Meet Your Maker: Introducing Jenna Jones of Rue & Fox

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Hey friends! Welcome to the first of what I hope will be many amazing conversations with metro Detroit girl bosses. For the month of August (and hopefully beyond), we’ll be kicking off each week with a fun, inspiring, and honest introduction to a real life #metrodetroitmaker.

Today I’m super excited to introduce you to an amazing girl boss that I first encountered when we both set up shop at the Royal Oak Vintage Artisan Market this past June. I’ll confess that I haven’t actually met her in real life yet, but we have become friends through the power of social media, and I’m just waiting for the day when I get to sit down and have coffee with this girl!

Whenever I see one of Jenna’s pieces on Facebook, I’m just blown away by her aesthetic, her eye for design, and the beautiful photos that she takes—I definitely aspire to have that cohesive of a look when it comes to my photos and feeds!

 

Without further ado, I want to let Jenna introduce herself and let you guys have so much fun getting to meet your Rue & Fox maker today. Take it away, Jenna!

#mdm: What do you do?

Jenna: I am a newly established GIRL BOSS! Going from working in a corporate setting to being able to wake up and create every day is such a huge blessing, and I couldn’t be more grateful. I didn’t realize how lonely it would be to be home all day by myself though, so I am now a proud foster momma to a sweet puppy named Cooper; he brings so much excitement and joy to my days!

#mdm: How did you get started doing what you’re doing?

Jenna: Growing up, my dad was an entrepreneur and my mom enjoyed crafting with us. It’s just what I’ve always been around – but honestly, I never – in a million years -would have guessed that this would be what I ended up doing. After spending years changing careers over and over again, it was time to listen to my heart. I started “rue & fox” while I was still working a corporate job, but when that job fell apart, it thrust me into entrepreneurship full-time. It’s been terrifying, rewarding, and SUCH a fun adventure.

#mdm: Why do you do what you do?

Jenna: I genuinely enjoy waking up every day and tapping into the creative parts of my mind; I’ve always considered myself to be artistic, and this is such a meaningful outlet for me. I love creating pieces that will become a statement piece in someone’s home – pieces that will hopefully be passed down for generations to come. I do this because it gives me a real sense of purpose.

#mdm: What does your typical day look like?

Jenna: No two days are ever the same – especially with a puppy in the house! But, it always starts the same way… with COFFEE. I usually spend my mornings coming up with a plan for the day; most days balancing and rotating between social media promotion, market research, creating pieces and juggling normal day-to-day life duties. I’m still trying on a daily basis to come up with the “perfect” schedule!

#mdm: Do you have a dedicated workspace? What is it like? How is it different from your ideal workspace?

Jenna: Thanks to my incredible boyfriend, I have an amazing workshop set up in the basement of our house. He is a fabricator, so any tool I could possibly need is there. He’s very attentive to detail, so not one thing was overlooked. I’m truly blessed. The only way it could be better is if it was attached to my future retail space!

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#mdm: What is one short-term goal that you have?

Jenna: I would love to build up my Etsy page to become a well-established source of income for me, and to build up a network of like-minded girlfriends to bounce ideas off of, learn from and grow with. It’s so important!

#mdm: What is one long-term goal that you have?

Jenna: I want to create a space where people can come and enjoy a calming and inspiring atmosphere, full of good food and coffee, a retail space for my work (as well as local artists), with workshop spaces to host interactive learning events for different types of art.

#mdm: How do you go about setting goals for yourself?

Jenna: The entire journey of becoming an entrepreneur was making sure that I was being fulfilled: mentally, emotionally, physically. I have to wake up every day and set goals for the day based on how I’m feeling THAT day, to keep it all realistic and attainable. The most important thing to keep in mind when setting goals is to make them POSSIBLE – you don’t want to get deflated. Long-term goals for me are, quite simply, the most “perfect version of what my life could be”.

#mdm: What is your favorite part of being a creative entrepreneur?

Jenna: I thoroughly enjoy being able to wake up every day and express myself in a way that is genuinely fulfilling for me. I have been stifled in so many former jobs – I now get to answer to myself and get to push my own limits without hesitation. It’s wonderful.

#mdm: What is your least favorite part of being a creative entrepreneur?

Jenna: Man, that whole “starving artist” expression is NO JOKE! Building a sustainable brand is hard work, and the amount of hours don’t ever add up to the monetary return in the beginning. That will fade with time and success!

#mdm: What has been your most successful product, post, event, strategy or interaction? How do you celebrate your successes?

Jenna: I had a booth in a local market that, despite low foot traffic, allowed me a huge amount of sales and – more importantly – a lot of wonderful interactions with future customers who complimented my work, reached out for custom orders, and more. I left feeling such a sense of relief, a sense of accomplishment, that I was doing the RIGHT thing in venturing out on my own. I celebrate by spending time unwinding and relaxing with family and friends – a luxury that is hard to truly enjoy when I’m in full work mode.

#mdm: What was the least successful product, post, event, strategy or interaction (I like to call these “experiments”, rather than “failures”?) What did you learn?

Jenna: Initially, I got started on this venture by making homemade soaps. While it has been a fun way for me to try new things and create a naturally useful product, they never really gained traction. Despite my best marketing efforts, and WONDERFUL reviews, they just never really sold well. The market was far too saturated. Lesson learned!

#mdm:What is your top piece of advice for a #metrodetroitmaker just starting out who does what you do?

Jenna: Save, save, save. Before you make the leap, have a reserve ready. There will be so many unexpected expenses, and with the stress of starting a new business is hard enough. You don’t want to have to worry about how you’ll put food on the table, too.

#mdm: What is something that scares or intimidates you about being a creative entrepreneur?

Jenna: I am such a perfectionist, and I’m so afraid that I will compromise my ability to think outside the box to “play it safe” for the sake of ensuring product sales. It’s a very delicate balance between creating what you know follows current trends, versus what your soul urges you to create.

#mdm: What is something that inspires you?

Jenna: Nature! Being outside in nature gives me a sense of peace to my core – and my work tends to reflect that; color combinations that occur in nature, nature-inspired art, all of it. I like very natural, minimalistic type pieces.

#mdm: How would your best friend describe you in one word?

Jenna: I had no idea what the answer would be, and I had to ask. The word is “tenacious”. In this setting, it’s both fitting and an incredible honor.

#mdm: You have one hour of “me” time, and, miraculously, every goal you’ve set in your business for that day is complete. What do you do?

Jenna: Leash up the dog, grab my boyfriend, and head to the park. Let the dog play in the grass while we just talk about the idiosyncrasies of life. And, let’s be honest, there’s probably wine involved.

#mdm: What is one thing that you wish you could tell every customer, reader, or student of yours about?

Jenna: In this life, we never know when our last day will be. Never settle…not for a job, not in relationships, friendships, nothing. We are so programmed in today’s society to go with the flow, and to follow stereotypical timelines and expectations. DON’T. Follow your gut, trust your heart, and take the leap. Live your best life today. Not tomorrow, not a week from now… TODAY.

#mdm: What is the question that you are asked most often in your creative business?

Jenna: WILL YOU COME DECORATE MY HOUSE? (The answer is yes!) How flattering to be entrusted to create a beautiful space for someone to be in every single day.

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#mdm: Where are you online, or what events do you have coming up?

Jenna: I have an Etsy shop that I just launched, and I’m focused on really getting that thriving before I do any more shows.

