Saturday, November 20, 2010

Upcoming Events I'll be Vending At

The Anachronism Steampunk Event: Oz meets Wonderland
Sunday, November 21st, 2010
Webster Hall, New York City
125 East 11th Street
New York, NY
7:30 pm - 12:30 am

For the Annual Lawrenceville Tour of Cookies:
Fe Arts Gallery
4102 Butler Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15201
Thursday, December 2nd, 2010
3:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Friday, December 3rd, 2010
12:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Sunday, December 5th, 2010
12:00 pm - 5:00 pm

I Made It! for the Holidays
Saturday, Dec. 4th, 2010
428 S. 27th Street,
Pittsburgh, PA 15203
SouthSide Works, near REI
12:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Midwinter Ball, featuring The Clockwork Dolls
Saturday, December 11th, 2010
Belvedere's
4016 Butler St.
Pittsburgh, PA
9:00 pm - 2:00 am

Last Minute Market
Saturday, December 18th, 2010
Screw Factory
Lake Erie Building,
13000 Athens Avenue
Lakewood, OH
10:00 am - 6:00 pm

I'm already exhausted just thinking about all of these and all the work that goes into them, but I'm really looking forward to them and love what I do.  Hopefully I'll see some of you at some of these events.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Living Life Creatively

Lately there's been quite a buzz in the craft world about living a creative life.  This means different things to everyone, but I keep finding myself pondering what it means to me.  As someone trying to earn a full time living from their creativity, this topic is especially relevant to me. 

One of my favorite novels from childhood, Alice in Wonderland, contains many important lessons, one of which is that things are only impossible if you believe them to be.  This is a philosophy I always attempt to follow, especially with regard to my creativity, and the reason hearing the word "can't" is such a huge pet peeve for me.  My approach toward creating often involves inspiration from unlikely sources which results in what most people would dismiss as a crazy idea.  However, many creative people will tell you there's no such thing as a crazy idea - another philosophy which I embrace fully.  The first through fifth attempts at bringing the idea to reality may fail, but each attempt provides learning opportunities and gets you closer to the goal. 

Thomas Edison once said, "I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward."  While I'm much more a fan of Tesla than I am of Edison, I have to admit that I agree with this philosophy.

What are your views or tips toward living a creative life?  Do you have any favorite quotes that inspire your creativity?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Life Lessons Learned at Craft Shows

If you pay attention when you're out in public, especially when vending at craft shows, you can learn valuable lessons.  Some apply to your craft business, some to just life in general.  Lessons I've been learning that I'm trying to better implement are as follows:
1)  Listen.
Hear your customers.  Learn from them.  If they like what you're making except for... listen and make adjustments for the next time or offer to do custom work.  Look at each show as an opportunity to perform consumer research.

2)  Smile.
This is especially important when your day isn't going well.  People don't want to be around unhappy negative people.  Don't keep potential customers away by complaining about your day or looking miserable.  Sometimes others are having a bad day too and something as simple as a smile might make things just a little easier for them.  Even if they don't buy something from you one day, you never know when you might see them again.

3)  Pay attention.
Some items get attention from customers regardless of how you display them.  Others may not get noticed at all.  Pay attention to which items your customers are looking at and what they're saying as they do.  Make notes of what works and what doesn't and continue fine tuning your display at each show.

4)  Follow through. 
We all get busy and only have a set number of hours in each day.  Try to prioritize tasks in terms of follow through.  If I owe someone an answer, I don't want to keep them waiting and yet sometimes I get busy and let things slide.  When it happens to me I get truly frustrated, especially if having to wait for information from someone else holds me up so I'm trying to do a better job of following through myself.  With customers especially, they're more likely to return for future purchases if you do well with this.

5)  Be consistent.   
This goes along with follow through as well.  If you tell people something they will likely remember it even if you don't.  People know other people.  You never know who they'll talk to.  Due to this, if you tell one person x but do y, you can be fairly certain it will come back to haunt you.  You never want to find yourself in a situation where you told customer #1 something, then tell customer #2 the opposite and have them call you on it.  While I haven't been guilty of this, I have been on the receiving end and can tell you it's not a good position to find yourself in.

6)  Treat others the way you want them to treat you.
This lesson is simple and basic and one most of us should have learned as children.  Some of us try to live our lives according to that lesson and some people appear to have forgotten it or never learned it.  Try not to let them impact your actions.  I feel it's still important to keep in mind as I navigate my way through life.  Setting a good example just might rub off on others.  If you're nice and friendly and offer to watch a neighbor's booth while they go to the restroom, chances are good they'll do the same for you.

7)  You can't make everyone happy all the time. 
The best you can do is make the majority of people happy.  There will always be at least one person that you can't please no matter what you do.  There are always things going on in other people's lives that impact their perspective that you have no control over.  Try not to let them affect you negatively.

8)  Have fun! 
Life is too short not to find a way to enjoy yourself.  If you're vending at a craft show, I'm guessing you're trying to find a way to make money doing something you enjoy.  Even if it's an off day and you're not making money that day, find a way to have fun at the event.  Enjoy interacting with your customers.  Get to know your neighbors.  If there's music at the event, enjoy the opportunity to hear a new performer.   By looking at the positive side of things, you'll most likely have the best day possible given any situation you may find yourself in.

I realize there are many lessons I've missed but the above are themes that seem to come up frequently.  These are items I'm trying to improve my implementation of.  I am by no means trying to claim I'm an expert at them.  I am human after all and therefore imperfect.  Despite this, I'm trying to do what I can to improve.  What lessons have you learned that are particularly useful?  I'd love to hear about them.  Let's learn from each other.

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