Open for business! The sign makes it more official somehow.
Last weekend I participated in my first pop-up shop at the 2015 Method + Madness conference, as a part of Phoenix Design Week. It was a fantastic experience, especially because I was a graphic designer for 16 years and this was my community. Everyone was so supportive and excited to see what I've been working on, and I'm so glad I hustled my way to being ready for it.
I had decided recently that it would be fun to participate in some sort of arts and crafts show or farmer's market, but didn't expect to be doing one so soon. My goal was to attend several for research and then sell my handmade items at an in-person event by the end of January 2016.
It's funny how when you set an intention and start down a path, you can be ready for opportunities when they appear. Just by writing down my goal for the next few months, it helped me be in a place where I could say "yes" when I was invited to participate in the pop-up shop, just 5 days before the event. If being is business is a marathon, last week was definitely a sprint. But so worth it.
Being around such a supportive and inquisitive community does wonders for a person's spirit. I got a lot of positive feedback on my handmade items, several new customers, and even some people who told me how much they liked my PechaKucha talk Friday night.
One of my favorite comments:
I wish I had a dog so I could buy something!
At the table next to me was Phoenix Print Studios, a letterpress design and print shop (it's also a teaching studio and community event space) run by Cindy Iverson and Jeryl Jones. And on the other side was Eric Torres' booth. Eric is a talented designer, illustrator, and World of Rynaga creator. I enjoyed being next to and chatting with each of them. Cindy and Jeryl each bought a Pocket Critter, and Eric showed his support by offering me some event advice -- he participates in lots of shows, including Comicon. Not to mention bringing over my very first customer! Needless to say, I was very grateful for my fellow shop-mates.
I can already see how selling in person and getting direct feedback will help shape my products. The Pocket Critters were my most popular item, likely because of the affordable price and because they're just so cute and huggable. Some people bought an item as a gift for the dog lover in their life (or, in once case, bought one of the pocket toys as a tooth fairy pillow for her grandson!). Second to that were the leash pouches. People liked the craftsmanship, the contrasting linings, and how they look like miniature duffle bags.
Participating in this event has helped clarify my goals, and motivated me to focus my design and production and apply for more shows. My booth display is most definitely a work-in-progress, and there are things I'd like to add, but for now I'll focus on making things available for sale that I'm excited about and that I can get more feedback on.
Do you like to attend handmade shows and fairs?
What do you think of them -- what's missing and what do you like? Drop me a note (firstname.lastname@example.org) if there's one in the Phoenix area that you'd recommend!