Monday, December 5, 2011

Learning lessons...

The artful blogging community is usually very positive and negatives are usually about personal things, not professional (it seems) so I hesitated to write this post. But then I decided that this experience is an important step in whatever direction this creative life of mine will take me. So here it is.

I had my first devastating show this weekend. I won't tell you where, but the photo above is only 1/4 of the room - filled with vendors. In my "square" I was the only vendor who made my things myself. Everyone else was connected to a home-party-sale system or a mass produced system. I think for the hosts, the sale was a wonderful community builder and this was great. But for me, well, I'm going to tell you what mistakes I made (and realized in hindsight).

1. I didn't call/email the hosts and ask specifically who else might be in the show. If I wasn't comfortable asking for a list of vendors, I could have most certainly asked what percentage of the vendors sold handmade items.

2. I made assumptions from the application. Since the letter and application read as if the show was juried, I assumed that the show was competitive. The application questions lead me to believe that this was a handmade vendor sale so I assumed that everything there would be handmade. Next time, I will email before submitting my payment. Another hint should have been that there was no wording, "Artist must be onsite to sell his/her own items..." This is a common expectation of shows that fit my work, and I should have noticed that this wording wasn't there.

3. I didn't question the table fee. The table fee was $100 which is quite high for handmade - maybe not for other kinds of sales, or larger booth sizes, but for an 8' space in gym for a 3-hour sale, this fee was high. I should have wondered who was able to pay this fee.

I don't have anything against the "host a party - earn free things" world. That model has provided thousands with financial freedom, flexibility in scheduling, independence. Yeah! But for me to walk into a show, compliment a volunteer on her sweater and have her point and say, "It was just $29 from that woman over there....". Well, that was how my day started and how it continued. I can't compete with $29 factory made.

The good thing that came of it all was that I stood there next to my creations and looked people in the eyes, said hello, answered questions when asked (I did receive some lovely compliments). Just over a year ago, I had never done this, and honestly I don't know if I could have done it. So yin and yang - lessons learned, lessons learning...

Back to the grind!

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