Week of July 23-30 + Fleetwood Blues Festival

It was a pretty tough week. I relearned a few things that I know but has let slip on by and they all came to bite me at the same time.

I learned to stay with my strengths. I had a special order that was out of my usual repertoire, but since this customer has been with me for a long time I decided to give it a try. Many hours later, a dozen or so failed attempts, I just couldn't get the look they desired. I think I knew that when I said I would try it, but I forged on anyway. I disappointed them, I frustrated myself, and I used up valuable time for both of us. It really bummed me out.

Always get estimates in writing. I had an item special made by a vendor I hadn't used before, but they came highly recommended. We spoke on the phone and by email, and I had a general idea of the cost, but when the finished product came, and then the invoice, I was disappointed in the overall cost. It was about double what I had understood it would be. Now they claim I changed things and that was the cost difference. I say I pointed out obvious mistakes and suggested some improvements to an inferior product.

Always get a consignment agreement in writing. I played fast and loose last year and consigned my products in a store that was being opened by someone I knew from events I do. Now I am owed money and have nothing serious in writing. Now the amount is so low that even having something in writing wouldn't get me my money, it would cost too much to go to court, but it could have been thousands instead of hundreds, so this was my wake up call to play by my own rules.

Take some time for fun. I had been at my wits end with all of this drama and getting ready for shows, adding in a new kitten making work difficult, and just overall being tired. But a dinner with a friend and a day out with C and Dad rejuvenated me. I got more done in the days following my fun time than I would have if I had stayed home to work that day.

Sunday Dad did the Fleetwood Blues Festival. This let me get a bunch of stuff done and seriously reduced my stress quotient. The show was OK but not fantastic. Dad thought that having the crafters bunched together would have been better than having them spread amongst other types of vendors. He also had some early issues with his booth placement, it seemed that one person told him where to go, and another didn't agree with it. And of course anytime you are pretty close to music all day it can get tiring and luckily dad had earplugs because a few bands were just too loud for him. I think with a few tweaks this show can transcend from a good music festival to a great overall festival. The attendance was high and the people dedicated, even waiting out a storm, so that is not a worry. Look for this one to get better every year becuase they are definitely on the right track.

Well Musikfest loads in Thursday and the next few weeks will be crazy busy, hope to see you all out and about town!


WXPN Festival and Week of July 16-22

On Monday things began to return to a certain normalcy around here. Monday was the usual day of making soaps and doing paperwork. That evening I went to my weekly knit night and totally had a blast even though I was exhausted. I dropped off some goodies to the ladies that produce the Sticks and Stones video blog so they could offer them up as a give away.

Tuesday and Wednesday was more of the same. I also got everything ready to go to the WXPN festival- I packed the inventory, the food, the clothes, and the electronics needed for the trip.

Thursday I ran a few errands and then went knitting at a friends house for a few hours. Once 1 pm came it was time to take off for Camden. It took about an hour and a half to get there. I have to admit, I hate the drive, it is not fun at all. Once I made it to the hotel it was time for a snack, a run in the gym, and a hot shower. Then I waited for C to arrive with our new family member- Mona. She is only 6 weeks old and flew in with C from his mother's house in Puerto Rico, where she was found two weeks before abandoned in the yard.

Friday we went to breakfast and then to the show to set up. It is a very easy set up except for the fact that I have a bench in my booth that takes up the back two feet. Oh, and we are at a marina, that gets windy, so we need 200 lbs of weights and we also tie to the bench with rope to keep everything in place. The show starts that evening and although it only misted a little, the reports of impending rain seemed to keep people from buying anything they worried about getting wet, so the night was super slow.

Saturday the show ran as usual, and the stage that I am near has music on and off all day. Most of it is pretty good and I enjoy it, but there was a few times that I was praying for the set to be over soon, as I thought my ears may bleed. And I got tired of yelling over the music and asking customers to speak up because my ears had begun to ring and hurt. As you can tell this is not my favorite booth location.

Sunday the show ended at 7 and we were out of there relatively quickly. Sales were down, I am not sure why, maybe because of s few changes at the venue, maybe the economy, maybe just people there don't like my product. I am not sure. But it was back to the hotel for one more night.

