Category Archives: Indie Business

My First Podcast: Living a B+ Life

Today I’m a guest on the Sarah R Bagley podcast where I’m chatting with Sarah about perfection.  It was so much fun to do my first podcast ever with her, since she’s also my friend and neighbor!  I have to admit that I’m envious of her perfectionist spirit in regards to blogging and writing. It’s what keeps her blogging on a perfect schedule, whereas my carefree approach means that I never keep a good schedule. :)

Sarah Bagley Podcast B+ Life

A few items of note:

  • If I sound stiff and boring for the first few minutes, it’s because I AM.  Just kidding – I was just nervous and had to get warmed up.
  • I was a slob in college, and I admit it.
  • I mention an embarrassing fall wreath project in my early days of blogging.  Here it is. Maybe it’s not so bad after all.
  • I explain (sort of) why the basement has never finished being decorated.
  • I tell the whole horrific story of The Watermelon Living Room at the old condo.
  • I explain how perfection definitely applies to the products I make for Janery.  I ramble a lot at this point.  (Sorry, Sarah!)
  • Finally, I’m on a quest to get Sarah to relax in her perfectionist approach to DIY.  :) We’ll see how that goes this year!


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The Financials of a Craft Show: Profit and Costs

Have you ever wondered what financial profit sellers make at craft shows?  If you’ve tried to search for it online, you’ve probably come up short.

Profit and Costs of a Craft Show

I’m an information junkie, so I’ve read a ton of blog posts on craft shows over the last few years.  The blog world is overflowing with solid advice on craft show preparation, branding, booth display, and customer interaction.  But have you ever tried to find out about the financial side of participating in a show?  None of the posts I’ve found have really come out with facts on what you can expect, financially, from a show.

Maybe it’s because everyone is too polite to talk about money.

Since I’m not embarrassed to talk about money, I’ve decided to share my experience with the financials of both good and bad shows.

My Best and Worst Shows

At my very first show, Viva Vienna, I didn’t track my sales on paper, but I think I remember doing about $800 in sales.  $660 on the first day and very little the second day.  At the time I was ecstatic about the first day’s $660 in sales, because it was exciting to have people buying my products.  The second day was 105 degrees and sunny and no one was buying.  With a booth fee of over $200, that was depressing.  I didn’t even bother to calculate my loss for the entire show.

At my most recent show, Art on the Avenue, I did approximately $1600 in sales.  That sounds really good for a one day show, doesn’t it?  Let’s take a closer look at the true profit.

Assessing True Profit

  • Gross Sales at Show          $ 1600
  • Product Production Cost   -$ 695
  • Booth Fee                         -$ 185
  • Cost of My Time at Show   -$ 240
  • Profit                                   $ 480

1.  First, I have to subtract the product production cost, which includes the price of materials and labor.  Right now that labor is me, but I have always included it in pricing because I hope to hire a seamstress.

To get the production cost, I have to use my average markup.  The markup on my products varies and I track it all with a pricing spreadsheet.

My average product markup is 130%.  (This means that I take my product materials & time cost and multiply by 2.3.)  Some are marked up more, some less.*   At my 130% markup, that means that the production cost was $695, or 43% of my sales.

2. Next I need to subtract the booth fee of $185.  These fees vary by show.  I’d rather pay a high booth fee for a very busy, large show than pay a low fee for a small show, since the same amount of time is required either way.

3.  I’d be silly not to subtract the value of my time, which really brings the true profit down.    I spent 12 hours working on the day of the show.  Let’s assume that I pay myself $20/hour.  That’s $240 in labor costs on the day of, and it doesn’t account for all the time Ryan spent helping me load the car, setup the booth, and break it down.  It also doesn’t account for the time I spent preparing the night before.

4.  This leaves me with my true** profit:  $480

Suddenly that day of $1600 in sales doesn’t sound quite so glamorous, does it?

Before you decide that shows are a waste of time, however, let me assure you that I still love shows!  There are many reasons why I participate in shows beyond just the possible financial benefits, which I will discuss in my next craft show post.

In the meantime, please let me know if you have any additional questions about my experiences at shows.  I’ll gladly answer them in a future post.

*I should have a 200% markup, especially if I ever want stores to sell my products, but that’s a topic for another time.

**Are you wondering why the cost of my time isn’t profit?  Because even if a business makes enough to pay the employees (in this case, me), there needs to be cash left over to keep in the bank and to reinvest in the business – for new equipment or materials, for example. 

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Office Update: A Fantastically Huge Planning Calendar

Note: This is NOT a sponsored post or review.  This is me just raving about a product that I love.

As a small business owner trying to juggle a day job requiring travel, and all the other requirements of life, scheduling and planning my time well is a struggle.  Especially long-term planning for goals and sub-goals, like around the holiday season.

To plan all this out, you definitely need to see the whole picture. And that’s something I’m not very good at keeping straight in my head.

Neu Year Calendar

So when I found out that two handmade business friends, Rachel and Kim, each used the Neu Year Calendar, I knew it was the perfect solution for my long-range planning problems.

The Seize the Year calendar shows the entire year on one large piece of heavy-weight paper (or coated dry-erase paper, you choose). Even better, it’s double-sided – one side shows the calendar in a portrait layout, while the other shows it in landscape.

Neu Year Calendar Portrait Layout

But my favorite thing is that this calendar isn’t from a mass retailer like Target or Office Max, it’s from a small business.  It’s their only product.   And with that comes fabulous, friendly service.

I chose the uncoated paper version so that I could write on it with pencil or pen.  When it arrived, it was just as awesome as I’d hoped. I had to hang it, and was too busy to build a beautiful frame like Kim did (silly me!).

I bought a lightweight painter’s canvas, painted the edges teal to tie in with my office, and attached the calendar using spray adhesive.  Because the canvas was so light, it was easily hung with Command Velcro Picture Hanging Strips. The only downside is that I didn’t apply the paper to the adhesive well, so there’s some bubbles and some curling edges.Seize the Year Calendar3

Also, I ended up drawing on it and scribbling on it in pencil and marker, so now it looks a bit messy.  But it definitely gets the job done.


This massive paper calendar fit perfectly in my redesigned office, in the nook where the door opens from the hall into the room.  I can eye it from my desk at all times, which is perfect for keeping long-term deadlines on my radar. Jane Office Finished9

In the process of using it for three months I’ve realized that I’d do better with the dry-erase version, so I just ordered a new, dry-erase one.  I plan to staple it to my canvas over top of the old one.

And guess what? I discovered they’re on sale right now, which is even better!

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