#mdm: What is the best way to get in touch with you?

Jenna: Shoot me an e-mail at rueandfox@gmail.com or find me on Instagram @rueandfox.

#mdm: Tell the readers one last thing about you, your business, or your philosophy that is a consistent part of how you conduct your life or business.

Jenna: We all need to live our best life now. By allowing me to create pieces for your home, you’re allowing me to life MY best life – but know this: I am creating pieces for you that I would be proud to display in my own home. I’m creating pieces that will last for generations to come – to become a small piece of YOUR best life.

DIY Farmhouse Chalkboard Mail Organizer

 

Hey everyone! Today I want to switch things up a little and offer you an easy thrift store DIY that is one of my top sellers in my Etsy shop—people LOVE these and they are so simple to make. I’ll give you the steps in an easy to follow format along with the tips I’ve discovered as I’ve redone over 60 of these in the past three years. I just went back through my shop to count how many I’ve sold there—I told you they were popular!

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These three slot mail boxes don’t generate a lot of interest sitting on the thrift store shelf, but I am always super excited to find them because I have a simple redo that takes them from dated to farmhouse fresh. I usually find them at garage sales and thrift stores, priced anywhere from $0.25 to $3.99.

Step 1: Wash your piece. I use a mixture of hot water and Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean all the furniture and wood projects that I do. The mail boxes are kind of annoying to clean because of all the little crevices, but cleaning is an important step, especially when you’re about to use white paint. Dirt, grease, and other debris show up really easily under the white so I give these things an extra good scrub. Always let your piece dry completely before applying paint.

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Step 2: Apply white paint.  It might seem silly to use Chalk Paint on smaller pieces, but I like Annie Sloan’s paint so much that I literally use it on everything—I used to be a lot more open to trying new paints and products, but I’m so super in love with her brand that it takes a lot now for me to branch out and actually pick up a new product. I won’t say I don’t do it, but I will say that nothing comes close to her paint. I’ve even used it on the cupboards in my laundry room, and they still look amazing four years later.

If you haven’t tried AS Chalk Paint and you don’t want to buy a huge can for a small project like this, it does come in sample sizes, and those small guys will give you enough paint for 2-3 of these projects (at least). Sounds like a good excuse to open a bottle of wine and have a little DIY mailbox painting party with a couple of your friends! I buy mine at Nada and Co. in Royal Oak, but if you’re in Macomb County, you can also get it at Country Comforts in Romeo (at the Frontier Town shops).

Anyway, back to the project. I always start with a very light coat using a natural bristle brush for my projects, and these are no different. Chalk paint dries very quickly, so once you’re done with this coat, go watch an episode of Gilmore Girls and drink some more wine. By the time it’s over, you’ll be ready to check the progress. You should be good to go for your second coat (depending on the look you want and how dark the wood is, you may want to do three coats for full coverage—I find that AS Old White and Pure White often take 3 coats to make me perfectly happy, especially on dark wood).

Step 3: Wax the mailbox. Once the paint is dry, I wax the mailbox at this point. Wax helps to seal the paint and protect the finish against grease, moisture, and fingerprints. I use AS clear wax, but any clear furniture wax will do. Side note: “natural” is not the same as clear (Minwax has a “natural” shade)—it will yellow the paint a bit. It’s still a good look, and I sometimes use Minwax’s natural furniture wax, but just be aware that the paint will look slightly yellow.

Once upon a time I didn’t wax the mailboxes at this point—I used to do the chalkboard paint next—but waxing after the chalkboard paint is dry means having to be really careful to keep it off that chalkboard area so as to avoid gumming up that surface and making it impermeable to the chalk, which defeats the whole purpose. I probably did about 45 of these things before figuring out that waxing the mailbox first was way easier.

I let the wax sit overnight and then buff it with a brush or cotton cloth before moving on to the next step. The brush you see in the photos is my buffing brush—this is another product that it took me a long time to invest in, but it’s seriously so much easier than using a cotton cloth.

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Step 4: Tape off the chalkboard squares. I put tape along the top edge and sides, and then usually use another small piece of tape or two to help me space the bottom piece, like so:

Press down hard on that tape—make sure you get out any bubbles around the edges!

I’m using pretty skinny tape here, so I used two pieces to help space the bottom edge. One of the reasons why I wait until the wax has cured slightly is that applying the tape to a freshly waxed mailbox tends to make the tape bubble, which will make the next step harder.

Step 5: Paint a square of white over the tape. Get that white paint on one more time, making sure to drag that brush along the edges very carefully.

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This is my trick to avoid seepage of the chalkboard paint—the white paint acts as a seal, getting underneath the edges anywhere where a tiny bubble might be lurking, waiting to ruin your project with ragged edges. Once this layer of paint dries, you should be able to achieve crisp lines all the way around your chalkboard squares.

Step 6: Paint your chalkboard squares. Using a foam brush or roller (this helps the chalkboard paint lay a little more smoothly than the chip brushes do), get two coats of Rustoleum Chalkboard Paint on top of your squares (in this photo, the paint looks streaky because I’ve only done one coat so far). I’ve tried a couple of different chalkboard paints, and this one is my fave:

Step 7: Remove the tape. This one might seem like a no-brainer, but just be careful with it. I’ve tried to take all the tape off at once, and sometimes the edge of your chalkboard square can rip just a little bit—like so:

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Then you have to get out your detail brush and practice straight lines, which could be really difficult, depending on how much wine you’ve had by this point. I slowly pull the tape away from the paint, trying not to drag away from or towards the chalkboard, but instead to pull straight up.

Final steps:

  1. Distress (if desired). Even though the wax has already been applied, you can still remove paint with a fine grit sandpaper along the edges if you like that look. I pretty much always do this—most of my shop has the shabby chic look going on.
  2. Prep the chalkboard squares. I rub the long side of the chalk stick against the squares and rub the chalk in with my fingers to “season” it—this helps to prevent the first word you write from leaving an imprint that’s basically un-erasable later.
  3. Label your slots. For my product photos, I usually write in things like “mail,” “bills,” “coupons,” “misc.,” or “invites.” My trick is to use a thick pencil sharpener to sharpen my chalk stick so that the letters look like an adult woman wrote them and not a six year old child.

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You’re getting a sneak peek at the “studio” process behind my Etsy photos–I love using other vintage items to pair with my pieces, like the antique parts of speech art, skeleton keys, and letter bundles. I found an entire box of old, hand-written letters at an estate sale a few years ago, and there’s just something so romantic about them–I have no idea what to do with them except take beautiful photos!!


This project is one of my favorites because it’s so simple, the materials are readily available (it doesn’t usually take much hunting to find these wood letter organizers at the thrift stores around here), and the transformation looks amazing and fits perfectly with most farmhouse and shabby chic decor.

My customers have hung these in kitchens, offices, and pantries to help get the clutter off of their counters and into a more organized space, and they love the fact that this storage solution fits in wonderfully with a shabby chic or modern farmhouse look while being super practical at the same time.

If you’re not sold on the DIY version you can always take a peek in my Etsy shop (if you don’t see any there, just shoot me a convo and I’ll get working on one for you—I’m regularly sold out of these) and find this little guy (or one just like it). If you’re in metro Detroit, just let me know and I’ll give you a code for free shipping. You can sometimes get them at our shows, too—if you’re looking for one just send me a message letting me know which shows you’ll be attending and I can make sure to bring one or two along with me!

