August 07, 2009

Back from Philly

The Buyers Market is over. Whew! I can't believe I made it through the insane schedule that was my summer show season of 2009. I'm in town for three glorious weeks and although I'll be hammering out a lot of jewelry, I'm excited to not have to get in the car and drive for a few hours for at least a little while.

what starts out like this....

becomes this....

The Buyer's Market was better than I expected. Everyone told me it was a slow show, so I advertised in both Niche (a magazine geared towards craft galleries) and the guide passed out during the show and prepared myself to not sell very much. My ads didn't give me the amazing results I see from some of my other advertising, but at the end of the day I basically broke even, assuming all of my orders go through and none are canceled. Hopefully I'll get another order or two after the fact, too.

As far as order cancellations go, so far, I've averaged one canceled order per show. One store was man enough to call me and cancel it. The other store just never returned my phone calls when I called for their payment, which was pretty frustrating. If you are a store and you want to cancel an order, just tell the vendor. We're not going to cry or berate you or anything - we just need to know to stop wasting what little time we have trying to hunt you down.

Friday was my birthday and we ate at El Vez with my bff Amy and her husband Dean. It was awesome. I love that place. Our guacamole had balsamic vinegar drizzled on top. Delicious.

what was left of the guacamole

Ah, anyway. We met fabulous people as always, and made many new craft friends including Figs & Ginger (of whom I have always been a big fan), Daa Glass (pronounced "daya"), Happy Owl Glassworks, Tasha McElvey, Modern June, Foundling, Silver Tree Art, and so many more. Since we had a lot of down time, much socializing was afoot.

Saturday night, I finally got to see Handmade Nation, of which my jewelry made a 2 second cameo!!! I just about jumped out of my chair when I saw it! It was shot at Stitch (in Austin TX) in 2006 and whoa - my jewelry has come a long way since that was filmed! Faythe Levine (the director) interviewed me right after winning the Stitch grant, and I was a little nervous in front of the camera. Hopefully, I would do better now that I'm four years wiser, right? There was also a scene where Ileana of India Romeo is on her way to the Renegade Craft Fair Chicago with all of her supplies, and I was literally across the street while that happened, because we were both staying at the Wicker Park Inn and we were leaving at the same time. I waved and said hi, and didn't even notice the video camera. My conversation with them didn't make the movie, though - I hope I didn't ruin their shot! :) I sat with Kelly of Biggs & Featherbelle and Elijah of Figs & Ginger and the three of us giggled our way through it, because we knew most of the people they featured. Kelley said she felt like she was at work! It really was like watching a home movie of my life for the past four years. It was pretty awesome.

After the movie was a Q & A with Faythe which was entertaining - it shone a light on what I already knew to be a division (or a generational gap, if you will) between older, "high craft" people and us youngun's. Questions were posed such as "Who buys this stuff?" (perhaps in reference to the porn rugs?) and "Why did you focus on young people" (which was kind of like asking why a summer camp documentary was focused on campers). The people sitting behind me kept asking each other "Yeah, but do they get paid?" every time someone in the movie talked about a particular craft they loved, that may have been very time consuming or nonprofitable. I see their point, but the movie was not called "The Rise of Craft, and How Crafters Pay Their Bills", it was about the love of craft for craft's sake, and some people turned their hobby into a career while others just love makin' stuff just for fun. Strange concept to people who make stuff for a living I guess. Anyway, I could write a whole post about the Q & A but I don't want to bore you. :)

The best point that sums it all up was made during a conversation I had with Elijah who said the main difference between older and younger crafters is that the older generation views anyone making something within their medium as competition whereas the younger crowd views each other as their community. Generally speaking, I think he was totally correct.

Back to the Buyer's Market in general - is a show worth doing if all you are doing is breaking even? I always tell myself that all I need to do is get my foot in the door of a store, because I know my jewelry will sell, and then once the reorders come in, that's when I'll start making money. But it is a little disheartening when you only write 7 orders in 3 days, and you pray that no one goes home and cancels it because they spent too much money. It's something I need to think about, but right now, I gotta go make some jewelry!

we finally took a photo of us in our booth!


Shona~ LALA dex press said...

Nice that you get a chance to breathe for a moment. OK, so I got way too excited for a brief moment thinking that there was a new restaurant in Nashville named after my favorite Mexican Elvis Interpreter.
I just love your posts because you are so honest and forthcoming about what it's like to try and live off your craft.

freshie (and zero) said...

I guess I should have clarified that my birthday fell on the weekend of the Buyer's Market in Philly, so we went out for dinner in celebration. It sounds kind of random in hindsight. :)

futuregirl said...

The girls of Biggs & Featherbelle also love El Vez. Can you believe it ... I've lived here almost 5 years and I've never eaten there?! I'll have to go check it out. (p.s. Thanks for stopping by my blog!)

Valerie A. Heck said...

Thanks for the post, I must say i do love El Vez. And Elijah is right. I've noticed the lack of community effort honestly in the jewelry section. Apparently in glass and ceramics if a buyer asks for something you don't make the artist points to another booth where they know there is an artist that can help the buyer. I don't think that would ever happen in the jewelry section. Hopefully we can change that and work together to promote handmade together! Good luck this summer, I missed being at the show. Working hard on my house and future studio! I'll cross my fingers for you getting many many many reorders!

woolies said...

So good to read about this. I'm definitely not ready yet...but wish I was! My day job really gets in the way! (Plus, I'm from Philly & would love to do the show..) Thanks for sharing your experience!


woolies said...

oh and PS ------ over in your favorites - mamaroots is a good friend, and on my team, the NaturalKids (for my shop, Woolies). I have one of her bunnies sitting right in front of me...