Tweaking our Display

For our show Memorial Day weekend we had a double space with one on the end of the aisle, with woods behind us.We do change our arrangements from show to show depending on our location to traffic flow.

This set-up we were very pleased with as it gave customers plenty of room to walk in and look. Although we have two tents my husband doesn’t quite get a full one since I put my candle table in his but facing into my tent, which I share with our son. With him having the end space, he was able to hang canvases facing in and out, and as you can see from the pictures he rearranged his grid walls during the two days. (I’ve tried to pair the same views with the changes that took place)

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the other tent, the tour starts as you enter and look to the left, then continues around until you exit again by the candles.

 

 

 

 

 

DSCN3598-1

 

Forgive me for not labeling the pictures, if any need clarification just leave a comment. There’s only one picture I missed taking, the wood burning hanging on the front part of the wooden yarn shelves.

Advertisements

Craft Show Success

What makes a craft show a success? At yesterday’s show it took us the full three hours before the show to unload and set  up! Throughout the day we saw familiar faces as well as new ones, talked to many people who gladly accepted our show schedule for the year and made some sales.

Kalkaska Craft Show

ready to sketch

#2 Kalkaska Craft Show

some of Edwin’s art, including black light

#3 Kalkaska Craft Show

more of Edwin’s art

#4 Kalkaska Craft Show

the rest of Edwin’s booth

Trying a new set up with new additions to our display equipment took a little longer to set up, but we liked the results (and of course have plans to tweak it more for our outdoor shows that are coming up 🙂

#5 Kalkaska Craft Show

Bev’s Woodburning

#6 Kalkaska Craft Show

Some of Bev’s Hats and Yarn

#7 Kalkaska Craft Show

a closer view

#8 Kalkaska Craft Show

Bev’s Soy Candles

#9 Kalkaska Craft Show

Back side of Soy Candles and more wood burning as well as packing space and corner of spinning wheel.

#10 Kalkaska Craft Show

Cliff finishing his 5′ table

#11 Kalkaska Craft Show

Ready for viewing!

Customers were great and interest was shown in some potential custom orders.

At the end of the day we were tired but happy! Now we are rested and it’s time to make a few more things before our next shows. And we will have to readjust the trailer to hold the tents and weights that we will need for next time 🙂

A Busy Week!

A week ago tonight we were setting up for our first craft show of 2016! It was a garden seminar and the vendors were mainly busy during the student’s breaks. It was a well organized show, but it seemed strange not to have the full assortment that we usually set up. We were limited to needle felting, soy candles, and wood burning, to avoid having  content similar to that of other vendors.  Please excuse the darkness of the pictures. It wasn’t quite that dark in reality.

 

 

Saturday, after the show, I finished the magenta hat from last week’s start. It’s now waiting for another one to be finished so both can be felted.

knitted magenta hat

knitting finished, felting next.

Last week a vendor friend and I were lucky enough to make it to an estate sale of a talented fiber artist who passed away last year. With lots of equipment, beautiful finished product, roving, yarns and even a loom, there was lots to look at and still plenty left. The sale will be continuing on Sat’s and by appointment for a while yet. Of course my vehicle was partially loaded for the show, but we squeezed in her purchases and some of mine. HE HAD GRID WALL!  So I had to buy it and make arrangements to pick it up this week. With the pegs and hat hooks I can hardly wait to see the displays we will be able to do this year! Took my husband and son for the man power to load it all on the second (hour plus) trip, but it was worth it. My husband has been painting more canvases so he will now have a wall to display them on, instead of just easels. And we each found a few more goodies as well. And I picked up the sewing machine and another display for my friend (she forgot to get the machine when we were there before) Big cones of yarn for weaving followed me home. One is mohair so I started a knitted cowl, just to see how it would work up, it’s so soft! Can’t wait to do some weaving next!

fluffy mohair

fluffy mohair, almost invisible, but warm.

The rest of the week has been busy with family stuff, getting a leak fixed by my gas tank, printing some prints of finished paintings, and of course more knitting 🙂

kelly green for knitting hat

start of next hat

Have a great week-end everyone. And please let me know what your next projects are? Are you like me and have more than one going at a time?

Show Preparation

Yes, craft show season is approaching, even in the snowy Midwest! I wasn’t planning on doing our first show of the year until April, but received an email and signed up for a small local one that is completely new to me and now less than two weeks away! So I’ve been busy this week getting some things in order.

