#metrodetroitmaker Goals for 2018

Good morning girl bosses!

I love this time of year! My slow time of the year corresponds with the New Year, which makes it the perfect time for setting goals, building up inventory, and plotting out how I want the year to go (which also means planning the shows I want to do).

Yes, I said, “setting goals” not “making resolutions.” The thing I don’t like about resolutions is that they often become more like wishes rather than achievable goals. I have no idea what my New Year’s resolution was last year. I probably didn’t make one. But I also didn’t have a focus for the year like I have for this year. Wanna hear what it is?

Mortgage.

Let me back up a little. This post will eventually get around to my business goals for the year, but first I want to give you a little background on what’s going on with us and our personal goals for our lives (it’ll all make sense eventually).

When I started this business, it was to help with our debt snowball. For more on that, hop on over to Dave Ramsey’s website. His stuff is gold if you’re really ready to buckle down and tackle your finances like an adult. If you’re not into delaying gratification, driving an old car, and pretty much never eating out while you’re working his plan, you’ll probably want to stay away.

We’ve been out of debt for about two years now, and our next step has been to tackle our mortgage, but we haven’t been pounding on it like we should be. The reason is partially because I stopped paying us out what I had been so that I could build up the business a bit more—you know, investing in a better camera, a design for the shop, fancy business cards, lots of shows, etc. etc. For a little while, I was toying with the idea of really bulking up my business savings so that I could invest in renting a retail space of my own.

Fast forward to last month, when Dan and I were thinking about and planning for 2018 and doing our budget for the year (yes, the whole year. I’m a huge nerd. I can’t live without that kind of structure).

I had already decided that I wanted to pick a word for the year, and I told Dan about the idea. Looking at our budget at the priorities that we had, it was pretty easy to decide on our word.

We have an aggressive goal of paying down 33% of our mortgage by the end of this year. I say it’s aggressive because the income from my teaching job plus the set amount from Dan’s income that we’ve decided to dedicate to the mortgage will only cover about 18% as it sits right now, which means my business has to contribute an additional 15%. That’s a lot, but I know that I can do it if I stay on pace with what my business produced last year (here’s hoping that I can surpass it and contribute even more).

So how does that affect my goals for 2018?

So glad you asked.

I want to start with my goals for this quarter, which I hope to transition into each quarter (with some tweaks) as the year goes on.

Goal #1: No spend January.

That’s right. I have vowed not to darken the doors of JoAnn’s, Hobby Lobby, or my cluster of beloved thrift stores this month. AT ALL.

I’ll give you a minute to recover.

I’ll admit, this is hard for me. I get a lot of inspiration and creative energy from these places, not to mention materials for my pieces. But you know what else I get? A lot of stuff that I don’t even remember purchasing! Good stuff. Stuff that I could really use.

So that’s what I’m doing. I’m spending my January creating pieces that I already have the materials for, and I have plenty—wreath forms, felt, fabric remnants, paint, furniture, wood scraps, card stock, notions, ribbon, dowels….the list goes on. And you know what else I have a lot of? Half started projects that I never got around to finishing! I have nine dowel lengths painted and ready to be made into fairy wands. I have at least twenty (and probably more) tea wallets already cut out and ready to iron and sew. I have a telephone bench that needs to be painted. I have a wire wreath form spray painted gold and waiting for some felt flowers. I have felt flowers that are all cut out and waiting to be put together. The list goes on and on.

And do I need to go to JoAnn’s in order to complete any of these pieces? No, I don’t.

Not only will I save time and money by not visiting these stores, but I will also be decluttering my work spaces by using up materials that I already have laying around! Just this past week I finished two pillows (the forms have been sitting there for at least 6 months) and several linen heart banners for Valentine’s day from leftover fabric from over a year ago:

heart bannerheart pillows

It’s already the 15th, and I’m feeling the withdrawals and trying to convince myself that the excuses I’m coming up with to head to the craft store are actually really good reasons for me to break my vows and buy a bunch of new stuff. So far, I’ve been able to resist, and I’m putting a lot of obstacles in my own way by making sure that I always have a project in my face that needs to be completed.

One side effect of this experiment that I didn’t anticipate was that my creativity has been engaged in a different way than it has been lately–by forcing myself to use only materials that I have, I’ve been seeing the items in my basement and garage in a whole new light, and seeing new ways to use materials without even having to browse Pinterest for inspiration. It’s been fabulous, and I can’t wait to share more of the pieces I’ve been creating lately!

Goal #2: Stock up my shop.

As I’m going through bins and boxes of materials and pieces that I’ve purchased for one project or another, I’m discovering some amazing things that I no longer need but are going to be great additions to my shop. As of writing this post, I have 113 listings in my shop, and I’m on a mission to get to 200 by the middle of February (that’s about 2.8 listings/day, which is more aggressive than I’ve ever been in the past. The number one thing that I’ve found that consistently drives people to my Etsy shop is consistent postings, so this is a really good goal for me, and one that I actually have time for right now!

