The Board Chronicles is an ongoing series of articles about the adventures of Mrs M’s Handmade as a vendor at community festivals & craft fairs. Mrs M’s subsidiary, Mr M’s Woodshop, has been approved to create this chronicle for the good of vendorkind.
It’s a big world out there, and we’re venturing out into it. It’s the 47th Annual Rotary Art Show in Studio City! It’s a Mother’s Day weekend tradition in the Valley, gathering artists of many different stripes together so shoppers can browse and have a beautiful walk in the park.
This will be our first “art show.”
That’s a troublesome word for me. Some people look at what I do – and what Mrs M does – and absolutely say that it’s art. People say my boards are too beautiful to use (which bugs me). They walk into the booth and say “Wow!” (and I never get tired of that).
There’s no doubt that what I’m making is artistic, from some perspectives. On the other hand, there’s no doubt that what I’m making are functional tools for food prep, or perhaps food presentation. What I make is pretty, people tell me. So, am I an artist? A skilled craftsman? A maker? A guy with an out-of-control hobby?
On Mrs M’s side, she’s going way out on the art side with her new product, soap. It’s pretty – some of the bars are really very pretty with colors that complement the scent for a unified presentation. And, the bars are actually soap, naturally made, and 100% good to use on your skin. She’s explored the scientific side of soap making, and carefully created recipes that balance the result of using the soap: not too much cleansing which robs your skin of its natural oils, not too little lather, and (for me) not too much abrasive quality.
I don’t like scratchy soap. I’m a delicate flower, you see.
But I digress.
This is about what we’re creating as we make things – pretty things, we hope, but still with a purpose. The things we make are to be “of use.”
OK, we’ll see.
- It’s an art show. Will we be at home?
- This marks the launch of Mrs M’s soaps, offered for sale at this event for the first time. Mrs M’s email subscribers got an email Thursday evening to connect to Mrs M’s site which is now open for soap sales (you can subscribe to that seldom-published email on her website; fill out the form accessible at the bottom of the homepage, or here).
- Mrs M got a makeover this week … well, her side of the booth did. New logo, new display pieces, new product, new packaging … new, new, new.
- We’re back at our Spring Fling; this is event # 5 of 8.
- Rain was forecast throughout the weekend … thunderstorms, even. SoCal weather continues to promise a lot of wet long past the time we should be doing our dry summer tradition.
- Load-in was an absolute bear on Friday. I had to park about 50 yards downhill from the park entrance nearest my booth, and then had to push everything on my cart up the hill, and then carry it the final 10 yards to the booth. It was 90 minutes just to get the transport done … and then I had to set up the shade structures and booth displays, alone. This was not the best part of the weekend. I left all of the products in their containers, as rain was forecast overnight.
- We drove in on Saturday morning for our early set-up under an ominous sky after an overnight rain. No rain damage to the booth overnight, though our tablecloths were wet. We put our wet sidewalls up, and got to work with the set-up. We had walkers at the booth by 9am, for our scheduled 10am start.
- Mrs M loves her new booth. Loves it. And, if I may say so, somebody did a good job building it. This is a huge upgrade.
- This art show is a well-oiled machine. The volunteers are very nice and helpful. The promoter is engaged with her vendors. Vendors even get free coffee and donuts from the Boy Scout-run food booth. I absolutely recommend this show.
- Blue skies in the morning! The weekend continued to be cloudy as predicted, but it was only partly cloudy. No more rain fell on the event, so weather became more of a non-issue as the weekend progressed. However, the dark gray clouds were close enough Saturday morning that we definitely felt the event was weather-impacted.
- The first sale of the day was the clipboard that I’ve sold 5 times. It started as a custom order, but the customer decided to not come get the completed item, nor pay for it. While I was still thinking the customer would respond to my emails, I did take the board to an event just to show it (with a “Sold!” label) … and I had 3 people ignore the sign & try to buy it. Finally, this weekend, I sold it to another vendor, who was happy to be the 5th & final buyer. A happy ending.
- I must have been punch drunk as Saturday wore on. I said to one customer as they were looking at boards, “Let me know if I have any questions.” Apparently, I had a few.
- Six languages were overheard on Saturday. I was happy that I spoke one of them. Better on some days than others, unfortunately.
