#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:

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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

Craft Show Review: Faith Troy Women’s Gala in Clinton Township, MI

I know I’m just over a month late with this post, but I’ll take a minute to explain why.

This event that we do at the beginning of each December is traditionally the last one of the year–I try not to work a ton in December because I really like to slow down and take time to make gifts, spend time with my family, and think about what the next year is going to look like. Plus, it’s hard to enjoy the season with three events every weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Maybe I’ll speed up a little during this time when Charlotte is a little older, but for now, I like to be able to really savor my Decembers.

For us, 2018 is going to be focused around paying down our mortgage. If you know us at all, you know that we are pretty avid Dave Ramsey fans (step 6, baby!), and Dan and I decided that our word for the year is “mortgage”–everything that we do, especially when it comes to money, we really want to focus on knocking down that mortgage balance. We have a pretty aggressive goal of paying off 33% of it this year–I’ll let you know how that goes as we progress through the next twelve months!

That’s a small piece of what we like to do in December–I’m still working on some other goals, as well, and I’m thinking of sharing them for a post later this month.

For now, on to the last event of 2017, the Faith Troy Women’s Gala.

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This event has a special place in my heart because not only is it the biggest event that my church does every year, but it’s the very first event that my mom and I ever did with this business, and it’s one of the best events that we do each year.

As you can see, the majority of what we prepare for this show is Christmas items and gifts, and I was seriously in love with all of the fresh greens and chippy white that we brought to the booth this year. I wish I’d thought to take a picture after the event–it was so busy all night and we sold so many of the Christmas pieces that it was pretty empty by the end!

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We started collecting old wooden sleds, skates, and windows as early as we could this year–the sleds took up a bunch of room in my garage this summer, so I was happy that we sold most of them (although my favorite one didn’t sell, which I’m actually sort of happy about).

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We also brought a lot of our normal small items, especially the things that make great gifts–tea wallets, burp cloths, switch plates, coasters, and some of the new baby/toddler items that I’ve been trying to incorporate more into our events.

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The doll baby beds were very popular, as were the felt flower hair bows and felt flower hoop wreaths. Funny story about those–the first one I made was an Instagram inspiration that I made for myself, but I had so much fun doing it that I made a few more for this show. I thought they were really pretty and unique. I asked Dan what he thought of them and he was really surprised that I was thinking of selling them (which basically translates to something like he took one look at them and immeadiately thought they were a failed experiment). He was equally surprised that I didn’t come home with any of them…

Anyway, on to the normal elements that I talk about with any other craft show.

Price: This show is an easy yes for us at $40. It’s always been really reasonable (I think the first year we did it was only $25), even though the total shopping time for the event is less than 3 hours. It’s always on a Tuesday evening–shopping typically starts at about 4:30 p.m., which is a little earlier than most of the women are there, but they all trickle in by 6:30, and with almost 1,000 attendees, it gets crazy busy.

During the dinner, music, and program (which is always fantastic), shopping is closed, but it opens up again after the event, which is nice–I think it gives some of the more hesitant customers time to really think about what they want to purchase and then an opportunity to come back later. I will say that the busiest time is definitely before dinner; since it’s often snowy and cold here in early December, I think most people are eager to get home and get warm as soon as possible (especially if they have to work the next day).

Skirted tables and chairs are provided, which is a nice bonus at this price point–most shows I go to charge extra for a plain, ugly folding table, so these are far and away better than that!

Location: The Gala is held at the Palazzo Grande in Clinton Township, and the ballroom is set up with the dinner tables in the middle and the vendors along either side of the room in double rows.

As you can see from the photos, the carpet and decor are fairly generic–what you’d expect from a standard banquet center. To be honest, the pickiest thing for me about this show (which is a super little item in the grand scheme of things) is just that putting my pieces against this backdrop doesn’t always show them at their best (especially in photos). I definitely prefer to have a much cleaner palate to work with–my white tent, for example. I always feel like the carpet and wallpaper are a little distracting from my particular pieces.

The only other thing that is a little hard is that the vendors only have three and half hours to set up the day of the event, which doesn’t leave a lot of time to make the booth super pretty, set everything up in it, go home, get dressed and ready for a fancy event, and then come back to the venue again (depending on the weather and early rush hour traffic, it takes me about 30-45 minutes to get to this particular show).

This year we had a problem that we’ve never had before, and I think it was because we had so many big pieces–there wasn’t a lot of overflow space, and when someone bought something, they couldn’t just take it with them, because they were headed back to their table for dinner. That’s definitely a challenge that is unique to this show, since usually people take their pieces with them to put in their car or to a holding tent of some kind. It got a little confusing for the customers, since the pieces were still just right there. I hate having to tell people that things are already sold–luckily, a lot of the pieces I was able to reproduce easily, and so we were able to take several special orders.

Traffic: Like I said, the traffic is crazy. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I have relationships with a lot of the women there, partly because it’s my church and partly because we’ve been doing this event for five years now, and a lot of the women tell us they really look forward to seeing what we have in our booth every year.

