Craft Show Virgin
First off, I think you should know that I’m one of the world’s best procrastinators. Right now I should be making things for my next show in a month…. but instead I thought it would be an excellent idea to start a blog!
So here we go!
The first craft show application I sent in was in 2016 for paper goods and hand lettered stuff. I spent maybe 3 hours taking photos in the dark basement I lived in, attempted to style things all cool and hip, and then sent in the application like “look at how awesome I am! Isn’t this stuff great?!” I waited and waited and waited for the response.
Frankly, it was shit.
And I didn’t get in. I’m glad for that. (In the moment, of course, I was completely bummed!) But, I probably would’ve had a miserable time trying to sell anything because it was so bad! From a standpoint of “hi, you’re my friend and I made you this thing for your birthday” it was good stuff…. but from a business stand point… nothing was cohesive, well executed, or particularly unique.
Why was it that something I felt decently talented at doing and enjoyed making, didn’t seem to fit a “business” mold? Was I not passionate enough about it? Was I, in fact, NOT talented at it (like those people that audition on American Idol and you think to yourself… “who in the world told you that you have a good voice?! You’re completely tone deaf!)” Nope. I don’t think that had anything to do with it. I WAS good at what I was doing, I just hadn’t thought out how to translate it from one-off designs and ideas into something that could represent my style, my “brand,” my voice as a complete thought rather than individual pieces. Does that make sense?
Those makers that you idolize and see being completely successful - what do they all have in common?
They love what they make!
They have a unique perspective on what they’re making — for instance, a jewelry maker might only use certain materials or shapes , or they might have a “vibe” that they stick to (see Knuckle Kiss, for example)… a card maker might have a specific style of lettering that they use, or only use watercolor, or only uses letterpress typesetting with snarky phrases… All of those are perspectives. [That also sounds very limiting, but we’ll get to that in another post.]
They take that perspective and make a brand - something recognizable, unique, and maybe most importantly - personable. A lot of makers use themselves as their brand - take Moorea Seal, for instance. She does a lot of different things but it’s all within her style, her mission to support local / small business owners, to foster positivity, and she uses her own personality as part of the brand.
I didn’t have any of that. At best, I was a really good letterer making nice things but with no heart, no perspective, no “unique” anything. I wasn’t good at coming up with my own content or putting my personality into the pieces.
Fast forward 2 years (I went back and checked… and it was actually 5 years… but who’s counting…?) and I’ve moved on from the hand lettering that I had wanted so badly to be a “business.” I’m making something else. Something that I thought maybe is too trendy, too “seen that before,” too retro… but I love it. AND I’m good at it. I had major doubts that this was going to work as a business again - how do I infuse my own personality into macrame? - something that’s been around since the 60’s and 70’s - probably earlier.
My perspective comes with all the other things I do. Not only do I make macrame pieces, but I incorporate plants that I love, wood projects like shelves, unique wood shapes, and wood burned pieces, along with paper goods that tie in to the overall vibe. My perspective isn’t limited to the macrame. It encompasses all the things. My perspective comes from the mid-century vibe that I love. Mid-century modern - brought to these mediums, and put together to make the overall brand.
The next time I applied to a craft show, I spent a few days pulling together my favorite pieces - pieces that felt like me. Something I’d proudly display in my own home or give as a gift. I took time to take well lit photos, styled in my own home, but overall pulling that mid-century vibe into it. And low and behold, I got in. Not just to one show, but three. Taking that passion and putting it toward something that could reflect that distinguishable vibe and style worked.
Now, with each show, and each application, I’m taking what I’ve started to build and honing it in even more. Making products for all types of price points, all types of decorators, and keeping it within that mid-century vibe.
What are your goals? What’s your craft show dream? How does your hobby need to be honed in to become your business? What’s your perspective?