Where I muse about just about everything...
From the weather in Texas, to my kids, pets, travel and friendships. Basically, about life. And oh yeah, about my Coquette Bath & Home™ products, too.
Originally posted to my old Blogger site, 4/19/11 and titled 'So you think you wanna sell at a craft show Part 2'
In my inaugural post titled the same (minus the part 2, duh), I went over the general expectations about doing a show. So, let’s just assume that you’ve made the decision to do a show or shows. You’ve got the product. You’ve ordered bags and banners and built displays. You’ve packed the boxes, you’re ready to set the world on fire.
Well, at this time, please take a moment to go back and read my post about having a craft show.
Yes, this does apply a lot to the organizers, but there is wisdom (well, that’s the intent) here for you, too.
Bottom line: no one is ever going to be able to guarantee you a good show. Anything can/will happen. I did a show at a big high school on the same day that the Texas Rangers were in the playoffs for the World Series. Traffic was significantly down. But that show had always brought in customers, and my revenue actually increased that weekend. But not always does this happen.
Some shows stink. And no matter what the organizer does, they will always stink. Some shows, based on the market or the general ‘mood’ of that group, will never attract the buyers. Let’s be honest, here. That’s what we want. We want to see streams of folks, in good moods (ever try to sell to a bunch of grumps…? UGH) with good money (or a valid credit card) coming by our booth. They’re browsing, of course, but we are able to have a short conversation. Maybe to show them a few things. And many of them decide to give our great item (or items!) a try. Take them home. Give us the green…
You get the picture.
But while some shows seem to be shopping destinations, others are social events. The ‘oh we’ve nothing to do today so let’s run by this show…and since we’re on a budget, let’s not bring any money with us so that we have no temptation to buy anything’.
Yeah, THAT type of customer/show. And you know what? There’s absolutely nothing you can do in that situation. Except grin. Chalk it up to experience (because it surely is) and make sure that you NEVER EVER DO THAT SHOW AGAIN.
And tell your fellow crafters. At least those you like (LOL).
I did a show like that recently. Lovely venue. Really well organized, though I do have issues with groups having performances during sales time (more on that later, maybe in #3!), but the folks who came in….
DID. NOT. BUY.
Some of them came with kids. Now, kids love my booth. I have bright colors and lovely smelling things. But when the little girls asked Mom for money to buy a lip balm, I had about 4-5 go ‘Oh dear, you have a dollar, give that to the lady’.
Ummm, lip balms are $3. And even though your child is adorably cute, they’re still $3. Plus tax.
The lady next to me had customers ask her for certain items and she’d happily point to them. And then they’d go ‘oh really? Well, great.’ And walk away. Leaving both of us shaking our heads.
You have no recourse on that show, as already mentioned, except to never do it again. You can also, however, send a link to your blog post to the organizer and hope she gets the message. Cause without buyers, you have no vendors. And vendors talk to one another. And I’ll never do that show again. And neither will the others around me. So, that show that is depending on vendors to rent spaces…? Yeah, you’ll be looking hard every year to fill your spots. While other shows have a waiting list.
Well, this is running long. So I think I’ll write a #3. And that one will be about having the right ‘stuff’ to do a show. From a vendor perspective. See you there!
Today is bittersweet for me. This is the second Father's Day since my father passed on. As time has passed, and I can no longer call him up, I find myself reminiscing about days long past.
My dad died of Alzheimer's and if you know anyone who had that disease, you also know that that last year of his life (because his onset was fast and furious) he really wasn't 'there'. To see my dad, who used to buy a single 6 pack of beer in the summer, and drink one after mowing the yard, as his reward. My dad who always dressed, even when wearing jeans, crisply. As if he were still in the US Air Force. He sat firmly and even when relaxing, there was an air of readiness about him.
But to see him, curled into nearly fetal position in a wheelchair, drooling, unaware (perhaps) that I was even there, was a vision so hard that I would be melancholy and frustrated for days after. It wasn't fair, that disease. It robbed him of his dignity and of his manner. In many ways, my Dad died before his body agreed to follow.
I would post a photo of him, but...no. To you, it would just another photo of an older man. Not Dad, at all. Your Dad, of course, is not the same.
So today is Father's Day. For those who have a Dad still about, take a moment to be with him, if possible. Call him, if not. If your dad, like mine, is no longer around, spend some time thinking of him. Talking to him.
I know I will.
