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!
An unexpected year of sharks reinforced the idea that there is no path, you make the path as you go. But, it's also gotten me thinking. Yes, sometimes it's a good idea to ride the wave when it's coming in. But, maybe other times it's wiser to go against the flow. In order to make progress on my art, I may need to be more mindful to stay on task this year.
I made my first sale of wall art at the American Craft Show in April, where I was also awarded the Award of Excellence in Booth Design. Things were looking good! Then, my handbag line got picked up by the prestigious Walker Art Center's gift shop, as well as the UptownMN shop in the MSP Airport. I was so happy!
And then came mid-summer. Unexpectedly, the year turned into (cue the Jaws theme music: dun dunnnnnn, dun dun dunnnnnnn... ) The Year of the Shark.
The Year of the Shark
At the end of July, with a single day's warning, Etsy chose to feature my 'Out to Sea' Shark Bite Pouch on their front page.
This launched a tidal wave of orders!
Only a few weeks into the feature, I was booked with 12 weeks worth of work! At that point, I removed all Shark Bite pouches from my Etsy shop to stem the tide of incoming orders.
As Autumn rolled around, I was ready to stop making sharks and get back to my explorations of art.
My favorite retailer, Uncommon Goods, was looking to get in on the shark action! After a smattering of small orders, they suddenly placed an order for 120 sharks (!) in November. I almost told them, "No thanks, I've had enough of sharks for the year." But, I challenged myself to take the order and completed 120 sharks in just three weeks.
That comes out to about 5 months worth of working on sharks full-time!
What got me through such an intensive amount of time creating sharks? Well, it was helpful to have a vacation to look forward to!
I ended the year with a much needed break: a family dream-vacation in Maui, Hawaii.
Although, I didn't see any sharks, I did see: humpback whales, eels, an octopus, sea turtles, manta rays, and loads of fish and coral!
I went scuba diving, surfing, snorkeling, whale watching, and spent plenty of time swimming in the sea and exploring the island. It was wonderful.
Now I'm back in my studio, thinking about the year ahead. I plan to make some changes. I'm ready to make this year The Year of Exploring Textile Art. And so that it doesn't get away from me again, I'll have to do things a little bit differently.
I think sharks will need to take a back burner if I want to make progress on my art.
First, however, I have an order of 30 sharks to complete...
Happy New Year!
Let me introduce you to all the adorable "pet fish" currently available. They are hungry! And they are excited to go home with you!
It makes me so happy to know that I'm not alone in thinking that these fish are simply too adorable not to love!
I hope you'll take one home with you!
Here's what's going on this week:
- Name the Shark contest! Going on now on my Facebook page. You could win a $15 gift certificate to my shop!
- Free U.S. Shipping on all Shark Bite pouches! Through July 4th, 2016. Use coupon code SHARKWEEK.
- Four new Shark Bite cases are available in the shop this week!
- An exclusive Shark Week deal will be going out in my newsletter this week! You can get my latest newsletter by signing up here!
- Five years of sharks! I've been making Shark Bite pouches for the past five years. Read my back-story and find out how I got the idea to create a shark-shaped bag in the first place!
Have a happy Shark Week! Keep swimming! ;)
- The Shark + Art Gift Set includes a MinneBites Shark Bite pencil case.
- It comes with a 32-page "Sharks of the World" coloring book.
- It includes your choice of a Speech Bubble zipper pull charm (choose: "Hello", "Feed Me", "Chomp", or "Nom Nom")
- And best of all, the included set of 24 assorted colored pencils coordinates perfectly with the shark!
or the perfect gift to celebrate Shark Week!
Are you ready?
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.
What I need this year is an actual BOOTH. Walls, lights, signage, display -- everything!
There is so much that goes into these big capital-A Art show booths, as I'm learning. I can't believe how much time I've already spent researching booth options. It makes me nervous that I'm not spending enough time making the items that will actually go into the booth! But, without a booth I will have no way to display my new work. It must be done.
- easy to assemble and disassemble on my own
- needs to fit in my car
- display my work in the best way possible
- needs to be cost effective
- must be flexible, so I can use it at different sorts of shows in the future
So, do I spend loads of time scouring the internet and local fixture stores to find the best deals for used display options? Or do I drop some money and just get new? It's tempting to buy new and be done with it and focus on the creating of my work. But, how much money do I want to sink into a booth? There is already the booth fee to attend the show in the first place. And part of the equation must also include the question: what if I decide I don't like doing this kind of show after all? I don't want to waste money on a display I'll never use again!
Ahh, so this is a journey, isn't it? Putting myself out there, trying something new; it can be a balancing act! Of course, for all the difficult decisions I need to make for my business, I wouldn't trade it for anything! I really do enjoy being a working artist. I'm even enjoying designing this booth ... though I wouldn't mind having a little more time. April's never seemed so close to January before!
I think I've come up with a great plan! It includes the most popular item I've ever had -- my "Rainbow Leopard" Shark Bite pencil case.
I've been holding onto TWO more of these popular guys, waiting for the right time to do something fun with them. I think now is the time!
Let's celebrate with a giveaway - and more!
And the other will be sold and 100% of the proceeds will be donated to OCEANA to help conserve and protect the world's sharks and oceans for our children's future!
MinneBites' 5-year anniversary is January 29, 2016!
I'm looking forward to popping open a bottle of bubbly and taking a moment to look back on all that I've done for the past 5 years! I'm so glad you're here to celebrate with me!
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.