A little bit of craft shows…

I don’t know about you guys, but I feel like summer is flying by. Just this past weekend, I noticed it starting to get dark earlier. I mean I had to leave the pool before 9 p.m. THE HORROR.

Summer is always such a busy time of year. It seems every time I turn around there is something else going on and I really have a hard time saying no. This leaves very little time for myself and, as you might have noticed, my blog.

A few weeks back, I was part of a craft show in Meadville. Why Meadville? Eh, it’s kinda close to my hometown and they reached out to me (remember the saying no thing?). Everything about the weekend was hot. Well, most everything. Unfortunately my sales at Pink Days in Bloom were not.

Last year was my first craft show and, let me tell you, it was a lot of work. I spent the entire summer painting, sanding, glueing, etc. I was terrified I wouldn’t have enough merchandise to fill an entire booth. I completely underestimated myself. I filled the booth and then some. Applefest took place in my hometown of Franklin. It is a three-day event that brings in more than 30,000 people each year.

Pink Days in Bloom was a bit different. The venue was smaller, so Dave and I decided to cram everything into two cars. When the alarm went off at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning, neither of us were too pumped. We made the nearly two-hour trek up north and arrived at different times. Not knowing where to go, I just started driving through the crowd until someone pointed me in the right direction and told me to unpack immediately. Around the same time Dave called me to tell me he was lost in a field of horses. WHAT.

After 17 angry text messages from me, we managed to pull ourselves together and set up a somewhat respectable booth (considering this was only our second craft show and we didn’t bring half of our supplies). The day, which was full of music, food and entertainment, raised money for the Yolanda G. Barco Oncology Center and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

It was for a good cause and I got to spend the day laughing with my mom, but I left a little defeated. I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. But after putting so much effort into something, it’s hard walking away with very little sales. With the limited time I’ve had this summer, I started looking into picking the “perfect” craft show. Because, who knows? Maybe 2017 will be my year.

Here is what I found:

  • Start visiting craft shows now.
    Unfortunately, this is where time comes into play, but the best way to discover if your products will be a good fit is to visit the craft show before you apply. You’ll be able to see for yourself the attendance, type of customer, type of vendors, table setups, etc. And the best part about vendors is we are all in it together. Talk to them. Everyone has a story to tell and usually some tips.
  • Consider the audience of the craft show.
    This has been a big problem of mine. A lot of my products are geared toward a younger audience who have better things to do than browse a craft show on a Saturday. So, ask yourself, does the demographic of the craft show attendees fit well with your product? Are the other vendors selling outdated crafts or would your product fit in nicely with the selection offered?  Also consider the neighborhood in which the craft show is located.
  • Cost. Cost. Cost.
    Many of you might not know this, but craft fairs can be expensive. Some typically have a fee involved and then there is the cost of the booth, supplies, travel, etc. It can be a bit overwhelming. It may help you to think in terms of what you will need to sell to break even.  If a show costs $100 per table, and your product costs $10 each, you will need to sell 10 items to break even.
  • Handmade or vendor?
    I learned this at my recent show. All of my products are handmade, so it was disconcerting to be surrounded with vendors. If you’re not sure of the difference, vendors sell things like body wraps, Shakeology, Origami Owl, etc. And that’s great, but if your products are like mine, you will have the most success at a show that only features handcrafted items.
  • Is it online?
    Clearly I am a big supporter of using social media, blogs, etc. to promote your crafts. Where is the first place you go to research an event you want to attend? If your answer isn’t the Internet, please share your secret way of life. Again, you must consider your audience when thinking about online presence. For my products, I think a craft show with an online presence would be important. (As I type this, my Etsy shop is down for some reason. It will be back up soon! You can check out some of Bows and Branches products on Facebook and Instagram.)

I think that’s a good start. My next craft show is in October and I would love it if you stopped by and bought a lot of stuff. If you don’t plan on buying anything, bring me some snacks or something.


A little bit of online shopping…

It’s that time of year. The time when every woman starts toying with the idea of buying a new swimsuit. Keep in mind most stores have had them out since February (insert eye roll), but it’s right before Memorial Day when the dreaded thought creeps into our heads – I need a swimsuit.

I wasn’t even thinking about swimming or pools or anything this morning, but I got an email and it was hook, line and sinker or whatever. I decided I would look. Because why not? I live in Pittsburgh where it is sunny 160 days of the year. I wish I could unhear that fact. But I do know a couple of people with pools. Maybe they’ll invite me over. Hint, hint.

So, I click through and am delighted to find “real” girls with no Photoshop used. They have curves and boobs and GASP butts! This pleases me very much. But I am still hunting for the damn suit I saw in the ad. And then, I find it. Now I am not here to hate on anyone’s body, but good lord, what am I supposed to do with this ad? It literally does nothing for me. Is that what the swimsuit would look like on, I don’t know, my thigh? Maybe it’s my fault for shopping at a store that targets 15-25 year olds, but I am not ready to hang up my young person hat just yet.

The whole ordeal irritated me because I don’t know if I should buy it and give it a try or just forget about the beautiful mint green suit. And then I started thinking, its 2016. I live in a world where I can have dinner with someone in a different state via FaceTime. I can order pizza with an emoji, although it might take awhile. I can get Amazon to deliver ON A SUNDAY. There has to be something that exists that makes online shopping easier.

First I came across Sizeable, which shows what items look like on different sized models. Smart, right? The models are divided into five categories: curvy (generally an hourglass figure wearing sizes 12-14), petite (sizes 6-8, under 5’5”), all booty (athletic, small breasts and a considerably larger bum), tall (for ladies who are over 5’8”) and busty (for women who wear a D cup or larger). I love this idea. However, I know I don’t fit into exactly one of these categories, so that might be a problem.

Then I came across Fitbay. This app is pretty cool. You set up an account and enter some information about your body. The app then connects you with people who have similar body types. You get to peek into their wardrobes and you can also search by brand or store. I browsed some of the girls suggested to me and they were actually close to my size. Perfect.

And then there are the personal stylist sites like Stitch Fix and Le Tote. I have never tried these, but I went onto Stitch Fix and was immediately annoyed with their Style Profile questions. “How do you prefer clothes to fit the top half of your body?” Um, it depends, right? Anyway, I have put entirely too much thought into this swimsuit. And I just got a text from my husband saying it “looks like a big diaper”. So, that’s out. Happy Shopping!

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