If this tutorial is helpful or if you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below, and post your farmhouse mailbox DIY on my Facebook page or on Instagram using the #metrodetroitmaker. I’d love to see all of the projects and where you decide to hang them in your homes!

Thanks for hanging out this week! Talk soon,

Jessie

Sun Porch Makeover: Part 2

Are you ready? If you haven’t read the first part of the sun porch project, you can do so here. If you’ve already read it, here you go: before and after…

 

Are you stunned? I am. I’m trying not to be dramatic, but you have to remember, I’ve been a lot closer to this project than you have (like, for the past 15 years). It’s taking me a minute to wrap my head around the fact that the sun porch is actually (almost) finished and that we are even using this room for parties!!

Ok, I’m better now.

Here are a few more photos of the finished room and the details that we picked out:

 

Just in case you didn’t get a chance to read the first post, here’s a quick recap: my mom originally envisioned this room as a place for the family to gather and play games, for her to read, and for friends to talk and have drinks/appetizers/desserts and just enjoy her beautiful gardens. For the longest time, this room was a scary cave of red brick and broken furniture. This year we (OK, let’s face it, I) decided that enough was enough and that she should finish the room once and for all and actually start using it the way she’s always wanted to. So I said, “Let’s have a garden party.” And she said, “Ok.” The porch and party were supposed to be done in May, but getting it done in July is better than not getting it done at all, right?

She mentioned the garden party idea to one of her friends from her Bible study, and then that friend mentioned it to my mom’s neighbor, Linda, and then Linda planned the date and agreed to host part of it at her house, too, since she has a pool and she’s only three doors down. So we had to have everything ready by July 8, which we did, with the exception of the upholstered ottoman, which was a huge headache—I’m never doing button tufts again—and one side table. Not too shabby, right? I found these adorable coordinating decorations for the garden party at Paper Source (the poofy white balls were left over from Katie’s baby shower earlier this year—I think I found those at JoAnn’s):

 

Paper Source is probably one of my favorite stores–I’ve repeatedly told Dan that he could buy me just about anything from there (like for my birthday or Christmas) and I’d be insanely happy. They have super cute notebooks, calendars, paper crafting supplies and decor. Another thing I love about Paper Source is their gift wrap selection–my love language is definitely gift giving, and I’m all about wrapping gifts in beautiful paper and bags.

Anyway, back to the reveal. Because this room is a sun porch, we wanted to do a mix of indoor and outdoor furniture, sticking to a pallet of blues, pinks, and greens. We used the sofa (found by my mom at an estate sale a few years ago), as a jumping off point. My mom has this habit of picking out furniture based on first, the price, second, the level of comfortableness (is that a word?), and third, the way it looks. I’m kind of the opposite. Anyway. Right before we really committed to this design and spray painted the outdoor chairs pink, she tried to back out, wondering if it would just be better to stick to a neutral, farmhouse type pallet. She wasn’t sure that she even liked the sofa that much anymore. My philosophy was this—this summer is almost half over, and we aren’t spending much money on this design—all of the furniture was purchased inexpensively at garage sales or estate sales, or else pulled out of the trash. The outdoor chairs, round side table, and large square game table were all trash rescues. I bought the tea cart at a garage sale for $5. The sofa was under $100, and the two antique chairs were under $20 thrift store finds. If she decides that she hates it after a couple of months (which I seriously doubt) we can probably use most of the pieces in a brand new design next summer, and still not put much money into it. So the chairs were spray painted, Charlotte and I found the cushions and throw pillows at At Home, and we kept a few antique chairs in the room that went with the pallet.

 

I’m making the search for the outdoor chair cushions sound really easy–in reality, it was a little bit of a headache. Apparently, the end of June is a little late to be shopping for porch decor and actually the perfect time to be shopping for Halloween (no joke). I don’t think I found a single cushion at Target, and Pier One was sold out of the design that we really wanted–again, we didn’t really have time to order online. I should have just gone to At Home in the first place–if you’ve never been there, do yourself a favor and go. It’s basically heaven for a person who loves decorating and pulling rooms together with a few choice pieces. We knew we wanted a geometric green for the cushions, and I think these babies were just the thing.

The mix of white and dark wood, florals and geometrics, and the dark green accents on the white furniture ended up working so well together. The dark green is Annie Sloan’s Amsterdam Green, and the green accents on the white furniture and the cupboard (aren’t those geranium knobs THE cutest?) are a direct tribute to the Mackinac Island Grand Hotel.

 

Remember the dark red that used to be in the stairwell? We went with the lighter brown color, Arrowhead (Behr), to cover that up, and I think it looks amazing. That took care of the floor, though now my mom is thinking of adding a rug. I’m of the opinion that a patterned rug would be a little too much, a neutral rug would tone down the design, and a textured rug would look out of place (which basically means that I’m of the opinion that we should forgo putting a rug in here). My mom is of the opinion that a rug would really finish the room. I think we’ll wait and see how it looks once the ottoman is finished—I’ll update this post as soon as it is—and make the decision then. To sum up the difficulty: I don’t think the room needs a rug, but my mom thinks it does. Help us with this debate, will you? Maybe we’ll figure it out with a few more opinions in the mix! Leave your thoughts in the comments. Rug, or no rug?

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Once the rescued outdoor chairs were spray painted and the cushions were purchased (I originally overbought on the throw pillows and had to make a return trip to At Home), all that was left was to paint the cupboard, side table, and game/dessert table, and then find something for the walls.

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Partly because my mom was still a little bit on the fence about the design, and partly because we had a bit of a deadline and didn’t have time to hunt or order things, I decided to try out some engineering prints to hang on the walls. I found a bunch of vintage flower images over at The Graphics Fairy, and played around with combinations until I came up with this one. Karen has so many beautiful designs on her site that it was hard to choose—this is one time where having a specific color palette definitely helped me out!

I originally ordered the prints online because I was hoping it would be super convenient, but because they are sized oddly (which I totally couldn’t tell just from looking at a PDF), they all came out on different sized sheets of paper, which I wasn’t expecting, as I’d ordered standard prints, thinking I’d just trim them to fit the 22” x 28” poster frames I got at Hobby Lobby (I spent about $25 on the three frames–if you wait until the right week, all the frames will be on sale for usually 40% off. I never buy anything full price at Hobby Lobby). Luckily, engineering prints are super cheap, so I only lost a little over $8 on that experiment. Armed with my flash drive and a better understanding of how this whole thing worked, I went down to Office Max in person and had them help me size the prints so that the images were centered on 22” x 28” paper to begin with. I still had to do a little trimming, but they turned out even better than I thought they would! Including the online order fiasco, I only spent about $49 on these three large prints/frames, which I think is a steal for wall art that size—especially when it fits in with the décor so well!

The garden party was a huge success, and we followed it up the next day with the celebration of my niece, Olivia’s baptism. Everyone loved the bright, breezy openness of the sun porch (especially the people who had seen the “before” in real life, and not just the photo on my phone), the delicious lemon blueberry coffee cake, and the gorgeous blooms in my mother’s garden. And let’s not forget about the cuteness that is my niece!

 

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My next design project is my mama friend Megan’s dining room. She’s expecting her fourth baby later this year, so we have to get working on a design for her asap! I’m looking forward to helping her incorporate a Mediterranean color scheme into her living/dining room, working with a dining area that includes an antique church pew, and possibly even painting a buffet! I will keep you posted on the progress with that project.

