Side Hustle Suckage - The Craft Fair
This year I decided that I wanted to figure out a way that I could get out of the traditional work environment and work for myself. On my journey to this goal, I have spent 2018 trying out different side hustles to see if anything would catch on for me. I have a couple of friends who have been quite successful on Etsy, so I thought why don't we join forces and do some of these craft fairs? I go to the craft fairs and buy $125 plush monsters for my child, so why not have some craft fair goers buy some of my DIY projects?
My friends were on board. I found some fairs and my friend applied for them. We spent a minimal amount of money on items to ensure our space was perfect. We wanted a whimsical, yet pretty feel to our space so we mixed black and white stripes with reclaimed wood signs and touches of metallics. We signed up for Square and added our products to the app. We had business cards printed, banners made and gathered tables, stands, and other items to showcase our products. We were ready!
Our first craft show was interesting to say the least. Finding the location was the first challenge. Google maps, Waze and the default map on the IPhone all brought us to the wrong spot. This is not looking promising for anyone wanting to actually come to the fair. Upon arrival, there was no one in charge present. We didn't know where to set up our two cars worth of shit, and there were no signs for this event. There was however a huge beer festival going on across the street... This might be some pretty intense competition.
Finally the woman in charge arrived, and to be frank she had no fucking clue what she was doing. We did not care though. Heads down, we worked tirelessly to set up our area. This was our first attempt, and we were going to sell out! Out of the corner of my eye, I see someone dumping glitter onto a piece of poster board. Oh! The sign, that was not present upon our arrival, is in the works. You got it. A piece of white poster board with the words Craft Fair written in Elmer's glue with some glitter poured over it. I'm starting to think this is going in a bad direction. If I were a drinker, I would have just gone across the street to the beer festival.
Finally, we are set up. We have live broadcast our set up on social media. We took photos and posted to all of our followers. We were ready right at opening time, 12PM... No one came in. At 12:30 we started to make excuses. Maybe people couldn't find it or they were coming a bit later.
At this time, the organizer of the fair, stepped into the center of the room with a special announcement. This "announcement" was her friend giving us a speech about her traveling agency business. Are you kidding me? What the fuck. Not only have zero customers shown up, but now you are going to try to convince me to sign up for some travel agency thing. Ummm.. I have my cutesy gnome at Travelocity for that thank you very much.
By 1PM we were starting to whisper to each other about how this is super shitty. At 1:30PM we ordered food because we were starving. I will say that my cookies and cream shake was the most exciting part of the day until I spilled it all over the floor next to our table when I jumped to attention because there was a customer! Nevermind, it was another vendor bored out of their mind, wandering around checking out the other booths.
By 2:30 when we still had not one customer show up to this craft show, we said fuck it and started to break down. Now ladies and gents... This is against the craft fair rules. You must not break down early. Well too bad, and when we started to break down, all of the other vendors started to also.
This is when the discovery was made that we were all double parked in by the attendees at the beer festival. After my friend threw a well deserved hissy fit with the organizer, somehow people started to meander over to the parking lot to move their cars. I think they literally had to do an announcement at the beer festival. First craft show failure, but not on our behalf. We were just at the wrong craft show. Right?
Our next craft show was at an Episcopal church, which I still have no clue what that religion is, but the organizer of this fair was much more organized. We were set up next to a woman who sold this wax shit that you melt. I guess it is a thing, but I had never heard of it. There were many more vendors at this one who seemed to have their shit together. This is promising!
Now, the woman we were next to was super nice and very chatty. My friend is a graphic designer, aka someone who prefers the company of her cactus to that of a stranger, and I am just not in the mood for this lovely woman. Luckily we were so... NOT BUSY, that I had no excuse to ignore this woman. We were afraid that if we were rude to her that we could get a "bad reputation" in the craft fair circuit..
There were a couple of customers. Then a few more, but I would never say it was busy. Our BFF the wax lady started to take pity on us being that we had not made one sale yet, so she started to use her sales pitch on everyone who stopped by her booth for our crafts. Ugh. We watched her sell wax to people over and over. What in the hell?! Our shit is so cool! Now if you can tell by my writing, I do not mind the occasional curse word... So some of my "crafts" are these prints you can frame and put in your house. Many of them have the "F" word in them. I have never heard so many women snicker and say, "That's a curse word." Holy shit bitches! What rock have you been living under?
Now, I went through this phase where I made things that were of the farmhouse chic design. Think Joanna Gains type decor. Looks great on her show (no shade to Joanna as she is a super dope lady!) but I hate these pieces, but I had so many people look at those pieces and I actually sold one. Yes one. I made $25. Two craft fairs, 9 hours of sitting at them, unimaginable hours prepping, planning and creating the crafts all for $25. My friend sold a ring holder for $15.
I cannot express how magical we felt during those two sales. We were validated. Someone actually bought our stuff! In retrospect, this sucked. This was not successful. At all. Ha!
So, we have not done a craft fair since. We learned so much. First of all, choose your audience. Maybe a church setting was not right for all my FUCK stuff? Maybe a craft fair that wasn't even on social media was a bad idea? If all the other vendors in attendance have items like wax, jelly and bible verse artworks, we should probably pass. I also learned that these women are warriors. Many of them go to these craft fairs every weekend and sit there patiently waiting for some random passerby to come buy their creations. They pack bag lunches, crosswords, knitting projects and books. I imagine that they are planning for exactly what we experienced, the lack of business. You have to give it up for these ladies though for their persistence.
I, on the other hand, do not have patience for this, so I will share my story of my craft fair failures with you all, so you can laugh with me or at me. Either way, I hope you can appreciate the ridiculousness of this learning process.
If for some reason, you loved any of the items that you saw in my blog pics or want to see what kind of items I had at the craft show, please feel free to click here!
*Update as of 8/27/18
I am officially surrendering to the craft show warriors. I participated in my last craft show recently, and have decided that this is just not for me. I do not have any excuses this time. We were at a craft show in a high traffic crowd that I thought would love my stuff. And they did, but not enough to buy. So I am going to cross this off the list. I went, tried and failed with no regrets and lots of learning and respect gained. Sometimes being a boss means knowing when to throw in the towel too.