Monday C left to fly back out for work and I drove home with Mona. Same dive, more traffic, more headache. Once I got home Mona started to immediately bond with Ted, our 1 yr old male, and was ignored by Fuchsia our 15 yr old female, but at least she wasn't hissed at! Everyone still only has supervised visits with the baby girl, but all seems to be setting on quite smoothly so far!

So this weekend is the Fleetwood Blues Festival, I hope to see you there!


Week of July 9-15

Well it has been an eventful week. Monday was primarily used to catch up on things. We got the van empties, the displays cleaned and put away, the inventory put away, my list of things to make updated, all the bills paid, and the emails answered.

We also learned Monday that there had been a death in the family, that meant we had to go up to New York State for the services. C changed his travel plans for work, I canceled the weeks farm markets, and we all doubled up on trying to get everything done so we could leave for a few days.

Tuesday and Wednesday we made soap and everything else was just a blur. I can't for the life of me think of what got accomplished, but I know it was two long days and I went to bed very tired each night. I know I got the garden back under control, and supplies ordered, and updated the web site with the new air fresheners.

Thursday and Friday we were gone and were exhausted by the time we returned. The one cool thing was my step-brother was in town on a totally unrelated trip, so we got to see him and the family for a few hours. We don't get to see each other too often so it was happy that things happened the way they did, when they did. Saturday I caught up on a few outstanding orders, but mostly we all tried to rest and relax some.

Sunday C left for a week away at work again, and dad and I hit the workshop. We made soap and I cleaned up and arranged some. It was really only a half day, and the rest of the day was spent cooking and knitting  and napping, the way a Sunday should be spent in my opinion.

So here we are back to Monday. Today I hope to finish up getting photos on the web site, I want to finish the clearance items and the specialty soaps. That will get it all done for now. I also will finally be making the samples for a wedding I have soap to make for. It will take me a day or two to get them a dozen or so different looks to choose from. Also need to make bath soaks this week, and get some lip balms shrink wrapped. It is the WXPN Festival and I leave on Thursday to do that, so it will be another three long and busy days!


Kutztown Day 8 & 9

So I planned on blogging each of these days individually but life got in the way. Just at the end of Day 8 a storm rolled through. I was very lucky, my neighbor Paul rolled his van in front of the doorway and blocked about 90% of the rain and wind. It would have been pretty ugly if he hadn't of thought of that. That is one one problem with my building, there is no way to close off an entrance. Everyone came together to help me get my tarps on and secure them with clamps and then I moved as much as I could to the dry side of the booth and hung on trying to keep everything covered as the storm blew through.

Once everything cleared I just left everything as it was and headed home. Guess what? No power. (hence no blog) and the next morning? Still no power.

So I headed out early back to the show to clean up the mess from the day before. It really wasn't that bad at all. I even had time for breakfast. Around 5 pm I received a text that the power was back, just about 24 hours without it.

I finished up the Festival on a really strong note. My sales were up from the year before by a hair's breath. Load out was super easy too. This morning we emptied the vans and I put away inventory and started washing all the table covers and displays. I am also trying to catch up on housework and the garden, both of which have been neglected. It is going to take me a few days to dig out from all this, but I am just attacking one thing at a time and writing down anything that crosses my mind and needs to be done later.

Sadly the money is already spent, checks went out this morning to pay for show fees later in the year, and supplies bought on credit earlier in the year. It is gone before I can be tempted to spend it on something frivolous. My next big show is in two weeks, the WXPN festival and in between we have over a dozen kinds of soap that we need to make to keep up inventory. I think it is going to be a very busy summer. :)


Kutztown Festival Day 7

Well for me it was another day of steady sales. I never had the chance to get bored which I love. I hate it when shows slow down, I get that lull and it is hard to get out of. At least when things are steady I can keep up my energy and really not give in to the tired.

Today is supposed to be a scorcher. But seriously, come out to the festival anyway. There is a good breeze that blows through most of the buildings, lots of shade, the air conditioned quilt barn to take a break in, and if something goes wrong, they have an excellent EMT staff. I know this because a friend of mine who has been at the festival all week got to visit them yesterday for a bit when she overheated. Even better they checked on her all day. It was the best care I have ever seen a festival give a participant. This is a huge KUDOS!!