Keep in touch! If you have a post you’d like to contribute (whether that’s a DIY project, craft show review, or meet the artist feature), email me at metrodetroitmaker@gmail.com. You can follow me on Instagram here, and you can check out the sun porch Pinterest board here to see what things we considered as we plowed through this redo.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll talk to you soon!

Jessie

#metrodetroitmaker Craft Show Resume Part 1

Clarkston High 2015

The name of my business has changed since we did this show at Clarkston High School in 2015

Hey everyone! Today I want to share a portion of my craft show resume from the past four years and get into which shows were the best and worst for me—again, from the point of view of a furniture and home décor vendor. As always, if you’ve done these shows in the past and want to comment on how they’ve gone for you (or send in a post as a guest writer), please do so! Let’s help each other out and share our tips and tricks with the community.

The very first show that we ever did was our church’s annual Christmas gala in December 2013. We were just getting into the Etsy business, and someone suggested that we apply for a booth at the gala, which features crafters and vendors from the congregation and around metro Detroit. Not knowing anything about craft shows, we signed up without any second thoughts, which is usually a not-so-smart thing to do. In this case, it not only worked out really well for a first show, but it gave us the craft show bug and helped us decide to commit to doing more shows in the future.

Guys, I love doing shows. I mean, there are things I hate about doing shows, but I mostly love it. It’s really exciting to see people react to your booth and your products, to watch them come in and touch your pieces and ask questions, and most of all, to sell your items and know that someone else is going to really appreciate the work that you do. It’s an amazing feeling.

That being said, there are absolutely some specific shows that I would never do again, some types of shows that I will never (or rarely) do, and some times of the year when it’s better to focus on creating and planning than it is to do in-person events. I’m planning an upcoming post of when and where to do craft shows in which I will break down the best and worst times of year for us, and what a typical year looks like. In this post, I’m providing you with a short list of shows we’ve done in the past four years, along with the type of show (craft show vs. vintage market), a brief overview of how it went, and a rating (1 star being the worst, and 5 stars being the best). Hopefully this will be helpful as you plan for shows in the upcoming year. Please feel free to email me or find me on Facebook if you’re looking for more information—I haven’t written about each and every show here, because it would take way too long, so if you have a specific question, I’m happy to help.

Crafter’s Clearance

Location: Henry Ford II High School, Sterling Heights, MI

Month: February

Rating: ***

This is the only high school show that I’d give more than two stars, and that’s mostly because of the type of show it is and the time of year it’s held (Henry Ford also does one around Christmas time, but we’ve never been accepted to it). High school shows are usually held in the spring and fall, and honestly, there are almost always better shows (at least for a furniture vendor) at those times of year, which means we haven’t done a high school show at all in the past 12 months. Because Crafter’s Clearance is in February, when there isn’t really a lot of competition for customers because not much is going on, and because they let you sell leftover materials and closeout items, it’s actually kind of a nice way to start the year getting rid of some things that have been sitting around since Christmas.

They have a couple of different options for spaces, and the 3’ x 24’ spaces in the hallways are perfect for showcasing furniture, which is another thing I like about this show—most craft shows and markets stick fairly religiously to 10’x 10’ spaces, and with those it can be hard to incorporate levels and interest all the way around. I almost always feel like I have one corner of my 10’ x 10’ perfect, and the rest looks terrible. Crafter’s Clearance also offers an early bird discount, and if you get your application in early, you won’t pay more than $100, even for a corner space.

Even though all the spaces are inside (this is usually how it goes at high schools, though sometimes in the spring they offer discounted outdoor spaces), the weather can still have a pretty big impact on the show, since February in Michigan (just like pretty much any other month Oct-March) can either be beautiful or brutal. Some years it’s been sunny and 50, and others it’s been rainy or super snowy—you never know what you’re going to get. We did this show in 2014 and 2015, and I think we’ll do it again in 2018 (we took a few years off because I’ve been too busy with my professor job the past two springs).

Crafter’s Clearance provides some great resources for potential vendors, and their early bird application for 2018 will probably be available soon, as the deadline for the discounted fee is the end of October. You can check out some more information here.

Summer Magic 2015 (2)

This show was a bust, but man, my booth looked pretty!

Summer Magic Festival

Location: Mount Clemens, MI

Month: June 2015

Rating:

No stars. I don’t know what happened with this show, but there were some really shady people involved. It was sponsored by some kind of downtown authority in Mount Clemens, but communication was bad, set-up was difficult and disorganized, and the people who are usually around to help (like the organizers of the show, for example) were never available. Check-in was set up at one of the downtown businesses, but the people who ran the business weren’t really interested in or knowledgeable about what to say to vendors in response to the most basic questions. Usually, your first time at a show, the organizer will stop by the booth, introduce themselves, and ask if there’s anything you need. That didn’t happen. On top of that, there ended up being a $3 admission to the craft show for customers, which was not on the application and definitely affects traffic, and the whole area was fenced off with these high construction type fences, which was really unattractive and unappealing from a potential shopper’s point of view. We lost a lot of money on this show, and we felt like the entire event was misrepresented.

This was an experiment for us—we hadn’t done any events in that area before as we were still fairly new to shows. I think we were invited to this show via email rather last minute, and, though I researched it a little, I couldn’t find much information about it. Even now, I don’t see much online about it, and it doesn’t look like they’ve held it since 2015—probably because it was a huge disaster. Judging by what I could/can find, I think Mount Clemens has tried off and on to do this kind of thing for a long time. The lack of information about it should have tipped me off, but again, we were new. I guess the reason that I include this one is mostly as a warning. Usually if you’re invited to a show last minute, it’s because there hasn’t been much interest in it (though sometimes it’s because there was an emergency and a similar vendor dropped out last minute), and if there isn’t much interest in it, it’s probably because something is going on with the organizer, the past reputation of the show, or the area where the show is being held. In this case, I really think it was a combination of all three. I’d say in general, stay away from expensive craft shows in Mount Clemens, though I’ve never done a vintage market there, and I think it might be interesting to do a small show there just to see what it’s like.

Frontier Town Booth 2014

Romeo Peach Festival

Location: Frontiertown, Romeo, MI

Month: August/September (Labor Day Weekend)

Rating:***

This is another show that we haven’t done in awhile (though we did do the summer market in June and it was terribly slow), partially because it’s hit or miss and partially because it’s always Labor Day weekend, which is the weekend of my wedding anniversary. I notice that I’m switching back and forth from “me”/“I” to “we”—my mom helps me with the shows, especially the long ones, and she sells furniture and some home décor pieces as well (just a little clarification!!).

This show has a lot of traffic, but because there is so much going on with the festival, there aren’t always a lot of actual shoppers. There are also some weird things about this one—like the fact that you have to send two separate checks. One is the entry fee for the show, and the other is for incidentals; it’s explained in the contract that you’ll get this check back if, at the end of the show, your space is free of trash and you haven’t left anything behind. I guess it’s not that big of a deal (I’ve never not gotten my check back—in fact, I usually get it back before the show is even over, which seems like it kind of defeats the purpose of that whole precaution), but it just feels like a weird and unnecessary thing, especially when this is the only show I’ve ever done that has this policy.

