I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Mrs M’s Handmade and what we do.
Our first event was just over 2 years ago: March 22 & 23, 2014 (see Things I Learned At The Street Fair). At that event, we constructed our booth with a borrowed canopy weighed down with cinder blocks. Tablecloths on our 3 tables (1 borrowed!) came from the collection in the dining room … and didn’t match. We had worked feverishly to create our products; I had 25 boards with a retail value under $1,000. Together, Mrs M had total sales of $420 that weekend, against a booth cost of $115. And we thought that was a big enough success to keep going.
Two years later, I’ve had single transactions over $420. I’m building as much inventory as I had on display at that first event this week. Well, that’s not true. I’m actually doubling that this week with the pieces in production. This week. And next week, I’m taking another staycation so I can get really serious about building new stuff.
One conversation at that first event was with a fellow vendor talking about her experiences growing her hobby into a business into a passion that filled her home and over-filled her evenings with production as she valiantly struggled to keep up with demand driven by pop-up events and a growing website. She described an out-of-control commitment that barely left her room to breathe.
We couldn’t believe that.
And now we are that.
I began writing The Board Chronicles series last year to entertain you with our foibles and share the lessons we were gleaning. Hopefully, we are helping some vendors and wannabes out there with our vast experience, reported by me in what’s been described as a “funny, non-funny style.” Now, with the Facebook, we’re regularly being confronted with memories of what we were doing 1 and 2 years ago, and what our booths looked like.
Here’s what our booth looked like just one year ago, at the 2015 California Strawberry Festival:
We had very high hopes for this event – after all, it was one of the most expensive events we had ever done, with the booth cost at $390 for the weekend. It was one of our first juried events: we had to apply and then be evaluated before we were accepted. It promised to be an all-handmade event, with tens of thousands in attendance.
The results weren’t great, with sales of $1,235 against that booth fee of $390.
Not great … but look at our horrible, constricted booth display and necessarily limited inventory. It’s a wonder we had any sales!
One year later, it’s time for the 2016 edition of the California Strawberry Festival, this Saturday & Sunday. As is our current tradition, we doubled down with a double booth … which is our most expensive booth ever at $765. We’ll be setting up Mrs M’s new display, of course, and our presentation will look a lot like these:
The results will speak for themselves, of course, which you’ll read about in the next edition of The Board Chronicles. One thing I know for sure, though: we are getting better at what we do.
Today, we’ve got purpose-built display pieces. We’ve got professionally produced logos. We’ve got more inventory than we take to an event (well, usually!).
But there’s a lot we don’t have. We don’t have a good visual from outside the booth (no banner!). We don’t have a vehicle large enough to transport our inventory & display pieces. And I still don’t have chess boards on display. Or cribbage boards, for that matter.
Maybe next year.