Since the first year we came, it has been all we can do to keep up with receipts and credit card sales in between talking to the ladies and taking special order requests–there’s no way I’d be able to do this show in particular without my mom. Our booth was so crowded with pieces and people that I was stuck in that back corner for most of the night (not even time for a bathroom break!) and my mom had to do the moving around and the answering of questions during the majority of the time.


Who else out there is with me about December events? I know that there are some really good ones out there, and of course, it’s prime time for the folks out looking for a handmade Christmas gift–if you’re out there selling until Christmas Eve, that’s awesome!

Someday, that might be me…I know December is prime time, but those weeks are too precious to me at this time in my life.

I’d love to hear about your holiday shows in the comments below!

Talk soon,

Jess

 

 

Vintage Market Review: Hocus Pocus at the Monroe County Fairgrounds, Monroe, MI

I’m a little behind in getting this review out to you guys–we were at this show two weekends ago, October 7-8, 2017–I feel like I just got back from my annual creative writing trip with my college students (it’s actually been three whole days…). Hocus Pocus was a super fun event, and a great way to close out the year of outdoor shows.

This is kind of a unique review because this is the first show where we actually stayed on the grounds all weekend camping! It was really fun and totally worth it to spend the night right there rather than driving back and forth, since the commute was over an hour. My parents stayed on the campground Friday and Saturday night, but we had a birthday party and gymnastics on Saturday, so my mom ran the market most of Saturday and then we came in the afternoon and spent just one night with them.

Hocus Pocus was hosted by The Vintage Market, LLC—they do several events throughout the year, and I was actually invited to do one of their shows last year, but I couldn’t have pulled it off with my 2016 fall schedule, even though it looked like a lot of fun. This year, I decided to try it, since my fall is a lot less crazy. When I first signed up, I wasn’t even thinking about camping, but my mom really wanted to—my parents have a pop-up camper and we hardly used it this year, so she was really itching to get it out. My parents used to camp all the time, and it was kind of sad that we really didn’t get to this summer, since it was so busy.

For me, this photo really sums up the essence of the weekend:

Clouds Over the Vintage Market

I love October skies.

Price: This show was $150 for the two days for an outside spot (which is what we had), though there were inside spaces available for the same price. They also have their own tents, spaces under which are $200.

They charged $5 admission for customers coming in to this show, which was clearly communicated ahead of time on all of their promotional material.

Camping was $30/night on the fairground campsites, which included electricity, water, and restrooms/showers. I didn’t shower there, since Dan and I only spent one night on the campground, but they looked nice—I’d say state park level. They definitely weren’t the grossest showers I’ve ever seen, was is always a bonus.

Hours on Saturday were 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., but they ended up closing the show early, at 5 p.m., due to high winds. It had been pretty windy all day, and our table/door display at the back of the booth actually blew over at one point, which was pretty scary. Towards the end of the show (which was unfortunately right when Dan and I got there), the wind was at about 18 mph, with gusts up to 30, and it was only getting worse. We haven’t had winds this bad since we did the Mount Clemens Summer Magic Festival in 2015, and we ended up taking our entire display apart and dropping our tent down to the ground for the night, which we’ve never done before, even at that show.

I was pretty freaked out that the tent would blow away at some point during the night, especially since we were right there in the camper and the wind was shaking us up pretty violently, too. I don’t know whether I was more nervous being right there, or whether I would have been more nervous leaving. We could see the tent from the camper, so that was a little bit of a relief, but it sure was hard falling asleep with all that weather happening, and feeling like I had to sit up and make sure the tent was still there after every other gust!

With all the weather going on Saturday afternoon, it almost made me wish that I had requested an indoor spot, but the inside vendors said things were really slow in the expo center, and that the traffic just wasn’t filtering in to where they were, so I guess you have to take the good with the bad, right? I’d rather have my stuff blow around a little and actually sell some things, then have everything look perfect all weekend and then have to bring it all home. Most of the outside vendors seemed to have really steady sales, although I heard from some of the vendors that the traffic was a bit slower at this show than similar events in the area.

Other than our display blowing over that one time, the only snafu was with the map—our business name was accidentally left off of the official map and never got fixed before it went to print, so there was one time when a customer had the cart go to the wrong booth for a furniture pickup. Dan was manning the booth at the time, and I’d forgotten to tell him about the mix-up–we were booth #35, but the wrong name was printed on the map for that booth number. Luckily, it all worked out in the end and the customer got his table and everything was fine. These things happen.

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Location: The fairgrounds were a little bit off the beaten path, but it was a beautiful location. The facilities were much more modern than those at the Wayne County Fairgrounds, where we were for the Belleville show, and Hocus Pocus was a lot bigger, too.

The bathrooms, again, were very nice, and there were several of them scattered throughout the show, so there was never a problem with long lines, the way there was at the Belleville and Brownstown shows. The bathrooms in the Expo Center were especially nice, and very big.

There were two big parking areas and two tractors with trailers running all day long, taking customers back and forth between the shopping area and the parking lots. Charlotte had fun on Sunday afternoon riding around with Grandma and Grandpa when the tractor had lighter crowds.

