Archive for the ‘Mrs Ms Handmade’ Tag

How Far We’ve Come   2 comments

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.

Humbling.

Very humbling.

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.

Thank goodness.

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.

Mrs M's Handmade Logo

Soap: At Long Last   3 comments

Mrs M's Handmade LogoVelda is obsessed.

I’ve thought that for some time now … oh wait, I meant possessed.

But in this case, she is definitely obsessed with the making of soap. She’s mastered the lotions, balms & scrubs that Mrs M has now been selling for a couple of years (!), and soap is the latest challenge accepted.

She’s spent months researching ingredients. Trolling user forums. Buying protective equipment. And, she’s actually been making soap – which truly looks like a science experiment, complete with goggles, rubber gloves & caustic chemical reactions.

And she’s doing it all in the name of cleanliness.

She’s discovered a lot: believe me, I know. I’ve been hearing about it over breakfast & dinner for months now. No complaints – the more she talks about soap, the less she talks about the body fluids & such that she encounters in her real “job.”

So I’m a fan of soap discussions.

As she learned & improved, she’s upped her game considerably. She’s grown from making soap in a small silicon mold to ordering 3x custom, large molds and a 500 bar Soap Drying Rack from me. I’ve convinced demanded that she buy quality software and a custom soap slicer (a 12″ mandolin that cuts 1″ bars 12 at a time – and beautifully) so that her soaps will be as good as they can be.

She went one step further and bought a shaver & a steamer so she can manicure each bar. I drew the line there, but once she’s possessed obsessed, there’s little to do but get out of her way.

So sayeth the wisdom earned over the 38 years of our marriage. I’ve endured loved every minute.

(ed note: I love Friday the 13th, and today is “our day.” Happy Anniversary, Velda!)

There. Taken care of for another year.

The webmaster (me) has finally gotten some screen time, so the soaps are now up and for sale on Mrs M’s website. Please visit www.MrsMsHandmade.com.

Finally, a part of this product introduction has been my researching what it will take for us to up our game with product photography – I just haven’t been happy with the inconsistency of my shots of the boards you’ve been seeing lately. We bought a photo array just for product shots (amazingly inexpensive, by the way!), and here are the soap shots from our first session:

 

 

 

Posted May 13, 2016 by henrymowry in Living Life

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Mrs M’s New Booth: # 4   12 comments

Mr-Ms-Logo---LargeFiguring out how to best display Mrs M’s products is an ongoing process, it seems. After vendoring for 26 months, we have now launched our 4th booth.

And it’s a smash.

When we started, we didn’t have a clue. We were so young then! The first booth was really just a bunch of routed bowls that Mrs M grabbed out of her collection, and dedicated them to the new effort that was Mrs M’s Handmade.

She included both of the custom bread bowls I made her that were the perfect size for her home made sourdough loaves … and since those bowls went into her booth, I don’t think she’s made bread since.

(sigh)

Our first booth was not a smash. It was humble. It was functional, and it did accommodate our meager product line:

Mrs. M and Mrs. M, before they opened on their first day. Smiles on faces, and that is a very good thing!

Mrs. M and Mrs. M, before they opened on their first day. Smiles on faces, and that is a very good thing!

We soon learned that we needed a more verticality, so I built “the back bar” that was the center piece, er, the left side of booth # 2:

The complete booth in its inaugural showing ...

The complete booth (# 2) in its inaugural showing …

We were still doing single 10×10 booths at this point … but we knew that we could grow if we were willing to double down on the booth. That’s exactly what we did with the 3rd iteration of our booth:

Booth 15 - 42

We still used the back bar in the beginning, but the key addition were the 2 small “step units” on the right side of the booth that became the home for the lotion & sugar scrub displays. More verticality … but not nearly enough. The booth continued to be a visual mess, with related products (lotion bars) separated onto different tables for no good reason.

Goleta 07

So I was charged with building booth # 4. We talked about it ad nauseum. For months. Talk, talk, talk.

