend was a huge success.  By huge, I mean enormous in more ways than sales.

As you may remember, I was worried about making some changes to my booth design.  Not giant, massive changes, but changes that involved leaving certain key pieces of my set-up at home and bringing yet untried pieces along.  That meant if my vision didn't translate I was essentially out of luck, because home was two hours away and a four-hour round trip was not in the game plan.

It all worked out, though.  I teased you a bit with these photos, and here's how the entire shebang looked.


You'll have to trust me when I say it looks a lot prettier in person.  Trying to get the entire picture in is so incredibly difficult, what with the crazy lighting and the other booths and the expo center's ceiling and the bars of my booth and what not.  But when you're walking by, it's mighty fun if I do say so myself!

I have to give major props to my husband here.  Without him, I wouldn't be doing shows.  He always heads out early to set up the framework of my tent, the flooring, the tables, all the heavy lifting and hard labor.  I get the fun job of decorating.  He's the one that researches lighting and better structures and what-not.  He's the one that found the director's chair made by a chiropractor specifically for people with bad backs. 

He's a saint.


I had lots of goodies all ready to go by Thursday night and was set for when the doors opened on Friday morning.  

Lots of earrings (120 pairs will fit on the shutters I use) ...


Pretty necklaces and bracelets .....



 

Business cards, including fun little Moo cards....


And of course, the ever-popular zipper pulls.  My theory is "no bead goes unloved", so this is where the last bead of a set goes to rest, or in some cases, like the ducks and pandas, I find beads that appeal to kids, and I tend to just give those away when they're really good while their moms shop.


So here comes Friday.  I'm as well-rested as one can be when you sleep in a hotel full of middle school soccer teams running up and down the halls screaming (and oh yes, I DID yank open my door, wild pink hair standing on end from trying to sleep, and yell, "Calm that down or I'm calling your mothers!" only to hear "Sheesh, you'd think she'd be cool, I mean, the HAIR!").  Excited about seeing good friends, both vendor and customer, I'm off to the expo center.

This is when things go completely crazy.  

Now.  Fridays are special days in the craft show business.  They can be miserably slow days or very very good days, depending upon the market.  Most people work on Friday, but some have been known to take the time to get to a particular artisan the first day of a show if they want to get, quote, "the good stuff".


The doors opened at 10am.  By 10:05 I had my first customer.  By 10:30 I had to start restocking.  By 11am I was freaking out.

It seemed that a lot of my repeat customers all had the same idea and decided to show up first thing on Friday.  Five (six?) ladies took off work to come, bringing a Starbucks mocha just for me.  One special lady brought me a birthday present.  People who read my blog showed up to introduce themselves.  It was overwhelming and so very, very humbling.  There were a lot of jewelry designers at this show and I don't care what any one of you says -- my things are no more beautiful than any of yours or anyone else's.  I honestly don't know why these people keep coming back, but I'm so glad they do.

It's not about making money.  Yes, this is my full-time job, and yes, there are bills to pay.  But I get joy from repeat customers coming in to see me and making a point to talk to me for a minute, even though they aren't there to buy something that day!  Seriously, if you can only smile for those who hand you cash, it might be time to rethink some things.

I know that sounds harsh.  Maybe it's the pink hair talking.

Friday ended with Cindy Wimmer coming to pick me up for dinner.  This month has been an awesome one for connecting with Cindy -- three times in one month!  I've mentioned before how I feel isolated in my particular part of the world (and I'm going to take you guys up on visits now that I'm done with shows for a while!) so meeting up this many times in a month is golden.


And oh boy, did someone say PIE?  Heck to the YES there was pie!  Birthday pie!  Complete with combustibles!


Key lime pie with fireworks.  Can't get much better than that.  

But wait!  Yes it can!


It was a hella big slice!  And even though I was groaning through those last few bites, I ate it all, by gosh.  Because that's what pie is FOR.

My actual birthday isn't until tomorrow, and birthdays have never been celebrated that much in my family, so this was such a special treat from Cindy, not to mention the lovely presents from her -- a notebook with Royal typewriters on it (just like my own!)...


And a very special pendant that I'll show you later when I make it up into a necklace.

Saturday and Sunday were relatively slower days, meaning I got to breathe.  More of my repeat customers came by and more blog readers.  I met new people and got to share the excitement of beads with a burgeoning middle-school beader.  I laughed a LOT.  

And there were a lot of glances at my hair.  Some thought it was a reflection off my hot pink curtains.  Some thought I was wearing a feather boa but couldn't figure out quite where the rest of it was.  A lot of ladies asked how THEY could do it -- and let me tell you -- all of the ladies who asked that question were older than me.  Rock on, and rock hard.  