There was also a good size staff with carts to help customers with bigger purchases back and forth to their cars. Everything was very well run and organized, and I didn’t notice anything that didn’t go according to plan.

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Traffic: This show was a little bit backwards for us—usually, our best hours are always before noon, but this time around, we did the best between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. It was a little crazy. There were a few people who saw something and bought it right away, but it was more of people looking, walking around, and coming back for things later.

I totally get that, since that’s how I shop—I like to look at everything and decide what to get on the second time around, especially since my shopping budget is usually split into things for Charlotte, things for events/decorating, and gifts for upcoming birthdays (and Christmas, this time of year). I try to work in a little something for myself–I can’t wait to share my next Friday favorites post (you can check out the first one here).

In general, the crowds were lighter than I expected, especially since the weather was fabulous, except for the wind on Saturday. For a Michigan October, it was hot and sunny and totally perfect, so I’m surprised that we didn’t have more people.

We made our booth probably a third of the way through Saturday, which was nice, and we ended up doing the best we’ve done since Sterlingfest, which was a nice way to finish off the year of outdoor shows. We sold more painted furniture and small items than anything else—it wasn’t a big day for antiques. I’m not too surprised by that—the majority of booths were selling antiques/salvage, so there was a lot of competition there and some really, really good prices. I bought a few things on Sunday afternoon that were just too good to pass up, and that I’ll probably list in my Etsy shop when I’m doing using them.

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I love these avocado drawers. I’m thinking succulents…

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I really want to make these fit into Beth’s baby shower next weekend, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. Oh, well. I’ll use them eventually…right?

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These are going to be perfect for Christina’s wedding. $10 each!! Can you believe that deal??

Even with Dan and my dad snoring and keeping us up half the night on Saturday, I’d probably camp at a show again—in fact, we’re looking at doing a couple of shows in the spring where we’ll camp out. It was really nice being just a few hundred yards away from the tent at all times, and being able to bring all the food and water with us that we would need. It was a lot cheaper and healthier than eating from the food trucks all weekend!

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We were a little lonely on the campground with no one else around, but it was super peaceful, too!

The clouds and the light were so perfect on Saturday night that Charlotte and I had an impromtu photo shoot with the Vintage Market’s signature rusty truck.

 

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Can you tell the fake smiles from the real ones? I had a stroke of genius telling her to hang off the side of the trunk with one arm out–she loves anything that has a slight hint of danger to it…

Have you ever done a show where you camped out on the grounds? What was it like? Would you do it again? Share your experiences below—and if you have any questions or hesitations, feel free to ask/share! I’d love to talk more!

Talk soon,

Jessie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Deal When an Event Isn’t Going Well

Hey friends! Today I’m sharing a not so fun post in my craft show tips series, about how to deal when an event doesn’t go so well. These are always hard to go through, and maybe even harder to talk about, but hopefully we can all work through those hard events together and learn a little something from each other about how to deal.

I won’t propose to be an expert about how to deal when events don’t go as well as I’d hoped. I’ve have my fair share of days when the morning goes really slow and I just sit down in my chair, open a book, and call it a day at 11:45 a.m., when there are still three or four hours left in the event. My most vivid memory of that happening is at a Chippewa Valley spring fundraiser a few years ago—it was the first nice day of the summer, and no one in Michigan wanted to be doing anything inside that day (including me, actually).

But even though I’m not an expert, I will share the things that I try to do and keep in perspective when I’m at a slow show. It can be really frustrating to go into an event with really high hopes, just to discover that nothing is going to happen that day, or that weekend, or at least not happen the way that you hoped. I’m not going to pretend that doing any of these things will take that frustration away, because they won’t, but I at least try to practice these things and bring something positive out of what would otherwise be a “wasted” show.

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Plan and Reflect

Writing for this blog has helped me a lot, even over the past few months, with reflecting on how events went and how my expectations might have been out of line with reality. I’ve gotten into the habit of bringing a notebook with me and making little observations about shows throughout the day so that I don’t forget the little details of the show (again, mostly for the benefit of this blog), and I wish I’d been keeping that kind of a journal for longer.

Even though I’ve been experimenting a lot this year with different shows and branching out into doing events with new promoters, I have been trying to do a bit more research into the events that I’m signing up for, which is a lot different than how I used to do things. When I first started out, I was very susceptible to promoters who would walk into our booth at a show and say things like “I’m doing an event next month and I love your booth. You’d be a perfect fit! Do you want to join us?” It’s always nice to be wanted, and I did a lot of shows back then that were terrible, because I just went with that feeling and signed up basically on the spot.

Things are a lot different now than they even were four years ago, too—Facebook is a huge way that I do research for my shows, and the event page for a show is usually a pretty reliable way to gauge the projected traffic and figure out if an event is worth doing or not (of course, it’s not an exact science).

When I’m at a show, and it’s slow, I tend to have a lot of time to reflect, because I really resist pulling out my phone when I’m in the booth, other than to check the weather or make a quick Instagram post about the event. I like to disconnect for that time and just be alone with my thoughts, which can be hard, especially if I’m super frustrated. On the other hand, that “quiet” time has also been the source of some good ideas for the blog and for new projects that I want to start.

