Today's paper has reported that it is unlikely that Mayfair Festival of the Arts will take place in '06. Why is it as soon as I'm accepted to a show and sell well, its cancelled? But seriously, this festival has been one of the only "fine art and craft" shows in the area that consistently has great quality vendors and that treats its vendors fairly well. Now I have to scramble and look for a show over Memorial Day weekend and hope to heck the application dates haven't past already. I bet this puts lots of the vendors in a tight situation, and I can't imagine the ones from out of town- they have no idea, I know this article isn't carried in any other paper. I'll have at least a week or two head start on looking for another show over the vendors from out of town before Mayfair sends out any official notification of the cancellation, if they ever do. Read the article here My post about the show in May


Week 51 Accomplishments

Monday: I began making samples for a company based out of Miami. I have to get them out to them prior to New Years and I am hoping that they like my presentation. Unlike what I usually do, these are in tropical shapes and will be made with fragrances they will provide me, rather than ones that I choose. It's been a long time since I had to write up any type of presentation, so I hope the soap speaks for itself better than I feel I'll be speaking for it.

Tuesday: My clutterful desk distracted me and I took 4+ long hours rearranging it and going through all the drawers, etc. I put up my 2006 calendars (yes, I use more than 1, actually 3 all together), and cleared off my tack board of all the extraneous information. After that excitement I started my Holiday early and was just lazy around the house the rest of the day.

Wednesday-Friday. C and I went to Atlantic City. We stayed in a really nice room at Bally's. It was a corner room, so the bathroom and the garden tub had a great view of the ocean. Unfortunately, overall we left with less than we came with, but brought home more than we could have. But we had fun, and had a few good meals, and got away from it all for a few days. I always enjoy Atlantic City around Christmas, because the casino is so empty you can hear a pin drop and there are no lines at the restaurants.

Saturday: We cleaned up the house a little to get ready for the big day. And then really we just relaxed as much as we could. C's dad went back into the hospital on Wednesday, but is doing much better again. The doc's are trying to get his medications all settled and get rid of his side effects. So C spent most of the day on the phone with family, while trying to get some last minute shopping done.

Sunday: Merry Christmas! I am so proud that I actually was ready for and enjoyed the holiday this year. Last year was so stressful I almost cried the entire week. This year a little early shopping with J, some proactive Internet ordering, and a last minute run to Target took care of the whole thing. I received some great clothes and shoes, an ant farm (I've always wanted one!), and a great frog sculpture by this artist we first saw out in California about a year and a half ago and some other great stocking stuffers. C got some clothes, a tie and tie tack, and a new watch, amongst some other things.


2005 Year End Recap

2005 Year-End Best Sellers
Soap Top 5: Rejuvenation, Oatmeal, Milk & Honey, Lavender, Wisdom, Love Potion
Bath Salts Top 3: Lavender, Rejuvenation, Oatmeal, Milk & Honey
Bath Fizzys Top 3: Rejuvenation, Love Potion, Oatmeal, Milk & Honey
Lotion Bars Top 3: Lavender, Bug Off!, Peppermint Foot Balm
Lip Balms Top 6: Strawberry, Cherry, Coconut Lemongrass, Cantaloupe, Chocolate Truffle, Watermelon

Show Sales:
Most Bars of Soap: Musikfest, Philly Folk Fest
Most Bath Salts: Musikfest, Chriskindlemarkt (week 1)
Most Bath Fizzys: Chriskindlemarkt (week 4), Herkimer Arts & Crafts
Most Lotion Bars: Musikfest, Philly Folk Fest
Most Lip Balms: Mayfair, Philly Folk Fest

Chriskindlemarkt: Weekend 4

It was a fun week that went pretty fast. B and I had our booths next to each other so we had plenty of time to chat and to just have fun. My sales were up quite a bit from last year- almost double actually. I made and exceeded my goal for the show so I am quite happy. The only down side of this weekend is the overwhelming logistical nightmare that the parking situation is on the last day. Its so crazy that it borders on plain dangerous. I actually left the van there overnight just so that I could have a decent parking space the next day and even at that C had to back me out of the parking spot because all the other cars were packed in so tight.

Best Sellers:
Soap: Lilac
Bath Salts: Wisdom and Love Potion (tie)
Fizzys: Black Cherry & Love Potion (tie)
Lotion Bars: Autumn Amber
Lip Balm: Mango and Strawberry (tie)

Week 50 Accomplishments

Monday: Clean up at Main Line Art Center. By the time I got home I was so tired it wasn't funny. I ate dinner, watched TV, and went to sleep.

Tuesday: Decorated for Christmas. Put up the tree, wrapped most of the gifts. Cleaned the house enough for D & B to be able to come for a UWBW meeting without me being too embarrassed.

Wednesday: UWBW. D has started on the blog for that and I have a ton of ideas on things to write about. Once the New Year starts I'll be posting there once a week or so as well.

