My First Craft Fair As A Vendor

Yesterday I attended my first event as a vendor! It was the annual Christmas Arts & Crafts Fair in my community. I’ve attended as a buyer many times since moving here as a child. Vending this year was a spur of the moment decision made just last month. I wasn’t sure how successful it would be or if I would sell enough to be a profitable endeavour.

I haven’t completed an inventory of my remaining stock yet but I believe it was profitable both financially and from a marketing standpoint. My business was brought to the attention of many new people. I received an email this morning from the coordinator. 2017 may have broken records for attendees!

I didn’t make everything I wanted in time for the fair and third-party products were not allowed so I couldn’t sell dōTERRA products or promote that side of my business. But I learned a lot regarding the local audience; the products they look for; made contacts and gave out business cards to more than my buyers but other attendees as well.

For this first vendor event, I had a mix of crochet and knit products and some products made with dōTERRA essential oils. I inventoried all products brought; had bags ready with a business card in each; had more business cards out on the table; brought a few props; and made notes of requested items and things to do differently next time.

My niece, Mackenzie, helped me with the booth. We worked well together. She expressed interest not only in helping me make new products but also in helping me vend at future events. We brainstormed a little on new products we could make using essential oils. Having both of us at the table brought an overlapping group of acquaintances, family and friends resulting in reaching new customers.

Some of the things I learned were:

– iron or wash my tablecloth (a twin bed flat sheet) prior to use, it was visibly wrinkled!
– have multiples of the same items in the same colours and sizes, I had a few parents and grandparents wanting matching items including one wanting matching hats for her twin granddaughters (she bought two in similar colours instead)
– people want larger bottles of Epson Salt
-sparkly ornaments draw in children which then draws in their parents!
– sitting and standing while wearing winter boots causes foot pain!
– locals will purchase my products!!!
– giving out lots of business cards results in new viewers to the website and sign-ups to the newsletter!
– money earned is not the only indicator of a successful event!

2017 Christmas Craft Fair Booth Right Side
2017 Christmas Craft Fair Booth Right Side
2017 Christmas Craft Fair Booth Right Side Close-Up
2017 Christmas Craft Fair Booth Right Side Close-Up
2017 Christmas Craft Fair Booth Left Side
2017 Christmas Craft Fair Booth Left Side
Craft Fair Booth
2017 Christmas Craft Fair Booth
2017 Christmas Craft Fair Booth Centre Close-Up
2017 Christmas Craft Fair Booth Centre Close-Up

A Productive Day

Yesterday was a surprisingly productive day. Surprising because I’m in a flare (fibro) and having almost constant dizzy spells. I haven’t been able to do a lot. But when I look back on the day quite a bit was accomplished.

I woke up early to get my nephew ready for school. Mira and I walked him to school. I made essential oil samples (Lavender and Balance). I packaged up samples for spŌIL Yourself. I’m vending at a local craft fair in a few weeks. I worked on products for the craft fair. I bottled two sizes of bath salts. I made some lip balms. I need to work on that recipe a bit more. The results were creamier than expected and work better in a jar than an applicator. I watched numerous youtube videos while working on other things. I worked on a crochet hat for the fair.

I didn’t read as much as I’d hoped. My focus is decreased by the flare and being dizzy does not help. I have so many books I want to read but no attention. It’s frustrating as reading is a huge part of my life and has been since childhood. I feel wrong when I don’t read. But when I’m flaring and dizzy I just can’t.

I was in contact with someone I’ve known and worked with for years. She is going to join the spŌIL Yourself week. I reached out to a few others but am still waiting to hear back.

I received word that an RN I used to work with was killed in a motorcycle accident in Jamaica. That was hard. I had contact with her both as a co-worker and as a patient. She removed some of my staples after my thyroidectomy. I didn’t know her well but I knew her.

Let’s see what today brings…

Q1 2017 Review

These first three months of 2017 did not go anything like I had planned. I signed up for many online courses and had tonnes of ebooks to read and review.