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Set Goals

I did this at the Saline show first thing. Communication had been rough, the show was misrepresented, and I was feeling like not much was going to happen for me that day, especially after I sold my first piece (the only chalk painted piece I had and the one that fit in best for that particular show).

So I set myself a goal—I wanted to make 10 sales that day. That might seem like a lot, but I was expecting to do even better than that when I first signed up for the show, so I was really lowering my expectations. Now, I think I know what you’re thinking—what good is setting a goal when traffic is slow and you have a bleak outlook about what you’re going to do that day?

If I hadn’t set that goal, I might have just sat down in my chair to stew and read and mentally check out of the whole deal. But having that goal forced me to stand in the middle of my booth, to greet the people that walked by, to talk to those who came in even more (I always ask if they are looking for anything in particular and if I can answer any questions), and to offer prices on things that people were eyeing or picking up so that they didn’t have to look at the tags.

The longer someone stays in your booth and the more you talk to them, the more likely they are to buy something. And if I was sitting down in my chair not greeting people or talking to them or drawing them into the booth, I wouldn’t have made half the sales I did. Having the goal of 10 sales really helped me to stay positive and keep my head in the game. And guess what? It worked. I actually exceeded my goal and made 11 sales (I might have beat it by even more if it hadn’t started raining at 2:30). Again, I don’t always make my goal (see the Shed 5 post), but it really helps me to stay motivated, positive, and on task during the event if I have a clear vision laid out for what I want to accomplish that day.

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Dream

I have to be really careful with this one because dreams often turn into thoughts like “when I have my store I won’t have to worry about [insert show-related concern—like rain, for example—here]…” It’s easy to think about what I won’t have to worry about and see that “obviously” things will be much easier *when* I have my store, but in that moment I’m not thinking about how difficult it will be to deal with increased overhead, employees, the stress of running a retail store, etc. etc.

But if I can avoid getting entrenched in that line of thought, dreaming about the future is probably my best defense against a slow show. I’m doing these events for multiple purposes, after all, and everything I’m doing, even at a slow show, is moving me towards that goal. Making money only seems like the most important part, but other really valuable things are happening, too—I’m expanding my client base, getting exposure, building my email list, and meeting new artists. All of these things fit into my dream in some way, shape, or form, and keeping that in perspective and being positive about the future really helps when things aren’t as positive as they could be in the present.

Talk to Customers

I mentioned this already in the setting goals paragraph, but it’s so important that I’ll mention it again. People will stay in your booth longer if you actually talk to them, and the longer they stay in your booth, the more likely they are to buy something from you.

It’s hard for me to always remember my prices for everything from show to show, so as I’m setting up, I try to look over the tags so that I can just offer prices as people are shopping. Sometimes tags get lost or ripped anyway, so it’s always good to offer so that the customers aren’t searching around looking for the tags on everything.

If they seem interested or comment about how they love the style of the pieces, I tell them about the paint I use and how much I love it. If it’s a newer piece, I tell them that it might feel a little tacky (especially if it’s a hot day) because the wax hasn’t cured yet, and I let them know that it will just take a little time for that particular texture to go away.

Sometimes they will tell me that they’ve tried a certain paint or technique, and I’ll ask them more about that—I’m always interested in learning more about other paints and products anyway, and I almost always ask them where their favorite place to bargain shop is—I’ve found several great new sources for furniture that way, which is always fun.

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Work on Your Email List

I put my email list front and center in my booth, and if someone comes into the booth and has a positive reaction to my pieces, I always direct them to sign up. I send a newsletter once a month, so they don’t get totally spammed with useless emails, and I let them know where I’ll be in the coming weeks, what I’m working on, how to contact me, and any other news that I have.

I’ve talked about how important my email list is in a previous post, and I love Jenna Kutcher’s podcast episode on why this is such an important aspect of small business ownership—if you want a refresher on why email lists are so awesome, check out those two places for more info.


How do you deal when an event doesn’t go as planned? Like I said, I am nowhere near the point where I am able to keep it all in perspective, and I have those moments of utter fear and despair that I will ever have a good event again at times, but I’m always trying and learning and figuring it out fresh. Leave a note in the comments about how you deal with slow shows to let me know your tips and tricks!

Talk soon,

Jessie

Vintage Market Review: Finder’s Keeper’s in Belleville, MI

Good morning ladies! Today I’m reviewing our last official summer show, the Finder’s Keeper’s Vintage Market in Belleville, MI. This show was held at the Wayne County Fairgrounds, which was a great venue for this type of event, and we had a pretty nice day weather-wise as well—it’s been cool here for a Michigan August (about which you will hear no complaints from me!!), and the shows have been nice and mild this month.

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This show was a great mix of DIY, antique and redone pieces (in the furniture category anyway), and I brought a mix for my booth as well. My expectations were about what they were for the Shed 5 show—I had some pretty high hopes, and while we did better at Finder’s Keeper’s than we did in Eastern Market, our booth wasn’t nearly as busy as I’d hoped it would be, though the traffic overall was great in the morning.