We actually put pen to paper in February of this year. More talking. Then, I was ready to build a couple of weeks ago. I brought out those 3-month-old designs … and Mrs M threw them out.

Of course.

Back to the drawing board briefly – but only briefly – because I started cutting lumber that day. We had a 12-piece booth in mind, and I was on a deadline.

11 of the pieces were complete for the first show last weekend, the Rotary Art Show in Studio City. Soap was the major product premiere … and with the new booth, Mrs M had the best day EVER. The best event EVER.

One piece is yet to be completed, and one more piece has already been ordered. I’m sure the booth won’t be “complete” until our big event in Montrose, June 4 & 5. Hope to see you there!

Pictures of the booth got posted on Facebook to a soaper’s group that Mrs M is a member of (she’s obsessed with soap now!) … and the picture of the booth filled with product garnered over 1,100 likes in 24 hours! This booth, after only one event, appears to be a total success. That would be good, as I don’t want to build # 5 anytime soon.

Here are three “not finished” pictures of key pieces, and then there’s a piece-by-piece look at booth # 4. There are some complete shots with product. You may want to click through the pictures one at a time to really understand how the booth is laid out; I think the gallery of photos is a bit confusing. But, your mileage may vary. Enjoy!

Finally, the answers to the inevitable questions:

  1. What woods were used in the booth: Red Oak & White Oak.
  2. Is the booth easy to transport? Sure, if you have a trailer and a Jeep to haul everything.
  3. Where’s the new logo? Patience, grasshopper, patience. It’s on the list, and will be there by Montrose.
  4. Will I make your booth? No, you can’t afford me.
  5. Is Mrs M happy with the booth? She seems to be. Ask her.

More

Mrs M’s Handmade: The Booth, 10×24 (# 3)

Mrs M’s New Booth (# 2)

Things I Learned At The Street Fair (# 1)

At Long Last: Mrs M’s Handmade   Leave a comment

It became a joke.

We would be at an event, and Mrs M would be asked, “Do you have a website?”

The inevitable reply: “Yes, but it’s under construction right now. I may have to fire that webmaster if he doesn’t get it updated.”

I am, of course, the webmaster. And I was standing right there.

And that was the sorry state of Mrs M’s website for nearly 12 months. I have a few excuses, all very reasonable, of course:

  1. The software auto-updated and locked up.
  2. I ran out of gas.
  3. It was a dark and stormy night.
  4. My dog ate it.
  5. I was playing golf with a client.
  6. My allergies flared up.
  7. I had guests from out of town.
  8. My cat had to go to the vet.
  9. The flight got canceled.
  10. It’s a 24-hour thing. I hope.
  11. We had rolling power outages.
  12. I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ no babies, Miss Grace.
  13. I’ve had the most awful time of it. What was your question?

But, GOOD NEWS. I finally got it together, didn’t go into the garage woodshop for a few days, and put together the new & improved Mr’s M’s Handmade website, powered by Shopify. It now has all of Mrs M’s products & current scents featured (which wasn’t possible on the old site: the proximate cause of the original problem).

Please, visit Mrs M’s site. If you happen to find a typo or experience a glitch, please let me know! You can sign up for Mrs M’s rarely-published newsletter, and we’ve even got a discount code for you: “FINALLY”, which is valid through Valentine’s Day. That discount is good for $10 off any order of $30 or more. Just click on the picture below, and enjoy!

Website, image 1

 

 

 

My Incredible Staycation   Leave a comment

Mr-Ms-Logo---LargeThe Facts

Injuries: NONE. Well, I don’t count the ONE splinter! I also got a little scratch on my arm from opening a band saw blade incorrectly, but it was made all better by Mrs M’s new Boo Boo Balm. (Best name ever!)

Sparks flew from a tool: Twice. Once from the drum sander, when a piece of bird’s eye maple was found to have a metal brad in the end for no good reason. That grooved & killed a sanding belt … luckily not my drum sander’s aluminum drum. The second time sparks flew was from my underpowered, benchtop belt sander; that was no big deal. But exciting.

