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.
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.