I meant to write a November blog several times, but I've been so busy that every time I thought about what I'd say, I lost my steam so to speak.
My first week of November was spent on a family vacation to Disney World. I've been many times but this was our first time getting to go during the Epcot food and wine. I have to say I'd highly recommend it, especially if you aren't going for your kids sake. I had a delicious Bao bun, a teriyaki chicken bun with sake, and many other things I've never had the chance to try before. Going around the world at Epcot is hardly a replacement for actually traveling but it did serve as a reminder that there is plenty I want to see and experience out there. I can only hope that we will all be able to travel a little easier again soon.
My trip aside, I got home and was immediately anxious for the Be Thankful, Shop Local three day event at Black Dog Coffee starting on Black Friday. I had been knitting, organizing, pricing, and more for weeks, months really, and could only hope for things to go well. Last year I only had some cards, prints, and original artwork to offer. It wasn't awful, but I certainly did not do well or re-coop my investment.
This year was very different. With a little family help, I managed to set up a booth featuring two 6 ft tables full of goods as well as a vertical display with some of my smaller paintings and a couple prints. The first day was so frigid I think I sold as many ear warmers to other vendors as I did to guests at the market but overall I had a great weekend that truly paid off.
I do have a few take-aways from the whole experience.
I'm extremely grateful I had family members who were both able to and willing to help. Even if its just to watch your booth while you take a much needed bathroom break, they were a life saver.
always bring more weight than you need for an outdoor market. Your tent WILL fight you every step of the way. By the end of the first day we had not only used all out intended weights for the tent legs but also ended up strapping one side to a conveniently located tree and fence in addition to strapping 2x4's to the wall on the windiest side and lodged the bottoms into cinder blocks. That was just to stop the veritable parachute of a tent wall from billowing in.
Carhart overalls are my favorite winter market accessory. trust me, they rule.
Sometimes it takes a couple try's to figure out pricing/what to make the most of/etc. I did two smaller Wednesday markets prior to the event at the same place and though traffic was very slow, it helped me realize that one of my items was priced a fair bit higher than it should be. The end result after the adjustment was that that same item was one of my best sellers for the shop local and I wished I had made more of them.
Talk to the other vendors. You may find a friend and some great tips even. Those that commit to doing much of their business at vendor markets have likely learned a lot over the years or they wouldn't of been able to stick it out.
lastly. Be authentic to yourself and the brand you're developing. You're trying to build a cohesive collection that's true to you as a maker, not add last minute items that may still have a few kinks in them.
I know I'm still figuring out so much of this, but I hope some of my thoughts will be helpful and provide the courage for anyone questioning if they are ready to go do the damn thing.
You won't truly know if it'll work till you put in your best effort, and even if it doesn't go quite as planned, you are bound to learn a lot for the next time.
Heading into December, I'm excited to have a little more time to paint as well as finding more opportunities to share my work. Washington Street Artists Co-op in Charles Town, WV has a December Holiday market where I've added some of my stock of hats and ear warmers in addition to my paintings.
I'm working on a water color commission for a friend, Her second one this year, which was a real treat.
And I've even earned a star seller badge on my etsy thanks to my many sales over black Friday weekend and the five star reviews I've received from my wonderful Etsy customers.
So instead of feeling burnt out with the holiday crunch time, I couldn't be more hopeful or happier to be trying my hardest at being a mythical "starving" artist.
On that note, I have a tree lighting to go to in town.