# boxes of sandpaper used, 50 disks/box: 5. That’s about $80.

# sandpaper belts used: 8. 7 were for the drum sander, and 1 was for the belt sander. That’s about $90.

Bags of sawdust: 5 more. Want any?

Broken tools: 1. My “good” random orbital sander (ROS) must have heard me talking about how I need a better one that captures the generated sawdust  instead of spewing it … in any event, my formerly best ROS came apart when I still had another 2 days of sanding ahead of me.

The Results

Last year, I took a Staycation to build cheese boards for the coming holiday season. It was a good idea … I just didn’t build enough. Still, the 51 projects I finished during last year’s Staycation was a personal record.

Which I obliterated this year.

I started building projects a few weeks before my Staycation, with the intent that I could finish the glued-up blanks when I had more time. It was a productive plan. Here’s what I worked on during my Staycation:

  • 19 Cheese Boards
  • 17 Large Surfboards
  • 15 Lazy Susans
  • 13 Small Sous Chef Boards
  • 7 Large Cutting Boards
  • 7 Pigs
  • 6 Large Sous Chef Boards
  • 6 Cutting Boards
  • 4 Small Boards
  • 3 Bread Boards
  • 3 Custom Boards
  • 1 Medium Surfboard

And 5 new products made it to the finish line (Humor! Coming at you!), just in time for this weekend’s 3 big events:

  • 13 Building Block Sets
  • 1 Recipe Board
  • 1 Clipboard
  • 1 Magic Bottle Opener
  • 1 Bear

The Events

Come see us this weekend!

  • 10/7, Saturday, Grace Baptist Church MOPS Holiday Boutique, with the 2 Mrs M’s.
  • 10/7 & 8, Saturday & Sunday, Saugus High School Boutique Fantastique, with Mr M and Miss M on Saturday, and the elder Mrs M joining Miss M on Sunday.
  • 10/8, Sunday, Canyon High School Shop For A Cause Holiday Boutique, with Mr M insanely manning a double booth solo. It will either be fabulous or completely out of control….

More

2014 – Staycation: Day 1

2014 – Staycation: Day 2

2014 – Staycation: Day 3

2014 – Staycation: Day 4

2014 – Staycation: Day 5

2014 – Staycation: Day 6

2014 – What I Did On My Staycation

10 Things I Wish I Knew Before We Became Vendors   2 comments

  1. Our first booth. Santa Clarita Street Fair, March 22-23, 2014. We were so young then.

    Our first booth. Santa Clarita Street Fair, March 22-23, 2014. We were so young then.

    Finding good events is a constant challenge. Big events often have long lead times. Local events are often volunteer affairs with minimal marketing and no online presence for the coordinators. The best way to find events is to network with vendors you like. The reality is that every vendor is different, every show is different, and it’s impossible to predict with certainty which event will best fit your products. Networking with seasoned pros will get you the best information on what events are coming. You’ll meet a lot of nice people in this people-oriented business, too.

  2. Some shows want pictures of your products with your application. Some handcrafted shows want pictures of you making your products. Some shows only allow you to sell the products you put on your application. In all cases, keep photos on file and keep copies of every application. Get organized with dedicated folders. I keep track of our event schedule on a spreadsheet … it’s now 9 pages long for this year.
  3. Your display is very important. People only buy what they can see, and making a pleasing to the eye display is the 2nd most important thing (after having great products!).
  4. You need good lights in your booth if you’re doing nighttime events. Here are the FANTASTIC lights Mrs. M found that everyone raves about. I combined the light fixtures with these 60w LED daylight-colored low wattage bulbs to deliver bright lighting for a total energy cost of only 100 watts per booth. People only buy what they can see.
  5. You only make a good first impression once. What do people think when they see your booth? It better be pretty, organized & professional. The first time & every time.
  6. If you don’t have weights on your canopy, it will fly away. Have your canopy weighted at all times, from when you first put it up until you take it down. Good events require 100 pounds of weight on your canopy. (A gallon of water in an old milk jug is only 7 pounds, FYI.) When we started doing events, we carried concrete blocks for weights. Simple, effective … ugly. We found a better way (Humor! Coming at you!). Here are the best DIY canopy weights made out of PVC and concrete. Three tweaks I used when I made our second set:
    1. Cut the PVC for the weights short enough so the finished weights with end caps will fit under your table,
    2. Make sure to use flat end caps, so the weights will stand on their own, and
    3. I’ve found the best handles to use are exercise handles attached to the screw eyes.
  7. This was our booth at the California Poppy Festival, 4/18-19/2015. Six months later, our booth is very similar ... but will be totally different in 2016!