I’ve been in a major depressive episode with anxiety and overwhelm since mid-January. I realized what was going on mid-February and started trying to climb out. Things were improving. I had an eye appointment and learned I needed new glasses and should get bifocals. My optometrist was willing to hold off on the bifocals for another year since I couldn’t afford bifocals but I still had enough of a prescription change to require new glasses anyway. (I picked up my new glasses last week.) 

I learned about a craft/small business market to be held quarterly in town and obtained the registration forms planning to register for all four. I planned to register after returning from my oncology appointment the next week. 

While in the city the morning of my appt my sister called. Her eldest, my 23 yo nephew had died. That was Feb.21. CancerCare was great and expidited my appointment getting me in right away. My mother and I hit the highway immediately for the five hour drive home.

The autopsy on my nephew was inconclusive and we haven’t heard back on the lab test results. We still don’t know what happened to Mike. He just didn’t wake up that morning.

Needless to say I slid back into my depression with grief added to the mix. I’ve done little business-wise since mid-January until recently. I can’t concentrate but I can still crochet my old standby washcloth! I posted to my blog twice. All my pre-scheduled posts have been used. I didn’t register for the markets yet. I knew I wasn’t emotionally ready for the March 11th one but I still plan to register for the remaining ones.

I’m slowly trying to get to a new normal and get back on track with my business but I gave myself this month to recovery and self-care and what business I can do easily.

I can concentrate better now but any attempts to read nonfiction fail. I have the attention span of my five year old nephew! I have been able to read fiction so watch for reviews in the next few weeks. I’m slowly starting to knit more than just washcloths. I can still access some of those courses and still plan of starting and completing them. But, I’m still recovering and plan on a slow start to Q2.

How is it January 20th Already?

2017 has arrived and I’m already behind on my posts. I want to do at least one per week. I’ll work on that going forward.

So far, January has been a painful month. I’ve been having a lot of lower back and hip pain. I’m still learning the current limit of my arthritis in my left shoulder. I keep forgetting and moving it past it’s limits causing extra pain. We’ve had strange highs and lows in temperature which is causing a fibro flare. As a result the month is flying by. I had an appointment booked with a rheumatologist for January 10 in a city 3 hours away but we had a snowstorm going through the region that day. The road conditions were so bad we turned around three communities over and came back. I called and left a voice mail cancelling due to the weather.

I have not made any concrete business or life plans for 2017. I have however done a few things towards the future. I know my North Star of the year is truth-I want to be more me this year and bring more of me into the business. My quarter one (January-March) goal is consistency and my 2017 goal is sustainability.

I’m adding book reviews to the mix of blog topics and I want to read more this year. I’ve joined NetGalley and LibraryThing to access books authors and publishers want reviewed. I’ve also joined the InstaFreebie newsletter. They coordinate free book giveaways and provide a platform for authors to give their books away. I also joined Modern Mrs. Darcy 2017 reading challenge.

To grow my designing and knitting skills I joined Aroha Knits 5 shawls in 5 days challenge. You make five mini shawls learning the different shapes of shawls and how to achieve them.

I had sales in the shop over Christmas. They were in person sales but sales nonetheless. I’m working on a new design and on a commission knit.

To grow my business skills and plan 2017, I’m working through Tara Swiger’s new book Map Your Business. I’m also taking her and Joeli of JoeliCreates Elevate Your Instagram challenge and their Elevate Your Business course later this month.

Since starting to obtain books to review I have become part of three authors’ launch teams (one for a series, one for a book, and the other for all her books) and applied to join another’s. Watch for more on those in the near future!

The Bridgwater Crafts Shop Is Now Open!

The Bridgwater Crafts Shop is now open!!! It’s on Shopify but there’s a link button in the sidebar.


Yesterday was a busy day. But it was worth it in the end. We’re babysitting my five year old nephew for the weekend. We went shopping. We did laundry and housekeeping. We sorted through some things; we’re purging and decluttering in anticipation of my sister and said nephew moving in at the end of the month.

