Monday, May 18, 2009

Making It: Show Time

Show Time
Adele Miller, May 2009

Aaah yes, the time has come for me to leave the cosy and safe confines of my home studio (read: dining table. I was trying to sound fancy) and enter the show scene. Gulp! So far this year I have committed to two shows - Craft Dinner and BIG on Bloor Festival - both of which take place early June. They appear relatively low-key (did I just jinx myself?) and therefore, I hope, good options for entering the show scene to test some waters.

The biggest question I have is - how much product should I take?

Right now, my answer to this is too much! But then, even that response is relative. How much is too much? 10 of each card? 20? Keep in mind my product line consists of 25+ products right now and continues to grow. Hmm... the questions just keep coming don't they? For now, I'm going with 10 singles or each card I think (or hope) will move such as my Father's Day line, 5 singles of others and then 5 each of my sets. Whether these numbers change remains to be seen.

Thankfully, having leftovers isn't going to do me a disservice as it can be the start of my in-house inventory (I usually print to order). Though I guess one possible disservice is a slap to my ego if I come home with more than expected. Let's face it, that's everyone's fear right? What if no one buys? Ugh, that's a whole other worry but thinking that way is detrimental so let's move on shall we?

Back on point Adele, back on point. Where was we? Oh yes, shows!

Besides the big product question, there are things I need to think about such as:

- How am I going to display my products? How should I decorate the table?
- How will customers take the product on their merry way? Wrapped in tissue? Bags?
- What should I do if people barter with me? Stay firm on my pricing? Or have some possible deals worked out behind the scenes?
- What's my elevator pitch? Yes, I still struggle with a clear and concise description of my company.
- Should I accept returns?
- Do I know my products inside and out if I'm asked any questions about materials and so forth.

The list just keeps growing and growing. Suddenly the remaining 3 weeks I have to prepare seems like 3 days. I've printed maybe a quarter of my inventory and need to place a huge materials orders next week. Part of that task is finding a Canadian based supplier for my card stock (hello - and hopefully goodbye - brokerage fees from my US source). Then I still need to work on more designs. Breathe! Though all jesting aside, I am having fun preparing. Believe it not, it wasn't until last week that I saw some my current lines together. It was quite eye-opening (in a good way) to see that a distinct style has developed and that a consistency throughout my brand was forming. It definitely put a smile on my face.

Of course, me being me (i.e. a glutton for punishment), I'm also working on building a small portfolio of custom work to put on the table. To keep things manageable, I'm just going to work on some simple items such a baby announcements, save the dates and perhaps calling cards. As much as I'd love to enter the wedding industry full force, I recognize I need to do more planning in this area so I'll address that after the shows. One step at a time Adele, one step at a time.

Okay people, wish me luck! Or break a leg as they say - it's show time!

Visit Adele:,,



Banana-head Pancake said...

good luck at the shows!
I have a very similar list growing and growing in my head for the Renegade show. there are so many unknowns...and then the weather!

Laura. said...

yay! good luck! this is exciting, i think no matter what happens, you will have fun--in that high energy, high stress kind of way that all we crafters seem addicted to.
you inspire me to get with it and sign up for some shows. but first things first: getting things MADE. . . .

modernemotive said...

Thanks Banana-head Pancake.

I totally overlooked the weather. Thankfully my first one is indoors so no issues there. Hopefully for the 2nd, the usually lovely June weather in TO will be on my side!

Laura, get making woman! Thanks for kind words. :) I'm sure this is the first of many (big goal is NSS next year!) and like others, will get addicted.

Unknown said...

Oh,this is so interesting and so exciting! Good luck hun! I wish you all the best, I bet it will be fantastic!

Unknown said...

Because I do jewelry and it's mostly one of a kind pieces, I bring EVERYTHING! I was nervous before I did my first show too. Now I love selling in person. Lately I've been getting more sales in person than I have online.

I suggest checking out other people's displays for ideas. There are a few groups on Flickr you can check out like:

I am always working on my display, changing things around, I am never satisfied. :)

And I think your prices are fine, i wouldn't barter, but that's just my opinion.

Good luck!

Art Wall Katie said...

Good LUCK!!!

D. Lindsey said...

Best of luck! Please do a follow-up post to let us all know how it went!!

Rebecca at Maizie. said...

Show season is upon us and this was a fun read to get in the mood. I have a show in two and half weeks (Yes, I am counting the half :)) and I am scrambling to get my supplies and inventory in order! Yikes. Good luck to you and everyone out there preparing for shows!

Clementine said...

Oh lord, yes! Shows are so important to do, but take so much energy and emotion to get thru. And then the day of the show arrives and you realize you're sitting behind a table filled with your work and watching strangers look it over..... eeeeek! I took a break from shows last year, we'll see if I get back into it this year. It's so much work.

Best of luck, Adele, can't wait to hear how it goes!

Anonymous said...

Good luck to you!! I have similar troubles deciding how much to bring to a show--I'm also a paper-based artist, so I always have to make the decision of how many to print.

One thing I've noticed about displays is that the more people can see at one time, the better. People won't flip through a file/basket of items unless they're really interested, so I've tried to get creative on my small budget--string and clothespins work pretty well if you have an outdoors booth with a canopy and the weather isn't bad---you can display a lot of visual material cheaply!

Candied Fabrics said...

Hi There,

Although I'm a textile artist, I'm sure lots of the advice I posted on my blog post with advice for selling is still valid - feel free to check it out:
Good luck & Have fun!