One thing I gave up on yesterday was wearing "proper shoes". I have had on leather (more appropriate to my costume) footwear, but on the seventh day they rested. I wore my Vibrams. I am addicted to those shoes. The way they splay my toes a little just keeps my feet from cramping up. My heals still hurt a little from taking the brunt of my weight all day because of the angle I stand at, but my feet feel great. I think today I may be skipping the hat and apron too, just to keep cooler.

It's funny. During the day I think to myself- "I have to blog that" but then when I get up the next day, the previous day is just a blur. Just a few days ago is a total blur. This heat has been relentless, usually it is a few days and then the cool front comes through or a big storm, and things are good again before it gets hot again, but this week it just has been day after day after day.

Anyway, enough with the heat. It is my preoccupation today. It is time to get up and pack inventory, mail out a few orders and clean up a little so C can come home and actually get into the spare room. See ya soon!!


Kutztown Festival Day 6

Oddly enough the news this morning said that the third heat wave will started in the Lehigh Valley yesterday. I think both participants and guest to the festival may disagree, we think it started last Saturday. But I have to admit I have had an awesome spot. The breeze comes in (sometimes enough to blow over displays) and regardless of the temperature, as long as the air moves, it is pretty comfortable for me.

My feet are finally starting to hurt. I wanted to really try and stand the whole show, I haven't been in my chair once. Standing is supposed to enhance sales so I keep setting my goal to stand all day. I made it through the five days at Mayfair, but that was on grass so I had more padding under my feet. I have made it the six days so far, but I don't now if I will be able to make it today, I may have to sit during the slow times.

I also am bummed, I was hoping that the show would help me take off some weight, the hot days, the low amounts of food, and the exercise of standing have only combined to pack on about two pounds. I think it is stopping for dinner each night. I eat a huge, rich meal after not eating much all day because of the heat, and then go to bed just two hours later. I try not to eat huge, but once I get into the airconditioning my stomach grumbles and I just gotta eat. So next week it looks like it is back to my food diary, and the bike or running every day. Probably be the bike for a few weeks wile teh heat passes and my feet stop hurting.

So the show went well yesterday, certainly better than the same day last year. Lat year today, the Friday was my worst day, I wonder how that will translate to this year. It is funny how everyone is so preoccupied with comparing year to year, but where the holiday falls, the weather, and economy, I think it is almost impossible to compare year to year on a daily basis, you have to just look at the whole thing when it is over.

OK got to go, I have a bunch of orders to fill. (that is always cool to say!), and then some inventory to pack. I hope to have a few minutes to put my feet on my foot massager. Ah, speaking of massage, I have one scheduled for Wednesday after that show, I can't wait!


Kutztown Folk Festival Day 5

Happy Fourth of July! All I can say is: best sales day at Kutztown, ever! I nearly doubled my sales from last year's July 4th. Woot! Woot!

It was a really bust but awesome day, it started strong, I seriously made a sale before I was in my booth. Another craft-person bought a lip balm and kindly left me a note and the correct change. I took that as a sign and I was right. The day was just steady and busy the whole time. I barely had the chance to make it out of my spot to use the ladies room!

It has been hot and the heat index says hotter. It isn't too bad, I really am getting used to it. The only place that is uncomfortable is right around my belly, there is like 5 layers of clothes all covering the same place. I have been standing barefoot to help keep cool, and it is helping. My only drawback s the angle of the booth keeps lots of pressure on my heals so my feet are starting to get sore and tingly. So far if I out them up at night they are better by morning and I hope that stays that way. Luckily I usually wear barefoot shoes (Vibram's) anyway so my legs are really use to doing this, so my legs feel fine, it is just my feet. I think it is the concrete, I would be great if I was on grass.

Storms overnight woke me up. Of course I was worried about my stand. I think I will be fine, I took up everything on the floor and covered it all up. The way the storms were headed down my side of the building wouldn't have been the direct hit. I just reminded myself it wasn't like I could drive out there in the middle of teh night, so go back to sleep and triage in the morning. So wish me luck!