- One young lady was confused by one of Velda’s products. She read the label as “Booty Balm.” She thought that was a strange thing to sell … and didn’t notice that it was Baby Booty Balm. Not so strange. The lady then went on to tell the story that just a few minutes earlier, she saw an engraved tag (charm? pendant?) that she looked at, and it said, “Scratch My Butt.” She also didn’t understand that … until the artist told her it was jewelry for a dog.
- There are some things I don’t understand, either.
- My friend Cyndee dropped by to see me, which was such a nice surprise! We worked together closely for more than a decade. It’s good to work in a place where you actually see people every day … which is why, now, this lonely home office veteran enjoys meeting people as Mr M.
- Best couple of the weekend was styling and having oh, so much fun. They looked like they could have been in the Mod Squad in the ’70s. Bright colors. Faux fur. Big jewelry. He was talking to me about woodworking (he had built stuff), when she returned to the booth after exploring Mrs M’s products, and grabbed his face to rub his beard. She thought he needed beard oil more than to talk to me. After another exploration of Mrs M’s wares, she returned to demand a kiss after using Mrs M’s lip scrub. Ah, youth.
- We were more busy on Sunday … which is generally not the case. You wouldn’t expect Mother’s Day to be a great day for a pop-up event, but the Rotary Art Show is an annual tradition in this neighborhood, where many people walk a few blocks to stroll in the park. Our business more than doubled on Sunday. We were overwhelmed a couple of times. We lost track of sales. Busy.
- Mrs M had a wonderful time with her new booth. The new display appears to have been a wise project.
Mrs M’s Best Day Ever
Mrs M’s Best Weekend Ever
- Marg Helgenberger, AKA Catherine Willow on CSI, dropped by Mrs M’s booth on Sunday. Alas, Mrs M was out shopping and did not get to sell her some soap.
- Did we belong at this show? Absolutely. There was some high-end artwork on display, as well as some kitschy stuff, but it was really a very upscale, all-handmade show. Lots of jewelry designers. Fabulous show, great promoter … what’s not to like?
- The results speak for themselves. This ended up being our best event ever that didn’t have Santa in its name. Not bad for a weather-impacted weekend in May, right?
- Not many requests this weekend: wooden platters for Argentinian BBQ, a price list (!), chess boards (naturally), “another one just like this one,” more animal shapes, and a butcher block counter.
Saturday Breakfast: McDonald’s # 4.
Saturday Lunch: Troop 210 took orders & then, on schedule, delivered burgers to the booth for vendors. SO happy to support this Boy Scout Troop!
Saturday Snack: The chips that came with the burger.
Saturday Dinner: After seeing too long of a line at our favorite local restaurant, we went to Olive Terrace for the first time. The Chicken Marsala was very, very good. And I don’t say such things lightly, as this is my dish. We will return!
Sunday Breakfast: We planned to have Santa Clarita’s 2nd best breakfast burrito, but I arrived at Jimmy Dean’s only to discover they don’t open until 7:30a, when we had planned to be on the road. We settled for Carl’s Jr, and their burritos aren’t even on the Top 10 list (sigh).
Sunday Lunch: Hello, Troop 210, and thank you for the burger!
Sunday Snack: Another bag of chips came with today’s burger.
Sunday Dinner: Grand Panda, which just may become my new favorite Chinese restaurant in Santa Clarita. We had Cashew Chicken and Walnut Shrimp (which was wonderful). And Egg Rolls, of course.
- Total miles driven: 185 miles
- Booth cost: $300
- # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
- Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 5
- Total sales: $2,908
- # containers of product taken: After I loaded the 19 containers of soap, I lost interest in counting the rest.
- # boards available: 105
- Saturday alarm: 5:15a
- Sunday alarm: 6:15a
- # transactions: 74
- # soap & lotion vendors: There were 2 other soap makers and 2 other lotion makers. None of them had the product range, nor the display, that Mrs M had. Just sayin’.
- # woodworking vendors: There was a toymaker and me. The Ghost of Cutting Board Maker Past was there … apparently a fellow cutting board maker has been at this show for many years, and I was mistaken for him by several people, I think.
- Edge grain vs. end grain: 29:3
- Returning next year? Absolutely.
Boards sold: 32
Magic Bottle Openers: 10
Small Boards: 4
Cheese Boards: 4
Large Cheese & Cracker Server, AKA Surfboards: 3
Small Sous Chef Boards: 2
Large Cutting Board: 1
Lazy Susan: 1
Cheese & Cracker Server: 1
Pig Cutting Board: 1
Custom Order: 1
Rehab Heirloom Family Cutting Board: 1