    This was our booth at the California Poppy Festival, 4/18-19/2015. Six months later, our booth is very similar … but will be totally different in 2016!

    Get enough space for the products you display. We started doing single booths (cheaper!) for two very different products (Mrs M’s lotions & Mr M’s cutting boards). Though we are connected, the products are not. At all. When we converted to double booths, we had enough space to show everything … and sales went up significantly.

  8. Control your display space, or other people will. If you don’t use walls, your neighbors might put up really ugly things that are the background for your beautiful tabletop displays. For some shows, you may want the airy, open look … but for other shows, that will not work, and you need to be prepared.
  9. A cash drawer is so much better than making change out of your cargo pockets.
  10. It’s good to have a buddy with you in the booth, so you can get lunch, go see other vendors, and find the bathrooms. However, don’t have too many people in the booth, or you’ll sacrifice space that is better filled with shoppers.

Bonus: be a good neighbor, and follow the rules of the show (know the rules before you get there!). Not everyone will be as kind as you, but that’s OK. After the show is over, you still have to live with you.

More

Dasken Designs 10 Tips For Outdoor Craft Shows

 

Holiday Shopping With Mr & Mrs M   Leave a comment

Mr-Ms-Logo---LargeI’m scared.

Honestly, I’m scared.

Last year, in all of 2014, I sold about 200 cutting boards & cheese boards.

This year, through August, I’ve sold over 250 cutting boards & cheese boards … and the busy season is still to come. This summer, I’ve sold as many “out of the shop” as I have at formal events. That’s great, isn’t it?

Uh…..

Now, how am I going to make everything people seem to want?

If you’re thinking about gifting a cutting board this holiday season, GREAT! Two things:

  1. If you want me to make you something to order, then, please, order it today. This week. Next week. Please, please, please don’t wait until November, because my shop time will be at an absolute premium as we approach Christmas. I want to help you … but I’m hoping that I’ll have enough time to eat & sleep after Thanksgiving, too. Don’t delay!
  2. If you would like to come see me – or the Mrs M’s – at a holiday boutique, then you’re in luck. We’re going to be at an event almost every week from now until Christmas. Look for our updated events calendar on MowryJournal’s menu at the top of this page … or just click here.

Our first fall event is on Saturday, 9/19, and we’re currently scheduled to exhibit at 14 different events before the end of the year. Yes, we’re double booked on some days, and yes, we’ll be adding more events before we collapse on December 20.

Which we will.

How can we help you?

Logo-300x

Posted September 4, 2015 by henrymowry in Craft Fairs

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The Board Chronicles: 4th Of July Ventura Street Fair   5 comments

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.

4th of July Ventura Street FairRunning marathons is a mental game, I’ve found. There’s a BIG physical element, of course, but you only succeed if your head’s screwed on right during the race.

This event was also a marathon. We loaded the truck after dinner Friday evening (too hot to load earlier). Thank goodness we had the help of Christopher and the younger Mrs M. They had to help: it’s their truck.

Set-up officially began at 4am on Ventura’s Main Street, though we elected to arrive just a bit later. We left home at 5:15am.

We drove right to the booth, luckily, though the street was already clogged with vendors setting up (and not moving their empty cars out of the way so others could find their way). We were able to put everything into our space and then park the truck in a city lot about a block away. Very convenient and easy … because we arrived at 6:30am.