Well time to go pack some inventory, I have quite a bit to do! Hope to see you at the festival!


Kutztown Festival Day 4

We really had a good day and are right on track to sell as much as last year.

Yesterday some of us discussed about how the weather is impacting us, not just the heat here, but the storms to our south that have wiped out electricity. There is almost 2 million people in our typical geographic range for show attendees that have lost their power and are cleaning up after storm damage. This means tree removal, property damage, and a refrigerator full of spoiled food to clean up after and replace. I remember the carnage of the few days without power after the October snow storm and my heart goes out to everyone suffering without power in this heat, and I understand how that kind of financial impact can totally keep you from being able to come to an event such as ours. I try and keep this in perspective as I complain about being hot in costume, they are baking in regular clothes and worrying about how they will pay for all this damage to be fixed.

But on that note, I had a really good day, it did of course slow down in the afternoon as usual, and poor Gabe got a little silly tired, and bored too. But the morning started out quite fine and through the late afternoon there was a steady stream of people. Never overwhelmed, but busy enough to keep your mind off the time and heat.

For dinner we went to the Zion's all you can eat. We were the last ones seated and to leave, but we finally got there. Zion Church as been doing this for 63 years and this is their last one. It is an end to an era and a testament to how the world is changing. Rising food prices, a congregation who just doesn't volunteer for this, and less people coming and eating there have all combined and they can no longer sustain the endeavor. I have met a few ladies from the church and have come to regard them as friends. I know they are heartbroken to see this end, and so am I. I made it a point to stop and eat at least once this show, just to show some support, but to also to be able to say that I took part in such an institution before it moves on. I can always say that I ate there it's last year.

So Happy July 4th! Gotta go pack some inventory, I think it is going to be a busy day! Hope to see you soon!


Kutztown Festival Day 3

So we had a great breeze today. So much so I had to worry about things blowing over. My booth is kinda inside. I am at a doorway, but wow, does that wind blow through. I hope that the severe storms being called for on Wednesday down't become that musch of an issue.

I had a good day. Gabe came to help me and did a really, really good job. I even got to take a few minutes out of the booth when things quieted down. There was a lot more people then I expected there to be on a Monday and that is a great thing.

I have to say that I love this show. It is so great to see promoters that actually walk around themselves and look at the place, and have people they trust walk around and do it for them. It is nice to see that they care about the event and don't just let it run wild after opening. All shows have their quirks and places it can be a little better, but honestly this one is pretty close to perfect for me. I have a few wishes, but really they are quite minor and I only think opf them when things are quiet and I have some time, but usually I am too busy to care.

So after three days I am having strong sales, not as good as last year but still very good. I am getting tired, my feet are starting to hurt a little, and I wish I could wear a pair of shorts without 4 yards of fabric skirt over them. I wish I had some time to get into my garden, but alas, that won't be happening for a few more days.

OK, off to mail orders and stock inventory. See you at Kutztown!!!


Kutztwon Festival Day 2

I will admit, it was hot. Kinda unbearable at times. I was great as long as I was standing still but then when moved around things got hot. I usually wear a pair of shorts under my skirt and a tank top so I can change into something lighter in order to stop and have dinner. I think I am going to skip that layer today and just bring a t-shirt to change into just before I leave.

I think I did very well in sales. I am down a little from last year but no so much that I can't get it back. I have also made some great connections, a few possible wholesale accounts and have seen some good customers come by to cheer me on.

There isn't too much to report because the days are so nice. It is just a good steady stream of people, I never get too busy but I never get too bored. I have a great spot, lots of shade, a cross breeze, and shelter from any storms. My neighbors are awesome people and are kind and generous and not overly chatty of imposing. I could work like this for weeks and not have any troubles.

Last year Day 3 was the 4th of July, this year we have to wait till Wednesday. So I totally don't expect today's sales to be anything like last year, but I hope that they are strong and I hope we get a little reprieve from the heat.

But come on out and say hello, really there is lots of cold things to eat and drink (the frozen chocolate covered strawberries look mighty fine), misting stations, and lots of shade. It should be less crowded today so if you can't beat the heat at least beat the crowds!