Originally published to my old blogger site on April 14, 2011
A few months ago, I did a blog post called ‘So you want to have a craft show.” I’ve been thrilled and blessed to find that this post is now linked to a lot of quality blogs as a reference. I’m honored, really. It is, after all, just my opinion. But I do speak from the heart and tell the truth.
And truth always wins, I think.
So, here’s another one, devoted to my fellow crafters. And this one, as you can tell, is entitled “So you wanna sell at a craft show?”.
Like the first article, this may seem a silly question. After all, if you are having a show, or selling at one, you’ve made a conscious decision. But while you’ve made that decision, sometimes, well let’s be honest, not everyone thinks everything through 1000%. And another pair of eyes is helpful. And that’s what this post, like the other, is designed to provide.
So in the same vein as before, here’s my take on this vital question.
So, the basic answer is obvious. Or so it seems to me. You want to sell at a craft show because you want to introduce folks to your products, right? Well, of course you do! You’ve spent time and money and invested a lot of effort. And now is the payoff day. Or is it?
Just because something is made doesn’t mean it will sell. And that can be a very painful learning experience. I’ve had it happen to me. I make what I think is a great product and it just sits there. Like a product I made called ‘Fizz’. Yes, it was a bath bomb, but the product came in a 3pc mini size. It gave the customer the option to use as few as one or all 3pc at a single time. Priced a bit higher than a regular bath bomb of similar weight, I was sure (based on my talking to customers ) that it would fly out of my shop. If you wanted a foot bath: use one. If you had a huge garden style bath tub: maybe 3 (definitely 3 for me) etc.
It totally flopped. I mean really. I sold some wholesale and sold a few more retail, but most sold went at a significant discount at shows as ‘discontinued items’. I still love the idea. But I no longer make that product.
And that’s the truth of selling face to face. Unlike the internet where you can ‘hide’ behind your avatar or shop, in a face to face selling venue you will hear a lot of painful things. You will have folks question whether your products are good enough (Ethel, you can make that yourself, don’t spend money here). You’ll have issues with bad debt (credit cards that don’t go through, even given by other vendors) or dishonored checks. You could even get counterfeit money.
You’ll have to schlep your items into the venue in all weather conditions. Forget the post office bringing mail come rain, sleet or shine. Hell, they’re getting paid. We don’t have a clue whether we’ll make a buck or lose a hundred. But we do it.
Because there is simply no better way, in my opinion, to really learn the nitty gritty. To see what customers like. What they do not. To polish your packaging, your image, your usp (unique selling proposition…I do have a BS in Marketing LOL). Face to face with the consumer is crunch time. It is seeing, first hand, how your items will be received.
And the huge payoff, of course, is seeing how other folks respond to them. And each event is totally different. You can tweak your message, your setup, everything between one show and the next. Try that with a retail store (trust me, I did….wasn’t fun or easy and did not end well) and you’ll know how blessed a show can be.
But it is also a lot of work. And worry. And pain. And frustration. I’ve indicated some of them above. But as each person is different, so are the expectations and the feelings and the results.
I’ll get more into those in Part 2. Thanks for reading!
The previous entry was actually written two weeks ago. How is it, when I hit 'publish' sometimes it doesn't happen? It is okay. Really, it is. I am definitely not a 'techie'. I'll settle for just making great soap, lip balm and more, okay?
Last week, I went back to my alma mater, Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. It was a bittersweet trip. Of course, I'm years beyond graduation. And the campus has also changed, tearing down old buildings and putting up new ones. Moving fountains (!) and landscaping the entire place beautifully.
Purdue was cool when I was there, but it is at a whole 'nother level, now.
They also changed some streets to one way. Fortunately, finding that out the hard way wasn't as hard as it could have been....
And I'm still moving 'into' my new house. The first order of business was to try to get the product shelves up and organized. I'm mostly 'there'. But I'm now low/out on many products. Don't worry! More is coming, but if takes a few days longer than normal, I hope you understand.
Thanks to all for your faith, business and friendship. Have a great day!
Since it is May, time to put in my yearly 'we're on vacation' notice. Yep, starting tomorrow I'll be on a jet headed for some fun and relaxation.
Of course, that also means that during this time, I won't be able to ship. Dang minions. I keep trying to corral them, so that business continues to flow normally, but every single time I even THINK of taking some time off and away, they skedaddle, too.
All of this silliness is just to let you know that all orders received now through Memorial Day won't ship until after I return. Which is Memorial Day. Now you know!