I sorted through my teas and reorganized them. I was able to downsize and eliminate one box. Today I’m working my way slowly through my open loose leaf teas to see if any have gone stale. This may be a week long process. And will probably result in tossing of stale teas and passing on of some that I’m not crazy about. Thankfully my niece, Mackenzie loves teas almost as much as I do and will probably take any I no longer want.

I tested pens to see if they still worked. I sorted a bag of crayons, coloured pencils and regular pencils. Any itty bitty crayon was purged. The biggest coloured pencils were stored in an empty tea canister. The littler ones went into a smaller bag for the boys to use first.

We got rid of about five old games kept from childhood. I didn’t know Mum had held on to them! I’m getting rid of some I did know were kept and are currently living on a shelf in my closet today. We’re keeping ones like Scrabble™ and Monopoly™ but getting rid of ones that are missing pieces or are based on long ago television shows.

I crocheted and knitted for the shop. Today it officially opens! Anything I’m working on now will be added later. I really hope it goes well! I’m afraid no one will buy anything. But that’s just my anxiety talking, I hope! I know the shop still needs minor tweaking and I need to improve my product photography. But my products are well made and priced.

Today I need to sort through more yarn, deciding if I want to keep it for my or Mum’s use or add it to a bin of “shop yarn”. It’s not bad yarn just yarn I’m no longer in love with or think will make somethings that will sell well. My sister is moving into the room that currently holds my yarn shelving so it all needs to be sorted and moved.

I also need to plant some crocus and tulip bulbs. They’ve started sprouting on the kitchen counter! They need to get in the ground ASAP. And it’s something JJ can help me with. When Mackenzie was his age we went onto the grass at my old house and tossed some crocus bulbs then planted them where they landed. It was so cheerful seeing them pop up and flower in the spring. I want to do the same thing here with him. The tulips will go into the front beds.

Tomorrow I’m going to start writing a bunch of review posts. I think I have six in the works. It’s much easier if I start the posts then add to them as I read/use the items than if I wait until the end. There’s always something I forget to write about if I wait.

A Tisket, A Tasket, I Have A Basket

Yes, I know that’s not how the nursery rhyme goes but it seemed to fit as I’ve been filling baskets lately. I’ve been absent from the blog the last few months and the baskets are part of the reasons. I’ll go backwards as that gives the most news first.

I’m opening up a shop for crochet and knit items! Crocheting and knitting are two of my main ways of filling my time. That’s why I started designing. But you only need so many things and I have a lot of yarn and time to crochet and knit. I could also use another income stream in the business. Working outside the home is next to impossible due to my chronic illnesses but this is something I can do almost entirely from home. Other than going to the post office to send out packages to customers I can do it all from home. So come October 31, baring technical difficulties, my shop will be open.

I’ve been busily making products for the last month or so and will continue to do so. I have people in the Starship-the business group I belong  to-who will be critiquing the shop this week. I’ve already started working on the behind the scenes part of the shop. I need to verify shipping costs, finish pricing my finished products and upload the products to the shop. At that point the critique can begin. I’ll make any necessary changes based on their critiques and the shop will be opening to the public on October 31. Yes, next Monday! The shop products so far include washcloths and hats. I’m working on some cowls or snoods as they are sometimes called. That will likely be my open products but I plan on frequently adding new products like scarves, shawls, shawlettes, mittens, hairbands, baby blankets in the near future. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll add things to the shop as I complete them or have a set weekly or biweekly update to add new products.

That’s part of the basket theme as I’ve been sorting through my yarn for shop items. I have baskets for washcloths yarn and hat yarn, a big one of yarn for all kinds of things and baskets of things I’m in the middle of working on. Here’s my washcloths basket:


This one is beside my chair in the living room. I read on my iPad or watch tv while making them. I also have a pile of products to weave in the ends nearby and a few finished products bins.

Another piece of news is my sister and five year old nephew are moving in with Mum and I. So I need to move my yarn out of the spare/yarn room as that will become my sister’s room next month. That’s where a lot of the baskets of shop yarn came from. As I sort through the yarn to move it some are going into a shop pile/baskets/boxes.

