May 29- Mayfair Festival Of the Arts- Day 4

Between the fact that it was Memorial Day and everyone would rather be sitting at a BBQ and drinking a beer, and the fact that it was well over 90 degrees out, so being near a pool or in the air conditioning is the only other option, sales and attendance were both pretty bad.

The crafters consensus is that this show needs some serious help, and that it will take more than a year to bring it back to its past splendor, although it can be done. The show is not that far gone, it just needs a little love. I hope that they even have it next year to have the chance of bringing it back.

I had the perfect soaper come into the booth. He was with his wife, introduced himself right off the bat as a soaper and we talked about using one oil versus another- but not one question about my recipe itself, or what my fragrances blends are, etc… I had a wonderful conversation, and to boot he bought 3 bars of soap to try at home! After my tirade of a few weeks ago, I am glad that I was shown that there are till people out there with integrity- that want to lean from you and teach you too – that know how to carry on a conversation without giving out, or asking for, the world. It was a breath of fresh air. I really enjoyed his visit.

Best Sellers:
Soap: Egyptian Cotton and Wisdom (tie)
Bath Fizzy: Rejuvenation
Salt: Love
Lotion Bar: Love
Lip Balm: Watermelon


May 22-28 Week 21

This week was mostly about getting prepped and ready for Mayfair and really getting prepped for the move.

Monday I mostly worked on homework- I am trying to get stuff done in a few days rather than working on stuff a little at a time. Mondays and Thursdays seem to be working out well so far.

Tuesday- I finished making and wrapping all of the lotion bars that I can make right now. It gives me a pretty big stock of them too, enough for the next few months for sure.

Wednesday- I wasn’t feeling well so I sat and worked on my web site all day. The redesign is almost done. I need to get pictures into my shopping cart, finish a few pages (like contact me, and an events calendar) and set up my USPS account for shipping. It isn’t pretty, but its up and it runs as is…. And the fact that its ugly should get me off my butt and keep me working on it!

Thursday: more homework- packed the van for Mayfair and went and set up.

Friday: printed signs for the show, ran my errands, worked on my web page some (Finished my faq page), and did the show (and that’s another post)

Saturday and Sunday: Mayfair……

May 28- Mayfair Festival Of the Arts- Day 3

The third day was more like it. Still not up to the amount of sales I was hoping for. It looks like I’ll be down about 35% from last years sales.

It was a hot, hot day- I really think the first hot day of the year. It was killing me and I could tell it was just killing the customers too. Good think that when people are sweaty and uncomfortable they think about soap- my best sales are in the hot weather for sure!

But all in all it was boring, boring, boring.. almost everyone is complaining, almost everyone is down in sales, almost everyone agrees that this show needs a major makeover in order to continue.

One more day to go….


May 27- Mayfair Festival Of the Arts- Day 2

Day two was unexpectedly uneventful. There was no rain, no surprises, no excitement. It is amazing that I can sum up the entire 9 hour day in just a few sentences. Sales are in the toilet. The overall quality of arts is way down. This used to be an arts show- fine arts- painters, jewelry artists, clay artists, photographers, etc… now we have ducks on a stick, and magnetic frames, and stuff not handcrafted at all. Last year the quality was so good, I felt lucky that I could be in the garden section with my soaps. This year I feel that I am someplace I don’t belong- that I am much more of an artisan than many that are in the “artists” market. Another prime example of wanting/needing money over keeping the integrity of a show intact.


May 26- Mayfair Festival Of the Arts- Day 1

I was just anxious and antsy- wanting to get this show on the road. I had some minor set up to finish today before the show opened and I was worried about the impending rain situation. So once I got up, finished packing my stuff, I got going. First I stopped and grabbed some sandwich stuff for lunch and dinner, then I ran to the drycleaners, before heading to the show. About half the people were setting up, taking advantage of the hours before opening, rather than setting up on Thursday which is what I did. As it started raining hard and I was safe and dry in my tent, I was happy I set up on Thursday.

Unfortunately, the negatives of the day far outweighed the positives. I’ll start with the positives. The people who stopped by the booth were very supportive. It’s the first show I’ve done “local” this year and many of the usual suspects came by. One of my favorite new fragrances seems to be a crowd favorite too. I hope this keeps up because I’d love to bring it into the regular line for next year. I got lots of positive feedback on my new labels as well and my new display. I also got to see a bunch of friends- wood man, tile guy, candle dude…and some of those I expected to see, I don’t think are here this year.