Thursday-Sunday: The last weekend of Chriskindlemarkt. Other than the show report C had been gone to be with his family and to try and get some work done. His dad was real sick and in the hospital, it turns out he had a pulmonary embolism. His dad will be in the hospital for a few more days as he gains his strength back, but it looks as if the worst is over. My dad got the chance to stop for the night on Sunday. We had an extra pair of hands helping us pack up and then we went out for an early "Christmas Dinner". C even got to open his present up early- an indoor RC helicopter. To say the least the cats are just amazed with this flying wonder!


Baby Boom

It seems like every few years everyone I know has a baby or is pregnant. This happened just before I moved from Orlando (about 4 or so years ago) and is happening again. I think its pretty cool actually. I like to shop for little shoes especially. But since there are so many babies running around it can get sort of confusing show is who. So for now the major players are "MC" and "MB" both darling little girls only born a few weeks apart.

Here are some new pictures of MC. The last ones I posted my step dad was in, so you can't miss them if you decide to go back and look for them.


Main Line Art Center- Fall

Sales were actually brisker than I had anticipated. Since one day of the five day show was lost (pretty much) because of snow I think that overall I did quite well. Lip balms seemed to be very popular and I have to remember to bring more samplers next year, since I sold out. The bath fizzys also almost sold out, I really think that the new packaging had a lot to do with that. I also sold out of Lavender and Peppermint bath salts, so I have to remember to bring more than just a couple of jars of each of those next year. There was another soap maker and I think that impacted my sales of actual bars of soap, but that is OK, I still sold quite a bit of those as well. This spring I lost my notes as to what I brought so I really didn't have any notes to go on from that show. I just had what I blogged, which was that I was low on stock and didn't have any samplers- so I made sure that I brought a few this show. In '06 as I get things made I am going to put away some things for the spring show (like samplers and bath salts…) so I know I have them in stock regardless of what my sales are in other areas.

Chriskindlemarkt Weekend 3

Show sales for me were borderline fantastic. I think that if the snow didn't fall on Friday, I would have had a spectacular week. Samplers were flying off the table and I can't even explain how warm and fuzzy I feel when someone comes over with the intention of giving a ½ dozen other people something that I made myself. It boggles my mind and I really take it personally. I really have the best customers. They are so warm and giving, sometimes even just stopping to say "hello" even though they made their purchases a few weekends ago.

One of the best experiences was a young woman who had won a gift basket that I had donated to a local library. She even had my lip balm in her pocket at that exact moment! Once she recognized me she made a purchase. But it was so cool that she recognized the product, and even had it on her.

As for the show itself: because Friday was such a wash out because of the snow, I had plenty of time to think about ways it could improve:
1) First, bravo for opening at Noon on Friday and saving us all a snow-driving nightmare. They even worked with a local hotel for a price break for people who would rather stay over than drive back and forth.
2) But I think that the show should start later every day. This year the show went from 5 days to 4 days, and opened an hour earlier. But honestly, I haven't yet had a sale in the first hour to anyone who isn't a crafter there already. I think that they should go back to opening at 11 am, and heck, I wouldn't be opposed to Noon on Thursday and Friday.
3) Add a light to the booths that the artists can flick on to let the volunteers know they want/need a break. Being in the back, it is impossible to get any attention. This would make the volunteers work harder, but if you made the break a maximum of 15 minutes, it should work well. I don't even bother getting a booth sitter anymore. I just put my chair in my entrance with a "be right back" sign and off I go.
4) They really need to look at how they set up artisans better. There is nothing worse than a long line of jewelers, or two people with a fragranced item next to each other. I have been noticing that a lot lately. And although people want the same spots from year to year, I think that the flow of the show is more important than getting the same spot. There are plenty of shows that I do where I never have the same spot two times in a row. I think if you pay extra for a corner, or a double booth (or both) you get to choose where you want to be based on seniority, and the rest of us just need to grow up and deal.

Best Sellers:
Soap: rejuvenation
Bath Salts: Lavender
Fizzys: Oatmeal, Milk & Honey, Rejuvenation (tie)
Lotion Bars: Autumn Amber
Lip Balm: Cantaloupe

Week 49 Accomlishments

Monday: I started out the day running down to the Pearl S. Buck House to pick up my soap and B's plates. Unfortunately, neither of us (or anyone else I spoke with) seemed to do very well in the sales department. Then I ran to the Mainline Art Center for check in. It was a mad house; I couldn't believe how many people checked in on Monday rather than Sunday. I also can't believe the gall of some people, being just "too tired" to bring in their own light boxes, and then expecting (no demanding) help. I think the holidays often bring out the worst in people. Some people give of themselves, and some people expect to be given to.

Tuesday: Back down to Main Line. The committee finished set up and then had a great opening night reception. Boy was I tired. Like always there is some great fine crafts there and I just wanted to spend much more than I could afford.