Another thing that can sometimes take away from this show is the fact that Frontier Town has a craft mall and a furniture store, both of which sell items similar to some of the things that vendors bring. The craft mall’s prices are insanely low, which is great for customers, but which definitely affects the way that we approach pricing when we go to this show (which is another reason why we haven’t done it in a bit). I’m reaching the point where, especially at a craft show (if you want to check out the difference between a craft show and a vintage market, I go through it in a previous post), I don’t want to keep playing with prices in order to fit the particular market—I’d rather just go to the shows where I know I can get what I’m asking for the work that I’ve done, without making a ton of adjustments.

If we did this show again, my reasons for doing it would include that, even with the drawbacks, we usually do steady business (average sale of $20-$25) over the three day period, the price for the weekend isn’t too high ($130), and it’s a nice area to spend the weekend in, though the traffic can get pretty crazy since it’s a small town with only one main road (though it’s not as bad as Richmond!).

Salvation Army SP2016 Booth

Royal Oak Vintage Market

Location: Salvation Army Church, Royal Oak, MI

Month: June

Rating:*****

The first time this market was held was in 2016, and it was publicized like crazy on Facebook and Instagram, and ended up bringing in a ton of traffic. This year, 2017, was a lot slower (I’m not sure why, because it looked like it was publicized just as much), but I think we might have done even better than last year, just because we had a ton of inventory ready.

Royal Oak is as close to the perfect market for a lot of our items as you can get. Most of the shoppers either really appreciate finding something unique for their homes, or appreciate finding something similar to what they’ve seen on Pinterest that they don’t have to try and make themselves. I see a lot of my ideal customers there—people who have put off getting married and starting families so that they can establish themselves in their career, who put a lot of thought into what their homes look like, and/or who are just buying their first home or apartment, planning weddings, or about to have babies.

This market had only outdoor spaces available last year, but this year offered spaces in the gym at a slightly higher rate (outdoor booths were $100). Space for set-up is a bit tight, so again, I like to get there super early and set up while no one else is around (read: throw everything in the tent, zip it up, and come back in a couple of hours to move everything around until it looks good). Parking can also be a struggle, since the lot for the church isn’t big to begin with, and half of it gets taken up with tents, so they ask vendors to park in a lot about a half mile away and then they shuttle you back to the market area. Like the Auburn Hills craft show, this market has a space set up for vendors only where you can take a break inside the church, sit down, grab a candy, have a bottle of water, or use an actual bathroom. It’s nice.

The first year was basically perfect. I had zero complaints. This year, some tiny things were off, but I’d still give the show five stars. Traffic was slower for sure, even though the weather was perfect—still no idea what happened there. Sometimes the first really nice day of the summer isn’t actually the best thing that can happen—people want to use that weekend to clean out the garage, plant flowers, or just take a break in the sun—they might not want to come out and shop. The other thing that was a bit of a drawback was that they switched up the layout of the show (in an effort to keep more of the parking lot clear, I think) so that the food trucks were directly across from the vendors, which is really loud. I haven’t gotten the online feedback form that they promised to email to the vendors, but that’s something that I would definitely mention.

I really wish they would do this show in the fall, as well—that’s how much I love doing it. It really is as close to the perfect show for us as it can get.


 

Ok—I think I have to do a second part on this post, because I had a lot more to say than I thought I did, and we only got to talking about four shows! I’m going to plan on doing a similar post again in August, I think, but stay tuned for my review of Sterlingfest 2017 and then the review of the St. Augustine craft show in the middle of August.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave a comment about your experience at any of these shows! Talk to you soon,

Jessie

Resource List: Goal Digger Podcast

Hi everyone! I’m actually kind of glad to be taking a break from shows for a little bit to share some other goodies with you, though I’m still insanely excited for Sterlingfest this year. I’ll be writing a bit about some summer markets that I actually shopped, too—I’m ready for some good ones mid-July, including the Utica Antiques Market.

Today I want to share the first post in a series I’d like to do on my top resources for creative entrepreneurs (especially my mama friends out there). I’ll be talking about Jenna Kutcher’s podcast Goal Digger today, giving a general overview of what it’s like and why I LOVE her, and listing the top five episodes that you should listen to if you’re pressed for time and can’t devour all of them like I have over the past few weeks.

ipod glasses

photo source: pexels.com

I love listening to podcasts in my garage as I’m working. I get good information in a condensed time, and it’s a lot less of a commitment than reading a book (even though I love to read, too).  Anytime I can do two things at once (or even three), I do it; what could be better than working and getting a little professional development in at the same time? I’ve learned so much since I’ve begun listening to this podcast, and I’m super excited to share some of Jenna’s thoughts (and mine) with you so that hopefully you can benefit from her wisdom as much as I have.

Jenna is a Wisconsin photographer and an educator for small business owners. She’s really knowledgeable about branding and social media, and she’s not shy about being real when it comes to her faith, personal life, and business strategies. I think part of the reason that it’s so easy for me to connect with her is that very willingness to be real. She is super big on this aspect of being an entrepreneur, and she’s great about walking the walk and not just talking the talk. When I listen to her, I feel like I’m connecting with a real person, and not just trying to learn something from a blank voice coming out of my phone speakers.

This podcast is particularly helpful because Jenna provides some really practical workshop style tips to creative entrepreneurs that go along with almost every episode. It’s not uncommon for me to listen to an episode in my garage one day, and then come back to it at Starbucks the next morning with my notepad in front of me, taking notes and going through the exercises that she suggests as she discusses each topic. She’s also generous when it comes to things like her pricing guides and social media worksheets, and she’s got a great guide for how to write an about page that really helped me to put mine together. The best part? All of these resources are free!

It was super hard to pick out just five episodes of this podcast, since they’ve all helped me immensely, but here is my best attempt to narrow it down:

  1. Creating Community on Social Media (Episode 49)

I’m putting this one at the top partly because Jenna is super passionate about social media, so it’s especially fun to listen to her talk about it, and partly because I think social media is something that a lot of my entrepreneur friends really struggle with. I definitely struggle with it—it can be a huge time suck and it can also be really frustrating when you put a lot of time into it and it doesn’t seem to pay off.

There’s so much in this podcast episode, and I really want you to go listen to it, so I’m just going to give a couple of teasers:

One of Jenna’s most asked questions is “how are you trying to look like everyone else, whether that’s on your website, blog, Instagram, etc.?” It definitely comes up in this episode, and when I hear her talk about this, it makes me wish so much that I’d had this resource when I first started posting about my business on social media. When I first started on Etsy, for example, I spent a lot of time looking at what other people did with their photos, pricing, about sections, and pretty much everything else, and did my best to fit in with the general flow of vintage and antique sellers. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with looking around at other people in your field in the beginning. I actually think that’s how we learn most things—first we imitate our parents, then our friends, and then we figure out who we are. At some point, however (and I wish this point had come sooner for me), you have to look at your business for what it’s doing for you and how you are putting yourself into it. I think imitation can get you started and get you going for a little while, but it’s so, so important to mature and grow and let yourself leak into your business in significant ways if you really want to connect with your clients on a meaningful level.

To go along with this, Jenna emphasizes that social media should be your virtual handshake—not a constant commercial of what you’re offering. There should be specific posts about what you love, and posts about you doing the things you love (other than just your work, though that’s obviously a part of it). There should be an opportunity for a connection to form between you and your clients beyond just the products that you offer and the services that you provide.

invest in business

photo source: pexels.com

  1. Knowing Where to Invest in Your Business (Episode 55)

Jenna’s podcasts are so useful to me because they point out things that should be obvious, but aren’t always, like the idea that if you aren’t willing to invest in your own business, then why should you expect others to invest in your business by buying your products or signing up for your services?