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Price: The normal price for this show would have been $125, but I went through a frenzy of signing up for August shows in mid-July, and I was too late to get in at that price and had to pay an extra $25. Definitely on the high end for a one-day vintage market, and on top of that, they charge customers $5/head at the gates, which seems like a lot to me.

From a customer’s point of view, I’m not sure it’s worth that much—the variety of the booths and food trucks is pretty much the same as it was two weekends ago in Brownstown (there were a lot of repeat vendors from that show, actually), and Brownstown was free. I’m guessing that Finder’s Keepers had to charge admission to help pay for the venue and staff (which there were a lot of, I’ll admit), but again, it didn’t seem worth it.

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From a vendor’s perspective, I’m always uncertain of the effect that an admission fee has on sales. On the one hand, I would expect that if you’re going to pay just to get into the show, you’re going to be serious about shopping, but on the other hand, it’s also pretty cheap for an hour or so just to walk around and get inspiration. Plus, since you’ve already spent money to get in, you might be more careful about what you’re going to spend on purchases…again, I have no idea how that all actually works, but that admission fee has got to have an effect somehow or another, right?

There wasn’t a ton of advertising as far as signs along the route towards the show, and I don’t know how much was done outside of social media for this one. The market seems to have a large following, so I didn’t worry about it too much, but again, for such a high fee, it seems like there should be some extra promotion going on.

Side note: another slightly annoying thing was that they held my check for weeks before cashing it, which I don’t understand and is always a little irritating. I mailed the check the first week of August, and they didn’t cash it until after the show. I don’t know if that’s a normal policy, but if it is, it’s really inconvenient.

Location: The fairgrounds were easy to get to—pretty much right off of I-94, and they had the market set up with a petting zoo and pony rides on one side, and a food court, stage, and food truck fleet on the other. There were three rows of tents packed pretty tightly into the main space, however, and with all the room at the fairgrounds, it really seemed like they could have spread the show out a bit more to make loading and unloading much less stressful and congested. Getting out wasn’t a huge problem for us, since we got in right away, but we had to wait for a bit when we got there in the morning, even given the fact that at least half of the tents were already set up, and appeared as if they’d been so since the night before. There were a lot of campers set up on the other side of the barns where the food court was, and it seemed like the market had allowed quite a few people to come and set up the night before. This option wasn’t made clear on the contract, which stated that set-up wouldn’t begin until 7 a.m. the day of the event.

Overall communication wasn’t that great. I filled out a preliminary application on their website, after which they sent me an email with the contract attached. That was pretty much it. They did not email me to confirm acceptance or that they had received my check, and since they didn’t even cash it until after the show, I couldn’t tell whether I was accepted or not that way, either. I also never got any reminders or information the week of the show, which I would assume would be standard for an event this big. The only thing they did was post a map of the show on the Facebook event—I found my name and booth number on that map three or four days before the event. I know what you’re thinking: “if you were that stressed out about it, why not email them?” I probably should have. Next time.

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Traffic: The morning traffic was a little lighter than I’d expected, but busy enough. We made a few sales right away, but then it dropped off considerably and never really recovered. Again, I’d brought mostly big pieces, and we didn’t sell a single thing that was priced higher than $50. People were negotiating, too, and asking for steep discounts (one customer offered $10 on a window that I had priced at $25!). This, of course, makes me think that my prices were too high, and they might have been for that market. There were quite a few booths that were almost giving things away—the same furniture vendor from Saline was there with her insane prices (once again, I was tempted to buy several of her pieces)!!

After 1 p.m., traffic was barely a trickle, and my mom and I took turns walking around and shopping. It’s my birthday week, and I’m already thinking ahead to future Friday favorites posts and to Christmas and some birthdays of friends that I have coming up, so I was in the mood to shop a little.


There were indoor restrooms here, and plenty of volunteers to help us unload. They came around to all the vendors with big pieces and let us know that there was a cart available for customers to move large pieces from the show area to the parking lot, and one lady who bought a coffee table from us took advantage of that, which was a nice bonus for us and for the customer.

There was live music as well, and it was nice because the band was inside one of the barns, and even if you were close to where the stage was, it wasn’t so loud outside that you couldn’t hear your customers, because the barn contained the sound pretty well.

I don’t know how many more of these downriver shows that we will do—I would like to try the Plymouth show in the spring, and possibly go back to Brownstown, but this particular market didn’t really do it for me. Doing a show for the first time is always hard—we almost always do better the second time around than we do the first, with just a couple of exceptions. It’s always a learning curve in a new area, and it’s hard to know what kinds of things will do really well and what things will flop.

With the exception of Shed 5, I think the reason these August shows were so slow is partly due to the fact that it is August and partly because I just didn’t have the right mix of pieces. June, July, and August are always pretty slow months in my experience, but I know the right shows for those months are out there. We’ve found one good one in July–we’ve never had a bad year at Sterlingfest–and I’m looking forward to finding a few more shows this fall that will stay on our calendar for good.

