Monday, August 17, 2009

Uptown Market - August 16th

Wooo Hooooo! We did it!

It feels incredibly good to have my first craft fair over and done. It was a great experience and, like most newbies, I learned a lot, thankfully with few regrets. The weather ignored all the prognostications for heavy rain, and gave us pocketed sunshine throughout most of the day with only about five minutes of a very light sprinkle mid-day. Every minute that it didn't rain, my smile got bigger and my shoulders relaxed more.

The event was well run and we found our little corner of the market easily. The boundaries of our booth were chalked on the road and we could pull our vehicle right up to it on the other side of the street - how sweet! This made unloading a breeze. We unpacked all the gear and got to work on the tent. I was shaky-nervous and excited. Here's me working on a corner of the tent -- you can see how conveniently close the van was to this.

Once the tent was up, we moved on to the tables, the hanging wall doo-dads, and generally getting things up and show-ready. In this pic, you can see some of my essentials: coffee, duct tape, plastic totes, snacks, band-aids, and everything else.

The overall turn-out was fairly slim and not nearly the hordes of people I had seen in flickr pages for other fairs, but it was steady and polite. I gave away quite a few business cards and had many people stop in, ask questions, get closer looks, and offer compliments.

I felt prepared for questions about how I make my things, if I could do custom work, and how long I'd been doing this, but a couple of questions caught me off guard. The very first visitor to my booth asked, "What are these?" Ummm... Isn't it obvious? :) I resisted saying that and realized more throughout the day that it wasn't crystal clear that I was selling art and cards made from layered, colored paper. One person thought the Topo pieces looked like Rorschach ink blots, while another thought on first glance that they were watercolors. Another passerby simply asked, "What's Crafterall?" To which I answered, "That's me! And all the work do here."

A woman on one side of me sold magnetic jewelry, and the woman on the other side of me sold quilted bags specifically made for four-legged walkers. Other vendors sold fresh, organic produce, screen prints, t-shirts, pottery, fresh-brewed coffee, bath and body products, photo prints, metal ornaments, and some of the tastiest looking pulled meat sandwiches that kept walking by in the hands of happy customers. There were also half a dozen street buskers including a guy on an apartment balcony throwin' out some def turntable spins. Along with a handful of non-profit organizations advertising their causes, the Uptown Market was an eclectic melange of things to see, touch, hear, and eat. Pretty darn cool.

There were so many highlights to my first craft fair. The weather, which became my biggest worry in the last few days before the show, was wonderfully mild. It was a little breezy, but everything in my booth stood its ground. My very first sale of the day could not have been better. The buyer was local, loved the "Chain o' Lakes" pieces I made, snapped one up for herself, and appreciated being able to pay with her credit card. She was enthusiastic and complimentary about everything in my booth -- such a redemptive and encouraging boost for me! I heard lots of other nice compliments throughout the day, and even had a patron say that she had seen my work on Etsy! Awesomeness! She picked up a "Retro Poppies" for herself too. A couple of folks talked with me about potential custom work, and I received confirmation this morning for one such request.

The biggest highlight of the entire process, hands down, was having the tireless and and cheerful assistance of my hubby with me through it all. His MacGyver-like knot-tying and problem-solving/preventing efforts were invaluable and helped to make me a much cooler cookie than I would have been without his help. We were able to chat about what seemed to be working this time, and what we could do differently next time. He also managed the booth while I perused the other booths, and he bought me a yummy lunch from a nearby African restaurant. Thanks, honey!

At the end of the day, my earnings were nothing to sing about, but I covered the cost of my booth fee and enough after that to make me eager to do this again in September. Yee-haw!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Basement Booth!

O.K., so here it is!

Leah, my number one fan, is modeling it, and hanging off the chair she's in is the apron I made for the event. Of course, there will be a canopy over the top and we'll most likely have the sides up with the 70% chance of rain (and thunderstorms - shhhhhh) prediction. I'm also going to hang a big, framed "Retro Poppies" papercut as well as a smaller, framed Topo piece for a little more vertical interest. But basically, this is how I think it will look. The Crafterall banner will be on the front of the tent once I figure out how to do so, and I'm still not sure where that little plant stand table will go.

Here is the table with the topography and art card pieces. There's a basket of one-of-a-kind items, and tiered displays of various cards that I will re-load as necessary. On the little easel, there's a single open card for some tactile interaction. At the recommendation of the some wonderful Etsy folks, this guy is out for folks to touch, open, and drool over. ;)

This is the "flower" side of things. I found the white memo-station thing for a quarter at a garage sale and re-fitted a ribbon board in the flat space. Got lucky with the three front pockets as they are the perfect size for the cards!

As an Uptown Market Exclusive, I'll be selling papercut topographies of the popular Minneapolis Chain of Lakes (Twin Lakes, Brownie Lake, Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun, unnamed swampy area, and Lake Harriet). I hope these will be a hit with the local crowd.

Behind the scenes, I've got my credit card imprinter with slips, a hole-y box (50 cents in the IKEA as is section) for pens, and plastic bags for purchases. I've got a load of business cards, logo-rific postcards, and hard candy to hand out too.

I'm still undecided about using the kraft paper over the white tablecloth. I like that it sets off the white of the cards, but worry that it cheapens the look, and I'm not sure it will hold up in the forecasted precipitation. What do you think?

The reality is solidifying and I have my booth number assigned! I'll be representin' in booth #45, just west of Bryant Avenue. If you're in the neighborhood, please stop by for a hug!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


...and tired! Once again I have stayed up way too late working on other things (see previous post) and managed to catch a treasury opening. Here's the latest, inspired by one of Kendra's amazing new paintings. I love the colors, the forms, and the overall energy of the piece. It makes me happy. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

12 days and counting...

I'm almost completely consumed with preparations for the upcoming Uptown Market in 12 days. This will be my first craft fair as a vendor. I've been to them before as a buyer and to take notes, but I've never been on that side of the table.

I'm excited, nervous, overwhelmed, and only freaking out a little bit. I'm spending as much as my non-kid time down in studio working on building an impressive stock of work. To give my wrist a break from all the cutting, I'm putting together all the not-so-little details such as obtaining a canopy (thanks, bro!), buying a credit card impression doo-dad, figuring out prices and how tax will factor into them, booth decorations and logistics, and making sure I have enough of the typical craft fair necessities on hand for the big day.

The Etsy fora has proven to be a wealth of craft fair advice as well as many good friends and relatives who have had experience hawking their wares at events like this. I know this is only my first show and I will learn so much from the opportunity. I just want to do as much as I can right the first time to earn as much success as possible. One of the things I've learned already is that by writing about my experiences helps me to sort through the clutter in my head and de-stress a bit. So, stay tuned as I hope to plug in here at least once again before the fair with an update and hopefully pics of what I'm up to. Please feel free to offer any further tips and tricks or links to such things in the comments. I'm all ears.

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