The Humble Beginnings of A Handmade Business
I actually remember our beginnings fairly well. Dee Dee had been staying with me to help me take care of my grandma while her husband was working driving truck over the road (OTR). I had pulled out my bead collection from my late teen's early adulthood and begun beading again for relaxation. My birthday came around and Dee Dee hooked me up with more beads. Before I knew it she was beading right along with me. When my grandma passed away at the beginning of November 2010 this became therapy for me. We had made quite a few pieces by then. One Friday afternoon one of us got the hairbrained idea to set up at the flea market that Saturday morning. I was like "we need more pieces then", and this began the all-night making spree. We packed up and headed to the flea market on a very cold Saturday morning. The least expensive spot we could get was outside so we froze our behinds off and sold only a couple of pieces. We were excited that we made a couple of sales but knew we needed to get some tablecloths and display items. Meanwhile, we had a few friends and the nurses at her Dr.'s office buying from us while we figured things out.
She went back on the road with her husband and would be home about one weekend a month. We both kept making jewelry during this time and had built up quite a bit of stock. I had my son help me build some displays out of pegboard and I cut some dowels into shorter pieces to stick in the holes to hang jewelry on. In the fall of 2012, we decided to look into doing some "craft" shows so we had money for Christmas. She found one that we decided to try. The booth space was cheap so off we went before the crack of dawn to set up. Come to find out this was in someone's front yard. We had 3 tables, 3 cheap tablecloths, and earring rack and our display boards. It seemed like it took forever to set up having to put out each piece of jewelry. We didn't practice our set up before so we were winging it. Other people started showing up and setting up and as we observed the other vendors we noticed that at least half of them were setting up yard sale items. We knew this wasn't a good sign but we stuck it out to the end. This show was a flop for the most part. We sold one piece (oddly my most expensive one). It was a flop in the sales department but we learned valuable lessons that day and walked away with an awesome display find.
The lessons that were learned were to ask questions and vet the venue, don't just jump on the cheapest one you can find (you get what you pay for), and always look for the positives in the experience. We still had to look for inexpensive booth rental but we asked questions about the venue and the other vendors. We did a couple more shows and found that we didn't fit in with direct sales vendors especially Paparazzi. We took a chance with a more expensive craft show in the area. This one was a two-day annual show for handmade only. We had great success with this one.
We have come a long way since those first few years and learned a lot. We have grown as a business and changed our product line. I will elaborate on those changes in future posts.