Always be Prepared

This should be the mantra of every crafts person and artisan out there because you never know what you are gonna get. lets take my last show, Mayfair Festival of the Arts as an example...

1) The show has been moved to a new venue. I brought a roll cart so I wouldn't have to lug each box individually into the venue. When I got there I thought I was lucky and could back right up to the roll door and started to unload. Then the electrician with the large forklift asked me to move. So I happily did. He pulled away, and before I could move back, someone else took my spot. How nice. So that roll cart got some good use as I pushed everything uphill into the building.

2) What kind of space do I have? I got there and had a corner space that I didn't expect. This gave me a minute of pause, and then I figured out how to maximize my display for the best performance and I set up at an angle. If I had set up like usual I would have had a less visually pleasing display for sure.

3) Know your technology. The very first day I had an artisan who I had never met before come ask me to show her how to use her phone to accept credit cards (10 minutes after the show had opened to the public). I explained I use Square and she was using PayPal and I don't know her system. Waiving her hands in the air and huffing away she explained "Well how to you expect me to make any money if I can't use this thing?"...because it was obviously all my fault that she was not prepared.

4) Tearing down early is a bad, bad thing. OK now I have torn down and left shows early, I will admit it, but I try so hard not too. I will do it when the weather is scary bad. I will do it when leaving can save me a night's hotel cost. I will do it when I am the last person standing anyway. But...we had at least two artisans leave on Sunday night after the show ended. I don't understand why...we were inside: warm and dry, the weather for Monday was supposed to be the best, the show ran to a "normal" hour so we could load out in the daylight.

What I am saying is to be prepared for a bad show, be prepared to stick it out too. You loose the respect of the promoter, your fellow artisans, and the public when they come look for you and your neighbors tell them you left early (I had it happen yesterday). A couple came up to me and asked me where a neighbor had gone, that they spoke to them on Saturday and went home to measure some things and decide on what to buy. Life got in the way and they didn't make it back Sunday, so they were now here to buy. I had to tell them that they left after the close of business Sunday and that honestly I wasn't sure why. The husband turned to the wife and said "Glad we didn't buy from them Saturday, who knows if we would have ever gotten this order we were going to place". I am sure if they ever see them again, they will not be placing that order.

5) Expect load out to be a dog-eat-dog world. I parked almost exactly where I did during load in. I figured it gave lots of space when so many people were trying to get out the same door at the same time. I also figured it was easier to roll my cart downhill full than it was to roll it in full at the beginning, let everyone with the heavy displays have a closer spot. I also did what I was told, I completely tore down my booth, then pulled in to load out. Yes, a big van pulled in right in front of the door, at an angle, blocking the whole thing, and then went and tore down his booth piece by piece. The rest of us had to go around. It sucked. But at least I knew I wasn't the jerk who did that first. Being nice at load out doesn't make it physically easier, but you can go home feeling good about yourself. I pretend my mom is with me every load out and never do or say anything I wouldn't do in front of her.

So there you have it...hope you are enjoying these posts if you are a fellow artisan, or a customer learning a little more about what goes on in our little world :)


Ballance vs. Shift

I got in a heated discussion the other day with my DH, C as he is commonly referred to throughout this blog, and he brought up a point that I have been thinking about a lot over the last three days: Balance versus Shift.
I said that I was adding more balance into my days, mixing business with pleasure, getting out more, going running, and enjoying myself more. He said that I haven’t balanced work with life, I have just shifted it. 

He believes I still do the same amount of work; I have just shifted the days and the hours I do it in order to be able to fit in some personal time, that this shifting has made my days ultimately longer, more stressful, and more plentiful. 

He also thinks my lists of things to do are bad for me, because ultimately, the lists are never ending, and I will push myself to complete a list sometime between waking and bed time, no matter what the personal cost. I believe since I have started putting personal things on these lists that I am striking a balance in my life because I am giving priority to things I would like to do, and that I can find stress reducing. 