The official beginning was 10am, but we had walkers by the booth at 8:30am.

Then the marathon part really began in earnest. The set up was fine, but we didn’t have much down time. LOTS of people. Lots of decorated strollers with red, white & blue sparkly things. Patriotism, on parade, all day long. All good, but with the volume of people, we were busy. Along the way, we lost our way a bit.

I made an addition error in our sales record. We missed recording some sales. We ended the day disappointed in our total, but really too tired to count the money. It’s frustrating when you work very hard, but don’t feel rewarded, and that’s how we ended the day.

At 5pm, we had to close the booth (according to the rules), and be gone by 6:30pm. This event allowed any vendor to set up for 6 hours, but only allowed you 90 minutes to get out. We did that basically … but we also had 5 transactions, comprising over 10% of our day’s sales, happen after 5pm. The event closed too early.

We didn’t quite make it off the street by 6:30pm – we were gone by 6:45pm and home by 8pm to unload (solo). I had everything back into the house by 8:30pm.

I was able to recover enough the next day to count the money, and that’s when I found the errors in my sales records (and I NEVER make errors).

(Well, normally.)

(According to me.)

When I examined the records, found the missing transactions and counted the money, that’s when I found out how we really did.

Best. Day. Ever.

Too bad it didn’t feel like it when we lost track of things!

New Ideas

  • Double booth, one for Mrs M and one for Mr M … and only two of us were there to handle the thronging masses. Two people, double booth. What could go wrong?
  • We traveled very heavy to this event (and remember who is writing this. Traveling heavy is normal for us. When I say very heavy, be afraid. Be very afraid.) We loaded the truck with more product and more display pieces than we have ever taken to an event.

Observations

  • “Clipboards,” they asked. “Any clipboards?” I’ve never made clipboards … but I had 2 people asking for them within 30 minutes of each other. That was weird. And then it got weirder. A few minutes later, I had a woodworker wander into the booth to check out my work. I asked him what he did. His reply: “I make clipboards.” Timing is everything, and his was just a bit off.
  • You can’t choose your neighbors, as I’ve complained before. Our neighbors to the left and back were great, actually. It was the neighbor across the aisle to my right that was a problem. They were a doggie daycare business, and they had employees with their dogs out in the midway, stopping every dog walker (and there were many) to chat about their pet and their business. They did block passage, and did end up having dog owner gatherings in front of our booth on a couple of occasions. That’s annoying. The fake fire hydrant they put on the other side of their booth … that was plain bad. When you invite public urination, it just can’t end well.
  • I only sold one cutting board on this day, which is very odd. That I still sold over $1,000 in boards in 11 different styles, though, is a testament to the broad range of boards that I brought to this show. Traveling very heavy has its rewards: lifting & sweating being two that I don’t particularly favor.
  • 15 of the 22 boards sold were completed in the last week. I’ve been working on broadening my inventory, and it worked. Thank goodness.
  • This is a regional event, but there were a lot of people embracing the beach lifestyle here. Ventura is different from Santa Clarita, even though it’s only an hour away.
  • The holiday resulted in a party atmosphere most of the day. We made some happy people very happy when they discovered our lotion products and cutting boards. Givers of joy, that’s us.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Jack in the Box # 24. Velda had the same.

Saturday Lunch: Velda did a good thing. She packed cheese & crackers along with her favorite cheese board. That was laid out on top of the wrapping station for our lunch … just as a rush hit. No customers ate our lunch, but several commented on it. This was a good idea – and a better idea because we never saw real food booths at the event. But then, we didn’t get out much, either.

Saturday Snack: Roasted nuts. We seem to buy them at most events.

Saturday Dinner: Leftovers. Oh, and bourbon.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 99
  • Booth cost: $375 … and $10 for the application. That’s so much better than $385 for the booth.
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Total sales: $1,526
  • # containers of product taken: 20
  • # boards available: 126
  • Saturday alarm: 4:00am
  • # transactions: 48 – 31 for lotion, 17 for boards
  • # soap & lotion vendors: at least one other within 200′ of us, but really, no clue
  • # woodworking vendors: at least one other that close, but again, no clue
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 22:0 (Can you believe it?)