As for negatives….well its Mayfair…it rained cats and dogs for about an hour, leaving a trail of mud in its wake. The garden market has about 10 crafters- three of which sell some type of hammock or suspended swing seat. I can’t get any farther from the road and am jammed between these hammock people with another handcrafter, lost in the sea of . My one neighbor is just a pain in the you-know-what. I’ll admit I’m pretty antisocial (although C would say otherwise), and I just wasn’t in the mod to talk yesterday. Sales were half of what I wanted them to be (I thought maybe I was lucky and they were 2/3rd, but no…) and based on this I don’t think there is any way that I’ll meet last year’s sales, bummer.

We did get to play a fun game though- I called it the “Nick or Bo game”. See the headliners for the night were Bo Bice (of American Idol fame) and Nick Latchkey (of Jessica Simpson fame). Two entirely different demographics. So if the t-shirts didn’t make the selection obvious, we (C and I) had fun people watching and guessing their musical preference. Let me tell you, some were quite obvious- I never knew that Nick had such a fan base of young metrosexual and homosexual men- and all the girls are doing their best to be the next Jessica, LOL! And Bo fans were pretty easy to spot as well, although a few surprised me (and I would have liked to have the chance to see him too). Ah the things we do for entertainment when we are stuck in a 10x10 space all day!


May 15-21 Week 20

The stress is building. It is getting overwhelming. I can’t get motivated, like some mystical force is going to sweep into my life, and do everything that needs to be done. We close on the house in three weeks, I have a big show next weekend, my classes I am taking are just plain time consuming (and one has a group project so I just can’t not do work or it messes with other people too, I hate that), and I have no plan of attack. I am just taking it day by day, figuring what has to be done and doing it, and hoping there is room in the day to do something else.

I want to move the old fashioned way. I want to get lots of boxes and start putting things away, wrapped neat and tidy, ready to go. C wants to pack and move slow. A few boxes here and there (like an entire shelving unit) then moving the shelves and the stuff and then unpacking right away, pretty much moving a little per day until we are done. I like the idea of a slow, stress less move, but my body doesn’t seem to understand the concept. Every time I think about weeks of upheaval, having to stay in this house when I have a home to inhabit, my stomach turns. My intestines are a mess, I get nauseous every times I start to think about it, my sleep patterns are totally upside down, all I want to do is cry for no reason, and I don’t know where to begin dealing with it. I just want this to be over, this is worse than any move I have ever made.

So what did I get done this week? Monday I caught up on laundry, did homework (you’ll see a lot of that the next 6 weeks), cleaned the house (because cleaning makes me feel as though I am in control of something), and worked on lotion bars. Tuesday I met with B, realized that I got none of my goals of the past two weeks completed (need to get on those), we went to this yarn & bead store where B bought beads, I bought yarn (retail therapy is good right now), and went to the house inspection (where there was surprisingly few problems with the house). Wednesday seems to be full of nothing. I know I didn’t sit around, but nothing made it to my “accomplished tasks” list. I think I spent the day wrapping lotion bars and working in the shop. Thursday was filled with homework (I have a ton I tell ya). Friday I ran my usual errands, and emptied the van, and got pre-packed for Mayfair where I could. Saturday I worked on my web site- almost done, and packed up stuff for my soap making demo. Sunday was my demo at Out of Our Hands- it was very cool, and I meant to do more, but couldn’t get motivated so I knit.

The demo went well even though it was sort of cold out and it rained some. It was from 11-2 but I think 10-1 would have been better. I got to meet some cool people, answer some great questions, and got a tip on a local place that I could probably give seminars and day classes. This I am really excited about. I’d like to go back to classes but in a more limited way than I did at the last place I taught (like 4 hours rather than 8 weeks), and this place is all about holistic education and the arts- seems like it is right up my alley. Need to make sure I don’t loose the info in the move for sure.


May 8-14 Week 19

Overall this week was busy beyond belief. I was at the Main Line Art Center just about every day. I really hate the drive down there, but I really learned a lot. If B and I ever get our boutique idea off the ground and running, what I have learned this week about running a show has been pretty invaluable. It is hard work, but it isn’t brain surgery either. But we sure need a computer or cash register if we do this- because doing it all by hand sux!