I also love, however, that she emphasizes that she DID NOT go into debt to start her business, but rather built it slowly over many years. As a Dave Ramsey coordinator and apologist, I love that she is up front about this because I think it’s a terrible idea to go into debt trying to start something that you aren’t sure will even work. I’m saving like crazy right now so that I can try the whole retail store thing—but I will never, ever open a credit card or line of credit in order to try it, because I want to manage as much risk as I possibly can.

In this episode, Jenna focuses on five areas to invest in when it comes to your business (gear, education, web presence, advertising, and workshops), talking a little bit about how she approaches each one and being careful to provide tips on how to do all of this for free (or as inexpensively as possible) when you’re just starting out.

  1. Understanding Who and What an Ideal Client Is (Episode 57)

Again, Jenna is super up front here about how she started and the mistakes that she made. I think a lot of us can relate to this—when I first started I was so passionate about painting furniture and making beautiful things that I just assumed that my products and services were for everyone, and that everyone would love them as much as I did. I also made the mistake of thinking that my ideal client would be someone like me—creative, passionate, and without a huge budget for beautiful, quality home décor.

Not that I really thought about my “ideal client” in so many words—I do remember printing out a worksheet on Etsy and thinking for a while about what my ideal client looked like in terms of my answers to their questions, but I don’t think I really applied much of that to my listings or to my craft show strategy. It’s something that I’m constantly trying to work on as I grow this business more and more, but it’s also something that I think you have to plan for and consciously decide upon—when you’re first starting out, I think it’s really hard to say “no” to jobs, and it can be really hard to even know who your ideal client even is. Jenna has some great tips in this episode for how to figure out not only who and what an ideal client is, but also how you can communicate to just them much more clearly than you’re doing now.

pricing

photo source: pexels.com

  1. How to Price for BIG Profits (Episode 23)

I think this seems like a really hard thing to think about when you’re just starting out, but it doesn’t have to be. Both this episode and the later How Knowing Your Numbers Will Transform Your Business emphasize the importance of having goals (whether that goal is to pay for a vacation, to pay off debt, or to expand your business from within) and defining what success means to you. I think we make the mistake of always having the mindset of “when I’m a millionaire, I’ll be successful.” That sounds super nice, but are we willing to make the sacrifices to actually do that? And how would our lives and relationships look if we did? I was projected to make about $3000 last month, and I almost did it. It was a good goal, and I worked hard to try and achieve it. But would a difference of $100 or so really have made me exponentially happier?

What actually makes me happy is building new relationships (which I did last month), investing in my business (which I also did), creating beautiful pieces of furniture (hello!) and helping other creative entrepreneurs (at the time of writing, this blog isn’t exactly public yet, so I’m not doing everything I can there, but I’m working on it). Success for me (and probably for you) is about so much more than my monthly income.

Jenna focuses on pricing for profits, getting rid of emotional impulse pricing as a strategy, and how to figure out fixed and variable costs (these things scare me, too!). This is definitely not one of the fun episodes for me even though I generally love to talk about money issues (that’s the Dave Ramsey apologist coming out again), because I don’t like to put a price on my work or to talk about nitty gritty details when it comes to pricing. However, it IS super important, and I encourage you to get this information rattling around in your brain early, and to take advantage of Jenna’s free pricing worksheets as well (Etsy also has some great resources on pricing if you are primarily an Etsy seller).

  1. Understanding Your Why (Episode 40)

Your “why” might be a no-brainer right now (for example, when I first started my Etsy shop, my goal was to help add income to our debt snowball and pay off my student loans), but if you do this creative entrepreneur thing long enough, your “why” is probably going to change, and it might change dramatically.

When Dan and I got to the point in our lives when paying off consumer debt was no longer a part of our financial plan, I kind of lost focus for a little while. Part of that was because my life as a professor was bringing in more income and drawing my energy away from building my business, and part of it was because I didn’t need that income in the same way I’d needed it before. For a little while, it became more of a hobby than a business, and that was fine.

Now that I’m really taking it seriously again and my “why” has shifted significantly (I’m working towards a brick and mortar store now—definitely more of a business goal than a personal goal), it’s important that I evaluate what I’m doing every day and why I’m doing it, and how it is making me feel, in addition to evaluating the goal itself. This episode has some great exercises about how to examine these things and work through the emotions of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

Again, it was really hard for me to narrow down just five episodes of this podcast to tell you about today—all of them are honestly just so helpful and so practical as professional development tools to really get your head in the game and get on track with your goals. I love Jenna for her wisdom, honesty, and practicality, and I’m so excited for all of you to get to know her and love her, too!

radios

photo source: pexels.com

Get listening to the rest of her podcast here, or subscribe on iTunes. I think you’ll love Jenna’s insight just as much as I do!

As always, thanks for reading, and I’ll see you back here soon!

Jessie

Sun Porch Makeover: Part 1

Ok everyone. I am super excited to share the first part of a room redo that I completed recently with my mom. I’ve got some great photos and tips to share, and a whole story that starts about 15 years ago. Ready?

Here are the before photos:

 

And here is the backstory:

My mom put this sun porch on the back of her house in Sterling Heights about 15 years ago (maybe more—she doesn’t remember exactly what year it was). I’m saying it was about 15 years because I think I was about 15 and really butting heads with my younger sister, Katie, with whom I shared a bedroom. I always gave my mom a hard time about this addition, because I wanted my own bedroom, and I thought that obviously, an additional bedroom would be a much better choice than a sun porch that nobody would use.

My mom insisted that she would use it. Before the addition, the space at the back of the house was a covered patio, which my mom didn’t like because it tended to fill up with junk. She would start at the beginning of the summer putting out furniture with pretty cushions and trying to have dinner out there once in a while, but after a few weeks it would just become a place to store bikes and outdoor toys. One time we pulled a huge terrarium out of the trash and scooped some frog eggs and marsh water out of a swamp in the Clinton River Park. The covered patio was the perfect place to keep it, and it was pretty cool to watch the evolution of eggs to tadpoles to baby frogs (which we sadly had to release back into the wild after they started hopping out of the terrarium), but it wasn’t really what my mom had in mind for the space.

As you can see from the before shots, even after the sun porch addition, the room still never really got much use and instead quickly became storage (read: a place for junk to accumulate). This year (2017), I really wanted to help my mom turn it into what she had always envisioned: a place for people to read, relax, enjoy her beautiful garden, and gather as a family to talk and play games. We set a date for a garden party, and began to clear out some of the clutter, donate what she didn’t need or use, and brighten the place up.

One of our very first thoughts was to paint the interior brick that used to be the exterior wall. It was a pretty easy choice, especially after reading this article. The brick just wasn’t adding the right character to the room; in fact, it made a space that should have been bright and airy into a bit of a cave, especially with the two big maples that cast shade over the entire yard all day long. Most of all, we wanted a tighter color palette to work with when it came to making design choices later.

For the transition to painted brick, we followed Sarah’s (of Little Vintage Nest) tutorial pretty much to the letter. You can find it here, in case we’ve inspired you to do a project of your own. I am in love with Sarah’s blog, and I pretty much adore everything she does. She’s turned me on to a bunch of awesome stuff.

