Thursday, April 13, 2017

Market & Event Selling 101: How Do You Know You're Ready to Start? Let's Sell!

Selling your wares at outdoor markets, expos, and events can take your business to the next level. I started "officially" selling my natural body care products around March 2015. We kept adding events and pop-up shops wherever people would let us; you have a spot, we have a table! This helped us grow our business from a traveling pop-up shop to having our own brick and mortar location! And we're not stopping our traveling herbal pop-ups anytime soon! It's a keystone for our business and we've gotten really good at it, learning the pitfalls and ups-and-downs the hard way the past couple of years.

In this series, Market and Event Selling 101, I want to share tips on how to be successful selling at markets.

First things first, how do you know you're ready to set up at one? It's not as hard as you may think. You don't need fancy signs, table cloths and dressing, props, labels or anything of the sort. You just need...

1) Product Made: Whatever you're selling needs to be done BEFORE you start. I know this sounds like a no-duh, but a lot of beginners (myself included, 10 years ago!) sign up for markets and then try to hustle to make products to sell quickly right up to the deadline! I've used markets as deadline makers, but only when my work is at least half-done and I know I have what I need to finish! Take your time, streamline your wares, whatever those may be, before even thinking of signing up. Take as long as you need.

2) Abundance of Products: Of course there are exceptions, like if you're at a book sale and just need to sell a few of your self-printed books at $50.00 each to make a profit, but in most cases, you need a lot of stuff on that table to do well! Do your inventory and make sure you have enough to make a profit after fees, gas, food, and all other expenses.

3) Basic Signage and Cards: You DON'T have to be fancy or expensive here. I've seen people do well with hand drawn signs on wood, chalkboard, etc. You can hand-write or stamp cards and those will work fine, just be sure to have both to take advantage of your event for marketing purposes.

An under-awning event (yay, no tent needed) we traveled 5 hours for! We made it compact for that purpose. You'll learn to switch things up depending on where you're setting up.

4) Newsletter Ready to Go: Markets are the #1 way we grow our newsletter list. Make a sheet so customers or would-be/future customers can sign up.

5) Basic Table and Cloth: All you need is one table and cloth to cover it to get started. If you're going to be in the sun a canopy tent or even an umbrella may be needed. If you can't afford a canopy some markets offer rentals, have extras, or have space under trees or awnings where you can set up so call and ask in advance for that information.

6) Optimism & Happiness: You may not sell a single thing your first time, in fact, that's pretty common! Each market is an opportunity to learn what people respond to, what they like and don't like. Don't go in looking to sell or looking at people simply as dollar signs. Just go in happy that you have an opportunity to put your wares out there. Take note of people's advice or how they respond and make real connections.

EDIT #7) Have Prices of Every Item on Your Table: Have signs with pricing for each item on your table and/or go the extra mile and also have them on your products. People don't like to ask for pricing and will sometimes just leave out of frustration if you don't have all prices clearly marked. Thanks for this important reminder in the comments everyone :)

These six tips I feel are all you need to start selling at outdoor markets, expos, and pop-up events. Of course it gets more detailed from here and we'll go into that in future posts. Do these events for the experience, learn and grow from it and improve each time! If you go with the expectation to sell out you'll be disappointed, go in only with the expectation to proudly display your best work and have fun and you'll be a success!

Any basics tips for beginners if you're a seller? What about advice for us sellers as frequent shoppers? Let's discuss in the comments!
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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Biz Behind the Scenes: Collecting, Crafting, and Getting Caught Up + Re-Inspired

March was a month of ups-and-downs for sure, mostly emotionally. But by the end we got through it and again I feel 100% inspired and ready to make like crazy; my favorite thing to do! I'm writing a little series on how I got through the hard shop start-up time. 'Til then, here's some behind-the-scenes of what I've been crafting and getting up to with business and life.

I'm back to vintage collecting! It's a blessing to look at vintage from the perspective of being a collector again. I'm hunting online and at few (VERY few, I don't let myself hunt too much, on an early-start-up budget) flea markets and yard sales for late 60s-70s groovy bits for my home and shop. I'll share some thrift hauls soon. (You can see a preview of it above with that gorgeous shag rug I scored!)

March was another busy season of markets and big store sales. I got backed up and stressed at some points but now I'm getting ahead and making the changes needed to keep my sanity. My new intern and employee are really helpful here, it's fun to work with my new age herb-loving co-workers! Tara, my new helper, is a talented artist, I'm looking forward to some chill drawing and crafting nights at the store!

Just a tiny smattering of our adorable customers from the store & at marketplaces.
With new helpers we're getting more sales and I'm getting more items on our Etsy shop

Speaking of markets, I'm excited that we got accepted into Renegade Craft Fair in Miami! I've admired the artisans in Renegade for years and I was thoroughly surprised to be accepted into a marketplace with some many polished, creative business owners. In my head I'm always thinking of my work needing improvement and not being good enough so it was a nice pinch of validation to get in, I was expecting a rejection e-mail. If you're in or near Miami come say "Hi" :)

All accomplishments aside, I let another month go by without many travels or tours of nature and that is going to stop now. (Although we did get to an orchid show and saw the amazing Shadaowland at the Florida Theatre.) We're scheduling time for trips this month even with more markets coming. It's one of my personal priorities to be OUT in the world and not just cooped up inside and I'm doing what it takes to make that happen this month.

