Sunday, 25 October 2015

My first Craft Fair in the 80's

As some of you know I am not making atm but having a sale, even bought new sign and thought could use every year.

So what can I blog about this week? don't want to loose blogging momentum. Had a thought about my first ever craft fair in the early 80's and comparing with how things have changed now after all those years. I booked my first craft fair at Charterhouse School in Surrey, a marquee event and very large, so all a bit daunting. Probably should have booked a local village one first but a bit more gung-ho in those days plus had the money to pay the higher rent as working. 

Being in my 20's I thought I knew it all, walked tall with confidence and set up my shop, those were the days when my Mum used to come with me so had company. Had taken a course in how to dress a shop window at art college so knew certain rules and regs. My stall did look good and got a lot of praise from the organisers and some other stallholders. 

I mention the word 'some' as one thing I soon discovered was how clicky it was. I went round the stalls in my marquee armed with a box of quality street (always been taught when somewhere new take a gift) and said hello and introduced myself, the responses? well about half were very welcoming but the other half? you would think I was invisible and they never even acknowledged me. This was not mid set up but moments before the gates opened. In those days did not worry what others thought and moved on.

Now I find events friendly and chatty so events now are better. The downside not as much money spent by the customers. Back in the 80's craft events were vetted and you had to submit samples (juried in the US), now a lot of them take anyone just to fill up the spaces. Taking little time to check if bought in or the standard of the workmanship. Also now like the late 80's (recessions times)  find a lot of new crafters who really do not have a clue how to make but thing and easy way to earn money. Fling together cushion covers with no finishing inside, pile up the tables like a market stall, sell cheap, fall's to bits in a couple of months then the rest of us get bad press. I think part of the blame lies with the organisers they need to take pride in their events and check and check traders again. 

I had an invitation recently for an event in Southampton (a bit too far for me) where you had to quote your tax reference along with a copy of your pli and samples. Very efficient and the rents reflected this as £200 for the day. Broadly advertised and looked well organised.

Also as sellers we should do our research, with the internet at our finger tips so easy to search for reviews of events from sellers and buyers alike. Most post pic's of stalls after the event so you can have a look what is for sale. The best way is to visit before you book. Now I appreciate this is not always possible particularly if a long distance and not on that often but so worth the effort if you can. 

Next year I am looking for Vintage and Artisan fairs, perhaps Steampunk if I can find one locally. Next Saturday there is a Vintage and Artisan fair in a small village not far from us, plan to visit and see what is on offer, what the stalls look like, volume of visitors etc. Or do the sellers have a hungry look every time someone walks through the door. Fresh meat to be dragged to the stall and forced to buy! only joking never been that bad but think most will understand what I mean. Quality of the handcrafted on offer and how many textile stalls that may be competition for me. Not to mention the prices of the stock on display.

These events seem to be run about 4 times a year and although had planned not to do early in the year, may consider 1 to give it a go and the October date.

Now that I have written war and peace should really start to do what I said I was going to do and that is sort my workroom, have been finding excuses all week not to start. Fills me with dread and whilst have done one drawer so far the thought of sorting card bags, envelopes, card blanks, bits and pieces. Now what can I do instead?

Check out the other blogs at Lucy Blossom Crafts

Have a great week and take care x

Sunday, 18 October 2015

The big tidy up continues

I mentioned in my post last week about the big tidy up venture I am currently on, done the stock and stock room (at the end of my workroom). Now starting on the workroom proper. Bought a chest of drawers earlier this year, filled the drawers with 'stuff' stored in boxes but that was it. Now the big sort has begun.

Must admit having this few months of no making and just sitting back is refreshing. I now am not torn between what I feel I should be doing (making) and what I should be doing (tidying). Have tried in Jan and Feb before but usually like to make on start on Christmas and Birthday gifts for the year. Think this time even these may be started before this Christmas, good grief how can I be so organised, working a year ahead, lol.

Have spent some time out with Shiloh and my camera, I just love Autumn or Fall as my US friends call it. Nature can be so perfect, all the mix of colours blending so well together with no help from man. This is a beautiful tree at the end of the cul-de-sac, just perfect.

