Last weekend I celebrated my first craft fair, making one of my biggest goals for 2011 come true!
I can’t believe it’s come and gone already. Oh my gosh, where do I even start? Last time I blogged about craft fair prep, it was about a week before the event. Here’s what’s happened since. But if you just want to skim ahead to the pictures, it’s ok. 🙂
The week before the event was supposed to be spent with straight up sewing and prep. Every night after work I came straight home and just dove into work. Unfortunately, the theme of the week seemed to be “If it can go wrong it will.” I took off work Thursday and Friday so that I could finish up sewing and then get all the other stuff ready.
But Thursday and Friday were spent cleaning up my sick dog’s disgusting messes (and I’m not talking vomit), force-feeding him water and gatorade (he wasn’t drinking), dealing with workmen in the house, oh – and sewing! It was so not productive. It was too hot for me to leave the dog outside all the time, or believe me – I would have. And Ryan was out of town.
The Day Before
By the time my family arrived Saturday, the house was a wreck, and I was racing furiously from room to room, trying to get things done as fast as I could. Fast-forward to Saturday night. A few of my friends came over to help with miscellaneous tasks, since I was – get this – still sewing. My friend Carolynn made my shop banner, her fiance did assorted tasks, including making my fabric sample binder, my mom cut out all my product tags, and my dad stamped my logo on all the tags as well as the shopping bag. And Alyssa, one of my best friends on the planet, helped me hand-sew my cat pads and tooth fairy pillows closed.
Funny fact: My dad is very risk-averse and exceedingly pessimistic. He made various amusing comments throughout the night, like “You don’t want me to stamp your logo on these bags, because then you won’t be able to return them after you only sell 2 things!” And he was dead serious. For many people, this could be upsetting. But when my dad says it, it’s just funny.
Somewhere between 1 and 2 am, I sent Carolynn & her fiance home, and my parents to bed. Ryan finished loading my car, then hit the sack. Alyssa and I stayed up all night finishing everything up, and I managed to squeeze in an hour’s nap at 5 am.
Honestly, I felt so guilty letting my friends & family help so much at the last minute, but I also knew that I couldn’t pull it off without them. Looking back at the last few months, I can see places where I made mistakes that impacted my productivity and readiness, and all I can do is learn from that and be ready sooner next time. And I can not stress enough just how appreciative I am for these amazing people in my life.
The Big Day
Fortunately the adrenaline got pumping through my sleep-deprived body shortly after my dad and Ryan and I arrived to set up the booth. Soon after that, my mom came down to help, and Ryan went home to take a nap.
Here’s the booth on Sunday morning (the first day):
And here it is on Monday morning. You can’t tell from the photo, but it’s only 10 am and I’m already drenched in sweat!
Looking back at these photos, I can see ways in which I want to improve my booth setup next time around. For one thing, my last-minute hand-written product signs are not ideal, and are even less ideal when printed on bright teal cardstock. But I was out of white cardstock. Also, I just don’t feel like the white table side of my display was nearly as captivating or fabulous as the other side with the pillows. But I guess I was bound to find room for improvement after doing it once. You don’t know until you try, right?
I really wanted to try and evoke the feeling of a “room” with my booth, to tie into the product line but also to make it stand out and catch people’s attention. I draped curtains (actually $1.90 bedsheets from Ikea) around the sides and back of the tent. Additionally, I put my favorite kilim rug on the ground and filled the vintage steamer trunk with the pillows. Both the rug and the trunk are items that I love, yet Ryan absolutely hates, so I don’t usually get to decorate with them. And remember that bookshelf that my dad built for my entryway, but which I finally admitted didn’t work in the space? Well, I was super excited to find that, after a few coats of white paint, it was just perfect for displaying pillows and other items in the booth!
Speaking of my pillows, I absolutely loved how fabulous they looked in the display. I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but at times I’d look at them and think “holy cow, I can’t believe I made all of these!” It’s one thing to make a few for your sofa, but then to see a huge pile of them that people are admiring and purchasing – I’m not gonna lie, it’s super exciting. One woman, who lives right down the street from me, purchased a few for the chairs on her front (covered) porch. It was so awesome to hear her say that she thought my pillows were so much “fun.” Because that’s exactly what I was going for – unique and absolutely happy and fun products.
I tagged each of my pillows (as well as the other items) with labels that included washing instructions on one side, and a stamp with my logo and website address on the other. The custom stamp is from Sugarskull7 on Etsy. If you ever need a stamp, she’s awesome.
Above the pillows I displayed my flour sack towels on a clothesline. I absolutely love flour sack towels, and was pleased to find that they were a pretty popular item with my customers as well – especially as gifts they were purchasing for others, it seemed.
The other side of the table held my reusable produce bags, tooth fairy pillows, sunglasses cases, and my email sign-up sheet. Yep, this side definitely needs to be more fun in the future. Any suggestions?
My tooth fairy pillows are made from new fabrics and old felted sweaters or suit jackets. They all have little pockets on them for the child to leave their tooth, which the tooth fairy then replaces with a dollar or whatever the fairy does these days. 🙂 I chose not to put any tooth-related decals, etc on them because it leaves them open to be used for other occasions, such as a surprise reward, etc.
I especially loved the ones made with my school bus fabrics:
One display idea that I was pretty stoked about, yet which turned out not to be ideal, was my cupcake-stand-turned- produce bag display. My friend Lisa piled all the bags on so nice and perfectly…yet it didn’t seem to catch customers’ attention.
So the next day I tried displaying a few sets of bags in little piles tied with twine. That seemed to go over better.
You may notice a bit of a sign in the background. I decided early on that I would always donate a portion of my profits to a deserving organization, because I believe it’s important for companies to do their part to help others. For most of the year I’ll donate to the homeless shelter that does an awesome job helping families in our area, but in honor of Memorial Day Ryan and I decided to donate to the Walter Reed Foundation, to help returning sick or injured service men and women.
Next to that sign I had my email sign-up sheet, so that people could sign up to be alerted when my online shop launches (hopefully tomorrow)! I offered a random drawing for a $30 shop credit as an incentive, because I know that many people are reluctant to sign up for email lists. Um…in retrospect $30 seems like a lot – but that’s what happens when you make these decisions on 1 hour of sleep. 🙂
I displayed my catnip purr pads in a copper bucket at the front of my display. I think next time I need a better approach – perhaps up on the table, or on a shelf? This didn’t seem to catch people’s attention very well.
Oh, I almost forgot a peek at my sunglasses cases! These guys are guaranteed to fit even the fattest sunglasses. In this shot they’re over on the shelf with the pillows, because on the second day I tried mixing things up a bit.
And with that . . . I think it’s a wrap. In the end, despite it being nearly 100 degrees each day, I had a blast meeting tons of local people and showing off my stuff. 🙂 Many of the vendors closed down early on Monday, because it was so bad with the heat and humidity, but with the help of Ryan and my friends I stuck it out ’til the end.
And before I end this, I have to say it again: I have absolutely amazing friends and family. I knew this before the past week, but now I am officially overwhelmed with how they pitched in to help me make this past weekend happen.
And if you’re wondering why it took me a whole week to post this, here’s why. Not only did my house look like a bomb hit, but I ended up falling asleep around 9 pm the first few nights after. I guess I really wore myself out!
Now I’m off to photograph my products so that I can launch my online shop by tomorrow night. And don’t forget, to celebrate the launch I’m having a whole week of fun giveaways from Monday – Friday, so don’t forget to come back then!