Saturday, July 11, 2009

The day I've been waiting for...

See more BH Union Square 2009 photos on my Flickr photostream

Today was THE DAY! The Boston Handmade Marketplace Union Square show that I've been incessantly tweeting, Facebooking and blogging about finally took place today! The weather was sunny and beautiful, and we all were breathing a grateful sigh of relief, I am sure, on waking up to this weather today. It was so nice to be 'gifted' with good weather. Given the summer we have had thus far, it was, indeed, a 'gift'.(What is Boston Handmade? Read Mission Statement here.)

I shared a tent with my sister Nancy of NancyRosetta jewelry. It worked out just great to have her as a tent-mate. First of all, I do not have a tent of my own, and she likes to share, and I was thrilled to share myself, so it worked out perfect! Not to mention that she came and picked me up at my home, with all of my wares, so that was also a great thing. I'm pretty excited to be joining with her again for at least TWO dates in AUGUSTat SoWA (8/02 and 8/09 for sure, and possibly 8/30). So.. Be There, Or Be Square!

For the past week, I've been going at breakneck speed and intensity getting ready for this show. I have not done a show in *gulp* at *least* ten years... and, back THEN, I was selling ONLY greeting cards, and I'd really only done a couple of shows.

This time, it was going to be much, much more involved. I not only had to figure out what I currently had for inventory, what I wanted to add to it, and HOW I wanted to 'design' my entire stock of inventory (no, you can't just throw a bunch of unrelated objects on a table! sorry! ;) ). But, JUST as importantly, and some might say even MORE, was the fact that I needed to figure out a key element of this whole project -- my DISPLAY!!

I really don't think you can overestimate the impact of the impression your display will make to your visitors. It gives them some key unspoken clues about you. First off, it shares information about your entire visual aesthetic and your creative philosophy. It also tells them how you view your own work and how, or even WHETHER, you value it. (Surprise! You probably did not know that your choice of display had the powers of X-Ray vision!)

But, the most significant thing is that, regardless of how you "show yourself" to the public, whether consciously or not, you are making decisions on how people will size up you and your work. WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT. You know that saying "You never get a second chance to make a first impression"? That saying, though I know it's a generalization, applies profoundly here. So, if you do not put the work into your own display, you are really cheating your chances at success. IF you are putting time and effort into doing shows to begin with, I think it's greatly important to put your best foot forward.

I learned a lot about my products and displays my first time out. There are some display tactics I tried that worked well, and there were some that were not successful. I took notes on these while I was still there AT my table, not after. The minute I close up shop, I know I am liable to forget all of these valuable bits of wisdom. So I made sure to seize the moment with pen and paper. Now, for the next show, I now will have a much-improved display (and maybe this will pay off with increased sales)!

In terms of product sold, I did okay today. I came away very pleased with my sales for the first time out. To be fair, the crowds were much, much thinner this year than last (which I attended but did not exhibit)... and, there were a lot of looky-loos, but not a lot of buyers. (I think people are way less impulsive to buy. At least they were today). In all honestly though, regarding sales, I was happy to get any today. And I do not mean that as a self-deprecating remark at ALL... Here is the thing: I believe in my product, in my artwork, and I absolutely ADORE it. (In fact I think I am my own biggest fan. I hope that admitting that doesn't lose me any fans.) But, I also know that this is my first run out here. I have no illusions. My plan today was to observe what people gravitated toward, what parts of my display seemed to work well and what parts did not work. To have a presence, say Hello, show my face, name, and products and make sure that my take-away "contact info" cards were within easy reach. Hey - maybe I'd even sell something (wink wink). Basically, I was entering this particular arena with a "This Is Me Putting My Best Face Forward, My First Time Out, Before I Have The Luxury Of Experience" attitude.

I have been working as a professional artist, illustrator, and graphic designer for 15 years. I have worked in various commercial markets and I have even proudly earned a little visibility in a couple of them. But, this *specific type* of market -- this live, open-air arts and crafts market for my work, is more or less new to me (save for that 6-month stint over 10 years ago I mentioned already). So, I say, jump in with both feet, but don't forget the life-preserver!

Well, I hope you've enjoyed this peek into my first art market in a really long time. I'll be doing at least two more shows this summer and I will be sure to post about the show prep as the dates grow closer. Maybe I might even be able to do a little show-and-tell on the process of product I create. I really would have loved to post a "diary" of sorts for this show - especially because it was so much trial-by-fire and that is something interesting to go through and to share. But the prep, I have to be honest, was just way too frenzied and franticfor that to happen this time out. Next time, I'll be able to be a little more relaxed about it because I now have a base to work off of. SoWA, here I come! Stay tuned for more on those dates, plus a couple of new pet portrait commissions in the works!!


Liz (made in lowell) said...

Congratulations! I had no idea this was your first show out in such a long time, wow! I was glued to my tent most of the day and couldn't come visit so I'm glad you took pictures of your adorable set up :) I had the same experience with a smaller crowd and tighter pocketbooks. Oh well, at least we saw some friends and the weather was good!

Anonymous said...

This all looks fantastic!!

Pamela said...

I'm sorry I missed the show! I wanted to go, but I had something else that I HAD to go to yesterday. We will be away for your two SoWa shows, but if you do the 30th, we will be there to see all of your beautiful stuff!

Michelle Lana said...

Your products look really cool Kathy! Great job!