Archive for the ‘Studio City’ Tag

The Board Chronicles: California Strawberry Festival 2017   1 comment

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.

“Do you do a lot of food events?” we were asked. The answer is no (though we’re scheduled for 4 food-based events this year!).

This year, we’re doing 2 strawberry festivals, an avocado festival and a lemon festival. We very much regret that we’re not doing Gilroy’s Garlic Festival … but that’s a story for another day.

Oxnard is about an hour west of us, and it hosts the California Strawberry Festival to celebrate my favorite fruit. This is the 31st annual event, and the organizers proudly trumpet that this Festival has raised over $5,000,000 for local charities during this event’s run.

Did I mention they sell Strawberry ale?

Did I mention they sell strawberry shortcake, strawberry parfait and chocolate-covered strawberries? You bet we love this event!

New Ideas

  • I was selected to appear on KTLA Channel 5’s morning news show to represent. Friday’s alarm was at 3:15am.
  • This is the first time that I set up our new 10×20 canopy solo … and I did it after the TV appearance. True celebrity is elusive.
  • Even though this is our 3rd annual entry into this event, it’s the first time that the elder Mrs M (she hates it when I write that) got to work the event, on Saturday.
  • On Sunday, the younger Mrs M worked this event, which is the first event that she’s gone a-vendoring in over a year. Important side note: Camdyn, Granddaughter # 2, turned 1 last month.
  • Our juggling reached a new level of chaos with an extremely important, simultaneous event: MrsMowry got her MA in Secondary English Education from Cal State Northridge this weekend … so we had to do things a bit differently. For the first time ever, a non-Mowry helped us work the booth during the 2 hours that I was absent due to the 8am Sunday (!) Commencement ceremony.

Observations

  • Our 3rd Annual Spring Fling is purring right along, and it’s time for the big events. This is event # 5 of 7.
  • Nap needed. Definitely.
  • At the TV shoot Friday morning, the PR person’s husband fell in love with the pig I had on display, so he bought it on the spot.
  • I’m out of the pig business. All my pigs have found new homes.
  • Love this event! Troy & Dana, the promoters, do a great and professional job. One huge perk: they keep private bathrooms (well, bathrooms may be overselling here) just for their 174 vendors. Much appreciated!
  • “I saw you on TV!” I heard it several times, both days. Attributable sales = $0.
  • The cutest little girl had Mom buy her a duck from ZooSoapia. That little slip of a girl approached Mrs M and solemnly announced, “I promise not to break it.”
  • Well done, Mom, well done.
  • A guy announced “It smells better in this booth than anywhere here!”
  • Our new motto: We Don’t Stink.
  • A 30-something got all excited about my small sous chef boards on display … until I explained, no, they were not pizza stones, and no, you couldn’t put them in the oven to hold the pizza as you warmed it. She genuinely thought it would be good to bake pizza on wood – in an oven with high temperatures.
  • One guy walked into the booth and got upset I wouldn’t embrace his use of pure tung oil to finish cutting boards. Other than potentially hurting people with nut allergies and the possibility that this oil imported from China can eventually turn rancid in the board … great idea. In my (sarcastic) opinion.
  • Sunday we needed help to run the booth, since Velda & I were attending MrsMowry’s commencement. Pam Leighton and her daughter Chelsea wanted to go to the festival (attending this festival several years ago, Chelsea was discovered & began a modeling career!). A BIG THANK YOU for Pam & Chelsea for the assist. We could not have done it without you! When Pam goes a-vendoring, she sells sterling silver jewelry & scarves as Dazzle Me Designs. See some of her stuff, and her upcoming events, here.
  • A lady walked into the booth, and got all excited that I was willing to make her a pig cutting board. She then bounced out of the booth to talk to her husband:
    • She said, “I got a pig cutting board!”
    • From the side of his mouth, he said, “Figures.”
  • I’m back in the pig business. It was demanded of me. I anticipate a substantial celebration among Petunia’s pals … I predict a big litter.
  • By the way, this sale was accomplished using my smartphone. I showed the lady a picture of pigs gone by, and she bought one, sight unseen, from the next litter.
  • Note to self: deduct the smartphone.
  • A lady was discussing a special order with me when my engraver, Teri Diamond of Lavene & Company, walked into the booth. Fun to introduce her to a client!
  • The new canopy definitely got noticed at the event. 2 vendors talked to me about buying one. I blogged about our purchase, here.
  • My inventory is shrinking … and that’s  a good thing? I’m below 200 pieces again. I’m out of notepad clipboards, letter clipboards, blanks for engraved boards, pigs, bears, hearts, pizza servers and large sous chef boards. I need shop time … which I don’t get any, in any meaningful way, until July.
  • Sunday was a full day of fun. Up early to go to Commencement, then on to work the event that lasted until 6:30pm. We began taking it all down then, but the younger Mrs M had never packed product with this new display. She’d never touched ZooSoapia before. For my part, the new canopy had to be taken down; it’s my 3rd time doing that … and we were down at 8:30pm. Then, I had to go get the Jeep, go to the trailer storage area, hook up, return to the event area, and commence loading. That took another hour or so. I got home shortly after 11pm.
  • Requests were for cutting board stands (The elder Mrs M applauded. Again.), a reading stand (nope), e-cig holders (double nope), a backgammon board (still nope), a knife to go with the cutting boards, a travel-sized chess board (now I’m expected to have different kinds of chess boards???), and a Lazy Susan made from Black Walnut (patience!).
  • Chess board sales = $0.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Bagels & cream cheese, on the run

