Alright, let’s talk about that craft show.
I was stunned by how poorly I did this weekend. I didn’t expect to sell out or anything, but I didn’t even make my booth fee back! Yes, they say you have to have/spend money to make money, but we’re not the kind of folks with money to burn, so that really hurts us.
I’m also sure that those mega-feelings of failure and idiocy and whatever else are waiting in the wings to collapse on my head at some unexpected moment (I’ve shoved it all away for now to focus on the practicalities of school starting next week for the kids, open houses this week and next, etc.). I know it’s there though.
Apparently, belief in me is ill-advised. That’s really the sum of it, eh? (I know, I know — somewhere in my head I really do know that that’s not it at all…but I can’t hear that or 99.999% of the people I know right now, so save your breath unless you’re the shiny .001%, please. Just leave it alone.)
Financially, I failed. By most objective measures, I failed. BUT—
(I like big “but”s and I cannot lie)–
There were a lot of other moments that, while they didn’t result in sales/money in my pocket, were valuable experiences. Here are the handful that stuck with me, and I’m sure there were others that my low-on-sleep stressed-out brain didn’t manage to hold onto.
1) I received invitations to two other art shows. Not sure how I feel about that just yet!
2) The little girl at the booth next to me received money from her parents for being a good helper. She stood shyly at the corner of my booth to buy a mermaid ornament (MIL wrapped it very prettily for her). Near the end of the show, the same child sidled up and stood very close to me. “I made a lot of friends,” she lisped. I nodded. “You’re my friend,” she declared, and was content to stand at my side for a while, asking questions about how I made this or that.
3) One lady browsed my chainmaille bracelets for quite some time, and when we offered to let her try one on, she said, “No, I know they won’t fit me; they never do.” MIL convinced her to try, and the bracelet fit her well. She immediately bought it and went away smiling.
See, I know that feeling, as most people who are “nonstandard” sizes of any kind probably do. We constantly receive the message that things are not meant for us, not made for us, and that the people who make/manufacture things are uninterested in trying to reach everybody (or every body). My size-11 feet seldom find pretty shoes, and boots for winter are hell too — try finding an 11 in women’s that’s also an extra-wide calf and actually functional too! (Mine from last year have split soles so I have to deal with that nonsense again in a few months. Ugh.)
If my crafting really takes off, I plan to offer three bracelet sizes at shows — and of course I can make any size, all for the same price because I don’t believe in penalizing anyone for the size they happen to need.
4) The head of the arts center running the show I was attending came by and asked me if I would consider teaching classes on any of the things I make — chainmaille, wire pendants, alcohol ink paintings, and/or fabric ornaments. I was so surprised I didn’t know what to say. She dashed off to get more information for me. I’m no teacher of any sort so I don’t see myself doing that, but I want to at least think it through first. If they actually pay instructors decently/it’s not volunteer, I might consider it.
5) A sweet older woman came into my booth and gazed at my art prints. She explained to me that she took a class on working with alcohol inks once, but that she’d never done it again because she didn’t know where to find the materials or how much they would cost. I told her the local Michaels has all of it, and spelled out the type of paper she would need. She thanked me over and over and grabbed my hand for a squeeze before she left, smiling the whole time. I hope she does give it another go and finds joy in the craft.
6) I enjoyed talking to people who “used to do that” or “always wanted to learn that,” or who sometimes actually do some of the things I do. There’s always this thread of connectedness/kinship with someone who can hold their end of a conversation about something you both like to do.
7) During a lull, I walked the floor to see all of the lovely crafts. I stopped and chatted with a few other vendors, and had a nice conversation with a man selling honey. (I love apiarists — folks who truly love their bees are good people to be around any chance you get. It’s just true.) He reminded me a bit of my dad, and it was a good welcome-to-the-community chat. And yes, I did stop by again on the second day for a big jar of dark, rich honey!
I wouldn’t call the weekend a waste at all. Disappointing, for sure, but not a waste of time or effort. And there are hopefully a few more opportunities this year to prove my craft is, if not lucrative, at least worth doing.
What’s new with you?