It's time to connect the dots. Time to draw cyberspace into physical space. Giving both ends of the bungee cord the final tugs to bring the seemingly just short hooks together and hold the bundle to the bike. Here is where I find myself.
All the while that I have been working away at this lovely little cyber home in my lovely little cyber neighborhood I have had the luxury of not paying much attention to the workaday responsibilities that a new home can bring. Like moving into a new house. While choosing paint colors and selecting the perfect pulls for the kitchen cabinets and being thrilled with the newness and shininess of it all, thoughts of what you will do the first time the sink backs up never enter your mind. Thoughts of whether or not the neighbors will be friendly or if the mailman is efficient are far removed from the fantasy princess world you are blissfully inhabiting as you nest and decorate your beloved abode.
But then you are satisfied (for now) that your new home is ready for visitors and you'd like to invite people over to celebrate. You invite some friends and family and those that can, dutifully attend but you realize that the people that you really need to have over are the people you don't know that you want to meet. Neighbors and new people are the integral element to your new life in your new home and getting strangers to come visit you is not as easy as it was in grandma's day. Okay, the next door neighbor has a stake in this so they will come. The people across the street have a bit of an interest in you so they come too. Yet with the few friends and family, the next door neighbors and the people across the street, there is still plenty of food and drink and the new home looks a little empty without more people. Where is the rest of the neighborhood? Did they get the invitation? Why didn't they come? Whose going to eat all this food?
And so it is with my little Etsy shoppe. I've decorated, I've written the invitations and I have laid out the food and drink for all to consume and well, frankly not many of the invitees have shown up. I know that just sitting and waiting and wishing and hoping are are just that and not a good use of my resources. I know this is a time for what little salesmanship I have to kick in. Though I never thought I was particularly good at promoting myself (I'm a killer promoter when it comes to others) if ever there was a time to try harder, it's now.
I started kicking around some of the blogs and websites designed for crafty entrepreneurs like myself. There's plenty out there. For starters, Etsy itself publishes a newsletter/blog with advice from other sellers that was helpful to me during the building process. Now, not so much as I look to expand beyond the Etsy community. I came across Crafting an MBA, an amazingly informative and useful site which I go to religiously and Design Sponge, a virtual library of topic driven articles that are textbook-like in the authority and usefulness of their information.
I also began reading books - Craft, Inc. thorough and full of insight and information including interviews and advice from successful crafters, well, like Jonathan Adler, who if you didn't know, started out as a potter. Crafty Superstar is a lighter version but well organized and very useful. Crafting A Business a very pretty, inspiring book which is a collection of personal stories and advice from those successful subjects. And for all around attitude adjustment and correct focus of ambition there is The Martha Rules from the greatest crafty visionary of all time. You can say what you will about Martha, love her or hate her, but she is my hero. She was the first to take baking pies, giving dinner parties, growing her own food and making her own aprons into a domestic and crafting skills empire.
There are several routes to travel and at the moment I intuitively feel there is one in particular I must take. The art and craft fairs. Tis' the season and there are many to participate in. I made a half-hearted promise to myself that I would try to do the May Nyack Street Fair (large, local and well attended) but got hung up on having to have a picture of my booth for the application and because I'd never done a fair before I didn't have those pictures. Realizing I could set something up in my driveway to photograph, my inner perfectionist got the best of me and while I was intently trying to come up with the displays that would be the be all/end all, well I missed that deadline. Oh well, there's another one in July. Late July. Hot. Really hot. I hate hot. I can almost make myself cry at the thought of sitting in a tent on a 95 degree/80% humidity day trying to look interested, interesting, dripping sweat all over the pretty things I am trying to show an potential buyer. I can imagine them not wanting me to fasten the necklace on them because I look like I am going to pass out. Saying thanks anyway as they walk away looking at me looking so pathetically miserable. There has to be a better time for me to do these things. Obviously the fall and all those Christmas season fairs. Those are the ticket for me.
The next Nyack Street Fair is in October. That's the one. That is where I will begin. Then I realize I don't know what that beginning looks like. I've been to a million street fairs, craft fairs, art and craft fairs - for god sakes, I live in New York. There are days in the summer that the streets of NYC can look like Marrakesh with fairs and festivals taking up long stretches of main avenues and even entire neighborhoods. There's a festival in Little Italy that turns several blocks of NYC into the boardwalk at the Jersey Shore!
Anyway. When I have attended these events I have gone and focused on what I was supposed to be paying attention to - what the booth was selling. The merch. I was not looking at how they were set up and what equipment they needed to look like they belonged there. So as the season began, I set out on reconnaissance missions to look at the structure not the stuff. Obviously the tents were my first priority. Now I have been to some flea market type events with women sitting on chairs with big black umbrellas the only thing between them and the blazing sun and I can tell you I don't blame them for not getting up when potential customers approach their table. They just want the friggin' day to be over. When they were packing up their wares before they left home they had dollar signs in their eyes. By mid-day the perspiration had drenched all of that into a raging headache.
Rule number one. No umbrellas. Let's look at the tents. I walked around several markets taking notes on my Blackberry of the brand names of the frail canopies lined up one after the other. Many of these things take place on asphalt so there is no staking the tent like you would if you were camping or doing some Hudson Valley celebration for some natural event (the river, strawberries, apples, farms) on grass (which I will no doubt be doing at some point). So after I had walked around looking up for brand labels, witnessing a couple of near disasters when a little wind kicked up, I began looking down. Down to see how the real pros were keeping the tent from becoming air born. There were gallon water bottles tied to the poles, barbell weights taped to the legs, sandbags - all very functional but wildly unattractive and in some instances a little dangerous to the wandering public that are not really watching where they are going. I reminded myself that anything that was there had been carried there and I balked at the idea of schlepping this awkward, heavy and unattractive junk along for the ride after spending days, weeks, months designing the best damned craft fair booth going. I finally found the answer but it is so ingenious I shall not share it here. Be advised however, I told the clever gal I was going to borrow her invention and I'll leave it at that. It's that good.
I Googled all the tent brand names when I got home from a particularly long (hot and sweaty) day of scouting. Talk about sticker shock! Most of the folks doing this live on this income. They don't have the luxury of a working executive husband. This flimsy little tent thing has to be the largest investment any respectable craft artist makes. Lordy! And the rules are the rules and I pay for what I need from what I make so I'm on my own with this expense. Sports Authority is having a sale. I guess I better get going and see what they've got and how cheap I can get one of these babies. I've got a deadline to meet.
No doubt I will obsess on the engineering of each frame (I do have the curse of being an engineer's daughter) and will spend way too much time trying to decide white or a color? White for light but is it best for sun and heat protection? Color. I love color! But will it be too dark? For another hundred bucks I could order a pink one. I love my pink! Who else has a pink canopy? Are there organizer's rules against pink tents? Everyone else seems to have white or blue. Is that because that is what is usually in stock or do they know something I don't know?
No doubt there are other tricks of the trade out there waiting to stick their foot out and trip me.