As much as I LOOOOOOVED exhibiting at craft shows for the past five (six?) years, I am finally hitting a wall.
This is not good for someone who makes the majority of their money via craft shows.
I used to do between 15-20 shows a year from Virginia to Connecticut. Most were outdoors, and that's where the proverbial "tough nut" came into play.
Outdoor shows can be awesomely cool or miserably hellish. Depending upon the time of year, they can be balmy and gorgeous (April into May) up to heat-stroke-inducing hell-on-the-blacktop productions (June to September). I remember one show in Pennsylvania where I had my feet in my ice cooler, a wet towel around my neck (OOOOH so lovely) and came thisclose to heat stroke. Vinyl tent tops hold heat, the show was on blacktop, in August, and it got to 110 degrees under that tent.
The good part of the day was I sold almost all of my things by noon. The bad part is I had to stay until 5pm, and most people by lunch realized they were frying like eggs and left.
|My outdoor show booth, at a beach.|
With heat and sun as migraine triggers, and exhaustion from that pace of 15-20 shows, two years ago I cut everything down to 3-4 a year. The problem is they're in two cities -- and there are only so many bracelets returning customers can wear.
|Polymer clay gingko bead by Courtney Breul.|
Enter THIS year.
I haven't totally decided yet if I'm going to take next year off from shows or not. I haven't decided if I'm going to concentrate on finding NEW shows. But I DO know I can't wait for the end of March, because from then until mid-October, I have NO shows scheduled.
A looong, extended summer vacation. But I still have to make money, so I've rewritten my business plan. Here are the business-y things I plan to do during that time:
1) Create a wholesale line. I'm not wild about making repeats but limited editions, I can do. I'll probably explore WholesaleCrafts.com.
2) Spend hours in my lampwork studio. I have a lampwork class lined up at Bead and Button this year. FINALLY.
|My lampwork studio, and some of my early beads. I LOVE that orange!|
4). I want to experiment with resin, soldering, and stamping. Those things have always interested me, but I've never made the time.
3) FINALLY open my Bead Soup store, along with a vintage ephemera and book store.
|Two of my pieces -- metal smithing and stamping.|
4). I want to WRITE. I have an article coming out in BeadTrends in May and I'm trying (trying!) to find other venues who'll like my style. Along with that, I'm going to dig through the memoir how-to books and the story prompts I have collected.
5) And, I want to learn to juggle.
Yep. You heard it here first. It has NOTHING to do with business, unless you consider I'm constantly juggling projects, so why not learn to do it for real?
Why? It's freaking cool! You're NEVER too old to learn things! And I'll leave you with one of my favorite juggling videos. And if you don't take five minutes out to watch, you'll really miss out on something amazing (and the song is a sort of anthem for me).
What's on your Bucket List for this year?
Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and wrote the blog An Artist's Year Off. She is the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party.