Saturday Lunch: Velda’s cheese & crackers = no waiting in the famously long food lines at the event (which were not so bad this year. Perhaps they brought in more food vendors? That is good!)

Saturday Snack: Strawberry Ale, before 12noon. We didn’t buy it soon enough.

Saturday Dinner: Marston’s Linguine with chicken … for when you don’t want to count the calories in its creamy goodness.

Sunday Breakfast: Bagels & cream cheese, on the run

Sunday Lunch: The younger Mrs M brought me a PBJ from home. Bless her.

Sunday Snack: Strawberry shortcake. It was perfect.

Sunday Dinner: .3 miles north of the event, I stopped the newly loaded trailer, got gas at the Arco & dinner from the adjacent Jack in the Box. Back on the road, munching as I went … at 10pm.

The Facts

  • The Board Chronicles: California Strawberry Festival (2015)
  • The Board Chronicles: California Strawberry Festival 2016
  • Total miles driven: 496
  • Booth cost: $765
  • Food cost: $59
  • Travel cost: $0
  • Total sales: $3,617
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $2,793
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: 5:15a
  • Sunday alarm: 5:15a
  • # transactions: 151 … tied for our record number of transactions in a 2-day event, and exactly the same number of transactions done at this event last year!
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there were a couple of others; both had been bitten by the “all natural” kind of presentation, it seemed.
  • # woodworking vendors: several, including one direct competitor. There was also a cutting board maker selling relatively inexpensive, shaped plastic boards.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 25:3
  • Returning next year? Yup.

Boards sold: 28

MBOs: 6

Small Boards: 4

Cheese Boards: 4

Domed Cheese & Cracker Servers: 3

Custom Orders: 3

Cutting Boards: 2

Large Sous Chef Board: 1

Large Cheese & Cracker Server: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Large Cutting Board: 1

Small Clipboard: 1

Pig Cutting Board: 1

The Board Chronicles: Rotary Art Show 2017   Leave a comment

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.

This is about being comfortable in your own skin.

Last year, this event was our first “art show,” and I was nervous about whether or not we belonged.

We did.

This year, we were oh, so prepared for this good event. After debuting her new display and her handmade soap at this event one year ago, Mrs M made new soap just for this event.

It’s always dangerous to have expectations for an event, as you know, but we were definitely expecting to repeat last year’s success in 2017.

We’ve had 3 straight events with poor weather – high winds and rain – so we were ready for a non-stressful event. The forecast for this weekend was for blue skies and temps in the 70s.

Sounds just about perfect for a SoCal weekend, don’t you think?

New Ideas

  • We have a new canopy! We have a 10×20 Trimline from Flourish (read the blog about that, here). Yes, it’s more difficult to set up than a pop-up. Yes, it’s much better. Our booth is sooo much more open & airier now.

Observations

  • Our 3rd Annual Spring Fling is getting going now: this is event # 4 of 7. We are over the hump.
  • While we were setting up on Friday, a pair of ladies stopped by to confirm that I was Henry. Uh … yes? They went on to explain that I met them 2 years ago at an event, invited them to read The Board Chronicles, and that this was the first event they’ve come to on my recommendation.
  • Wow! Hope they do well.
  • And they did!
  • A guy wanted to buy a lip balm, and handed me $8. I confirmed that he only wanted one lip balm for $3, and he said, “Oh. I thought they were $8. I figured they were handmade, so that was the price ….”
  • Prices gotta go up.
  • Saturday started strong with some lotion sales before 10a, but then settled down and was oh. so. slow. Still an OK day, but wasn’t this a good event for us last year?
  • Yes it was … and Saturday was only 29% of our sales last year, I learned when I got home. I should come with more knowledge to end any premature freaking out on Saturdays.
  • Our friend Linda sells handmade, inexpensive jewelry … and her booth was JAMMED all day long. Saturday was definitely good for her!
  • I never restocked my business cards on Saturday. What is happening???
  • Would it change your opinion to know that this dog’s mistress was wearing the same shirt?