Wednesday: Homework: I worked on my math and I finished a paper for my Group Dynamics. I felt like I only did it half way but I guess the instructor didn't agree, I got all the points, except for the ones docked for being late. For me there is nothing worse than feeling like I gave 50% only to get 100% of the grade. It makes me feel like even the effort I gave it was a waste and that all the stress and angst just wasn't worth it.

Thursday-Sunday: Chriskindlemarkt


Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery… isn't it? I have to try and remind myself of this. I've taught soap making classes, just to have an ex-student a few booths down from me- trying to imitate me. Yesterday I had a wonderfully nice woman come by the booth and tell me that she is a soap maker too, only to admit "you're the one that gave me the idea to do it like this"…pointing to my lotion bars. As she picked out products to purchase I couldn't help wondering how many things I'd see on her table if I ever ran into her in the future. How many were "ideas" for her to copy.

Now I'm ok with "tweak". Even I have to start someplace, and it is usually a recipe from a friend or from an Internet site. Which I then make 20 variations of, and pick the best, and tweak it some more until I get it the way I want. It may end up like someone else's, but it really is more because of coincidence than a straight copy. Making 100's of something is fun, but it is the road to getting there, the R&D, that I love the most.

So every time this happens, I have to smile and blush, act all flattered, while inside I boil a little. Then I settle down and breathe, and recite "its flattering", "its flattering"….because I guess really it is.


Pearl S. Buck Boutique Recap:

Oh bummer, another boutique passed by, another boutique with slow sales (down over 75%), another boutique to decide if I should do it again next year. The one good thing is that this was the first year that I brought samplers and they all sold. I should bring many more next year and see if that increases sales considerably or not. Maybe people are looking for ready-made gifts, maybe not. Since I only bring soap to this show and sales were so down there isn't even any real front-runner in the sales department. At least my participation fee and sales commission goes to a good cause: the Pearl S. Buck House, that fact alone makes it worth while to try one more time before chucking the show into the scrap heap.

Week 48 Accomplishments

Week 48 Accomplishments

Monday: I ran a few errands in the morning, like to the Post Office and Bank, but then C and I left for Atlantic City. We stayed the night at the Borgata. It always makes me think of Vegas when I am there. I don't miss the place, but sometimes I miss the people, most of who aren't there any more either, so then I really guess I don't miss it much at all. We got there in the afternoon, had lunch and gambled some.

Tuesday: Still in Atlantic City, at least until the afternoon. I actually won a little money. Pretty cool. C lost a little, bummer. But we came out pretty even, so combined with a complementary hotel room; I think that's a good day of fun and relaxing. That afternoon once we got home I had to hit the books.

Wednesday: Lunch with D & B. It was interesting because we are changing our focus of our meetings to make them much more efficient. Of course with show schedules, B and I are just hanging on till the end of the year, so they'll be no big changes till January, but that's OK. I am trying to talk the ladies into working on a project with me. But I can't reveal until its decided it’s a go. But if we do it, it will be so cool! Once home- back to the books. I am so glad there are only a few weeks left to the session. I'm burned to a crisp.

Thursday-Sunday- Chriskindlemarkt.

Chriskindlemarkt Weekend 2

Well another weekend of Chriskindlemarkt has bit the dust. This weekend was only mildly more profitable than last weekend, and I had to sit there for one more day. Comparing the two head to head, I actually made 20% less (on average) per day this weekend, but it was having four days rather than three that brought the total higher at the end. In general it was boring. I have nice neighbors, but nothing like the loud, riotous ones that I had last year and the year before. I concentrated a lot on getting homework done, since I have a few finals coming up and more than a few papers due in the next weeks to come. It was only really, really cold one day, since they were having trouble with the heaters again. These heaters are a big pet peeve of mine. The ex-project manager in me gets all riled up. I would think there would be back up units on site, so there would be an easy switch out and the other unit could be fixed at leisure, but no. I think it has to do with the fact that the heaters are at least partially, if not fully, donated by a local company. And who wants to put extras out on stand by when they are not being paid for. If that is the case, I'm glad I don't do business with them; they are the reason I sit and shiver, for hours on end, at least a few times a year.

The only other thing that I though of (to add to my tirade last week about perks I wish we had as crafters at this show), is a change service. Its great that they have an ATM available on site, but Saturday I was down to my last 5 dollar bills before C showed up with more for me. And I bring a huge amount of change, much more than anyone else I know with my price point. It would be nice if they came around and exchanged 20's for 1's and 5's during the course of the day. It would be even better if they did quarters and such, but that's asking a lot, I know. It would be easy to implement. Send around one person with a clipboard. Have both people (the volunteer and the vendor) sign next to the amount the vendor wants change for. Then the vendor gives over the cash. Later when the change arrives, both sign for the amount received, showing it’s the same as the amount given. It works for other festivals I participate in, I would think it could work here as well.

Best Sellers:

Soap: Lilac
Fizzys: Lavender
Lotion Bars: Lavender
Lip Balms: Cantaloupe