I love to shop at craft fairs and art and wine festivals. The vendors I remember are those that add a little extra touch to my shopping experience. Sometimes that little extra is putting a unique business card in my bag to make it easier to find their shop in the future, sometimes it's a handmade tag attached to whatever I'm purchasing or a coupon for a future purchase. And sometimes, the extra touch is simply a warm smile and a thank you. Regardless of what the extra touch is, it is always a free bonus for the shopper that shows the shopper that he or she matters and that shopping small and handmade is an experience one can't get at big box stores.
I try to add little extra touches in every aspect of my work. I make my business cards myself. On my website I provide a coupon code at the end of each of my blog posts that customers can use on my Etsy shop for a discount. And whenever someone purchases something from my Etsy shop, I send a handmade business card with his or her item, and I often include a little thank-you in the form of a handwritten note, a package of free handmade stickers, or special packaging.
Recently, I also made a little something special for the shoppers who visit me at craft fairs and festivals. I used to put purchases in paper bags I bought at craft stores, but I found them a bit bland. So I decided to make some gift bags by hand. I ordered stamps with my logo and business info on them from the wonderful shop SugarPlumStamps on Etsy. I then used pinking shears to cut recyclable paper bags into the size I wanted, and I stamped my logo on one side and my business info on the other. I then put ribbon handles on the bag and reinforced where they attach with cardstock pieces. The result is an adorable bag that is earth friendly, helps my customers find me online, and provides my shop free exposure as my customers carry it throughout the craft fair or festival.
I decided on using a stamp on the bag instead of getting bags made with the logo already printed on them because 1) I like the handmade look the stamp gives the bag, and 2) I can change the color of the stamp ink to match the season. For the latest craft fair I used green and red ink for the holidays. The customers I gave the bags to were surprised and delighted by the added touch.
I hope you enjoy all the effort I put into your shopping experience! Shopping small, to me, is a revolutionary act, but it is also an enjoyable one. I love to see all the creative ways crafters and artisans reach out to their customers, and I hope the ways I reach out bring some smiles and warmth to my customers. As always, use the code BLOGPOST on my Etsy shop to save 10% on your next purchase, and thank you for shopping small!
Phew, it's almost November, and that means holiday festivals. Lots of them. And that means lots of opportunities to pick out quality, handmade gifts for your loved ones. I love the atmosphere and the community and holiday spirit of small holiday festivals, so I try to do as many as I can. Nothing beats the look on people's faces when they find the perfect gift at my table.
Here's a list of the upcoming festivals I'll be at:
--Holiday Shopping Fair: November 7, 10-3 p.m. at Hillside Alliance Church, 944 Central Blvd. in Hayward, CA.
--Jingle Fest: November 21 and 22, 10-4 p.m. at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
--Holiday Extravaganza and Elf Market: December 4 from 6-9 p.m. and December 5 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Pacifica Community Center, 540 Crespi Dr. in Pacifica, CA.
--AMS Arts and Craft Fair: December 6, 11-4 p.m. at the Albany Middle School, 1259 Brighton Ave. in Albany, CA.
--CHS Baseball Christmas Fair: December 12, 9-3 p.m. at Century High School, 7801 Diamondback Circle in Pocatello, ID.
Another thing I like about festivals like these is that the money brought in from booth fees usually goes to a good cause like keeping a sports program at a school going.
The booth sizes at these festivals are pretty small, and that allows me to focus on just a few of the items I make. For all of these events I'll be selling my popular square hats--and I've made quite a few new ones--as well as holiday ornaments like knitted wreaths, cork Santas and reindeer, and tiny carolers. I also want to bring new patchwork quilts I'm working on if I get them done in time.
If you're in any of these areas during the holidays, stop by and say hi. Even if you don't find something at my booth, you might find a handmade gift at another that's just right. You'll beat those awful big box store lines, the same-old predictable gifts, and you'll be enriching the small business community that gives character and life to local economies. You'll also be helping the schools and other community organizations that use these festivals as fundraisers. Shop small, shop with heart, gift handmade.
