On December 5th I participated in my first-ever craft fair. My dad and I shared a table at the Brownsville Art Center Holiday Market, and I had a lot of fun.
Between Dad’s killer illustrations and my upcycling, we had quite the varied set of wares. I’m especially proud of the shirt pocket pen holsters for sketchbooks (please let me know if you can think of a catchier name). I sewed those up from old shirts, and I think my design is way more versatile than a standard journal cover pattern. For one thing, the size can be adjusted easily by moving the buttons. There’s no need for a lining or any kind of stiffening for the holster to keep its shape, as it’s supported by the sketchbook cover itself and doesn’t gap when opened.
Anyway, I’ll go into the individual projects in a later post. What I really wanted to tell you is what I learned from my first craft fair:
1.) Bring food. Luckily, I had a swarm of relatives popping in to the art center all day who could bring me noms. If I hadn’t, I might have starved to death from having to watch my table all day.
2.) Wear armor. I managed to stave off a lot of anxiety (I gots me some pesky brain problems) by wearing elaborate makeup, which subconsciously put me in “performance” mode rather than “freaking out because there’s too many people who want to make small talk” mode. I imagine a silly hat or a costume would also help.
3.) Bring supplies. The deciding factor for people considering buying cuffs was my offer to adjust the fit right there. I had needle and thread so I could quickly move buttons around and such.
4.) Speaking of cuffs, improvise. I sold one bracelet to a guy by pointing out that it could also be used as a coffee sleeve.
5.) Compliments are currency. The consensus among shoppers was that I am extremely clever and my art is awesome in all ways… but not so awesome that they were willing to pay for it. I got a lot of praise and very few sales. If I had been counting on the money from the fair, I would have been devastated, but treating my first fair as a learning experience let me appreciate the compliments. The boost to my confidence is money in the ego bank for encouraging me to keep on crafting.
6.) Stress is underrated. When I agreed to participate, I had very little time to prepare. (I was asked to join at the last second when not enough artists signed up for the fair.) I didn’t have even close to enough product to fill a table, so I had to bust my ass to get ready. That meant the occasional day of sewing for nine hours straight, and that I had to beg my dad to help, but I think the kick in the pants was worth it. The pressure taught me that I CAN do it, and now I have mentally opened myself up to opportunities I would have deemed “too hard” before accomplishing so much in just a few weeks.
7.) My nephew is too fucking adorable for words. I already knew that, but I thought it was worth pointing out to you delusional people who mistakenly think YOU have the world’s cutest nephew. His parents brought him to the fair, which perked “Auntie Mae” right up when I was in the midday doldrums.
8.) Something will go wrong. It didn’t occur to me that so many people would ask if my stuff would still be for sale at the art center after the fair. I had to tell them I would try to get the art that didn’t sell posted on my Etsy shop as soon as possible. I was positive that I’d prepared for anything, but I didn’t have those listings ready to go when I needed to. Also, there wasn’t room for two chairs at our table, so Dad had to sit in a nook behind the Christmas tree like an elf who had been banished to a corner by an angry Santa for not making toys fast enough.
9.) Don’t assume you can come up with enough pithy advice to fill a ten-item list. You will be so very, very wrong.