Here are some shows I’m looking forward to attending or applying to this fall/winter:

Junkstock, Richmond, September 8-10

Michigan Antique Festival, Midland, MI, September 23-24

Hocus Pocus, Monroe, October 7-8

Detroit Urban Craft Fair, Detroit, Dec 1-3

Faith Christmas Gala, Shelby Township, December 5

My schedule is a little light right now, but I’m looking for a few more quick shows to add in there–I’d like to do at least two in November. There’s a small show in Auburn Hills that I’m considering, and a few more that are rattling around in my brain that I can’t think of right now. Fall is my favorite favorite season, so I love to be out and about during it!

What shows are you doing this fall? Have you done a Finder’s Keeper’s market? How did it go? Leave your questions and comments below, and have a great week!

Talk soon,

Jessie

 

 

Friday (Small Business) Favorites: September Edition

**I did not receive any compensation for this post—all of these products were purchased and enjoyed by me/my family (or wrapped and saved for Christmas gifts—yes, I start this early!!).

Good morning friends! I want to start a new thing once a month this fall where I feature some of my recent purchases from my craft show shopping during my favorite season of the year!

I love shopping small and supporting other creative businesses, and I especially love finding things for the people on my Christmas list from small shops and local events. I almost always bring Charlotte home a little present from the shows that she can’t come to (she’s so funny—she’s always like “I want to come to the craft show” and does a little pouty face when I tell her that she can’t. It’s the most adorable thing ever), so you’ll find some children’s items sprinkled through these posts alongside soaps, candles, clothing, food, and gift ideas.

Today I want to feature my friends at Petoskey and Pine, Flint Candle Co., Kosho Krafts, Grow Up Awesome, and Sub Rosa Tea—these are all lovely folks that I met at shows I did during the later part of the summer, and I’m enjoying their products immensely. If you’re looking for some awesome back to school or holiday shopping suggestions, here you go:

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  1. Porcupine Mountains Bar Soap, Petoskey and Pine ($6.50)

I was next to Pierre and Nicole when we did the Auburn Hills Summerfest together back in June, and they were kind enough to offer me a free sample after I gave them a vendor discount on a purchase Nicole made in our booth. Pierre is a certified aromatherapist, and he puts tons of time into researching his process and ingredients. One of my favorite things about these natural, artisanal soaps is that they are inspired by different places all around the state of Michigan, which I always think is super cool. Back in June, I chose the Torch Lake scent because I was planning to take the soap up north with me for the bathroom in the Bellaire house, and Torch Lake is one of our favorite nearby spots to visit. It also smells great and looks beautiful, by the way—all their products do.

Later in the summer, I picked up a bar of the Porcupine Mountains soap at Made in the Mitten in Royal Oak, which stocks Petoskey and Pine products. If you’re looking for a great place to shop handmade this fall, check out Made in the Mitten for sure. As a bonus, it’s right down the street from Nada and Co., where I buy my Annie Sloan chalk paint, so if you have a project in the works, you can kill two birds with one stone, my friends.

Petoskey and Pine has some great gift boxes available for only $30—you know your fallback option for someone on your list is going to be one of those generic gift sets from Bath and Body Works—why not support a small, MI business (that’s also 100% natural) instead? Check them out on their website, Facebook page, and Instagram.

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  1. Peach and Rose Soy Candle, Flint Candle Co ($15)

I love anything peach (flavored, scented, colored—anything, I swear), and when I smelled this candle for the first time at the Shabby Sundays show in June, I had to buy it. This is another item that I took up north with me right away, because my house is  already lousy with candles, but I burned it so much that it was nearly gone by the end of August, so I ordered another one from Lindsay’s Etsy shop as a birthday present to myself (my birthday is August 30—feel free to send gifts next year). Lindsay does the Flint farmer’s market and some other events up that way—but it’s easier for me to place an order on Etsy (though that can be hard with candles because you just want to smell them all!!).

These candles burn perfectly and smell divine. Let’s face it, candles are another common fallback option for gifts—I’m trying to plan ahead so I don’t have to rush to the mall last minute for a generic stocking stuffer! Lindsay throws in a box of matches with every purchase, too, which is super convenient if you’re always losing yours (that’s me, for sure).

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  1. Fox Plush Toy, Kosho Krafts ($12)

Charlotte couldn’t make it out to the St. Augustine show last month, so I bought her this little guy at Lisa’s adorable booth, and Charlotte loved him! She immediately named him Ryder, which I didn’t get right away—she’s only recently begun to name things actual names. Just two months ago she would have named it “fox” and left it at that. I should have known that it was a character from Paw Patrol, though, since she’s obsessed with that show right now. She may have tried to throw him in the Paint Creek one afternoon as we were walking in the woods, but she’s really into cause and effect right now, so I promise it wasn’t out of any bad feelings towards him!