October has begun, and in honor of pumpkin season, I’m having a SALE on all my Halloween and harvest items on my Etsy shop! Now through October 18th, get 25% off all my Halloween and fall goodies from Frankencork charms to wreaths. If you order by October 24th, you’ll get them in time for Halloween day! Long live pumpkin season!
Having carved pumpkins on your stoop is a fun Halloween tradition, but it's not always convenient. For one, it's messy and time consuming to carve a pumpkin. And where I live, a carved pumpkin can mold within 24 hours. This happened to me the first two years I lived in the Bay Area, and I don't carve pumpkins anymore. But with my fabric pumpkins, you can decorate with no mess, and the pumpkins last year after year so there's no waste!
These fabric pumpkins are perfect for putting on a chair or bed, on a mantel or kitchen counter, on a dresser, or even on a car seat or in the back window. I sell my pumpkins as a set of three that includes a larger pumpkin and two small pumpkins. The fabric I use is Halloween themed, but you can always message me to get custom pumpkins made, and the stem of the pumpkin is made with buttons. I love buttons! They just complete the look of these huggable cuties.
When Halloween gets too scary, just snuggle among your fabric pumpkins. Or have a fabric pumpkin fight. Just beware that button stem! If you purchase a pumpkin set on my Etsy site, make sure to enter BLOGPOST as a coupon code to get 10% off or buy them from me directly at the Lafayette Art & Wine Festival this weekend!
These hand-painted leaves are one-of-a-kind. They make classy gifts and can take your Halloween and harvest home decorating to a new level. Hang them on the wall, in a window, on a doorknob or door, or even on a large pumpkin. They make great conversation starters and memory stirrers.
Each wooden leaf measures 5 inches by 4.5 inches, and the painting determines what direction the leave points when hung. The paint is acrylic and has been coated to protect from weather and dust. A piece of ribbon has been attached to each leaf so that it can be hung or looped according to the customer's desire.
Many of the leaves share a similar theme but no two are the same. You can buy all the leaves that share a theme and hang them as a series or you can buy the leaves separately. One of my favorite themes is the trick-or-treating scene. There are three of these paintings, and with each, the viewer is looking at the porch of a home, a jack-o-lantern on the steps. In the background, the viewer can see two trick-or-treaters standing, poised to launch their candy-grabbing adventure. In one painting, the trick-or-treaters are dressed in giant candy corn outfits, in another the pair is dressed as superheroes, and in another the pair consists of a ghost and a witch. These paintings are my favorite because they remind me of my own Halloween experience as a child, but they also have a humorous charm that gives the viewer a warm feeling.
Another theme is Halloween at the beach. In one painting, a witch is lying on her back in the sand watching the sun set. In another, the witch has thrown her arms wide in a moment of abandon while her cat plays with a crab, and in another a jack-o-lantern enjoys a tropical drink while watching the sun set. I live in the Bay Area, and we don't have traditional seasons. It's usually nice enough to go to the beach year round. I like the idea of witches and pumpkins hanging out at the beach. I think seeing traditional Halloween characters outside their traditional setting makes for a pleasantly surprising and fresh scene.
Another theme is warmer and more harvest-centric. The two paintings that capture this are the ones with the crow on the pumpkin. In one painting, the pumpkin is a large and magical fairy pumpkin, and the crow is cawing. In the other, the pumpkin is a large, regular pumpkin, and the crow stares pensively and quietly from its top. These paintings have a classic, timeless feel and are probably the classiest of the leaves.
There are also stand-alone leaves like the painting with the books, the spooky scene of the werewolf in the pumpkin patch (look for the hidden black cats!), and the scene with the cat, bat, and rat hiding in the shadows behind a pumpkin.
I'm so glad I received the blank wooden leaves and was able to make these paintings! I think the leaf adds something special to the painting that a canvas couldn't. You can see and buy these leaves in person at the Lafayette Art & Wine Festival. I won't have them on Etsy until after the festival, but feel free to send me a message through my shop if you can't wait to get yours online! Once they're gone, they're gone.
I love cute things, especially when they add spice to my favorite holiday, and these Halloween charms are among the cutest of my creations. I love hanging one on a wine bottle I'm gifting or taking to a Halloween party, and they're also perfect to dangle from a pumpkin for that little extra somethin'.
