November 19-25- an exhausting week

So I came off the fist week of Chriskindlmarkt hoping that I would be able to squeeze in a day off, but there was no such luck.

 Monday through Thursday Dad was mostly over at Christmas City Village trying to get the floors in and the shelves on and the hut decorated and loaded in. It really sucked for him. The huts were supposed to be up weeks before and all this work was supposed to be completed at a leisurely pace in warmer weather. But instead he had to rush around and then do extra work we didn't expect like reinforce to roofs so they didn't leak. He did this for ours and for a few of our friends he had been in contact with during the year, but I hate to say this will probably be the last time he does it for anyone else but us. It was just too much and it really started out his show on a sour note and started him out much more tired than he should have been. When you have two people starting a long stretch of shows exhausted, it doesn't always make for the best family moments at home.

So while he worked I made sure I cooked every night so there was decent food for him when he got home and I worked hard in the shop to get out orders, make up gift baskets, and generally catch up on the paperwork, the emails, and the laundry.

Thursday was Thanksgiving and we had a simple day with just the three of us. I made both turkey and ham and three sides (mashed potatoes, corn casserole, and cauliflower casserole) so that there would be plenty of leftovers for the weekend to come.

As for the shows. Christmas City Village opened to a disappointing weekend. Maybe it was the cold, maybe it was all the black Friday sales, maybe it was the fact that the show was looking more like a refugee camp than a craft show, but the sales were just not there. The spirit of the show wasn't being followed and the bulk of the vendors had dragged out tables and bins to sell outside rather than from the huts. They couldn't even cover the tables and look respectable, it was a flea market look, and that brings flea market buyers and flea market prices. The overwhelming dumbing down of today's arts and craft shows is killing an industry by slowly strangling out the places a handcrafted artisan can sell and compete.

This brings me to Chriskindlmarkt. Slowly transforming itself from an arts and craft show to a marketplace is killing us there too. There are artisans not being present at the festival, UPC codes on cottage industry products being sold along side hand crafted works, food samples strewn throughout the event leaving little cups everywhere (often still full of samples, destroying products and displays of other people when they spill). . This dilutes the brand, muddies the marketplace, and confuses the customer. Why should they pay to come into a show that in their mind offers the same thing as a shopping mall does for free?

That all being said, THANK YOU to everyone who has come the first two weekends, and to everyone who plan on coming the next four. My sales have been amazing so far this year and I cannot explain my joy when you like my products enough to give them as gifts and to share them with your family and friends. Thank you for coming every year, thank you for supporting me and my passion, thank you for being there.

Hope to see you all soon!


Chriskindlmarkt Weekend 1

Well I'll be darned, I did better than I thought I would! So no complaints here.

I adore my new spot, I am by super friendly people, I am not too far from the bathrooms, and I think I have a good location for customers as well. The new display really seems to to be well liked. It really is inviting and easy to maneuver. I have been selling lots of things that I usually didn't sell, like shave mugs and gift baskets, so I think these things really have a highlight and are better seen than past years.

Ed Youtz turned me some shaving brush handles and I sold 5 of the 6 shaving brushes I had this first weekend, and this is supposed to be the quiet weekend! He is busily turning away these days off and I am patiently waiting for the brush knots to arrive so that I can assemble them and get them back out for people to see.. I might have to "take orders" for them this weekend... hmm. that is an idea...

I also get in the felted soaps this weekend. The owner of a local alpaca farm has felted some of my soaps for me to offer this year. She sells them year around, but this will be my first foray into selling some too. I have no idea what the reaction will be.

The mini soaps have been popular, I am already out of the oatmeal and the rejuvenations are close behind. Also have gotten a few leads for personalized soaps for a baby shower and a wedding, so that is really cool if those pan out.

I got another order from Spehericality in Flemington NJ this weekend so they needed to stock up, and that is super exciting!

Well just a quick update for now, I have got to get going. I need to go pick up more shave mugs and soap dishes! Bebe is just emptying out the kiln today!

Hope to see you soon!


November 5-14 The big push

Yes! All the soap on the to do list is done! I have a few last special orders to ship in the next few days and then then it will just be rolling with the punches and making whatever needs to be made the rest of the year.

I got all the lip balms done too. The only thing left on the list is some bath fizzys and I am going to hold off on those and see how my current inventory sells before jumping in and making more of anything. Some years are great for fizzys and some not so great, and since I need to buy supplies I would rather wait on spending the money until I know I need to make them.

Orders have been rolling in. That is very exciting. I really love the mail orders. There is something validating about getting a mail order. It means that the product isn't just a quick purchase, someone took the time to go online and buy, and so many of them come from far away so it makes me smile to let my soap out into the world past the Lehigh Valley.

Last night I set up (mostly) for Chriskindlmarkt. I am in a new spot and I LOVE it! I love my neighbors and the location. I might not think the same in 6 weeks, but it has to be better than last year.

I also have a new display that I think is that cat's meow. I have to tweak it some with the location of a few things but overall I think it is going to be pretty awesome. I am hoping I set up the booth the right way, that it attracts people in and looks inviting.

So I have a day of vending today and then it all starts. Hope to see you soon!


October 15-Present, 2012

Um, where did the time go? Oh yeah, I have been in the cave I call a workshop making oodles of soap, squeezing in a vacation, and then coming home to the super storm of the century!

So lets do a quick synopsis:
October 15-19 we made oodles of soap trying to get ready for the last few months of the year. Seriously, I mean 4 batches a day, plus lotion bars, lip balms, and anything else that popped up on the radar. The night of the 17 & 19th I helped a friend make boxes and wrap up my soaps for use at a wedding as favors. Jeez I hope they liked them, I haven't had time to ask!

The 20-27 C and I went on a vacation. We explored New Mexico, especially Santa Fe, Taos, the Enchanted Circle and that area of the state. It was wonderful, and beautiful, and I still needed a vacation to recuperate from my vacation, even though we took it easy and tried not to overdo things. Highlights included a visit to an Alpaca Farm, a stay in a haunted hotel (I was too tired for any ghost to wake me up) a visit to a pueblo, and a cool Tram trip.

While I was away Dad took care of the last week of the Lehigh Valley Farm Market, Ottertoberfest at the Zoo, and a show to benefit Habitat for Humanity at Moravian College.

I returned just in time to stock up for and experience Sandy. We were lucky and only lost power from Monday night through Wednesday night. Even then I took the opportunity to finish making all the sachets and I had printed labels so lots of things got labeled too.

Once the storm passed it was time to do the annual Apple Festival at Peddler's Village. Due to the storm, the show was just a shell of what it usually is in terms of sales, put there were dedicated buyers there so I know I made the right decision to go. It was crazy cold too, but the propane heater we didn't have to use during the storm came in handy so I was pretty comfortable except for the final break down.

This week is the last big push. Soap to be made every day, the last of the lip balms, a few bath soaks, and other miscellaneous things to take care of, like gift baskets and list of signage. But I hope to be done by the end of the week so that I can have a few days rest before set up next Tuesday. I have bought a new display, so I think the booth will be eye catching and interesting. Only time will tell and my anxiety is through the roof, I just which the show would start already and stop stressing me out!

Well that is the short story, hope to see you all soon and thanks for reading!