In other news, we've moved. My kids and I lived in the same house since 2001, and now that they're both in college, momma thought a new house was in order. Well, I do love it. But DANG! How much stuff can one person accumulate? We did have some great movers. But, due to other issues (such as my painter not being done on schedule...) not everything got packed. And not everything got moved by them. Which basically means, I did it.
Yes, the kiddos helped. But one is back in college, and the other just finished finals. So, that left me to make the runs, back and forth, over and over, to bring the flotsam and jetsam of a family life from one hacienda....to another.
I did 5 trips this morning alone!
Anyway, thanks for reading. Thanks for being my friend and my customer. I do appreciate you! And I wish you and yours a wonderful Memorial Day!
Please take a moment to say 'THANK YOU' to a veteran or three. Without their sacrifices, we would not be able to enjoy all of the freedoms that we do, today.
It's been a few weeks since I last wrote, but believe me, it hasn't been quiet. I'm buying a new house and there's been a lot of emails flying back and forth, and data going to the bank, and looking around to find new stuff.
I've drawn out ideas on graph paper (and then regular paper when I mislaid the graph paper packet!) and I've been trying so hard to find cool stuff for this my first real home.
Now...I've had a home before. But this is my first one solo. I was buying a house, just my lonesome, about 25 years ago. When I met this guy. And decided to stop that purchase. I lost $500 down payment...but it was okay, cause I was in...well, probably not love (now that I think about it) but whatever...I did. And then I decided not to do. And that brings us to now.
So this is my first, just by myself, house. And I want it to be amazing. I found a very cool house, but then there was the issue of furniture. Whenever you move there are always things that don't quite fit. And that's true here. I still have a 'regular' house with 3 bedrooms, but the rooms are smaller than currently. So I'm adjusting. And that's fine.
I need to find a nice couch and a dining table (because the one I have is too large and--really--too destroyed by 20 years of kids and coloring and nail polish and spilled nail polish...etc.) Today I found this, though...
Really nice to sit upon, and I'll also recover it. The one I have is beige and I intend to pad it a bit more, and maybe firm up the seat cushion a tad...and then put a lovely wild fabric on it.
I also found my closet light, but more on that later! Hope your day is good and talk to you soon!
Hiya! Daylight savings time begins this weekend. And while I do hate this moving clocks this and that, there is absolute truth in the reality that springtime is coming.
Because it surely has been a weird winter here in North Texas! I love springtime. All of the trees put out fresh new leaves and flowers are everywhere. For a few weeks, I can even sleep with my window open, welcoming in the cool nightime air. And it is pretty blissful.
I'm also moving to a new home this spring. After much thought, I've decided to move. A slightly large space, actually, on a nice sized lot, and I'm going to create the 'ultimate girl closet' (because the house was obviously designed by a dude...and a dude who wasn't into clothing, because the master bedroom closet is amazingly bad. More on THAT later...)
On the way to the move, though, well...I have stuff. Lots of books to sort, and knick knacks to pack. Some to sell and donate. And, then there's the products. Yeah, I do have a lot of that, too.
Which is usually a very good thing. But...well, I'd rather send it to you, than pack and move. So, if you noticed the homepage of this site, you'll note that I'm giving a freebie away to you, my amazing customers. Every order over $35 gets a free gift.
No special code. Nothing to do. And this even applies to my Etsy store, too! Order whatever you like (just make sure every order is over $35 before shipping/taxes) and I'll throw in something else.
I promise you'll love it.
Originally posted online on October 30, 2010 to my (now defunct) blogger site.
Although I do not pretend to have ‘all knowledge’ as a former biz owner, and a veteran of years of craft shows, I’d like to offer some advice to anyone contemplating hosting a craft show. Great shows are diamonds. Bad shows are…well, a total waste of makeup.
First, why do you want to have this show? Yeah, I can see the grin from here. Money. Of course. You want some funds to help your school group or outside organization with trips, awards, parties or the like. No problem. I would much rather see someone work for money than to get a gift. My opinion is that money worked for is spent with more intent than money simple given (or taken…and I”m NOT going to turn this into a ‘government spends my tax dollars crazily’ so don’t fear).
A good craft show CAN bring a nice chunk of money into to your coffers, enabling you to do what you want to do. But like all endeavors, doing it well doesn’t mean doing it fast or easy. There’s a lot more to taping off some spaces on the floor. It takes time and dedication to putting on a good craft show. But even a first year show can be fabulous. Just don’t make the mistakes below.
We already know you’re doing this for the money. Okay, but here’s tip #2. So are your vendors. None of them really want to work a 40 hr a week job (cause for most folks, their show ‘self’ is very different from their Monday thru Friday person). If they’re giving up their weekend, all or in part, they are doing it to make some money.