This show was important to me for a lot of reasons.  None of them had to do with the money I made.

It showed me the value not only of good customer service but of being cheerful, even in the midst of whatever may be weighing on my mind or the pain in my head.  People come into my booth  with the pink and purple curtains expecting the designer to mimic her decor and her jewelry -- to smile and be pleasant and fun.  Who wants to go to a craft show and see vendors grousing about how last year was a better year or that the show stinks or worse, they're never welcomed?  My booth is my shop -- come in and play dress up.  Enjoy your visit.


It showed me that many of my customers aren't customers any more -- they're truly friends.  This blog has been an outlet, an extension of me, and more people read it than comment.  I just didn't realize how many of my customers read it.  I was gratified and amazed and again, humbled, by the genuine care they have for me, and it was also fun to hear what their favorite posts were and get ideas for new ones.

Making jewelry is fun, but doing it for a living is hard.  The fun part, the "Pretty Things" part, is such a small part of it all when this is your full time job.  Craft shows are getting more and more expensive to do and the competition against resellers calling themselves handmade is getting tougher and tougher.  Marketing plans seem to have to change monthly, if not weekly.  Exhaustion reigns supreme.  

Yet I love it.

I sit here exhausted, wishing for a nap that I won't get today, or tomorrow, or the next day, but happy and relieved and somehow validated that indeed, I CAN do this job, and that what I write does get read.  I have some great friends out there, both people I've met, and you, who I've yet to meet, but love none the less.

Thanks for reading.










Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and wrote the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She's also a contributor to Art Bead Scene.

75 comments:

  1. Your friendly attitude and greeting at a show is what brought me to your blog. And if you're ever in the VA area again I would totally come to your show.

    I think in the artistic business your customers have to be treated as friends. I can buy nice jewelry from a lot of places...I want the whole package. And you my dear give the whole kit and kaboodle!! Love ya!!

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  2. Oh and love love love the pink hair!!

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  3. I'm so glad your show went well and your hair is awesome by the way! I'm always inspired by your enthusiasm, your energy and your fabulous jewellery. I WILL buy you a mocha one day too! Deb x

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  4. I knew you'd do well ♥ You're L@@King fantastic too!

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  5. Bravo Lori! Your booth is outstanding (as is your rockin' pink hair!). And your jewelery is awesome! I'm so glad I "discovered" your blog and yourself last week! So try to get some rest and happy, happy birthday! BTW, if you ever get out to Portland, OR, know you have a friend here!

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  6. Your booth is fabulous (love the frame and flooring idea too)!!! With the bright colors, the fabulous jewelry, and your cheery personality, it's no wonder you were a success!

    I'm still trying to find the best fit as far as shows go. I'm finding it very difficult in Kansas with our terrible economy. People are looking for cheap stuff now. It's a process..

    Happy Birthday tomorrow! Enjoy and do the things that make you happy!

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  7. Some day I hope to visit you at a show and don't be surprised if I too color my hair pink - I've just warned my girls so they won't be in total shock! Yay Lori!

    May one day you be pain free...

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  8. I'm so glad that the weekend was such a success - in soooo many ways!! You're sooo talented!! And, with the PINK hair - who on earth could resist??? LOL!!

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  9. Lori, what an adventure...pink hair (LOVE IT)..a show...and a bit of birthday celebration. I'm so glad you can get it all out here to share with us. Your ability to do that will keep coming around in positive ways, I'm convinced of it.

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  10. So glad it went well for you and that you just seem to get it. I know your customers appreciated that. BTW, love that blue birdie necklace--so cute!

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  11. So glad you had a wonderful show! You are an inspiration to me!

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  12. Congratulations on beautiful work, a gorgeous booth and cool hair. I'm so glad the weekend went well for you. Just remember every day that you are not only talented, you are gifted.

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  13. I am so glad that I finally got to meet you in person on Saturday! Your booth was awesome and so are you!

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  14. WEll ok then. I thought I was wordy. lol. But anywho I am glad it went great. I love the bird earrings and that rose bracelet or necklace or whatever it is. Your set up looked really nice.

    PD

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  15. And Happy Birthday.

    PD

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  16. Yay! I'm so glad to hear it went well! You were busy not only because you make great jewelry, but for all the positive energy you radiated. AND, you are still radiating in this post. I love it! I'm happy for you Lori! Happy Birthday!