My website is in the middle of a revamp added a picture index instead of the miniscule titles across the top, I for 1 found it hard to read the titles at times, not finished by a long chalk but getting there.

Have you heard of the Professional Crafters Guild, I have been a member for some time and love it. Geared towards the business end of crafting with lots of helpful hints and tips, you get a certificate when you join and if you upgrade to a premium member, which for £35.00 a year is not too expensive, you will have a free ad in the monthly publication, certificate for your stall:

Access to the full members area which has some really useful information if running a business. Take a look at Professional Crafters Guild

Been searching on Pinterest for display ideas, here are a few I have found and just love them.

It never ceases to amaze me the creative thought behind some displays and if only I could produce something like these would be a happy bunny.

That is all for this week folks, check out the Blogs at Lucy Blossom Crafts with Vicky at Handmade Monday

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Inventory close out sale and change of direction

I had a revelation on Sunday, well tbh got to the end of the road with my current stock and after a not very good fair. I have been swayed in the past by comments from others, saying why don't you make this or that. Listened and did what they suggested then failed dismally.   I decided to do an inventory close out sale, in other words clear most of my existing stock by the end of December. Have already sold 4 bags, a day after the sale went live. Still working through my stock and adding to the sale section of my website.  Stock takes are endless, well seem that way and have found put things back in the wrong boxes, in other words a mess.

I feel that change and reinvention is good for us all and does not hurt, I have got very jaded with the craft fair circuit and next year my makes will be going back to the vintage style I love. Hence looking for vintage and artisan fairs. I don't do modern and think has taken me a while to realise this and let's face it so many styles in the shops at a fraction of the price I can make them for.

My passion lies with lace, beading and still machine embroidery but using heirloom designs. Have a wonderful designer that her embroideries designs are the best. So 2016 will bring new products and a new me doing what I love as am sure it tells in your items and your persona at fairs when you are not happy. I did vintage with my original craft business years ago before it was 'in' and did well cannot believe I got swayed to make things that I really did not like. A lot of people say you should listen to the buyers but when they are not buying because they claim to be able to get an item as well made (yeah right) and cheaper (okay right, from a sweat shop) time to move on and start afresh.

Starting my new pinterest boards with ideas and mood boards with designs, fabrics etc. Love mood boards and have done a few times in my almost 58 years of life. My plan is to have a successful vintage inspired business and lose weight (now don't all fall about laughing about the latter). I do try frequently but as soon as I say I am on a diet always starving. Anyway plan to do all this by the time I am 60, that gives me just over 2 years (or 24months or 104 weeks). Think much beyond that age not sure would be bothered to restart again but then again my passion for handmade has not gone away and don't think it ever will, after 30 years of running business's handmade is an addiction and way of life.

Check out the other blogs at Lucy Blossom Crafts

Have a good week and enjoy the dry Autumnal weather, I am off out with the camera for some colour combo shots.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Christmas only 82 days away

Not sure how this happened but Christmas is suddenly upon us and I have 2 events left until the Special Day. Have done the Clanfield Village Boutique this morning a new event for me.
I always find that I have big ideas for Christmas themed gifts but have done so badly in the past that tend to only do a few. To add to my stock made some in the hoop coasters, a set of 4 tied with ribbon. Thought these would be great as a gift with a bottle of wine and not expensive at £4.00.

Next week have to work on the Christmas launch on my website, this will enable me to take stock of what is left and if I need to add more.

Researching Vintage and Craft fairs for next year, there seem to be more of these about and had so many comments that my product line would be more suited to this type of event. Found one at Grayswood Village Hall, just outside Haslemere on the 31st October. Doing things slightly differently this time around and visiting in advance. I know each fair is different and the same venue can be good one time and bad the next but this will give me an idea of what is being sold and the general footfall. Lee is getting dragged along and as dog friendly, guess we will have company from the four footed whinge bucket.

Not much else this week, next week sorting my stock and plan to have a close out sale as my stock needs changing and going back to what I used to love doing which was more hand embroidery, crazy quilting etc. The rest of this year big bargains to be had then 2016 will bring a new look Carolee Crafts.

Check out Handmade Monday blogs at Lucy Blossom Crafts

Thank you for all your lovely comments each week I do appreciate you taking the time to read my blogging posts