Boards sold: 22

  • Small Surf Boards (all new!): 5
  • Cheese Boards: 4
  • Sous Chef – Small: 4
  • Large Cheese Servers (previously known as surf boards): 2
  • Sous Chef – Large: 1
  • Custom Order: 1
  • Engraved Board: 1
  • Bread Board: 1
  • Lazy Susan: 1
  • Chess Board: 1
  • Cutting Board: 1

The Board Chronicles: California Strawberry Festival   4 comments

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.

California Strawberry FestivalAt last, we can see the end of our 6 weeks of spring events. We actually scheduled 7 events in 6 weeks … it was to be our big push before summer. Our spring fling.

The first 5 weeks surpassed our expectations, and we had already achieved our goals for the events in total. Week 6 was to be a bonus.

A poor one, it turns out.

We had hoped that this nearby, celebrated community event would get us to record numbers in its 32nd annual iteration. Alas, ’twas not to be.

Sales throughout the event were down from expectations. I talked to several veteran vendors, who described their results as down from last year … which was significantly down from the prior year. No joy here.

New Ideas

  • Because Velda had to go work at her “job,” I was teamed with the other Mrs. M for this weekend. We have fun at our rare events that we get to do without the other M. Plus, she drove their truck on Sunday so I got a very rare day as a passenger.
  • This is a gated event. Patrons paid for entrance, and paid for parking unless they took the free shuttle from the outlying free parking lots.

Observations

  • You never know if you’re getting a good booth position or not. We were almost at one end of the long line of Arts & Crafts vendors set up on Rose Avenue. We were one booth away from the Purple entrance gate … near the Red Gate, and on the opposite end from the Blue gate. Good? Bad? No clue. Our talkative neighbor whose family business is outfitting women of all ages with toe rings (please note the rare juxtaposition of “family business” and “toe rings” in the same sentence) said we were in an excellent spot.
  • Genuine huge attendance at this show, averaging 66,000 for the last 5 years. If only they had brought their wallets…. Actually, they may have brought their wallets, but they came to eat, primarily. And since the food lines had more in common with “Waiting for Godot” than they had any right to, it may be that people spent too much time in line, got frustrated and went home. Hungry in most cases, I believe.
  • “Handmade” is required to be an arts & crafts vendor at this show, and I believe they policed that policy better than any show we’ve been a part of. However, with the poor results we generated, I’m now wondering if that’s a good thing.
  • Conclusion to the previous point: I need to be more focused on buyers than sellers. Say what you will about the quality of the sellers, it was the quality of the buyers that frustrated me.

The Food

Saturday Lunch: 2 chocolate covered strawberries and a hot pretzel. I’m doing it wrong. Again.

Saturday Snack: Watching Alley drink a strawberry-flavored beer.

Sunday Snack: I had two nutrition bars that Alley brought, thinking that might be a better lunch than yesterday.

Sunday Lunch: Today, Alley found a food vendor with less than 30 families in line, so she brought me a Thai chicken skewer. Definitely did it right today.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 306
  • Booth cost: $425
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Total sales: $1,235
  • # containers of product taken: 15
  • # boards available: 63
  • Saturday alarm: 5:30am
  • Sunday alarm: 7:00am
  • # transactions: 62 – 53 for lotion and 9 for boards.
  • # soap & lotion vendors: three other vendors, all focused on soap. Thank goodness!
  • # woodworking vendors: a lot! Three made simple wooden signs (so they were more painters than woodworkers, really). One made redwood picnic sets. Two made children’s toys. One made children’s chalk/dry erase board art boxes. There was a turner selling wooden pens and bottle stoppers. There was a guy selling wooden neckties (huh?). Oh, and one guy made cutting boards out of corian. I feel sorry for his customers….
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 8-1/2 : 2-1/2 (because the Honey Locust & Hard Maple board was part end grain and part edge grain. I’m creative like that. Occasionally.)