And–this is very important–they probably do not care even the slightest about your organization! Yeah, I know, shocking huh? But they really only care about how much money is in their bank bag at the end of the day. Your job, should you choose to take it, is to become not only the type of show vendors want (because of traffic) but a show that really caters to what your vendors need.
THAT, my friend, is the difference between a show and a SHOW!!!!! And yes, I did mean to use that many exclamation points. Seriously, a show worthy of that many is one that puts the vendors’ needs at the top of their agenda.
So, to make this easy, here’s a list of stuff NEVER to do at a show (from a vendor’s point of view).
Have no one available to help them load in (and especially OUT) of the venue. Yeah, we may prefer to cart our intricate glass works of art ourselves (or in my case, breakable glass jar candles…and yes, someone HAS dropped a case whilst helping me…not nice) but it is always nice to ask.
Showcase every single ‘imported from somewhere’ or resale type of biz you can possibly find. Listen, everyone can find that stuff at the mass merchants. And you just have to google to find anyone selling a major line (home party sales types). It really isn’t hard. Make your show an event, and that means finding vendors who aren’t hopping on this or that bandwagon. But those who really make a quality product…yeah, I’m taking artisan handcrafted items. If you MUST have some of the other, make it a minimum. Thank you.
Play loud music during the day. Listen if I have to yell to be heard over your ‘entertainment’ while I’m trying to sell a product, you can be sure that both myself–and my customer–aren’t having fun. And no fun means lower sales.
Not pay attention to duplicate vendors/putting same type vendors too close together. I had an experience once. A show did about everything wrong. I had specifically asked ‘how many folks are going to sell candles at your show?’ and got a ‘oh just one or two’. Out of 45 vendors, that is a tad high, but okay. I went. Only to find 18 different people (out of 35, not 45-50 like promised) with candles. Needless to say, I was not happy. Talked to the organizer and got this. “OH but you’re the ONLY one with your line.” Umm, yes. But that isn’t what I asked, was it?
Sending your kids to try to hawk raffle tickets. I’ve paid to be at the show. While a door prize is okay (but again, I’ve PAID) i do not want a bunch of kids (note that I primarily do school based shows due to the horrible case of most craft shows at other organizations/churchs (save one…which is a fabulous show) coming by to shill raffle tickets. Save that for the folks who are shopping.
Making me BUY tickets to get food. If you don’t trust your people then you don’t. But here’s the deal. I usually do shows alone. If I have to leave my booth to stand in ONE line for a ticket and then go into ANOTHER line for food…well, that’s sales I’m missing out on.
Not pay attention to comparable value. Your personal group is important to you. But charging 2-3x what a normal show in your area charges (for attendance…and that means buyers…and that’s the ONLY reason I’m doing your show is to get in front of those buyers…) and give me the excuse well it is to support your church/school/cause is unacceptable. Sorry. This is a financial thing. If I want to donate, I will.
Give no care to the creature comforts of your vendors. One great show I do every year actually sends folks to ask if you need a bathroon break, or change or a step outside for some fresh air. This person will stand in your booth and watch your items while you go and handle these needs. Fabulous. Actually the only church show I do also does that. How kind and considerate. Tell me a lot about the people behind the show.
Sorry for the novella, but seriously, the old adage about ‘walking a mile in someone else’s moccasins’ is apt for shows, too. I respect the desire to have one (I”m actually thinking of hosting shows myself beginning in 2011…) but if you want to be successful…you have to do more than provide me a taped off space to set up.
This did not cover advertising (which is critical). A show cannot help if the weather doesn’t comply or if your local team finally makes it into the World Series (and a huge game is scheduled for the same day as a show). Stuff happens. But if you do have control over it, make it the best you can.
If you want advice, let me know. I may want a free booth space out of it, though!
Update: June 24, 2017!
Long time since I wrote this initial post and, yet, nothing has changed. Well, not really. All of the 'don't do this please' comments are still valid. Unfortunately, being a single parent, life (and new shoes...etc) made it impossible to start up my own craft show in North Texas. However, I still do them each fall, as a vendor. I've moved out a bit from 'my side' of town (Fort Worth) and have begun doing a few over on the Dallas (MUCH more expensive) side of town.
