Winterfair 2012 Wrapup

Winterfair Columbus 2012 was my first real show. As a newbie I had a lot to learn and still do! Since this was my first show I was lucky to break even, especially since the number of attendees was lower due to good weather.

I have to thank my husband, Bob, and my daughter, Maggie, for all of their help getting things ready, setting up/tear down and encouragement. A big thank you to my friend, Michelle, who first suggested I apply to Winterfair and then helped work my booth Friday and Saturday. And yo Kim and Constance for sharing their experience. And another big thank you to my fellow vendor, Mikelle Hickman-Romine, who was great at keeping my spirits up and completely redesigning my booth. She is also a fantastic jewelry artist and you should totally check her out!

Booth AFTER Redesign
Booth AFTER Redesign

Here are some if the things I learned:

Budget early and expect to spend more. There is always something else you are going to need at the last minute. Plus supplies to make 200 scarves are not cheap! And budget your time as well. Life happens and will put you behind where you want to be.

Plan your lighting. It is a good idea to do a dry run and set up your booth with lighting to know the length of the extension cords needed. And buy cool, color-corrected light bulbs. It makes a difference in the colors in your booth.

Weather is something you can plan for but not control. Hope for cold, clear days for a winter show. We had 60 degrees in December which reduced traffic by a large factor. People were putting up lights instead of shopping.

Have something small and inexpensive in your booth. I did not and that reduced the amount of traffic I had. I am adding some hair clips to my product line, made from shibori-dyed ribbon. Hopefully that will help.

Hair Flower Clip
Hair Flower Clip

Customers don’t like white walls. We redesigned my booth Saturday evening to change the heights of my racks and cover as much of the walls as possible. The result was more traffic on Sunday.

Food and water will be waaaaay overpriced. Bring as much as you can. I had a hungry teenager helping me and I swear I spent more feeding her than I made!

iPad and the Square Register app is the bomb. Really. It makes it easy to make buttons for your products and discounts so all you have to do is click. I am giving serious consideration to an iPad Mini with a data plan for next year.

Don’t expect to make a profit your first show. You will have a lot of expenses to recoup and breaking even is an accomplishment. I about broke even. Shows in the future will be easier to profit from (in theory) as I will not have as much investment needed aside from booth fees, supplies and travel expenses.

I broke even. That was an accomplishment. And I reached my dream of being an artisan at a major venue. So there is that. While I was a bit disappointed at first, I realized that both accomplishments are something to be proud of.

Winterfair Columbus

This has been a long time in the making. Really. I grew up in a place called Baycrafters, in Bay Village, Ohio. I spent time there from the time I was in utero (literally – my mom volunteered there when she was pregnant with me) until I moved to Columbus in my twenties. I remember working at the art fairs from the time I was wee small. I was a runner for Barefoot in the Park when I was ten – running and fetching food for the artists. I worked as a booth sitter and then in various roles as a character, a fighter and as a juggler as the fair transitioned into a faire (a Renaissance Fayre, to be precise). But I always wanted to be in a booth. I wanted to have my own booth with art made from my own hands.

Now I have the chance. It is coming true.

I and my arashi shibori scarves and woven shibori scarves will be at Winterfair in Columbus, November 30-December 2, 2012. I am in booth #1036. I am nervous, excited, panicked, jazzed all into one. Winterfair is held at the Ohio State Fairgrounds/Expo Center, Bricker Building. Wish me luck. Or stop by and say Hi.

And now the panic sets in

I just looked at my calendar this morning. 6 weeks until Winterfair. I have to buy silk blanks, have them shipped, and then I have to dye 25-30 items a week. Dyeing for me involves dyeing, wrapping around a pole, discharging and dyeing again. Sometimes I re-wrap the scarves around the pole and dye them again. This on top of a job.

Then there are the other little things that need done. Feeding the family, grocery shopping, getting new business cards, starting a new web site, sewing the label required by the FTC on every scarf, tying on hang tags and designing the booth.

6 weeks. Time to hit the panic button. And take a deep breath.