I have always been a list person. It is the only way I can remember what I need to do. I find that writing things down keeps them from bouncing around my head like ping pong balls, and that if I download them onto paper, I can get some sleep at night. But until recently I never put personal things on the list for the day, so I only went to knit night of everything else was done. Now I consider knit night a thing to do, so I make time to do it.  The problem is, making time to go to knit night sometimes means getting up at 4 am, or missing lunch, or even getting home after and continuing to work for a few hours. Yes, shifting my work, not reducing it. 

Over time my lists have evolved and gotten shorter. I used to try and accomplish three things an hour, then it became 12 a day, and now 10 (with personal things too). But it isn’t that I have less to do, it is just that I am giving myself more time to do them, more time in a day for breaks (like to eat) and more time to do things I want to do (like go for a run). So again, I shift things onto other days. No more Monday’s off, now I am doing things while I am at craft shows, and getting up early even when I don’t want to. 

I think he may be right, I am shifting more than balancing, but I have more balance than I have in the past. I think the road to balance is about the journey as much as it is about the destination, and you can only truly enjoy balance when you find the right balance for you and can enjoy all the things you have learned about yourself along the way.  Like my friend Rebecca says “I am a work in progress”, I may have a ways to go, but I am better than I was before, and just that is an accomplishment to be recognized.


Blame it on the Rain

I wonder if there is other vocations that blame the weather for their problems as much has artist/crafters do?

I have heard it all:

People are not here because of the rain.
It is too hard to park in the snow, so attendance is low.
They are not here because it is too nice out and they are all doing yard work
There is no attendance due to the wind, it is scary to people.

My booth location is too: windy, sunny, cold, muddy, etc...

Now I am not saying that the weather isn't a factor in the attendance of shows many days. But I think most days fluctuate only 10-20% except for torrential rain, crazy snow, and tornado wind, then not only is there no attendance, the show should be cancelled in my opinion in order to keep the crafters safe too. 

But I have found it to be an excuse for a bad show. It is the "it's not my fault" mentality. It isn't my booth design, it  isn't my product, it isn't that this show has the wrong demographic of attendees, it is not my attitude...it is the weather, it is all out of my hands, I am the victim here.

If you set up outside to sell for a living all I can say is GET OVER IT. You will have bad days, you will have good days, and you will have great days, but mostly it isn't the weather that caused it. . Do something to make your booth look more attractive in the weather, keep a smile on your face, and your mouth shut. Complaining to your potential customers just drives them further away. 

Weather can help and it can hinder, yes, but look inward first before you blame the rain.


Yay for Spring!

I love May for so many reasons. Getting to celebrate my birthday, watch the farm markets start up, having lots of weekend shows, and gardening are just a few of my favorite things.

This year the garden has already been worked on quite a bit. The peas are up, I think the radishes are almost done, lettuce is up, and the corn is up too. I love the process of gardening. To me there is a sense of adventure I find every day. I was elated when my asparagus came up this year. I had planted it last year and was so happy to see it made the winter. I go out every day or so and see things growing before my eyes. Sometimes things I try work, like learning I love kohlrabi, and some things don't, like the fava bean debacle of 2011. I think my outlook on life is best reflected in my garden- just try it, if you don't like it or it doesn't work, it doesn't have to happen again. I don't take my garden too seriously, and I am pleased for any outcome I get each season. Every bite is a tiny blessing, a tiny way to be proud that some of my food actually is grown by my own hand, I get very proud of my garden.

Now I love that farm markets start soon. We take part in two of them, and they start next week. They are wonderful communities to be a part of and I enjoy the fact that when my garden doesn't produce, I can always get things from people I have come to know so well. The spring craft shows are always so much fun. I can just see the smiles on peoples faces when the sun comes out and you can see their stress lift. I just completed my first outdoor show of the season yesterday and I found it tiring but rewarding. I forgot how much work goes into setting up the booth and then having the breeze whipping at you all day, all I can say is that I slept very well last night. But my favorite part is seeing customers I haven't seen since the fall. I get to see kids grow up, people get married (or divorced), move away or move back home. I never thought when I started crafting that this would be an aspect of my life, having this family of customers. It has been such a pleasant surprise to have happen to me.

So I hope you all have a great Spring. I hope you take care of yourselves and your families. I wish upon you time to relax and enjoy the sunshine and breezes. I hope to see you soon!