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  17. You are an inspiration girl!
    I love the new booth set up and I will say it again, "LOVE THE HAIR!"
    I am so glad your fair went well, even though you had a panic moment, though in a good way, when inventory was selling on Friday.
    It looks like you had a wonderful time with Cindy and the pie looked divine!
    Would you share where you bought the director's chair? Mom has a bad back so I am always on the look out for a chair for her.
    I hope you take some time for yourself to recoup!
    Happy Early Birthday! Have a wonderful time with your family!
    Beth

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  18. So glad you had a successful show, and your hair is fantastic. Hmmmm . . . I am just heading off to the hairdressers for a hair cut - hmmmm, just maybe . . . .lol.

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  19. Hey Lori, I'm glad it was successful for you, in more ways than one! Cindy really knows how to treat a friend, doesn't she! You guys are great and I wish you continued success and hope you get the health issues straightened out so you can stay your wonderful positive self!

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  20. This sounds like such an incredibly rich and full weekend, Lori! I am so glad that you could stand back and have that perspective. You are great at customer service and it should come as no surprise that people come back wanting more because you make them feel so welcome! I love your booth. I attended the show that I didn't get juried into and the reason is partly because I don't have as robust a booth as you do, and I don't handmake every single thing, but that is something that I am now motivated to rectify! I love your hair, and the daring spirit that made you do that. I wish that I had that in me! Thank you for sharing the ride with us. Such fun!
    Enjoy the day!
    Erin

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  21. congratulations on a successful and fun show..your booth and jewelry looked beautiful..
    i love your pink hair too!

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  22. Congratulations on a successful show on so many fronts. Your words are so true about how you treat customers. People who just sit in their booths are walk-bys for me.
    I so wish I lived closer to have been there and met you. (Maybe at Bead and Button?)
    Enjoy your week!

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  23. Awesome! So glad that it was a success for you! One of these days, I'll get that opportunity to meet you and I look forward to it! Your booth is really well done and welcoming.

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  24. I knew your were on a roll! Congrats for being so successful! and you deserve it so much!

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  25. Lori, you are a truly lovely lady. I am not surprised at all by what you have written here about customers and blog readers becoming friends. It's why we keep coming back to your blog! We love you. (and your hair...!)

    PS I posted a little something out to you a couple of weeks back to say thanks for all your hard bead soup work, I hope it reaches you safe - I get a bit nervous posting to the US!

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  26. Yay! I love talking to people at shows. It makes my day, whether it is slow or not, if I have connected with people, and had a chance to share show I made something, or why I used that, and then heard why they love sea glass too, or the memories of collecting it as a child.....it just makes it all worth while. You really said it so well, and I am happy you had so many customer come back.
    I almost made it for the show, but got sick:( I really wanted to meet you (and wanted a reason for a road trip with my bestie, but maybe next time)
    Thanks for sharing!!!

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  27. So glad you had a great show and a great birthday...the booth is so pretty. And in perfect contrast to the icky weather that was going on, too!

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  28. Such a treat to see more pictures of you! Your radiant personality immediately jumps off the screen. I'm so happy the show was a success and your booth looks lovely, I like magenta and white paired together. Huh, it even matches your new hair ;-)

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  29. Congratulations on a great show, a great booth, and a great attitude about it all. The passion and joy you bring to it all radiates out to those around you and is reflected back. And happy birthday!

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  30. I knew you would do well and I am really glad you did very well in lots of ways.

    Thank you for posting the picture of you shop. It looks very inviting and intriguing. It also looks very different than all the other shops with their dark curtains and black table cloths. The brightness reflects well on who you are.

    Have a happy birthday and a joyful year.

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  31. I'm so glad you show went well! And I'm going to steal this line:" come in and play dress up"

    what a perfect way to capture the feel you want to have in your booth!

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  32. I'm exhausted after just reading this, Lori. Oh, how I wish I could have been there to see it all in the flesh ... and to gather up some of those gorgeous creations!

    I love your attitude toward selling at shows ... probably because it's what I did when I did shows and how I continue to preach. Smile. Be welcoming. It's more fun for your, as well as for your customers ... and for sales.

    Congratulations to you both on a terrific looking booth. Great teamwork!

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  33. What a great booth, kudos to your husband for the invaluable help in setting it up. Thank you for sharing your hectic, but lovely weekend with us. Happy Birthday, Sweet Lori!

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  34. Yes, Lori, we believed in you! Your booth, jewelry, set up and design all did their job just fine. Kudos to hubby!! Your pink hair just made you into super woman and your inner soul just shined in all its brilliance. Happy restful week to you my dear...

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  35. hey Lori,

    It was so great to meet you Saturday and introduce myself to you as a fan. I blogged about my expedition to the Dulles Expo Center and posted a pic of us that my daughter took. I love the necklace and earrings I bought!

