My Biggest Show Yet
Two weeks ago I was in Chicago, at the One of a Kind Show + Sale. This show had been on my art show wish list for a while, and I'm really proud that I accomplished it this year! About 70,000 people shopped this holiday show and over 600 artists exhibited.
I hadn't felt ready to apply for this large, well-known show until this past spring, when I figured, why not just apply and see if I get in? And, what do you know? I got accepted! Which was thrilling! Even so, I had a hard time deciding whether to go for it or not. It has a very expensive booth fee, and I was still waiting to hear if I received the grant for which I had applied. In the end, my "nothing venture, nothing gained" attitude pushed me to do it.
There were many times over the past six months when I felt that I wouldn't have enough time to make all the items I wanted to bring with me. And I certainly didn't make everything on my to-do list. (In fact, I spent quite a bit of unplanned time learning to draw and paint with pastels. Whoops!) But, it turns out, knowing I was going to do this show so far in advance gave me plenty of time to prepare. I had more than enough inventory with me.
One Week Pre-Show
The best decision I made was to take an entire week before the show to do prep work. Hesitantly, I set aside the remaining partially-completed purses on my work table. Instead, I spent that final week packing and prepping my products, preparing for my booth set up, and accomplishing tasks for my time away from home. It was wonderful; I arrived feeling calm and stress-free. And I didn't encounter any of those "Oh no, I forgot to do/bring " moments.
Top 3 Things I Will Do Again
3. Have a final day sale.
Personally, I do not like sales for handmade products and art. It doesn't make sense to me to have sales, because I try my best to give a quality product at the best price I can, always. And honestly. it can be hard to turn a profit as an artist.
Even so, I felt that a final day sale at a 4-day long show made sense. I wanted to reduce my inventory to take home and I wanted to turn last day lookers into buyers. Since it was just a one-day thing, and only for in-person sales, I felt okay about doing it.
And last, but not least... Thank you to all the kind and friendly people who visited my booth. I am exceptionally grateful for my wonderful customers, new and returning! Your support allows me to keep doing what I love. Thank you!
See you next year, Chicago!
When designing this purse, I explored color combinations that I feel reflect the seasons and natural world. At the same time, I used my interest in crisp, clean, straight lines to harness these colors. Each purse's color combinations are framed with beautiful, textural linen fabrics.
This purse currently comes in five colors: Sunset, Spring, Autumn, Winter, and Summer.
A great addition to a tote is a zipper top. This tote features a recessed zipper top, allowing you to be sure your items stay safely inside.
We all need versatility in our bags, which is why I've included a removable and adjustable cross-body strap; perfect for those times you need to have your hands free.
Months of prep, hours and hours of research, lots of designing, tons of sewing, hours of over-time, and yes, even a few emotional melt-downs... Plus, two days of show set up, one evening at the preview party, three days of the retail show, and a couple quick hours taking it all down...
I did it!
On Thursday afternoon, I leisurely put the finishing touches on my booth, got all my products displayed, and made sure everything was ready for the evening's preview party.
I was very pleased to see that women loved my handbags. They raved about the unique colors and designs, and the lightweight quality of the fabrics. Actually, men also loved the purses; several told me that if they were women, they would be buying from me!
It was surprising to find out what colors most people were drawn to. The pink sunset with a touch of gray was very popular, as was the gray ombré with a pop of red.
I was thrilled on Saturday morning when, first thing, a well-dressed man wearing a dashing hat and a long red coat purchased a pouch that matched his outfit (center photo, above). He immediately transferred his phone and credit cards from the case he was using to the new pouch!
My wrap belts were very well received! Several woman who thought they couldn't wear a decorative belt tried them on, loved them, and purchased one! Many people told me how great they would be when traveling: just add a beautiful belt and an outfit will look completely different from one day to the next. Great idea!
One woman exclaimed to me, "You haven't been here before. I would remember if I had seen your work here before. I know you weren't here last year. Such great work!"
At two separate times, men came up to me and said, "Your work is the best at the show."
A woman wrote, "Best new artist at the show! Fresh & fun & beautiful."
Other written comments included, "Beautiful!!" and "Lovely!"
What a show!
I want to give enormous amounts of thanks to my dear, wonderful husband. Chris, you are the greatest!
To my many friends and family members who came to the show to give support: Thank you! I appreciated seeing your friendly faces so much!
Many thanks to my parents for their support and babysitting efforts!
Thank you to all the fantastic people I met at the show: I had a great time! Keep in touch!
How am I feeling?
I'm proud of myself.
I'm scouring artists' blogs and Instagram to get an idea of what to expect.
I still don't know what to expect!
What's Happening This Week
I'm excited that I got a chance to set up my booth this week because now I'm not as nervous about the show. I even got to try out the lights, something I was very concerned about. I'm keeping it set up all week so I can add the finishing touches to it slowly.
Having an art show booth set up in my living room has transformed part of my house into a show room. (It also means I have to walk through a maze to get to the front door! What a strange experience!) I'm surprised how happy I am with how it looks. Perhaps you remember when I was so worried about figuring out how to create this booth in the first place? I have learned so much in these past few months!
Back from the Printer
One disappointment: I did not get the domain name I was anticipating for so long (www.marypow.com) in time to have it printed on these cards. But maybe that's good; it gives me plenty of time to figure out how to switch everything over to the new domain later, without feeling rushed.
Yet To Do
Pricing. Maybe that's a topic for a future blog post. But for now, I have a stack of half-finished purses calling my name!
Timing is Everything
I'm a busy mom of three young kids. I'm running my own creative business. I'm trying to do new work at the same time as maintaining my original business. It's a lot.
I have to remind myself that timing is everything. Yes, I can do it all ...but not all at the same time.
It's been amazing and refreshing -- and incredibly difficult.
For one, I've had to say "no" to more people. I've had to turn away customers and custom requests. I have to do this to be sure I have enough time to create the new work. But, it's hard to say no. As a single-person business, it's easy to second guess myself. Especially when I'm spending money on my business, but currently not bringing much in!
And so... timing is everything!
I've become pretty good at creating a schedule. I've also become really good at adjusting - and readjusting - my schedule. Days off of school, sick kids, sick babysitter, sick sewing machine. These things happen.
We have to make priorities -- and then we have to be ready to constantly readjust.
It's tricky to try something new. You have to veer onto a new path and just believe that it'll be a good one.
Troublesome thoughts like to creep in ...
"What if it's a bad idea?" ... "What if nobody likes it?" ... "What if it is all a waste of time and money?" ... "What if it is too hard?" ... "What if it's too much work and I can't do it all?"
I tell myself that I can't think like that. Those kinds of thoughts are the rocks in my new path. I have to jump over them and keep going. If I don't, I'll be stuck in the path and I won't be able to move forward.
Here it is.
I am trying something new.
(Deep breath. Smile.)
However, as I learn and grow and work as an artist, I feel that I should sign it as my own, so to speak.
My plan is to debut my new work at the American Craft Council Show in St. Paul this April. It's a very large, very well-regarded show that I am extremely honored to have been accepted into.
And yes, it's freaking me out a little bit, too.
I would love to have you follow along with me on my journey!
Join my mailing list so you can be kept up to date.
Note: This post was transferred from my old website. Unfortunately, comments were not able to be transferred.
I am an artist and designer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. My specialties are textiles and pastels.
I also enjoy reflecting on the human condition.
In my blog, I write about my musings and my art.
Find my bio here.
American Craft Show
Art & Craft Shows
In The Shop
Jerome Project Grant
Mary Pow Handbags
Poetry & Writing