Saturday, April 17, 2010

My "Craft" Fair

Last September I got a booth at the Richmond Good Old Days Festival. I haven't written about it till now because not only did I *not* walk the show ahead of time, but the whole experience highlights my weaknesses. I wanted the show to be a good fit because my husband has worked as a parade marshall for about 20 years, and wouldn't it be sweet if I could be involved too, sigh...

Its really my own fault, it would have been super easy to see that I would have a hard time selling there. I made up a bunch of my totes, with many improvements. I am proud of that.

getting ready for the Richmond Good Old Days

I bought a 10 X 10 awning and set up my wares (red probally wasn't the best choice).

Booth at the Richmond Good Old Days

If you've done a fair, you can probally see problems right away. I really wanted to hide in the back and let my bags sell themselves. I got some tips from my cousin's husband, and made some changes, but I still need to work on getting out of my comfort zone. I'm so happy just sewing away in my little shop and leaving the selling to everyone else.

I need to make the booth more welcoming, I need better/more signage, and things need to be displayed more, spread out. I also included some old stuff, not really representative of what I'm doing now.

I'm sure I lost at least one sale because I'm such a dork, but I just have to make up my mind about what I'm doing. Its not like I can't be social, its just that I'm not comfortable presenting my work. I was at a store in Royal Oak once, I had made up some bags to try and get them in a shop. I was just walking around, trying to see if they fit in anywhere. A shopkeeper complimented me on the one I was carrying! Perfect opportunity, right! Yeah, know what I said?? Thanks. Goofball!

The ground was sloping forward, so that was a little bit annoying too. I loved my tablecloth, I'm not sure how well it shows up here.

I'd like to try again at another show, but I need to do more research first. I think a juried show would have definate benefits, or at least a show that made sure the vendors at their "craft" fair were selling handcrafted.

I'm planning on taking a ride to Royal Oak Farmers Market and seeing if maybe I could sell there a day or two. A friend suggested Eastern Market in Detroit might be a better fit. So in the meantime, I just picked up some more jeans at a Rummage sale and its time to make some more and post on Etsy.

Oh, and my cousin who came out to see the booth is the one who was also at the Novi show when I did the Contest there. We both have an interest in sewing, that's how she ended up there. I made a comment that she was my biggest fan, what I meant was she's my only fan :D

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Have you heard....

About the Pattern Review book? It is titled 1,000 Clever Sewing Shortcuts and tips, and uses tips submitted by members of PR in the book.

It is a Charity project for the National Breast Cancer Foundation by the founder of PR, Deepika. She is giving away her author's fee to the people on PR who have had their tips chosen and all of her royalties will be donated to her charity.

I have a tip on PR from 2008 and it was chosen to be in the book! Its a blog post here. What a neat thrill :) Of course I will have to get a copy of the book just to see my name (my PR name of course) in print. I have let my PR membership expire, but I've been meaning to re up.

My thread rack :)

thread rack

Friday, April 9, 2010

Work Meanderings

I've had an interesting year. I've kept working for some of the same people, done some recycling and kept my eye out for new work. I'm happy to be working and enjoying the insanity of cutting up denim, but I haven't had much luck with getting anything new.

I'm sort of at a crossroads, I want a better client. And by that I mean production ready patterns, placement guides, product specifications, a sample garment. You know a tech pack! I learned the names for what I was looking for on F-I. I don't want to have to work so hard to make things look good. It is an accomplishment to turn a professional garment out sometimes, but it is so much more fun to not have to fuss so much. Do you know what I mean?

I've had plenty of inquiries to my site in the past year, but looking at it only stresses the position I'm in. I can tell by some of the emails that people aren't really ready for me, but I usually send a response anyway. I let people know what I need in order to give them a quote for a sewing order. You'd be surprised at some of the emails. "Dear Diane, How much to make a shirt? Thanks XXXX". I really wish it wasn't true, but indeed.

I have talked to some and even met with a couple, one I was planning on doing some extra help for , cleaning up her not production ready patterns because I wanted the experience and I thought she would be an excellent rep for her own line. Obviously it didn't work as well as I would have liked, I had to tell her I wasn't the right fit for her. She didn't get it that I needed everything written down with a sample of the fabric for each order, and she wasn't finished changing the patterns. Another was like the stuff I have been doing, but it was going to fill in work when I had time. She never paid me a measly eight dollars for a sample I made! This after she wasted my time insisting on telling me the long version of her NY contracting mis-adventure on the phone.

The best opportunity so far in the past year has been a semi local meeting with someone, via craigslist, who has a small sewing factory. I know I'm not exactly what she wants, I sew at home. But now she knows I exist and I hope I can be useful to her.

Back to my dilemma, I want the better client, but I don't yet have the best equipment. I won't be able to do things as fast as perhaps I should. I've never been the kind of business person who spends money that I don't have. I do spend all of my profits on equipment though! So I need to find a way to produce at a price designed to not kill me and be fair to those I would sew for until I can get the equipment I need to really make me competitive.

I need to update my web page too. I feel like the current one doesn't represent me well, it doesn't reflect my current workspace and it needs more information to give to potential clients. I am strongly considering listing my machines/attachments and possibly showcasing some samples. Of course I'd have to make them from patterns because I can't use client work. I'm not sure what the best way to present myself will be. I have to think about it.

My Goal?? I want to be a small minimum CMT shop. Right now I'm leaning toward single needle construction. I will expect to be outgrown my my clients so I will have a lot of variety in my sewing and a bushel full of attachments. My dream job!