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  36. What fun, Lori! It's great when customers come back. I love it when they show you what they've made with the beads they bought! It's great! I'm glad you were able to have such a successful show!

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  37. I am so thrilled it was a meaningful, humbling and gratifying weekend...what a gift that is! Happy Birthday and the booth looks fabulous!!!

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  38. Lori, I sure enjoyed reading your post here. I totally agree your booth was awesome and your demeanor is so friendly and always inviting. We had a great time on Friday - another one of my favorite memories now. I hope you have a fantastic birthday tomorrow. I know it is going to be a great year for you, I just know it.

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  39. Congrat's on such a great successful show and a wonderful weekend! We all are confident in our talents and believe in ourselves, but what you gained this weekend is such a wonderful validation of that which always helps to reasure us and not to mention make us feel great!
    You deserve it! Your booth looks wonderful.

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  40. Isn't it wonderful that we are out there "listening" to your every word....looking forward to hearing from you. You're right, maybe not everyone comments but they're there. Comments, though, re-inforce the thought that "we're not really out there talking to ourselves"!

    Cheers and enjoy a wonderful NAP!!!!

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  41. Well, it is Tuesday here - so I wish you an extremely Happy Birthday - may your days be filled with joy, laughter, love and inspiration! Am also wishing you less pressure and pain!
    Congratulations on the successful show - in every way!

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  42. So glad to hear that you had a successful show. It doesn't surprise me in the least that your readers and return buyers were visiting and buying up, you have a warm and giving way about you Lori and people like that, plus, of course, your jewelry is lovely, a winning combination. Happy birthday and go the pink hair!
    Jenni

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  43. Hi, just to let you know I follow your blog almost everyday and understand how much readers mean. I often think I'm brave with hairstyles but pink I would be too selfconcious to try. Looks great on you and suits your personality.

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  44. happy birthday Lori!! very cool pink!! you wear it so well!!! you little shop was gorgeous!! lot of things to see!!

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  45. What a great booth...love the jewelry. Wishing you a very Happy Birthday.

    p.s. thanks for the kudos.

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  46. It sounds completely lovely. Friendliness gets me everytime.

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  47. Congratulations!! The pink hair really made a difference!!! And I know why people are comming to you: If you have the same loving and caring heart as in your blog, people know that it´s all about love - and some lovely jewelry!! Keep on going girl!!

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  48. HAPPY BIRTHDAY LORI! You and your booth looked fantastic in person! So glad you had a wonderful and successful show. I witnessed other vendors - ummm - sleeping in their chairs (no lie), constantly fluffing their merchandise so they would not have to look at possible customers when they walked by (way too obvious) and a variety of other people avoidance tactics. That is the difference with you - you give people a chance to connect in a fun and meaningful way with the designer and that makes your jewelry extra special and makes all the difference in the world! It was neat to see. Have a great Day!

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  49. Happy Birthday Lori!!! Hope you get some rest but you sound good anyway and you can always ride that positive energy for awhile! Glad your show was such a success but we knew it would be!

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  50. First, Congratulations on a great show! It sounds like so much fun! Second...Happy Birthday!!! I looove Key Lime Pie too!

    You (and your blog) is truly an inspiration for me! I love coming here and reading. I'm just starting off in this business and it is hard but I love it too! And I really got a spark inspiration when I read your post today! Thanks!

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  51. Happy birthday!!!! Birthday pie...how fabulous. Your booth is amazing!!! I love the containers you use for the cards! Great idea with the zipper pulls beads. I use my leftovers in multi bead strands. I'm glad everything went well. It was worth the stress! ~Val

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  52. Lori;

    What a wonderful post. You captured the essence of doing shows beautifully. Wish I could come to one of your shows and meet you - maybe someday if I ever get out of Texas.

    Anyway, love the booth too. It's a wow along with your new hairdo - you go girl. Now I'm going, hmm, wonder how I'd look in purple?

    Lyn

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  53. Hi Lori, i knew you would do well and i really envy the lucky bloggies that have had the pleasure of meeting you oh... maybe someday that will be me, your booth looks amazing that's one of my favorite parts of doing shows is the decorating the booth i mean why spend all that time creating beautiful jewelry to just throw it on a table and call it a day! even though most of mine are outdoors and i have weather and stuff to deal with i still do it up nice and i find it makes all worth it when i hear all of the wonderful comments. i glad you did so well and had a good time with Cindy i really wish your pretty little head didn't hurty all the time :( ttfn L:)

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  54. Congratulations on a wonderful show! I'm not the least bit surprised that people keep coming back to see you...of course your jewelry is stunning but it's definitely YOU and your sparkle that draws the crowds :)

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  55. Congrats on a big weekend! And a happy birthday! Your booth looks awesome, you captured the aesthetic from your new logo so perfectly!! Very inviting.

