Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My First Show

Some are asking and some are wondering, so I thought I’d give a breakdown of how things went over the weekend. The craft fair was a good experience for me, and I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot, simply because I’ve finally followed through on something I wanted to do for the first time in a long time.

At the beginning of the year, I used my Christmas money to buy a few clothing patterns – a couple for skirts, one for a dress, and one for some pants. When they arrived in the mail, I eagerly opened and read them all, and was overwhelmed with doubt and insecurity. “I’ll never be able the make this one!…or this one…or this one…” The patterns were put away for a couple of months.

As spring approached, I got them out and looked again, and I decided to try the easiest one. I’d buy some fabric, make a few different variations, take them to a local consignment shop, and see how they do. The stripwork skirts weren’t an instant hit in the consignment shop, but I sold several to friends just by posting photographs on my Facebook.

That response gave me the courage to try out the dress and the pants, and by mid-summer, I’d decided I might try and have a booth in the craft fair this fall. I went through the piles of fabric I’d gradually accumulated and came up with several things to make out of material I already had. Slowly and steadily, I began to build up inventory to save for the fall.

In August, I chose a date and paid for my 10 by 10 foot booth in October’s craft fair. (eek!) I bought a whole lot more fabric and a pile of t-shirts and got to work.

I apparently didn’t work fast enough, because by the time the middle of September hit, I had maybe half of a small cardboard box filled with things that were finished. Maybe. Panic hit.

Luckily, this was about the same time the kids started going back to preschool and Mom’s Day Out. I’d drop them off on the mornings they had school, come home, and work on as much as possible until I had to pick them up. Afternoon nap time was the only other time I had to work with.

I pulled it off. I had plenty of t-shirts, outfits, dresses, onesies, burp cloths, bibs, and mugs to fill my booth. Sales were slow on Saturday. Most of what I sold that day were smaller, lower-priced items. There were lots of people milling around, but not too many of them were buying anything. Things turned around on Sunday. I sold more of my outfits than bibs and burp cloths. The reindeer t-shirts were my most popular item.

What have I learned from this experience? I’ve learned that the numbers do not sell. I probably have 60 number tees leftover. Ones and twos sell, but not much beyond that. Aidan loves his four, but he must be an anomaly. Either that, or people don’t realize that their child would love a t-shirt with their age on it, because they’re not shopping with their children. I will have to try and sell the ones I’ve already made, but I won’t be keeping a stockpile of them any longer. The numbers will have to be a special order item only. I’ll focus more of my energy elsewhere.

What else? When winter is approaching, make more pants. I think people are less apt to put their child in a skirt when they think it will be cold soon. I sold a couple of skirts to people once I pointed out that their child could wear tights underneath to keep their legs warm, but I guess most weren’t thinking this way. They want pants. I may need to make some cute pants to go underneath the dresses I’ve made in order to sell them.

I also need a better display situation. What a lot of people saw when looking into may booth was a rack of clothes sandwiched together that they didn’t want to dig through to find something they liked. When I do this again, I’ll need to invest in some wire grids and make it easier for people to see what I have to offer. My table holding smaller items was fine, but the clothes could have been displayed better.

Phew! I’m sure there’s more I could babble about, but I won’t bore you any more. I apologize for the stark lack of pictures. We weren’t supposed to take any inside the craft fair. I saw lots of people doing so anyway, but I am perpetually afraid of getting in trouble for breaking rules. I don’t have a decent camera to work with, anyway. I need to rectify that soon. I am definitely missing my camera.

I have several things listed in my new Etsy shop, neelybugboutique.etsy.com, if you’d like to check it out. I have lots of summer items marked down super cheap to clear them out. Thanks for reading to the bitter end!

1 comment:

  1. Just regroup and keep on keeping on.You have what it takes for success!