Comparable value is really true here. On the Dallas side, the organizers come with significant amount of 'shrug'...so any comments one makes about improvements falls on deaf ears. On the Ft Worth side of things, it is a tad different. Everyone runs their show as they want to run it, but I've found that organizers really want a great show. And are very much tuned in to what their vendors need. After all, no one wants to struggle to fill slots every year. And yet, so many of them are doing just that. I see signs the week before a 'big' show saying 'vendors needed' in quite a few areas of town.
And you can't go 'oh well that part is town is affluent, should be a good show'. Nope. Sad to say but that while socioeconomic status does create more visitors to a show, some shows never bring in buyers. They bring in lookers. They bring in 'oh we've nothing better to do today so let's go to this free craft show, and if we see someone, we'll stand in the middle of the aisle blocking everything and everyone, and totally ignore that we're being a pain.'
Okay, maybe no one says that, or thinks that, but that's how it comes off. Unfortunately, as well, I can't comment on blog comments, which is weird. So, if anyone has any other questions, please drop me a note!
Life has been very busy at the Coquette home front. First, since my last post, there was Christmas. And with 2 college age kids, it does get a bit busy. Going here, and going there...and then going somewhere else. We visited family in south Texas, had gifts exchanged and then it was bringing the kids back to college/moving back into the apartment. And life was, as I've already said, pretty busy.
But there's also been some fun and games here. Over the past few weeks, I've redesigned and rebottled my lovely spray fragrances. I had to say goodbye to a few favorites and hello to some brand new scents. A few new blends are in the mix, too.
First, off, let me introduce you to Green.
Fun looking, right? Well, that's only part of the party. The new blend (consisting of lemongrass, bamboo, sage, along with 'ozone' notes) brings 'spa' into every day. Light refreshing, greenery that you can wear. I cannot stop sniffing the blotter paper where the last blend was dropped. The scent is more than the sum of its parts. You will love it!
And then, well, another new blend. Bouquet is a combination of tea rose, jasmine, musk and herbal notes such as bamboo, sage and more. A totally floral blend that is memorable.
There's no mistake that these fragrances are called 'Signature'. That designates a scent that I've custom blended for you. Nothing like anywhere else (to the best of my knowledge). It isn't a 'dupe' of someone else's creation. Nope, entirely me...for you...and I know you'll love it.
Back for another run (only this time, of course, in my gorgeous etched glass bottle) are Bee Sweet, Patchouli, Nag Champa and Pink Grapefruit. And now Musk and Rose Petals are part of the lineup.
Two more scents are coming soon, too! Mandala (a blend of sandalwood, pear, and more) and a new blend that I seriously have NOT thought of a name! And, more old favorites may return. Think Honeysuckle. Lemon Sugar. Apple.
Yep, it has been busy around here. But that's fine. Hope you love the new entries. Let me know what you think and have a blessed day!
Thanksgiving day was a couple of days ago. And I've eaten my share (at least) of delicious turkey and sides. Spent time with my kids and even did a bit of shopping. Online mostly (cause it is very nice to sit in your jammies and shop, right?) But I did brave the crush to go to one store for bargains not offered online.
Time with my kids and space to think often makes me feel philosophical. We all have some times in our lives that shakes us. Could be the death of someone close. Could be a brush with an illness. A divorce. A sick child. A layoff. It is always something.
I've had a few of those events, myself. And while it would be so very easy to get really bitter about a couple of them, the person I am right now is a direct result of those events. And I rock...seriously! Okay, that is a bit tongue in cheek, but I'm happy with me. I guess it shows. I probably couldn't get as wild with my scents and designs if I was mired in sadness. And I'm not. Definitely not.
The other day, I was walking and pulled out my pedometer. I wear one most every day and keep tabs on how many steps I take. A bit of 'see if you can beat this' with myself. I've always been competitive, but not being blessed with anything close to an athletic body (I remember Dolly Parton's old joke about why she didn't take ballet...go ahead, google it, I'll wait...) and while I'm not as blessed as Dolly...well, I'm far closer to her appearance than a marathon runner.
I had an accident years ago, too. That for a time took away my ability to walk or walk without pain. So, recently, as I step off the thousands of steps daily, I've sent up a thankful prayer. Being thankful, I believe, is important.
Be thankful of the food. Of the friendships. Of the body that still gets you where you need to go. Maybe slower. Maybe not. But still you get there. And while I'm still waxing philosophical, I'll add...that I think that's the deal...the journey.
Now I'll close with a gratuitous view of a new soap. Hope you love it. I surely do.
Creative. Witty. And usually somewhat wise. Mom of 2. Heritage: French & German. Born in the UK and raised in the USA.