First was finishing new labels and boxes for my soy candles. I make over 100 different scents, and keeping them in order to display and restock at a show is a must. After finishing that I’ve been completing my spreadsheet for the year, a hand-written way to keep track of what I have, what I make, and of course, what I sell.

Soy candle storage

4 scents to a box=many boxes to haul.

boxes of single soy candles

12 scents to a box, makes for quicker set-up at a show.

We also pulled some of the tables and display racks from the trailer. Since it is still resting in a snow bank, it took a few trips and a sled! Also brought my tote of wood-burned plaques into the house, replaced worn tags, and repacked them ready to go.

This show only has about 20 vendors, so the organizer is limiting each craft to have only one vendor in a category. When I talked to her, she already had a hand spun wool and hat person, so my items are limited to wood burning and soy candles, along with my son’s needle felting. It should be interesting to see how this works, but I will miss having my wheel to demonstrate with.

A few batches of candles to make, more business cards to print, and I think we are ready! Now hoping that enough snow is gone by April to get the trailer out for the next show (that one we get to take our full variety to and that won’t fit in just our vehicle 🙂

Organization of Inventory

One of my goals this year is to improve my organization of inventory.  As a business I need to have control of my inventory. Although most of what I make has a long shelf life, instead of making what I enjoy, and struggling to make more of other things before the next show, I’ve decided to better track the specifics of things I sell and develop an inventory par level, to relieve some of the stress between back-to-back shows. Of course I will still be developing new projects as well as tweaking older ones, since another part of business is constant change. With a better inventory system I should be better able to see where I’ve been as well as where I’m going.

Last year I made a spread sheet for candle inventory. Instead of just writing down the scents I sold at each show (as I had in years past) I began by listing all of my scents (over 100),  included my beginning inventory, my sales of each for each month, and the number of each made each month. Then I had a running inventory to tell which ones needed to be made next. (Yes, this could be done in excel, but was easier for me to track by paper & pencil/pen on a columnar pad.) This year I have plans for slight changes which should make inventory keeping easier yet.

Soy candles at a craft show

Free smells of Soy Candles

Now at the end of the year, I have a complete picture, not only of my best sellers (which tend to vary from year to year) but  also of the monthly and seasonal variations which will allow me to better tailor my production for this year.

With candles somewhat under control, I decided that yarn needs to be my next challenge…..I spin a lot more than I realized, both at craft shows and at home.

I have more than five 18gal totes of yarn that I have spun over the last several years. (Plus a smaller amount that I have listed here and here. Starting  with the five craft show totes, I emptied them on the table, one at a time, sorting them by color.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Then I started taking each color and dividing the skeins into families by color (dye lot) and fiber type, assigning a “parent” number and sub-numbers, and recording the pertinent information on a spread sheet. This way with a quick look at the parent number, I can tell a customer how many skeins of a particular yarn is available, whether it is in my back stock or listed on line.

two different colors ready to re-label

sorted into reds and greens

 

 The greens and the reds are completed (unless I find more in hiding). I am pulling some skeins to use in knitting hats and cowls. It’s a good way to display how well the yarn works, and gives me a better idea of the yardage needed for a project (although this will vary with pattern and individual gauges.) But best of all, I have the enjoyment of working knitting with my own yarn; A skein with no knots, easy to wind into a ball without tangles because of the way I wind my skeins from my spools. And I see how the shades of color work together to enhance the pattern, forming an unique project.

Yarn for future knitting

Some of my added stash

 

 

(Hover mouse on pictures below to read captions)

 

Organization is a lot of work, especially when I get distracted with knitting 🙂  Two totes turned into two and a half, plus a bag of stash for me. I have only three totes plus a small box left to do. It is progressing quicker than when I was handwriting everything on my old labels.

retagging yarn

new yellow tags ready to replace the old handwritten ones.

 

spreadsheet taking form

yarn and my inventory tools

Once finished I will know which colors I need to dye more of to spin. This leads to the roving totes that will next need to be “organized”! Then there’s hats etc that need their own spreadsheet!

As I create, I’ve also created “the never-ending organizing-inventory monster”! (I do like red though 🙂 All a part of growing a business I guess!

What inventory and organizing secrets have you discovered? Please share in a comment.

 

 

 

A Craft Show

Saturday was Small Business Saturday and my son and I departed in the dark hours of the morning to drive just over 50 miles to set up for a craft show.