Here are a few process photos of the cleaning, prepping, and priming day:

 

My child loves to climb, and it was her idea to wash the windows!

As I said before, this room had been storage for the most part, so it was hard to cull some of the furniture, books, and boxes that had been here, but honestly, a lot of it hadn’t been touched in years. My mom is famous for saying things like “someone could use that” or “I’m going to do…with this.” I know I have these tendencies to work against as well, so I try to use this kind of logic: “When was the last time you used or even looked at this? Six months? A year? Two years? Did you even remember that you had it? No? Then it must not be that important.” Time to donate. The big exceptions for my mom are photos, gifts, and things from her mother/childhood, all of which I get. We picked some of these to keep out, some to store, and some to leave accessible so that we could easily rotate things to make sure that she could still regularly appreciate the things she truly loves. There’s a great cupboard on the wall that is perfect for storing these items, as well as some decor staples that we can use for parties:

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A lot of the furniture and project pieces came home to my garage for future attention, and some of it was kept to be featured in the room after it was completed (more on that later).

Here are the things we learned from prepping/priming day:

  1. It takes a LOT longer to paint brick than it does a regular wall. We started priming at ten, and didn’t finish until close to five, and that was with only one break, and at least one of us working on it the whole time. Luckily, we didn’t have to do much taping since most of what we were painting around was white, easily wiped surface.
  2. Even in a well ventilated room like the porch, the KILZ stinks. We had all the windows and doors open and there was a really nice cross breeze (thank goodness we picked a 75 degree day), but I was still getting a headache from the fumes when I was working on the corner. Next time I’ll wear a mask.
  3. Don’t skip the cleaning part. My mom initially resisted the idea of cleaning the brick since it was technically an interior wall, but once we started, the dust was coming off like crazy. I don’t know if that’s just typical mortar breakdown happening super super slowly, but the amount of dust we brushed off made a little pile all along the wall. There was no shortage of spiderwebs, either, which is hard to see on a dark wall unless you’re up close. I suppose that’s one drawback to painting the brick–the dust and spiderwebs are going to show up much clearer now!

We put on one coat of the primer, then waited a few days before doing the top coat (only because of schedule things–we could have started the top coat that evening if we’d had time). My mom didn’t want it to be super bright white, so we picked a softer shade, Behr’s Bit of Sugar (Masonry Paint). The stairwell also needed to be painted–the existing brick red color was really dark and kind of scuffed up. We picked two samples to choose from, both Behr colors. On the left is Arrowhead, and on the right is Liquid Mercury:

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They are both still kind of dark, but they bring out the colors of the slate floor, and we think they will help a little to lighten the space up, which is what we want. Which one do you like? We’ll reveal what color we chose in next week’s post!!

Once the painting was over, it was time to start the fun part–putting the room together with furniture, art, a rug, and a debate about window treatments. We started by placing the furniture that we had around the room to see what we were working with in terms of what my mom already had. I apologize for the quality of these photos–it was an overcast day when I was taking all of the “befores”.

 

When she tried to put the sun porch together a few years ago, she picked a lot of pinks, which really clashed with the brick wall. Now that the wall is white, it’s not such a bad choice. We wanted to use some of the pieces that my mom already had, instead of buying all new furniture, and the biggest piece that we had to work with was the vintage floral sofa in the photos above. My mom found it at an estate sale a few years ago, and bought it because it was comfortable and she liked the colors. We weren’t sure exactly how to use it in the room and for a minute we toyed with the idea of painting the upholstery. I changed my mind about that  when I found this photo (source here):

grand hotel sunroom

It reminds me so much of the design aesthetic of the Mackinac Island Grand Hotel, where my mom and I go at least once a year for the Winsome Women Christian conference. It’s one of our favorite places, and my mom always talks about retiring and running a B & B on Mackinac Island. I thought she would love it immediately, but when I first showed her the photo, all she said was “there’s a lot going on there.” This from the woman whose bedroom looks like this:

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When we started this project, I think she was thinking that I would do a more rustic, shabby chic, farmhouse look for the sun porch, since that is the style I generally gravitate towards and love. I would probably do that if this room was for my house, but it’s not. I know my mother—she loves color and pattern (and matching things, which drives me crazy) and she loves, loves, loves the Grand Hotel. I think she’ll be happier with this room in the long run if we can pull off the same aesthetic that the photo above has going on. We’ll have to forgo the patterned ceiling for now, unfortunately, but I’m pretty confident that we can make this room into something that she will really enjoy. We still went back and forth quite a bit before we decided to go for this design—if you want to check out our Pinterest board for an idea of the process for this project, click here.

Next week (here’s part two) I’ll be sharing the evolution of the design, our resources for décor and DIYs, and some photos from the garden party and my niece, Olivia’s baptism, both of which we celebrated in the new sun porch!

Don’t forget to comment below with your thoughts and questions, and thank you for reading!

Jessie

 

Vintage Market Review: Shabby Sundays at the Barn, Flint MI

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What to say? If you are on the north side of metro Detroit and don’t mind driving to Flint, want to meet the sweetest people ever, and want to connect with some great customers, you should definitely check this one out. For a mid-summer market, Shabby Sundays at the Barn was steady, laid-back, and fun.

Here are the major details:

The market sets up in front of the Not 2 Shabby Red Barn in Flint, MI. It was about a 35 minute drive for me, pretty much straight up I-75 (I may have been speeding a little). Market hours are from 10-5, and, like with the Auburn Hills show, there aren’t really assigned spots, though I get the feeling that the regulars have their places that they like to be. I was the new kid at this show, but everyone was so nice, helpful, and welcoming.

Spots on the grass are $25, and there are limited spots on the porch available for $35. The show is promoted on Facebook, through word of mouth (the barn has some VERY loyal followers—more on that later), and with a ton of signs out front.

 

I feel like people are more familiar with craft shows than they are with vintage markets, so I quickly want to talk about some of the similarities and differences, just so everyone knows why I call some shows craft shows and others markets or vintage markets.

Craft Shows

Craft shows usually have a wider variety of merchandise. They almost always claim to be “juried,” which just means that they are (usually) careful to weed out any applicants that intend to bring manufactured goods, accepting only artisans who craft their wares by hand. That’s why they will often ask for a detailed description along with photos—a jury of the organizers will then sit down and go through your work to decide if it’s right for the show (again, usually). When I started doing shows, I felt a little bit like a unicorn—no one else was really doing furniture—arts and crafts shows I went to were dominated by jewelry, garden art, signs, sewn goods, art, and stone/glass work. Honestly, I sometimes feel like my work isn’t a good fit for some of the shows I do, but I keep getting accepted and customers consistently say that our booth is the cutest and that they love the work we’re doing. So that makes me feel okay.

Vintage Markets

Again, these shows tend to weed out manufactured goods (often, I think they do a better job than a lot of the big juried shows), but they accept a much narrower band of products. It is almost always limited to home décor, furniture, and antiques—they might accept quality sewn goods, jewelry, or soap/candles on a limited basis, but there are usually only one of each of these types of vendors, and their aesthetic often fits in very well with the feel of the rest of the show (think booths that use antique crates to display their goods). The best vintage markets are usually a little farther out in smaller towns (Junk in the Trunk in Richmond was killer for us in the spring this year) where the climate is a little less saturated with this type of event, and they are often associated with established antique or furniture stores. I’ve generally had better success with vintage markets than I have with craft shows, with a couple of exceptions.