The witch head charm adds a homey, harvest tone to whatever it's on. The witch head consists of a plastic egg, a felt hat with a ribbon and wooden star, a wooden nose and eyes, and baler twine hair. This is the biggest of the three charms and has the smallest loop. It's ideal for a pumpkin with a thin stem or a bottle of wine.
The cork bat is the most elegant of the charms, and it adds a touch of class to whatever it's dangling on. The body of the bat is a wine cork wrapped in black organza, and the wings are made from craft foam. Wine is my favorite thing to hang the bat on because of its cork body. They were simply made for and from each other.
The Frankencork is my favorite charm because it's just so adorable. The body of the Frankencork is, of course, a cork that's been painted and treated to be weather and dust resistant. Each Frankencork is slightly different from the next because the corks range in style and shape. I've chosen large corks, many with knobs, for these little guys. Screws have been drilled into the cork body, and big googly eyes complete the look. This charm is perfect for provoking smiles and warm, fuzzy feelings.
Of course, you can hang your charm on anything you'd like. I like hanging them in the window and on doorknobs as well. They're the perfect company for those spooky nights with company. You can pick up a set of charms this weekend at the Lafayette Art & Wine Festival, or you can buy them online at my Etsy shop. Be sure to enter BLOGPOST as a coupon code to get 10% off!
Decorating for a holiday is not finished without a wreath on the door, and the more unique the wreath, the better. I love making wreaths because there's so many creative things I can do with them, and I make sure that no two are the same.
When making a wreath, I let my materials guide me. I start out with a color scheme. For one wreath, I might intersperse strips of black material with strips of brightly colored Halloween material. The darker colors make a more elegant and subtle wreath for those who don't like to be too flashy. For another wreath, I might use a variety of bright fall colors. Once I've finished with the material, I consider what item will complete the look. For some wreaths, a variety of fake leaves is best. This year, I used maple and oak leaves. For other wreaths, an adorable witch head is the way to go. I think my witch wreaths are especially perfect for classrooms because they have a friendly look to them. For other wreaths, I weave in a string of lights and hang a painting in the middle to heighten the feeling of mystery that wraps the wreath like a foggy Halloween night.
The look of my wreaths are also determined by the size and shape of their hoops. This year, I gathered a large quantity of hoops in all shapes and sizes from tiny circles and egg shapes that are perfect for a window, cubicle, or classroom door to large wreaths for those large, grand doors. I also gathered a very exciting variety of materials and organza that make this year's wreaths pop with color, texture, and style.
Besides being one-of-a-kind, another benefit to the wreaths I make is that you can store them in a box and use them year after year. They make a unique gift among neighbors, and they are also perfect for a wreath swap with friends and family. Imagine coming home to a wreath on your door from someone you love who might live far away. Like Christmas trees and ornaments, wreaths are keepers and givers of memories. To approach a door with a wreath is to walk into holidays past, and to see a wreath on display is an invitation to share happy memories with those around you.
Spread some harvest cheer this year by decking your doors with autumn and Halloween wreaths. Don't forget, if you buy a wreath on my Etsy shop, enter the code BLOGPOST for a 10% discount. You can also pick up a wreath in person at the Lafayette Art & Wine Festival on September 19th and 20th!
September 23rd is the first day of autumn, but for crafters like me, the fall starts much sooner. September is crunch time for me, and I'm not just talking about those fragrant leaves underfoot. By September, I have to have my autumn and Halloween crafts finished or well on their way to being finished so customers have time to decorate with or gift them before the season is over. I also have to have my inventory ready for the fall festivals that happen across California (squeal!). It's a lot of work, and I often get confused about what time of the year it is as I'm finishing Halloween decorations in June, but I love fall so much that I don't mind.
Because my business is all about the handmade and heartfelt qualities of every item, my offerings each year depend on the supplies I come by. I'm often inspired by the random things I find at reuse shops or the scraps gifted to me from friends and family. This year, I was excited to turn needlework hoops I found at Oakland's White Elephant Sale into autumn wreaths, corks I found at San Francisco's Scrap into tiny bats and Frankenstein monsters I call Frankencorks, Halloween material into plush pumpkins with button stems, and wooden maple leaves into autumn paintings. I'll post a feature on each of these items later.
