Meg's Guide to Moonlighting: 5 Tips to Survive Your First Craft Show

This is the first in a (loose) series about my experiences working two jobs: By day, I'm a marketer for a local training company. By night, I'm a jewelry-and-sometimes-other-stuff designer. Here's my story!

As I prepped for my first week of the Knoxville Market Square Farmer's Market, I read a lot of gals' posts on how they survived their first show. The rookie lessons learned helped me a lot, so I thought any of you crafters out there could benefit from my silly mess of a life. Hope it helps, or at least entertains!

1. Over-prepare rather than under-prepare. And always wear your under-wear. What? No. Well, yes, but what I mean is do your research. I looked at a ton of websites & pinboards with craft show advice, sample packing lists, display tips, and more. It seemed like overkill, but it helped immensely.

Andy & I practiced setting up the tent & display beforehand, which was a huge help. One big tip: Take good care of your tent & buy weights! There are tons of DIY weight options out there, but I didn't feel up to the task so I bought the standard sandbags and they worked great.

Other helpful websites:

2. Make lists & goals. To-do lists, shopping lists, inventory lists, e-mail sign-up sheets for customers, and anything else you can think of. My brain was falling out of my head the week before, and I couldn't function without my to-do lists & shopping lists. I copied about 5 really thorough lists and highlighted everything I thought I'd need. It'll be different for you, based on your product & personal style, but here's my list for reference. 

I also figured out what it would take to make a profit, and that was my sales goal for the day. Thankfully, I exceeded it! If you don't meet your goals, remember that shows are a great marketing opportunity as well. You may have snagged some future customers!

3. Don't go it alone. Bring a friend (or man candy of choice). It was a huge help to have my hubby with me to help put up the tent, make coffee runs, and watch things while I used the restroom. Andy was also essential in moral support, and he knows my business better than anyone. Also, invite friends to stop by. I asked buddies to come visit me, and some even became customers! It was a great confidence booster.

4. Be open and inviting. Be ready to make friends with any person who stops by, because they're all potential customers or colleagues. Be welcoming but not hovering, saying "Hi, how are you today?" and "Let me know if you have any questions." It also helps to say more practical things like "Feel free to try it on - the mirror is over there." and "Everything's made with vintage repurposed items." When someone tries something on, consider it sold! 

Note: I know a lot of artists advise you to be working on something during the show so you don't look awkward, and that's not a bad idea. However, I worked on a pre-paid custom item for about 20 minutes, and not one person even entered my booth during that time.

5. Have Fun! Be authentic. Maybe don't make that creepy face I'm making. But remember why you're doing this, and why you love it. I stayed true to my feminine vintage aesthetic in my display & product, and it worked out well. I acted like myself, and connected with a fellow violinist and a woman who truly understood the hard-and-soft, modern-and-rustic aesthetic I love so dearly.

 If your booth & your product isn't a true reflection of who you and and what you love, customers won't resonate with it. They might not be able to put a finger on it, but they'll see that you're trying too hard. 

More pics, for you, your best friends, and your extended family to look at for ever and ever:

Come visit me Saturdays from 9-3 this summer at the Market Square Farmer's Market!

5 Things to Be Thankful For: Milestones & Letting Go

Sorry I've dropped off St. Bloggersville for the past couple of weeks! (Sorry, can't bring myself to say 'blogoshpere.' But my word's probably worse. Yeah, definitely worse.) I've been busy with my day job as a marketer, my crazy personal life, and TONS of fun New Eve-related biznass. God's been throwing me some crazy circumstances, and He's been so kind! Here's a snapshot of what I've loved lately:

1. Sarah's Wedding. I got to attend the beautiful wedding of my friend & co-worker, who also gave me the honor of creating her bridesmaids' necklaces. I sewed vintage silk into ribbons, made vintage lace rosettes, topped them off with vintage gold buttons, and added rows of sparkling glass beads.

The wedding was really touching. The bride & groom washed each other's feet as a symbol of how Jesus humbly serves people & how they in turn commit to serve each other. I'm tearing up just writing this. Beautiful. This photo is of the daddy-daughter dance. All the daughters joined in!
(Photo courtesy of the father of the bride.)

2. Jennifer's Win! A couple of months ago, Moorea Seal held a giveaway of our Bullet Shell & Quartz Necklace, and adorable food blogger Jennifer won it! She recently posted the cutest photo of herself wearing it on a date with her man. Jen, you are a woman after my own heart with your black tee & vintage-inspired florals. Your pixie cut is perfect - you're tempting me to chop my hair off too! (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Lake)

3. Market Square Farmer's Market. My first market was this past Saturday, and it was positively lovely. Friends visited, the weather was perfect, I exceeded my sales goal, and I met some beautiful people. I really felt like I was in my element, talking to awesome people about awesome stuff that I really believe in. Expect a longer post about the Market soon! I have tons to say about it (in true form).

4. My new running shoes. Behold, my boring, perfect shoes! It was one of my New Year's Resolutions to get healthy again and I have loved (well, sometimes hated) getting back into running. My sneaks were literally 8 years old, though. I had shin splints and achy knees that were only going to get worse, so I shelled out the bucks for new shoes. I basically bought the newer, cheaper version of what I used to wear in high school, nothing special. But I'm telling you, my feet stepped into these shoes and they knew they were home. I am so pumped to frolic back into healthiness in my new shoes.

5. Letting go. My house was a wreck for one whole month. The basement flooded, we had a new backsplash put up, family visited twice, the hubby left for a weekend to visit his friend in Texas, we both left for a weekend to see an awesome Braves game with our friends (more on that later), I worked a second (third?) job at a local Christian boutique (more on that later too), and - oh yeah - I prepped for my first Farmer's Market season ever. SO... I had to let go of some of my pet peeves.

I let the kitchen stay covered in glass tiles while we left & ate burritos. I let two weeks of laundry pile up while we washed every towel in the house, because we used them to dry up the flood. I set aside Market planning for one night to worship with friends and feed my soul. I wore my PJ shirt to work (and accidentally let it slip to my coworkers - whoops!).

Okay, so that last one was a little grungy of me, less of a spiritual decision. (You've done it too, don't lie!) The point is, letting these things go allowed more freedom in my heart, mind, & body to focus on what really matters to me: My family, my soul, my God, my friends, & my work. I keep reminding myself that, on my deathbed, I won't regret not having a clean house. I'd regret not loving others better, worshipping more truly, and working earnestly for something I believe in. So that's what I chose.

Well, that may have been my wordiest post ever. But, as I always say when I talk a lot or say something odd, I meant it. Better go now; I just realized I promised you three more posts over the course of this one. LOVE!