Stocking my shop is always on my radar, but during slow times when I’m at least a month out from my new craft show I can really buckle down and focus on getting as much new inventory photographed and ready as possible.

Goal #3: Find new things to try.

This one is still developing. There are at least three new shows that I’m planning to apply to this quarter, and I’m also toying with the idea of renting some space inside a larger co-op type store. There are several places where I’ve thought about doing this in the past, but now there’s a new place opening in downtown Rochester, and that is almost too close not to make it worth it.

I’m still an avid Goal Digger podcast listener, and I’ve recently added The Purpose Show to my playlist, as my new podcast material. It’s a little more focused on motherhood than on small business and goals, but it’s a nice way to round myself out and make sure that I’m focusing on my family and not just on my business for the better part of the day.

I also want to add a few books to my reading list for this year that have to do with my business, and I’m hoping to start with Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In. I haven’t come across any other business related books for the list yet, though I have TONS of fiction books that I’m hoping to get into this year.

I’m also shaking up my morning routine (I’m just now getting back into my routine of heading to Starbucks at 5 a.m. on non-preschool mornings) by adding morning pages to at least a couple of my mornings each week. I typically brain dump into my planner each week, but my planner is a bit tight on space, and my brain is a wild jungle full of scary gibberish which is a little overwhelming for those neat little lines and boxes. I’m hoping that doing a massive dump will help me to streamline so that I don’t overwhelm my poor little planner.


What are your goals for 2018, both personal and business related? Do they overlap at all? I’m hoping to get some of my fire back with a solid goal that will really affect our family’s life going forward into the next two years. When I started this business, that fire was there, and it fueled some major growth!

I’d love to hear from you about some of your strategies for a productive year, month, and week, too! Do you bullet journal? Use a planner? Do morning pages? How do you release all that extra “stuff” from your brain so that you can be free to concentrate fully on the most important tasks for your week?

Here’s hoping to a wonderful January and an even better 2018! Get your goals on, girl bosses!

Talk soon,

Jessie

My Creative Entrepreneur Identity Crisis

I’ve already shared with you a very brief snapshot of my identity issues in my first post, but I really want to dive deeper into it today. The reason for this is partly because I think we all struggle with this to some extent as creative entrepreneurs, and partly because I think I might just need to get it out on paper (or screen) in order to deal with it completely.

Fun fact: I actually do a lot of writing by hand, especially my first drafts. A lot of these posts come from my own journal entries, or excerpts of them. Someone once told me that when you type words, you’re writing with your head; when you physically write them down, you’re writing with your heart.

I’m trying to avoid talking about this. Can you tell? I’ve basically been writing versions of this post in my journal for about the past four years, but I’ve been really resistant to even talk about it to anyone but Dan. So this is a bit of a leap for me–so much so that I even wrote this post in two parts, having given up on it back in June after I wrote the first part, and then coming back to it recently (but still a little while before I could bring myself to hit the “publish” button).

6/21/2017

I think, to some extent, I’ve always been creative. I did an exercise a little while ago that asked the question “How would most people describe you if they only had to use one word?” and I immediately wrote down “talented,” but “creative” would be a close second. I was really into art and music in high school. In college, I got into theater (incidentally, I still use a lot of the skills I learned building sets when I’m building my furniture). After Dan and I bought our house, I started to get creative with decorating it, since we were on a budget and trying to get out of debt. When people ask me to help with things like weddings or events at church, there’s almost always a creative element to what they are asking me to do, because that’s what I’m good at.

It feels hard to talk about this, though. I think so often, especially as women, we are conditioned to be humble and defer to others and say things like “oh, anyone can do that.” It’s hard for us to take pride in the things that we are good at without feeling like we are hardcore bragging on ourselves. So many times I’ve given a variation of “anyone could do that” in response to people telling me I’m talented, when the reality, when it comes to my particular vision for the furniture that I recreate, is this: someone else could do something like it, but no one could do exactly “it” because I found the piece, saw its potential, and carried out my design (sometimes through several revisions).

I think realizing that is so important to realizing your value as a creative entrepreneur and realizing that the things you as an individual have to offer to the market and to the creative community have value as well. Girl bosses, #metrodetroitmakers, no one else can do exactly what you do!

Here’s the other part of my identity crisis. As silly as it sounds (or maybe it doesn’t sound all that silly to you–if you’re reading this, maybe you feel the same way), being a creative entrepreneur doesn’t feel serious to me, especially when you compare that to being a college professor. Or a doctor, medical engineer, EMT, nurse, attorney, or executive, which I happen to be surrounded by in both my family and my husband’s family. I feel like an underachiever extraordinaire when I hang out with these people and hear about travels to Russia and Africa, emergency C-sections, rubbing elbows with Dick Cheney, or saving someone’s life with CPR and a plastic pen.

