This past weekend the big day finally arrived-I attended my first craft show as an exhibitor. Y'all- I was so pumped. Getting ready for this thing was the most work I'd ever done for my little business. Months of planning, researching, and of course making. I haven't sewn so much in my life. I had no idea how big the show would be and the last thing you want to do is run out of product.
The show didn't go exactly as well as I'd hoped. I went in with really low expectations. I told myself I'd be happy to make back the $100 I paid to register. That was it. Anything else would be gravy.
My friend Kristine has been awesome through the whole process, nice to bounce ideas off of, helps me brainstorm my crazy ideas and has been some really sweet manpower behind all of the sewing work I've had to do. She and I arrived right when the doors were opened so we could have the full 2 hours to get everything prepared without rushing. It took us about an hour and a half to get everything just right with the display. And let me tell you, my table was pretty damn awesome.
I paid more to have a booth on the perimeter so we could have both electricity and no one behind us. I was right next to the restroom (lots of traffic) and near the entrance. I put lights all over the the table, raised a vertical sign and some curtains and completely transformed just one little 8 foot table into my little world. I'm so proud of this table.
I made sure to make my products touchable and raised up off the table. I wanted the booth to be warm and inviting and to highlight what I'd worked so hard on. I had packaging ready, business cards out, a mailing list sign up sheet to help convert potential in person customers into online ones. Above the bow ties I made signs letting people know WHY they need my product- a list of times/places bow ties are great for (family photos, parties, weddings, school photos, etc). I even printed a cute photo of the boys, if not just to show them off :)
I tried my very best to invite people into this online world I've made my home. In this aspect, I think it was a total win. My table, my product, my marketing...it rocked. I got SO many compliments over the course of the day about how beautiful my booth was and how cute the product is. Numerous exhibitors came over to tell me how much they loved the set up.
However I learned one tough lesson this weekend, no matter how pretty the package, sometimes people just don't want to buy it. I made $20. 2 sales. 2 sales on these gift tag kits that I'd actually just decided to throw in 2 days before the fair. To say it was a little bit of a bummer would be an understatement. Selling something you've put your whole heart puts us in a very vulnerable position. Online you don't exactly see the people passing you by, which makes the experience a little more bearable. In person, you get little twinges of hope each time someone lingers at your table a little longer, studying the things you've made. You try to strike the perfect balance of being friendly but not pushy, reading each person as best you can, trying to make a sale without making it look like you're trying to make a sale.
As much as I'd like to wave the white flag of defeat-I'm more determined than ever. I've always been someone who when told I can't do something, or if I've failed, to have even more fuel added to my fire. I know it wasn't my product, or set up or me. It was the fair. It just didn't feel like a good fit for me. I know I'll find my place over time, and this has been a great learning experience that I can take with me to the next show.