Monday I got up with C about 3 am and saw him off as he went to the airport to leave foe Mexico again. I went downstairs and finished up packing and labeling things for the Main Line show. As usual I stressed about what to bring and how much I did or didn’t have of everything and didn’t sell as much as I thought I would of many of the things that I stressed about. I blogged and paid bills before I left and sent photos to a local paper that is supposed to have an article about me soon since I have a demo coming up at a local store. I also made the appointment for the home inspection! Whoo Hoo! One step closer to getting the heck out of here and into a nice place to live.

Tuesday was a long day at MLAC. I went to the bank and did homework in the morning, sent out some orders and mailed some stuff for my dad. It was opening night of the show and the reception is always nuts. Typically I am the official wrapper, but this time I wrote up sales slips. Brisk but not unmanageable.

Wednesday was my birthday. C had presents waiting for me to open in the morning and B made me dinner at night. It was a great day in those respects for sure. It was also the last day of classes and the first day I could download info on my new ones. My next two classes are full of work, but not overly difficult, just time consuming, and with shows and a move, well, time is something that I am lacking the next 6 weeks, so this will be interesting to get through. Lots of writing. I think I’ll be taking a few days a week to just catch up and get ahead for the next week. I also think since I won’t be making soap between now and the move (too hard to move uncured soap) it will be OK, but still hard to time manage.

Thursday C came home from Mexico and by the time all the flight delays happened he was home just before midnight. I felt bad because I was asleep and dead to the world when he got home. All I could do was say hello and transfer myself from the couch to bed. I did a bunch of paperwork in the morning before going to MLAC- registering for a few classes/seminars, tax paperwork, show information, sending postcards for the demo, etc…

Friday was supposed to be my day off but by the time I got done running errands, packing the truck for a show, doing homework, and trying to catch up on laundry I was beat and it was dinnertime.

Saturday I was supposed to be at a show at Haverford Friends School but I got down there, found my spot, left to get some food, and then never got back to the show in time to set up. What a fiasco and story that was. I need to blog about that separate at a later time. I just hope that they don’t hate me.
Sunday was my last day at Main Line. The show closed and we closed out the artists and started cleaning the gallery. I did OK sales wise; I think that I sold about $25 more than I did in the spring last year. The show is not great for me in the spring compared to fall and I don’t know if I am going to do it again next year. I am also thinking of new ways to present my soaps. I don’t think the organza bags are catching people’s eyes in my current display and I need to think about my options before fall….hummmmm


Corporate espionage- crafter espionage?


Why do other soap makers come into the booth and announce themselves like we have some special spiritual bond because we both make soap?

Why do so many of them try and hide behind this bond to find out about you and your products and your methods while smiling at you the whole time like they are your best friend?

I mean the designers at Adidas don’t walk up to people who work for Nike and ask- “so how do you make your shoes?”…
Those chemists at Merck don’t ask those at Pfizer “so what exactly is that recipe for your new drug?”….
I mean these are things that corporate espionage is made from and for…

But at least once a show I have another soap maker bluntly introduce themselves as a competitor, and ask me what my personal blends are made with, what colors I used, -my exact recipes for crying out loud. I mean, I don’t hide my ingredients- they are all over my flyer, my web site, and I’ll tell you, but not the exact recipe, and not if you announce yourself as competition. What has happened to good old research for goodness sake? And can’t two soap makers just exchange compliments without getting into the nity gritty of exact recipes? Yes, I am hostile- I pay my rent (and soon mortgage) with this stuff- I deserve to be hostile- to protect myself.

And then to ask to take my flyer on top of it- please take it- take all of my information- its public domain, its out there for the taking. Just next time- be a mystery shopper, hide your soap making experience- buy a darn bar of soap rather than just sniffing everything trying to figure out my blends- invest in your own business- do real research. Learn from the entire buying experience.

I could go on..but I won’t.. until next time….

May 6 & 7- Strawberry Festival

Strawberry Festival- Peddler’s Village- Lahaska, PA May 6&7 2006

Most other crafters at the show that I spoke with said that this has been their worst show in this location- ever. And I thought that myself until I got home and looked at last years numbers. I’ll say one thing is for sure- it was a slooooo show. Only an average of about 4 sales an hour slow, getting 3 bath mitts a day knit slow…I did worse with sales last year, but not by much, I sold less than $100 more this year, and it still was a less than stellar performance.