Often, I feel like a hobbyist rather than a businesswoman, especially because all I have is an online shop, an occasional weekend outdoor booth, and a garage full of broken furniture that hardly anyone sees as having any value (that is, until I finish a piece).


Note: The above all pretty much came out without a lot of self-editing–drawn from journal entries and emotions and comments that have built up over the past few years. The problem is, once I had it down, I was like “No one will ever want to read this.” So I put it away for a bit. Then early in July I came back to it.

journaling

photo credit: Pexels

7/9/2017

None of these issues are helped at all by well-meaning comments and questions like “how’s your little business going?” or “that furniture painting thing; are you still doing that?” My business isn’t little—many months I bring in as much or more than Dan does with his “serious” finance career—but it feels little when compared with something that is easily recognized and firmly established, like a medical or law practice. Those comments and questions are part of the reason why I’ve gotten in my own way when it comes to my business, and part of the reason why I’ve held on so long to this idea of a career as a college professor when, in reality, that is looking less and less like my best option for fulfilling my career and life goals.  

Luckily, Dan is my biggest supporter, and he’s constantly telling me how much he values everything I’m doing to try and make this business work. I don’t think I’d be pursuing this seriously at all if he weren’t on board with the idea. He’s always told me that he wants to work at his job and provide everything we need so that I can do what I’m most passionate about, whether that’s teaching, running my business, or raising our family. The hardest part for me has been figuring out exactly what I want to pursue—again, partly because of my own identity issues.

As a Christian, it’s super hard not to get wrapped up in defining myself by what I do, or how much I make, or whether or not I have a white slipcover sofa like all the other home décor bloggers out there do (or at least, seem to). The thing is, when I’m in my garage, painting and listening to worship music or podcasts, or when I’m out with Charlotte, exploring the park or playing at the library, or even when I’m in front of a computer screen blogging or invoicing or lesson planning, it’s not that hard to rest in my identity in Christ. I belong to Him first and foremost, and the most important part of my identity is that I am His child.

But that’s hard to talk about (for me, anyway). It would be weird as a response to the question “what do you do?” And when I’m in my booth during the summer, or in front of the classroom in the fall and winter, or sitting around the dinner table with family, it’s the last thing on my mind. I’m trying to navigate and respond to whichever identity is uppermost in my mind at that moment, whether it’s business owner, professor, wife, or mother.

It’s really easy for me (and I think for all of us creative entrepreneurs) to think that things will be better when I make X amount of money from my creative business, or when I have X amount of followers on social media, or when I have my physical store, or…or…or…

But I’ve met goals before. Goals on Etsy, goals for inventory, goals for the number of shows I’d do in a given year. I’ve exceeded plenty of goals, too—goals for the year, goals for a particular show, goals for income in a set period of time…and exactly none of those times was my overall happiness or sense of identity in the least affected. At the end of the day, they were just numbers, or dates, or pieces finished. They were just arbitrary things. I still fall into the trap of thinking that the next goal achieved will be different, somehow, but getting all of this out on paper helps me to keep that feeling in check.

So where does that leave me in my struggle with my identity as a wife and mama, girl boss, and part-time English professor? I’m not sure. I guess my best answer is: I’m working on it. It’s funny, because in almost every other area of my life, I actually feel ok. I’m a natural introvert, and I’ve always struggled with that part of my personality—I just work better in small groups or one-on-one, and I feel a bit awkward interacting with large groups of people (unless I’m in charge, like in front of a classroom—then I’m in my element, for some reason). I’ve struggled with my body image too, and I always feel like people are judging me for being super unhealthy or unattractive. I’ve spent a lot of time worrying about what people think of my personal style, or the way that I parent, or the things that I believe.

I think all that has really started to change over the past couple of months. Suddenly, I’m not really thinking about everyone else so much. I’m oddly focused on what’s best for our family, what’s best for my business, and what’s best for me. What other people think seems so much more insignificant to me now than it ever has. It’s not that I don’t care at all about other people—I do. I just don’t care what they think.

Maybe that means that resolving my identity crisis when it comes to what I should “be” or “do” is right around the corner. Fingers crossed!

 

Do you struggle with the same things I do? How does your family respond to your small business, dreams, or goals? What do you see as your primary identity, and how did you get to that point? Tell me about it in the comments below—I’d love to get some more perspective on this!! As always, feel free to email me at metrodetroitmaker@gmail.com, or follow me on Instagram and use the #metrodetroitmaker to connect with the community.

Talk soon,

Jessie

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!

IMG_6062

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.

IMG_5991

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.

IMG_6016

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.

IMG_6019

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:

IMG_3654

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.

IMG_6129

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?

IMG_5737

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.

IMG_5712

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!

 

IMG_5745

IMG_4512


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

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:

IMG_5330

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:

IMG_5200

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:

IMG_3380

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

IMG_5280

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