Here is my Shabby Sundays booth alongside a typical craft show booth set up, just for a little bit of a visual (typically I bring my re-done painted furniture to a craft show, where I’ll bring more primitives and antiques to a vintage market):

 

Let’s get back to Shabby Sundays at the Barn.

Back in May, I saw the event on Facebook and marked “interested”—I knew that I was going to be free that day and thought that going shopping at a new market would be a fun, relaxing thing to do right after Summerfest. HA! That’s super funny, right? Me, relaxing.

Thursday night as I was getting ready for Summerfest, I saw a post on the Shabby Sundays market page saying that three vendors had cancelled last minute and that they were looking for people to come and bring furniture. Obviously, I had to try the market for myself. I probably should have just gone to shop, because I found a ton of things that I would have totally bought if I’d had room for them (then again, it’s probably good that I didn’t go to shop, because I have NO space in my garage!).

I packed up at Auburn Hills at 10 p.m. on Saturday, and then Sunday morning printed out the contract for Shabby Sundays, wrote the check, unpacked my car from Auburn Hills, packed it up again for Shabby Sundays, and then packed up my mom’s car when she arrived to follow me up.

It was freezing out that morning (thanks, Michigan), so I was wearing a sweatshirt and pants. We were about to pull out of the driveway when I decided that I’d better grab some shorts just in case it got hot, and then I had to run back in again after I’d gotten the other clothes when I realized I didn’t have the receipt book with me. Do you think that either of those times I remembered to grab the check and contract from the kitchen counter where I had put it by the back door so I wouldn’t forget it? No.

I didn’t realize this, however, until we were past Great Lakes Crossing, at which point there was no way we had time to go back. I said a quick prayer that Kelly was cool and would maybe have a blank contract on hand that I could sign and wouldn’t mind if I gave her cash for the spot (sometimes places can be super strict about this, but I figured since I was a last minute addition that it might be more flexible).

When we got to the barn, there was a lot of chaos with people setting up last minute, and the parking attendant, Melvin, had us park for a few minutes while he figured out where we were going to go. I ran inside to try and figure out the contract situation. There was no blank contract, but Kelly immediately came around the counter, gave me a hug, and said she was so glad that I could make it and not to worry about the contract in the slightest. Didn’t I tell you these were the sweetest people ever?

 

So here are my reasons for loving this market:

  1. The owners, Kelly and Don, are awesome: I mentioned before that the barn has a loyal following, and everyone I talked to as we were waiting for the market to begin had only good things to say about Kelly and her husband, Don, who did a great job cooking hot dogs and entertaining everyone throughout the day (he even brought me a mimosa during set-up! I was wearing my “Coffee till Cocktails” sweatshirt). I had kind of already gotten that after she hugged me within the first two minutes of meeting me, but it was so nice to be in an environment where basically everyone had a positive and helpful attitude towards each other and the organizers of the event. This definitely isn’t something that just happens or happens all the time. But it wasn’t just the vendors who loved Kelly and Don—I have no idea how many customers came into my booth throughout the day that seemed to know Kelly on a personal level, had been a customer for years, and had only glowing and lovely things to say about her. Talk about a great role model for customer service and general nice-personness.
  2. Free (actual) food: The contract said that free food would be available for vendors throughout the day, but Don was actually cooking hot dogs for EVERYONE, and there were chips, sodas and water bottles out all day, too. It’s always nice when there is food available at a show, but it’s usually bags of chips, granola bars, some Twizzlers, and maybe a cooler of water that runs out about halfway through the day. At Shabby Sundays, Don didn’t stop grilling until close to 5, water was out all day, and he even brought me a Zima around 3, because apparently the mimosa just wasn’t generous enough. I had never had Zima before, but Lorelai Gilmore got pretty excited about it in that episode right after she got engaged to Luke, so I had to try it. It was pretty good.
  3. The cost is only $25: Vintage markets are typically under $50, which is a big reason why I love them, and also a big reason why I say I tend to do better—even if I have a slow day, my profit margins are still generally pretty high, even compared to a busy day at a big craft show that I paid $200+ to get into. My average sale was back up to around $25, and I did about as well at this show in one day as I did in Auburn Hills in two. Again, for a summer market, that’s a win.
  4. The general attitude of vendors/organizers was just so nice: As we were talking during and after the show, Kelly and the other vendors were up front about this being a pretty slow show compared to the spring and fall, which is typical of summer markets. Even still, it was easy to tell that the customers and vendors supported Kelly and the market and that the loyal ones would come to pretty much anything she hosted. “I’ve known Kelly for years,” was a pretty common refrain from the customers, as well as “When I saw they were doing this again, I knew I HAD to be here.” These are always good things to hear as vendor, because it gives you the confidence that not only have the organizers done everything they can to make the event successful, but that they’ve also done business over the years in such a way as to communicate the value of what they are doing to the customer, so that the customer knows for sure that whatever they’re doing, it’s going to be a quality event, even during slow times of the year.

Here are a few more tips if you’re thinking of applying to this market in the fall:

It’s a small, semi-exclusive show: There are only 25 spots available, and I’m thinking they fill up pretty fast, if for no other reason than the awesome vibe that’s going on here. I’d follow the market on Facebook and get in touch with Kelly ASAP if you are interested in a space.

You’ll probably set up on a hill: The terrain is a little tricky because it’s hilly in front of the barn. I was on an incline in my spot, so much so that I had to leave the back two tent legs shorter than the front ones. This threw off the layout of my tent that I had planned in my head, and I was rearranging things all day. I think if I’d gotten there a little earlier, I’d have been better off.

Be prepared when it comes to your prices: If you are used to pricing items for markets that are closer to Detroit (Royal Oak, Rochester Hills, etc.), you might want to consider doing a little research for this show—maybe shop it before you decide to vend. I couldn’t believe how great some of the prices were, and I felt like a few of my items may have been overpriced for the market. Also, people weren’t afraid to negotiate, so be prepared for that—if that kind of thing bothers you, then this might not be the show for you.

If you’re looking for a vintage market to do this fall, follow Shabby Sundays at the Barn on Facebook to get a heads up about the fall date. Here are some other shows I’m looking forward to (some of which may still have spots available):

Sterlingfest, Sterling Heights, MI: July 27-29, 2017 (this one is full)

Rummage and Relics, Richmond, MI: July 28-29, 2017 (spots still available–I haven’t committed to this one yet)

St. Augustine Parish Festival, Richmond, MI: August 12, 2017 (I think spots are available still–I’ve never done this one before, but I’m excited to try it and let you guys know how it goes)

Shabby Sundays at the Barn, Flint, MI: TBA September 2017

Hocus Pocus, Monroe, MI: October 7-8, 2017 (spots still available)

As always, if you have a show review please email me at metrodetroitmaker@gmail.com, and if you’ve been at Shabby Sundays in the past and want to leave a comment about anything I’ve left out, please do so below.

I’m taking a break from shows for a few weeks, but I’ll be back at the beginning of August with a review of Sterlingfest 2017 (I can’t wait!!). In the meantime, I’ll be posting a makeover I’m doing of a sun porch, some general information on craft show planning, and a post on how I shop estate sales.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful week!

Jessie