I’ve also started my usual seasonal fibromyalgia flare. I flare up whenever the seasons change. It usually lasts a few weeks to months depending on the transition period. And that depends on Mother Nature and the weather.

My flare started a little early due to a road trip to visit family in August. We had a great visit and I don’t regret it at all but the change from our weather to their weather and the two days road trip each way precipitated an earlier flare. It didn’t help that I received some bad news the day before we left.

And my diabetes program social worker believes I have depression and anxiety. I see my family doctor tomorrow. The social worker thinks things I’ve just assumed are part of my chronic illnesses are actually symptoms of anxiety and depression. So I’ve been adjusting to that and doing my best to stay positive.

All that lead to an absence of blog posts and major decrease in social media posts. I’m almost back on track and hope to increase all of those. Watch for updates on the shop!

Works In Progress Thursday 28/07/2016

This week’s WIP post is the first that will include more than just my fibre-work. I’m adding in other areas of my life.

Knitting
I’m working on a few things this week.

My Amulet Shawl by Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade
image
Arielle on Newport Bridge (a design sample)
www.BridgwaterCrafts.com
Bettina at the Beach (a design sample)
ww.BridgwaterCrafts.com
But I’ve also dug into my WIP basket to see what was really inside. I found four sets of partial socks, two for me, one for my eldest nephew and one for my great-nephew; a knit spa cloth sample; a crochet shawl sample;  two headband samples; a bag of yarn for a hat for my great-nephew to match a colour work sweater I knit him; a bag of squares for a sock blanket sample; and a bag of leftover Aran yarn, needles and hook from the Damia Hat and Cowl-did I plan to make matching mittens? And this doesn’t include three sample blankets and a shell stored elsewhere or my UFOs (unfinished objects) that are probably still packed from my move last year.

Reading
The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte
Spirituality Without Structure by Nimue Brown
The Bee Cottage Story by Frances Schultz

I also have book WIPs:

The Mindfulness Solution to Pain by Dr. Jackie Gardner-Nix
The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte
Manage Your Day-To-Day by 99U
Put Your Budget On A Diet by Kimberly Eddy
Plan It, Don’t Panic by Stephanie Langford
Pack Lightly Stylishly by Amanda Jimenez
The Art of Minimalist Organization by Ben Night
Seeking the Mystery by Christine Hoff Kraemer
The Scent of Magic by Andre Norton
Scarcity by Eldar Shafir and Sendhil Mullainathan
Hedgewitch Book of Days by Mandy Mitchell
The Woman’s Fibromyalgia Toolkit by Drs Atul Deodhar and Dawn Marcus
Knitter’s Almanac, Commemorative Edition by Elizabeth Zimmermann
One Magic Square by Lola Houbein
DIY Chick Lit by Alicia de los Reyes
The Charge of the Goddess by Doreen Valiente
Market Yourself by Tara Swiger
Enough Already by Alan Cohen

I have lots of book WIPs! I didn’t realize how many books I had partly read. I wasn’t so bad with these until I started getting idevices. Now I not only have my Kobo Glo but also the Kobo app, the Kindle app, PDF Expert app and iBooks app. It’s too easy to have books started on all my devices!

Have you noticed a theme?

Books and yarn are a major part of my life!

FO Friday 24/06/2016

Happy Friday! I have many FOs to show you but not many patterns were involved.
I crocheted some slippers for an ex-co-worker. She and her husband have worn through the last pairs to the point of being past repair. She asked for two more sets each. Unfortunately I forgot to take photos of the last set before giving them to her! They are kind of a hodgepodge of components from different patterns.
www.BridgwaterCrafts.com
FOs galore!
I’ve also made a bunch of cloths. Some as design samples and some as spare Alys Cloths as that ex-co-worker mentioned referring people to me who had asked about dishcloths. No one has approached me yet but I’m getting prepared. I can always sell them via the community Facebook Storage Wars Group.
I’m going to warn you now there may not be an FO next week. The Talisman Shawl has taken over all my crafting time. It’s a very addictive knit!