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  56. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR LORI!!!
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!

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  57. Fantastic read this morning... what a wonderful weekend you had and your booth is beautiful. All your hard worked is paying off. You truly are a special lady xx

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  58. The pictures are wonderful and you are postiviely glowing! I am glad it was such a success, all the way around.!

    Congrats and Happy Birthday!

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  59. It sounds like the show and your new booth design were a success! Congrats.

    I have to tell you I love the idea of making the zipper pulls from leftover beads. I also keep leftover beads, but haven't worked out a plan for them yet. I like the idea of them having a purpose again. AND, it's one of those creative activities that can be done when you're not feeling so creative.

    BTW, Happy Birthday! It sounds like you had a great weekend celebrating!

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  60. Lori - I'm so happy to see how wonderfully your show went! You are a wonderful blessing to each and everyone of use through your blog and everything else you do. *hugs*

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  61. Congratulations on a fabulous show...it doesn't surprise me though!

    Your set up is wonderful clean, crisp,colorful, but most of all,very inviting!

    People/customers know when they are appreciated, when the vendor is happy to see them, whether or not they make a purchase!!!

    Have a great day Lori!
    Happy Birthday...
    Cheers

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  62. How exciting! I'm so glad that you had an amazing time, especially the pie!
    I hope you have a wonderful birthday! <3

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  63. Happy Birthday, I love the pink hair:-) Your booth looks amazing and I am glad you had a great show!! Hope you have a great day.

    Cyber hugs,

    Sandi

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  64. Your booth looks wonderful Lori, as does your jewellery. I am so glad the show was fantastic for you!
    Jackie

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  65. Happy birthday, friend. Your booth set-up is gorgeous! I adore your hair and love the story about you telling the boys to quiet down. LOL! The time with Cindy looks like a fun time (just judging by your face!) and a wonderful memory. Congrats on the great show.

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  66. OH Lori, I really love this post. You are an awesome soul. I always remember you in my prayers. I am so glad your show went well and HAPPY BIRTHDAY. Do Be Blessed both you and your little family

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  67. I love the new look to your booth!

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  68. Ah, such a beautiful booth!! And your hair!! LOVE!

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  69. Happy birthday Lori!

    And congratulations on a great show - love the photos of your booth.

    Now get some rest. :)

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  70. Your clients/friends keep coming back regardless of whether they purchase or not b/c you rock! You create fabulous jewelry, and wear pink hair that we all would love to wear...but alas...what would the "people" think!
    Sounds like a great weekend! I'd loved to have seen your booth in person! It looks great!

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  71. Lori, I'm so glad it was a good show, a great show even, for all the reasons you mentioned, the people-connection factor being primary. You spread a lot of happiness in your little corner of the net and are a good example for all of us, for selling or just being good people. Your pink hair is awesome (my whole head is gray -- I may need a funky colored fringe like that), and you're totally rocking it. Also, what the heck are those shapely pink things raising up the displays in one of the last photos? Upside down bowls maybe? They look kinda like mannequin behinds to me. I'm just saying.

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  72. LOL about the bowls. You know, I didn't realize how much they looked like bountiful booties until I took the photos! They're actually heart-shaped mixing bowls turned upside down!

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  73. Wow Lori, Happy Birthday- I am so sorry I missed it.
    You had better keep your eyes on the mail....shhhh secret admirer is at work.
    I love the new look of your booth. Inspiring. And you.
    The Pink Hair - you are so brave and unique- it is perfect.
    the jewelry, "Ooooo, Aaaaah,..."
    the Key Lime Pie a la Fireworks:"Mmmmm" ...
    the little moo cards- I love those too. I use them as tags.
    Love your attitude about the business- we do this because we love what we do right? I feel so blessed that I finally have a life and can do what I love, and love what I do.
    Keep on keeping on....

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  74. I am so glad that your show went well and I am positive that a good portion of that was because of your attitude. You are a special lady Lori and thru your blog I feel as though we have become friends.

    And happy birthday!

    May this year be filled with many blessings, much happiness and your dreams answered.

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  75. My, my, What a blog! What a message! What an inspiration you are! I particularly believe that no matter how much money you make or don't make at the show, meet people, talking, learning things that are new make it an experience worth smiling about. I am so glad you feel that way after doing it for a while. And there is nothing in the world better than a good supportive, handy husband. Lol I think I am number 75

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I appreciate comments! <3

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