*And speaking of vintage, if you sell vintage frocks and/or baskets in particular, but vintage anything from the 60s-70s please e-mail me or leave your link in the comments (a lot of readers are vintage shoppers) so I can browse your wares. Also please do let me know if you're interested in selling vintage clothes with me? I'm on the fence but I'm too exhausted to teach workshops at the moment (just being honest with myself, finally, haha) so I have more retail space to fill up and I'm passionate about vintage clothes. And I'm also looking for teachers for workshops (creative, holistic, anything, if you've got a workshop, I've got a room!) so hit me up if you're interested!

How as your March? April's already turning into a good one where we're sitting. I actively post behind-the-scenes peeks on Instagram here & here
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Friday, March 31, 2017

6 Basics Tips for Preserving Your Energy as a Creative Entrepreneur: Personal Care

Do you ever feel like you can't do a single thing more with your work because your energy is depleted? Or worse, out of ideas? Have you ever found yourself unable to focus, instead clicking down the internet rabbit hole for hours? You may have accidentally depleted your well of creativity. Like any other part of your body it must be cared for and nourished. There are many techniques for healing creativity but I wanted to focus on the basics I've learned not to neglect the hard way during these busy start-up hour times for me!

1. Stay Well-Fed and Hydrated, make it a PRIORITY!

I cook my meals for the day ahead of time (simple one-pot stuff) and make sure I have enough for the work day when I leave. I have it pre-portioned so I can nibble every 2 hours to keep my metabolism (energy!) revved up. I drink lots of water between meals. As for sleep, I

2. Also make SLEEP a PRIORITY!

I open my store at 1pm so I can SLEEP as late as I want. I also keep my phone far away in the living room so it can't wake me, NO call is so important that it should interrupt my sleep. The emergency will still be there when I wake up! As someone with anxiety-related sleep issues (I'm learning my nervous system is hyperactive so when I have something exciting coming up the next day I won't sleep and adrenaline will keep me running full speed for a while the next day, aah!) I know the study that hypothesizes lack of sleep impairment is on par with being drunk is true! I have certainly been so tired that doing normal things like standing and tying my shoe laces is challenging. Protect your sleep, don't work into the night, you will be more productive because you will have been coordination and cognitive function the next day!

Kawaii little lunches throughout the day, balanced carb/fruit/protein ratio, thanks personal trainer boyfriend for making me keep that in mind >:P haha

3. Use Your Intuition and SAY NO, if Something Feels Remotely Wrong, Don't Do It

When you run a successful creative business people will come asking for things left and right. This is good, it shows you're growing and getting yourself out there. Creative can be kind and sensitive making it hard to say No, myself included. But I've learned to protect my energy, we have a finite amount, you cannot say yes to everyone and every opportunity. Protect your energy first and foremost, if you want to do something but a voice somewhere is saying it's a bad idea, just DON'T.

4. Stick as strictly to your work hours as possible

This one is hard! Sometimes you have a deadline and have NO choice but to work. Other times you're so crazy inspired you're tempted to use that creative energy and go with the flow. I urge you though to just write down the inspiration and to-dos it requires and get to it the next work day. There's lots of evidence to suggest humans work better in shorter, harder creative bursts. Stick to your work hours so you can make time for the next important energy-regenerator.

My retreat in the treeees, I can't wait to get back to The Hostel in the Forest every the moment I leave it. 

5. Schedule lots of fun trips, outdoor time, and recharging time with friends

Creatives recharge with outside stimuli and new adventures. Schedule something new and fun at LEAST weekly. It could a new local museum show, a road trip, whatever it is, go enjoy it and get that creative energy recharged!

6. Exercise, move 'til you sweat daily

I HATE the gym I will confess. Dragging myself there sucks. There first 10 minutes or so sucks.  But you get an energy rush that'll last all day and feel SO much better when you get it over with. The endorphins give you a creative high! Plus, it just makes you feel healthier and more accomplished overall. Switch it up to keep your easily-bored ADD brain happy. I do weight lifting, cycling, yoga (when I wake up early enough!) calisthenics, jogging and even some basketball. The first couple months of the shop opening I worked too much and didn't hit the gym and I definitely felt that decrease in energy, do it to keep that circulation going and keep it fun!

* * * 
All of this may seem like common sense for non workaholics but it's always nice to have a reminder. The 5 tips above are your bare bones essentials for keeping your creative energy going strong. Of course expect more specific and detailed exercises in the future!

I'm sure I left out plenty of basics, do you have anything to share on how you preserve your creative energy and stay inspired and productive? Do let me know in the comments.
For daily updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow me on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram.
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