Lisa has a ton of great designs available, and her plush toys are the perfect stocking stuffers. Obviously I still shop at Target for some of Charlotte’s Christmas gifts (I’ve been known to get carried away on Amazon, too—it’s just so easy!!), but I also really like to share my passion for the handmade with her. I hope that she will appreciate all of the hard work that goes into crafting some of these products, and that she will celebrate the creativity and passion behind these special gifts. When we walk around shows together, I love pointing out pieces that I especially love, and she will almost always exclaim “oh, that’s so boo-ful.” Here’s hoping that sweetness will stick around for a bit. I’m dreading the teenager days when she thinks I’m super lame and the last thing she wants to do is get dragged to one of my events.

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  1. Books Are Rad T-Shirt, Grow Up Awesome ($28)

I want to start out by stating the obvious–I am not a model, so please don’t judge too harshly! This is kind of a funny one because I really wanted this T-Shirt for Charlotte when I saw Chris’s booth at the Shed 5 Flea in August, but they didn’t have it in her size (I have since ordered it from Chris’s website, since Charlotte is only too happy to wear matching outfits right now, and I have to capitalize on that while I can. I think it’s super cute, but it’s probably actually really dorky–the matching, not the T-shirt). I told my mom about it, and she went off and bought it for me as a birthday gift. My mom is the best.

This T-shirt is perfect for my English professor self, and for Charlotte–so far I’ve successfully inculcated in her a love for the library, reading, and books–I’m confident that she’s a nerdy about it as a little kid can be, which is perfect. To go off topic just a little bit, one of our favorite books to read right now is Rosie Revere, Engineer–it’s a great book in general, but I think you maker mamas out there will particularly love it. Here‘s a link in case you’re interested!

I love these T-shirts because they are super soft, original designs, hand-crafted by a MI artist. What could be better? We all love T-shirts, and Grow Up Awesome makes them for babies, kids, women, and men, so that’s about everyone on your list, right? Check out this adorable onesie for all of you girls with hairy husbands–it almost makes me wish I had a little baby to put it on–almost.

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  1. 0.5 oz Peach Margarita Loose Tea, Sub Rosa Tea ($10/3)

I love tea (and peach things, remember?). My two favorites right now are Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Peach and Mighty Leaf’s White Orchard, but this Peach Margarita blend is amazing. I haven’t really done loose leaf tea a ton, but I might be sold on this one. Each package of Sub Rosa tea lists the ingredients and a recommended steep time to prevent bitterness, and I love that as I’m measuring out the tea (the package tells you exactly how much to measure out, too) I can see actual chunks of dried fruit—it’s not so pulverized that I can’t even tell what the real ingredients are. I don’t know why I thought that was so cool, but I did. I got a few extra flavors for the tea lovers on my Christmas list. I usually add lemon and honey to my tea, but I seriously don’t even need it with this blend–it’s delicious enough on it’s own! I’m almost done with my little 0.5 oz pouch, and I’ll be ordering more this week, especially with the weather starting to get so chilly.

I also purchased these disposable loose leaf tea bags, which work really well and are only $2/20. There were some fancy mugs and cups available with the steeper, but I didn’t want to invest too much into that equipment right away. Plus, I tend to like whimsical mugs and travel cups—they aren’t always practical, but they are pretty, and that’s what matters, right? I found Sub Rosa at the Finder’s Keeper’s Vintage Market in Belleville, but you can find them on Instagram and Facebook, too (in addition to their website).


I’d love it if you would join me in shopping small this Christmas season! If you’re on Instagram, tag me @wildanddaisy and use the hashtag #metrodetroitmaker to show me what you got! I’m not above stealing a really good idea for a Christmas gift, and I have so much fun spoiling friends and families with handmade finds and all-natural products.

What are your favorite small shops this fall? Any other peach recommendations for me? I’m already working on my list for next month, and I can’t wait to share it with you! In the meantime, leave your comments and recommendations below–I love discovering new small shops!

Talk soon,

Jessie

 

Vintage Market Review: Chic and Unique Brownstown

Hi everyone and happy Wednesday! There’s nothing like a little craft show talk to get hump day started, am I right? Today I’ll be sharing my experience at the Chic and Unique show in Brownstown, MI—yet another show I did for the first time this year in my quest to branch out, get more experience doing shows, and get my furniture out to an even wider market.

Like the Saline show, I found Chic and Unique on Facebook. These shows are managed by a company called GLP Events, which does several events a year, and the interest on Facebook looked very promising, so I decided to give it a shot. As usual, I’ll talk about the cost, location, traffic, and organization of the show, and let you know how this one went for us. Thanks for reading!

Chic and Unique Booth 2017

Price: This booth cost $75, which is on the high end for a vintage market, but still in the average range of what I typically pay for one day. Because of the interest that the event was generating on Facebook, it didn’t really phase me. I typically set aside $300-$400 each month for shows, depending on the time of year, and so it wasn’t hard to fit this one into my budget.

I didn’t see a lot of signs directing us to the market on the way there, but it wasn’t as out of the way as the Saline show was—Chic and Unique was right on a main road and it was a lot bigger, so you knew there was something going on before you were even close, with all the tents and cars everywhere.

Location: I didn’t know much about the area at all when I signed up for the show, but it’s similar to north Macomb county—lots of big box stores, parks, etc. Plus, it’s close to the water, so it’s a good area.

