Wednesday, April 26, 2017

April Business Review 2017: Living and Working Intensely for a Few Weeks. Worth it.

I live striving to improve from the last project, feeling euphoric only when I know I put my all into it. Anxiety strikes when I didn't do the best I possibly could. Perfectionist woes! The past two weeks I finally did it, I worked like a well-focused herbalist-machine and now I'm so spent from it all I can barely move. Worth it. I think. Ha!

April was a big month for us because it was the anniversary of our Earth Day Market which was one of our earliest successes, we made over $500 in sales at the last one! That, combined with a showing with World-Class crafters at Renegade Craft Fair in Miami (I really expected a rejection letter!) made me want to revise my work and put my best out there.

The goals: (1) unify each of our lines (2) get caught up on product (3) give each line new labels to the best of my ability within the limited time frame.

I worked almost up to my deadline and made at least 40 label designs, some from scratch, in two weeks! Along with a variety of products! OH, and I have to stick all of those suckers on dozens of products by hand, of course! (My mom and boyfriend granted me mercy and helped me out on the last day.) It was crazy! The event was a whirlwind, and I made it through with the satisfaction of having gone the distance. I feel like Rocky after surviving all those rounds against Creed. I am Batman! That Saturday after my event I slept 14 hours to replenish that spent creative energy!

The theme for April was to learn to laser-focus. I was letting myself go in too many directions and was neglecting the most important tasks. Now I know I need to say "no" to a lot of people and projects and protect my energy. I'm going to focus on three income sources related to Body&Soul and this blog. This month I realized maintaining an online store, local store, and doing frequent traveling pop-up shops is ENOUGH. I can't teach or do freelance client work on top of that. I let everything else go to just focus on a main passion project and that was so much better.

Quick photo of the shop I took for the back of our new post cards. I've been slowly remodeling in here. Posts to come, of course!

Not that it was all sunshine and roses. It was stressful and riddled with anxiety. I wanted labels to hurry up and get designed faster but some processes you just can't rush. I thought those label designs were NEVER going to END! But at the end of it all the accomplishment was worth it. This comic by The Oatmeal describes my feelings on living UNHAPPILY, but with extremely purpose, perfectly. I'm tapped into my growth zone and it's hard but exhilarating. I particularly related to these words:

I work.
I work for twelve hours a day.

I work until I can't think straight 
and I forget to feed myself and the
light outside dims to a tired glow.

When I do these things,
I am not smiling or beaming with joy.

In truth, when I do these things,
I'm often suffering.

But I do them because I find them 

I find them compelling.

I do these things because I want to be 
tormented and challenged and interested.

I want to build things, and then break them.

I want to be busy and beautiful 
and brimming with
ten-thousand moving parts.

I want to hurt, so that I can heal.

I'm not unhappy.
I'm just busy.
I'm interested.

And that's ok.

In my happy AND unhappy place. Working.

Another similar video I connected with every word of was this one on realizing what your true purpose in life is. I have a HUGE variety of interests but creativity is what unites all of them, and with my new goals I get to exercise all of my interests: indie business, writing, PR, marketing, sales, herbalism, product formulation, design, photography, website creation, crafting, I use it all in this shop. I feel excited and proud that I "went the distance" this month...

...But fun free time was definitely sacrificed. I know I'm not caught-up yet and I still have more crazy catch-up work ahead to get where I want to be. But I know when I'm there I can start living a bit more like The Fisherman. I'm looking forward to structuring my life with intense work and equally intense breaks! (Breaks with study and exploration, of course!)

Now I'm looking forward to some uninterrupted bursts of writing! And non-label related work! How goes life with you lately?
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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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