Attending a craft show, you never know quite what to expect. Since this was a one day show, I tried to cut back a little on how much I displayed, while still covering a range of items. You never know exactly what people might be looking for, so if I make it, I try to display at least a token of it. For instance, I set up all 116 scents that I make in soy candles, but only brought a small amount of my hand spun yarn. (People don’t have the time to knit for a gift this close to Christmas.) I also brought a sample of my husband’s canvases, along with some prints made from his originals.

craft show cheboygan 11-28-15 010

craft show booth overview

craft show cheboygan 11-28-15 011

end of wooden shelf

craft show cheboygan 11-28-15 013

wooden shelf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My son, on the other hand, set up his complete inventory of needle felting and wire wrapping. I think it looked very nice and it did draw people in for a closer look.

craft show cheboygan 11-28-15 017

necklaces and needle felting

craft show cheboygan 11-28-15 015

needle feltings

craft show cheboygan 11-28-15 016

needle felted ornaments and art dolls

The organizer does a nice job, she had advertised, but the number of potential customers seemed down from previous years, as were our sales. She had the vendor next to us slide her tables down a bit, to insure that customers would be able to walk into our corner space. I appreciated that as when we arrived to set up things were looking a little crowded in our corner.

However, as a business, we will have to consider if this will be a show worth our time and effort to do in the future.  With the size of our display, it is more time efficient to set up for two-four day shows, then to do too many one day events. By the time we returned home from a seven hour show we’d been gone for twelve hours! A very long day!

On the personal side, a friend stopped by to say hi, I was able to visit with another friend/vendor, had an interesting conversation about knitting with a lady looking at my yarn, and our son made a lady very happy when he custom made a bracelet to hold a charm the lady had gotten for her granddaughter.

One more show to look forward to (along with the aching back from hauling candles) and our craft show season will end until we start up in the spring!

 

Retirement or Just Plain Tired

This last Spring I gave a month’s notice that I had decided to retire! After more than five years as a part-time waitress at a local restaurant I knew I would miss the regulars who had become friends over the years. But after having my craft business on the back burner for over twenty years, we decided it was time to bring it to a boil.

Create the future!

Inspiration to follow our dream

I don’t know how I ever had time to work! We displayed and sold at about 20 shows this year. For most 2-day shows we were gone 3 days, for 4-day shows we always set up the day before. That left 2-4 days between shows for drying tents, making more of low inventory items, washing dusty table cloths, etc.   I repeat, I don’t know how I had time to work even a day or two between shows.

Needle felting

Son’s corner

Hand painted scarves and wood burning.

for blogging 101 041 for blogging 101 044Needle felted ornaments

Soy Candles

Soy Candles

 

Edwin's Art

Husband had his own tent.

 

 

 

 

 

My boss called in September, to see if my shows were over and if I might want to work a day or two each week during the off-season…… I “nicely” turned him down while wanting to shout “I’m retired, I don’t have time!” This while thinking of the shows I had left, including the 3 hour workshop I taught at one on processing flax into linen.  Still have two 1 day shows to do and a blog to learn how to run, as well as two on-line shops to stock!

 

 

Last week I finished spinning and plying these yarns for blogging 101 029 for blogging 101 030

merino wool yarn

two ply hand spun merino wool

Now the 18 skeins are waiting to be labeled and listed or added to show inventory.

I also made a few batches of soy candles. I carry over 100 different scents.

Free smells of Soy Candles

Free smells of Soy Candles

Need to dye more roving, unique colors done in small batches, that I can replicate but not duplicate:)

drying dyeing.

Rainbow dyed roving and top.

If you are a knitter, crocheter, or weaver, you will understand my reference to the slight differences in dye lots. You may also notice that my skeins vary in yardage. This is because I wind all of my skeins with no knots, but may have several skeins of the same colorway or of coordinating colors. This gives you better quantity choices depending on the size of your project. I love playing with colors and seeing the differences made by combining various colors, in dyeing, in spinning and in plying.

In the future you will see many of our craft show products pictured in sections of the gallery. This way you can browse and if you can’t make it to our shows, I can list it for your purchase on my Handmade Artists shop, if it’s still available. My on-line shop listings aren’t taken to the shows with me to avoid selling the same unique item twice at the same time.

I’ve only mentioned a few details of the fiber and craft show part of our business and already feel this post is way too long. In the future look for more information about my husband’s art

Husband's Art

Husband’s Art

Husband's Art

Husband’s Art

my son’s needle felting and wire wrapping, for blogging 101 033 for blogging 101 034

Son's Crafts

Art Doll and wire wrapping

and my wood burning and other endeavors. When creating a business, it’s hard to know where it will lead.

We welcome questions and suggestions of what you would like to hear/see more about, so please leave a comment.