The market was held at the Brownstown Event Center, which was one of the nicest venues I think I’ve ever done a show at.

 

The event center had indoor restrooms and air conditioning, along with tables for shoppers to eat (there was a small fleet of food trucks at the show) and relax at. There was some type of historical building on the grounds, too, which was open for tours, and a community garden that you could walk through. It was relaxing and fun to just walk around and enjoy the grounds.

Originally, our tent was supposed to be in the very back of the parking lot next to the row of vintage/salvage sellers, but they moved us at the last minute because there were still people parked in my spot unloading. I should have just told the organizer that I wanted to wait, because my spot ended up being on the end of an inside row, and traffic just seemed to go right by us all day (the back of our tent was against the sidewalk, where the natural flow of traffic was passing, which is always kind of strange). Of course, I didn’t know at the time that it was going to be an issue—something to keep in mind for next time, right?

As soon as people started to walk around, we realized that it was going to be difficult getting people into the tent, even with the amount of people that were there. We ended up rearranging the set-up with our pieces on either side of the tent, so that people could just walk right through. This helped us a little bit.

Traffic: The crowds were insane at this show—it was even busier than I expected, and people were definitely in the mood to buy. There was always a line at the food trucks and bathrooms, and there were people packed into the parking areas and around the tables inside the venue. It seemed like, in most of the booths around us, pieces were flying out of the show.

Our sales were definitely lower than average—it took us until 2 p.m. to make our booth, which is very unusual. Again, I’m always trying to figure things out and learn, and one of the problems I think we had was that our booth was a little sparse (this could also have been one of our problems at Shed 5, but I think it was an even bigger problem at this show). Most people had trucks or trailers, and most of the booths were absolutely packed with stuff. Usually, my mom and I do the shows together, so we have the entire van and her car packed with our furniture.

 

For Chic and Unique, my mom was on call (she’s a nurse), so Dan came with me and we only brought the van and the two of us, which cut down on the space we had for inventory. I can pack the van pretty well, but I can’t fill up the whole tent, especially when I have such big pieces in there to start with. When I see everyone else with trucks and trailers, and I see how full their booths are and how well they’re doing (at some shows), it always makes me think I need to invest in a trailer. And maybe I do. It’s definitely something to think about. I don’t know where I would store it—probably just in the driveway—and I’m not sure how much it would set me back in my savings goal for my store, but I’m starting to think I really need to consider and research it. I never have this problem with shows where I can set up the night before, or with shows that are longer than two days—I can always bring a second load to those, which means that I always have plenty of inventory.

Maybe I’ll do a pro/con list—who knows? That could be the seed for another post!


I mentioned that it was a little disorganized coming in—I’ve never had been to a show that simply moved me unceremoniously to a different spot just because someone was still unloading and I couldn’t pull up to my original space—and it was a little crazy going out, too. The organizers came around and asked that everyone be completely packed up before pulling their cars up, and the traffic had slowed so much by 3:45 p.m. that I was packed and ready to load right at 4—with all big pieces, there isn’t much to pack up anyway.

Someone else brought their car in even a little bit before 4, so I told Dan to go and get the van as soon as I saw that, but by the time he was ready to pull into the vendor area, one of the guys had dragged the barrier across the entrance and wasn’t letting anybody in. I walked over to ask him to move it, and he told me that no one could come in until the food trucks were out. Luckily, there was a pretty irate guy right behind me who told the guy who was blocking everyone that he was being insane, and that was enough to get the guy to move the barrier. Dan scooted in right behind irate guy’s truck before the barrier could be replaced.

When we talked about it later, Dan thought maybe the organizer guy was trying to get the food trucks out quickly so that there could be two lanes of traffic, one going in and one going out, and make it smoother, but there was plenty of space for people who were packed and on that first row to get in and out quickly. It literally took us eight minutes to load the van once it was back there (yes, I timed it!). There didn’t seem like there was much of a reason to give me such a hard time about moving the barricade, especially since the food truck guys didn’t seem like they were in a hurry to get anywhere fast—the front guy didn’t even have his trailer hooked up by the time that we were pulling out.

The space is pretty narrow where cars can come in, so I can appreciate that they wanted to keep things as simple as possible, but, especially since they told us to be packed up before we brought our cars back, I just assumed that once we were packed up, it would be no problem to get back to the tent.

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I’m happy I tried this show—like I said, the crowds were amazing—but I’ll definitely bring more inventory if I do it again in the spring, and I’ll make sure I’m there early enough to get into my assigned spot with no trouble (I was supposed to be in the B section, and that seemed like a great location—plus, it was in the shade most of the day, too).

Like the Saline show, it was pretty far for us to drive, but it was highway basically the whole time, and if 75 hadn’t been closed for miles south of Detroit, it would have been even quicker. We didn’t make much of a profit for this show, but ended up about breaking even when you add up the cost of gas and food.

How did you do at the Chic and Unique August market? There were people who were doing crazy good, which is amazing! Let me know what you thought of the market in the comments below.

Talk soon,

Jessie