  • After several days of vendoring where we generated all kinds of bills, on Saturday normalcy returned. We generated 5s & 20s … and ate 1s and 10s. All was well with the world
  • When we generate 1s, I take that as a bad thing. The goal is to exchange my 1s for our customers’ 20s, 50s & 100s. Please.
  • Saturday was our 39th wedding anniversary. Mrs M enjoyed showing off the wedding board display piece as proof that we were married 39 years ago. Perhaps we’ll need to choose a different celebration for next year’s anniversary, since it has a zero in it.
  • Yes, that anniversary will be on the Sunday of this event next year, which is also Mother’s Day. No, I’m not certain that we should spend that auspicious day a-vendoring. But, then again….
  • Simple banners work! One customer said they saw our banner from the road, and that made them stop and come to the event.
  • This event is always good for celebrity sightings. In my booth: Neil Flynn, AKA Mike Heck on The Middle. He contemplated the balancing act that is a Wine Bottle Holder, and then set off in pursuit of his actual family.
  • The most interesting conversation of the day was from a guy that enjoyed my work, and shared how he wants to take tree hugging to a whole new level. Trees sing, apparently.
  • Best hour of the weekend: the final hour. We sold 21% of our total in those final 60 minutes. Go figure.
  • Requests were for a backgammon board, a utility cart top, routed cracker bowls, a sink cover, a Tak gameboard and a bread board with a crumb catcher.
  • Chess board sales: $0.
  • Load out got a bit emotional for some, as vendors wrestled with the event’s very common rule: don’t bring your vehicle in for loading until you are 100% packed. Some vendors flout this rule, of course, and park their vehicles while they are packing up. By the time we were packed up, I only had to wait a few minutes to get a parking spot. It would have been better if those that had slipped through the cordon of Rotarians to park & abandon their vehicles would have been caught and rejected, but that didn’t happen. I only wish that those that flout the rules won’t be here next year.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Just like last year … hello, old friend.

Saturday Lunch:

We got several compliments on how good this looked. I don’t think it sold any cheese boards, though….

Saturday Snack: Nope

Saturday Dinner: The 2nd best Chicken Marsala in town, at Bella Cucina. Mrs M doesn’t always cook on our anniversary … she, of course, makes the best Marsala. Did you have any doubt?

Sunday Breakfast: The 2nd best breakfast burrito in town, from Jimmy Deans.

Sunday Lunch: A cheeseburger & chips from Troop 210, Burbank, who have been catering this event as a fundraiser for years

Sunday Snack: Nope

Sunday Dinner: Papa John’s, though Mrs M proved incapable of ordering a pizza correctly at 9pm on a Sunday event day. She ordered it to be delivered to the Papa John’s store, which even the store thought to be strange.

The Facts

  • Rotary Art Show 2016
  • Total miles driven: 184
  • Booth cost: $300
  • Food cost: $71
  • Travel cost: $0
  • Total sales: $1,857
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $1,486
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: 5:45a
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 69
  • # soap & lotion vendors: two others, both of which did hot process instead of Mrs M’s cold process, apparently. Nothing wrong with that, of course, if you’re going to limit yourself. Hmmm. I must be getting snooty.
  • # woodworking vendors: Several. One guy that’s well known to me from a few previous events we’ve shared does what I do, but uses many, many more kinds of woods and does a lot of what I would call chaos boards in all different sizes & applications. Coasters, boxes for decks of cards, sushi servers … he’s got a lot of good looking stuff. There were also 3 or 4 other woodworkers making stuff from pallets, making collapsible baskets (which are unusual), and more.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 14: 1
  • Returning next year? Not sure. Is this the way we want to celebrate our anniversary?

Boards sold: 15

Magic Bottle Openers: 4

Domed Cheese & Cracker Servers: 2

Small Sous Chef Boards: 2

Small Board: 1

Cheese & Cracker Server: 1

Custom Order: 1

Large Cutting Board: 1

Large Sous Chef Board: 1

Wine Bottle Holder: 1

Pig Cutting Board: 1

The Board Chronicles: Rotary Art Show   3 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.

Rotary Art ShowIt’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.”

“Art.”

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?

“Art.”

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.”

“Art.”

OK, we’ll see.

New Ideas

  • 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.
  • “Art.”

Observations

  • 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.

The Food

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.

The Facts

  • 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

Clipboards: 2

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

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