Autumn and Halloween bring back a lot of happy childhood memories for me, and these memories are in my mind as I handcraft each item. As I make each wreath, witch, bat, Frankencork, and pumpkin, I am playing in a big pile of brightly colored leaves, running from house to house in a penguin costume collecting yummy treasures and making people laugh with my penguin waddle, nearly drowning myself bobbing for apples, and sitting with my family carving pumpkins, covered in beautiful pumpkin gore. I hope the items I've made this year remind my customers of their own fond fall memories, and as they hang or gift what I've made, I hope a little of the magic I feel while crafting passes along with the item and cheers whoever sees it.
I wish you all a happy handmade autumn and Halloween! If you want to shop my fall items in person, come visit my booth at the Lafayette Art & Wine Festival this weekend (September 19th and 20th)! If you want to shop online, don't forget to use BLOGPOST as a coupon code and get 10% off in my Etsy Shop! I'll have all my fall items available on Etsy soon!
It has now been awhile since I finished my first craft fair, and I feel that I can talk about the experience objectively. I think it went great considering I had no clue what to expect. Here are a few things that I learned from the experience:
1. It was an emotional roller-coaster!
I got so excited when I made a sale and got so depressed when I had slow times. I think partly it was because I was exhausted. Waking up at 4am, setting up, selling all day, packing up and then repeating everything again was very stressful and taxing. I definitely felt strained and I am a very laid-back, go-with-the-flow type of person. I do not know how an anxious person could cope with the stress. Luckily, I had my sister there to help me through the failures and kick me out of the booth, to take a break when I was about to break down. I didn't expect it to be so emotional. I expected the long hours, fatigue, and hard work but the emotional aspect took me by surprise. I think it was also the fact that I worried that my dream of becoming a professional craft person was going down in flames every time a person walked away empty handed. This was totally irrational, and I realized after I had time to think about my interactions with people that even if people walked away empty handed I was still getting my name out there. So my advice to myself next craft show is to breathe and stay calm. Everything works out in the end, which it did! Also get away from the space throughout the day. This was easy for me because I had my sister there to take over the booth so I could walk around and clear my head.
2. Set up your canopy beforehand!
Since this was my first fair, I had never used my EZ up Canopy that I had purchased until the day of the event. I learned two things: IT IS NOT EASY TO SET UP and MORE THAN 2 PEOPLE ARE NEEDED. After my sister and I had been struggling for about 20 minutes trying to expand and pop up the canopy, a vendor next to us graciously offered to help and we managed to complete the task. There is no way the two of us could have managed the canopy by ourselves. Another vendor next to us also with an EZ Up had a hard time getting the canopy up as well. So if I did it again, I would have practiced beforehand to make sure I could get the canopy up. It's never great to start out your long days with the frustration of trying to assemble your canopy.
3. Selling is different than attending!
All the websites I looked at for advice suggested attending the craft fair before being a vendor. That is why I was so excited that my first craft fair was one that I go to annually. I thought I knew everything about the festival. Turns out that selling at a craft fair is a very different perspective than attending one. There were many people (which I thought was all that mattered). It was not. After a few hours of selling, I quickly noticed that the majority of people were not here to buy but to wander around drinking, talking, and listening to the band. At times it almost felt as if the craft booths were in the way instead of being the main event. I gained new insight into how to read a craft fair for selling and now I know to actually look at the people attending rather than the number. Are people buying, looking, walking around with bags? or are they huddled in groups, drinking, and listening to the music? It matters as a vendor.
My last piece of advice is more for myself and others when attending craft fairs. Please purchase something! Many vendors, myself included, do this as a part time adventure and work other jobs to pay the bills. Most vendors, me included, are just hoping to break even. So if you like attending fairs and want unique handcrafted items be available then please support the vendors that put in the time and effort to make this possible. Fair spaces are not cheap, it requires long hours, and the hopes of a person's dream could be riding on your decision to buy or not. So please buy. I know I am very grateful when you do!
As always remember you get 10% off my shop when you use the coupon code BLOGPOST. Thank you for making my dreams come true!