My problem is that this is a festival that has a craft area, not a craft festival. We would all benefit if they put our booths in the village square- but then the shop owners would feel the loss in revenue because of our presence. Instead, we are out in a field, across the street, where you see us if you park, or take a bus trip in (because you need to meet your bus there), but the majority of the people who come to the festival never bother to come take a look (unless you are bringing your kids to ride the ponys). More and more the demographic of the people taking bus trips is getting older and older, and with fixed incomes and things like the price of heating your home over the winter to contend with, well, there just isn’t as much disposable income to go around anymore…

I love this show, it is within an hour from the house, it is in a nice location, easy to set up and tear down, good crafters around me, good people buying and looking….but I will really have to take a look next year at my options and keep an open mind rather than just blocking out the weekend for this particular show and ignoring other opportunities on this date.

May 1-May 7th- Week 18

Well, its official, we have found a house- we put in an offer, it was countered, and we accepted. Pending the inspections it looks like we will be closing June 9th, and then starting the move. I am HATING the idea of moving , again, about 12 months from the last time I moved. Moving is something I seem to do a lot of. I moved three times in college, three times in Vegas, another four times in Florida, and now three times in PA- 13 times since ’92. OK, so about once a year on average. How anyone keeps up with me I’ll just have to guess, whew, I’m tired just thinking about it.

So here’s the weeks recap:
Monday: Bills & work on my web page. I tried doing homework but I just can’t get this stuff figured out.
Tuesday: blog, put the offer in on the house, order the last of the supplies I’ll be ordering till after the move, and do some more work on my web site. My new site is coming along nicely, and I am almost done with my shopping cart. It really just needs some set up tweaking and some pictures. I should have it done way before the move, I hope..
Wednesday: Tried homework again. Glad class is almost over. Then two more to go till break, I am so tired of school its not even funny. I think the only thing keeping me going is the thought of paying back student loans…eeek….
Thursday: Started labeling some new stuff and getting ready for the MLAC show…
Friday: Errands- had to go to Lowes to get indoor carpet to cover the ground at this weekends show- they were out- of the stuff that C bought just 4 days before- so we had to go to Q’town to get it later that night.
Saturday and Sunday: Strawberry Festival- Peddler’s Village- Lahaska, PA.


April 24-30- Week 17

This past week was great.

It started on Monday as I called our realtor to make an appointment to see the house we saw on Sunday again. I also sent in some show applications and did some other catch up paperwork.

On Tuesday she called and could bring us over later that night and we spent well over an hour going through and looking at everything that we feel is important in a house. We compared this with the notes we took on Sunday and our conversations at lunch after we saw the house on Sunday. I also had my ultrasound earlier that morning and was told that there was nothing “I should loose sleep over”- whew!

Wednesday morning C came up with a few questions about the house- questions whose answers could be deal breakers- and I called to get the information. I also had a great UWBW meeting with B- at the end we went over to a local book sale and cleaned the place out- I got a great old Polish cookbook- it will be fun taking recipes out of that one.

Thursday we decided we were going to put a bid in on the house. We have been very analytical about it (although I am getting more and more excited as time progresses). They are asking for x dollars- we are offering x dollars- and if we can come in someplace in between we will be happy to buy the house- if they don’t budge- well then we will have to really think hard about it- the house is great- but I want a deal! I also spent the day with my friend A. We had an awesome time knitting and chatting and having a great lunch. She taught me some great tricks and I have been working on a sweater ever since (my first sweater!!!).

Friday I got up and ran errands and went to the doctor in the afternoon. She thinks my stomach problems have to do with an over abundance of acid and acid reflux- so 6 more weeks of Nexium and an improved diet, and stress relief are the prescription. I do feel better though and can’t believe that it is something as simple as acid reflux. My dad called and told me he was going to be in town the next day so I called the realtor and made an appointment to see the house again. C and I wanted to see it again anyway to make a final decision, and it was great that my dad happened to get to see it too.

Saturday: We got to see the house again and we decided that it was really what we wanted and that it would work great for us. My dad got to see it too. He really liked it and what great shape it is in. The rest of the day was spend hanging out with him and watching movies etc.. nice and relaxing, just what the doctor ordered!

Sunday: We got up and brought dad to breakfast at this place that we pass all the time but have never stopped at. It was a great breakfast. In the afternoon C and he went and ran errands- recycling, Home Depot, Lowes, etc and I went with B and played basket bingo. I didn’t win anything- bummer! Later that evening C and M came and met us and the four of us went to dinner to celebrate B’s birthday. It was only a week late- but our schedules has been so busy this was the first chance we got to go out!