Boards sold: 11

Cutting Boards: 2

Engraved Boards: 2

Cheese Boards: 2

Small Board: 2

Sous Chef Board: 2

Bread Board: 1

The Board Chronicles: Simi Valley Street Fair   4 comments

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.

ShowImage.aspxBest. Day. Ever.

I had very low expectations going to the Simi Valley Street Fair. After all, it had rained Friday.

For those of you not in Southern California, let me translate that for you.

The weather was HORRIBLE on Friday. There was a BIG storm! Stay Inside! No telling what Saturday will bring!

Much as we need the rain, Angelenos don’t react well to wet weather. It’s like, wet. Desert dwellers avoid stuff like that.

Happily, the weather was perfect on Saturday. The crowd came to the Street Fair (after carefully peeking their heads out early on Saturday to make sure they wouldn’t get wet. It was a late crowd.). The results: best one day event we’ve I’ve ever done.

About that: Velda was still a bit under the weather, so I was again a solo act on Saturday. I’ll just let the results speak for themselves.

New Ideas

  • The Street Fair event had a mandatory pre-event meeting vendors were required to attend. It was a waste of my time … but I did learn that it’s important to wear comfortable shoes to the event. Oh, and to know who’s working your booth. And it’s important, I was told, to know what your key points are when talking to customers.
  • I hate it when people think I’m stupid. And I really hate it when they think I’m that stupid.
  • First event I’ve done where all gear was delivered to your booth by volunteers driving carts towing little trailers. Apparently, it’s too dangerous to let vendors drive their own gear in their own transportation to their booths. It worked, but geez. Really?
  • Local events work for us. Chamber of Commerce events work for us. Community events work for us. In the craft fair community, all of those things are sometimes rejected as “bad” events by some vendors. You simply have to find your own way; you can’t always follow the herd.

Observations

  • The weather impacted some vendors: my neighbor to the left and two neighbors to the right were no shows. I was an island. I was a lonely, lonely man.
  • Another woodworker, a turner, was also there. He had lots of pens and bottle stoppers, and a few peppermills. Didn’t meet him; no clue how he did. I do know, though, that his wife let him sleep late and she’s the one that set up the booth for him. Just sayin’.
  • If half of the people that tell me I’m making Christmas presents for them follow through, then I may not be sleeping in November.
  • One of the engraved board examples that I have is of a last name on a maple board. Last week, I (incredibly) sold the “Mowry” version of this board. This week, I had a new one made saying “Rodriguez.” Yup, sold it, first day.
  • This “hobby” began to feel a lot like “work” today. A couple of people complimented me on creating a business out of my hobby … I corrected them. This is not a business, as I do not get paid. It’s strictly for fun at this point. Though today, not so much.
  • I went to bed before 10pm. Still a long day.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: McDonald’s # 4, drive thru at 4:55am. That’s too early for breakfast.

Saturday Lunch: no time.

Saturday Snack: warm, sugar coated almonds. Yum.

Saturday Dinner: Pho Sure, # S5. I did stay awake through dinner, and aside from getting some much-needed nourishment, that was my main accomplishment.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 128
  • Booth cost: $150
  • # of people I met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Total sales: $1,454
  • # containers of product taken: 16
  • # boards available: 72
  • Saturday alarm: 4:30am
  • # transactions: 47 – 35 for lotion, 12 for boards
  • # soap & lotion vendors: no clue … did not see any
  • # woodworking vendors: one turner was there for sure
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 12:1

Boards sold: 13

Engraved Boards: 4

Cutting Boards: 4

Cheese Boards: 2

Sous Chef Boards: 2

Small Board: 1

Simi Valley Street Fair 01

Simi Valley Street Fair, 2015. The truck in back of me was setting up a long, tall pinewood derby track. Extreme sports come to a Southern California Cub Scout invention.

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