This show freaked me out. Big time. I showed up to set up and it was in this BIG pavilion, and there were all these vendors with fancy displays and tons of product, people who clearly did this all the time. And then there was little old me, with my styrofoam heads and makeshift thrift-store displays and a wide variety of products. I was paralyzed for a little while, with no idea how I was going to do this. Thank goodness, my Knitting SIL showed up to help and jump-started my competitive nature. Between the two of us, we set up a professional, attractive display. The first day was disappointing. Big crowds for the first three hours or so, but over the course of the 8-hour day, I made less than $100. Plenty of people stopped and admired, but no one was buying. I was discouraged but still hoped the second day would be better, and it was! The crowds weren’t as big but I made some sales, enough to sell twice what the booth space cost me. Great? Nope, but good. The Royals hats didn’t sell as quickly as I expected but I sold four of the six button slouch hats I just made last week, so I’ll be making more of those.
Here’s the highlight of the entire show: mid-afternoon on Saturday, two women stopped by my booth and admired several of the hats. The older woman tried on a red slouch hat and liked it, the younger woman tried on a few, then they said they still needed to look around. About half an hour later, they were back. They’d seen everything, trying to decide what their ONE purchase would be…and out of 100 or so vendors, I’d won their business! That made the whole experience worth it to me. Two hats, not a huge sale, but it said huge things to me: they appreciated the work I’d done, they liked it enough to spend their money on it. THAT is why I do this. THAT is why I price my items as fairly as I can. I’m not in this to get rich. I’m in this to do what I love and share it with others.
It wasn’t just them, either. I got so many compliments about my display, my products, my fiber choices, my workmanship. People stopped and really looked at my pieces, felt them, and told me I did very nice work. No, most of them didn’t buy, but that’s ok. It was enough to tell me that I’m on the right track with what I’m doing. Enough people get it, get that my goal is to take a beautiful yarn and find the right pattern to show it off, and do it in a high-quality way to produce something that’s better than you can buy at Target or Kohl’s. I did have one person ask me if I’d take $10 on a $15 acrylic hat (I said no) but only one. That person is not my target. My target is the person who appreciates beauty and quality and is willing to pay what those things are worth.
So now I have to figure out how to reach my target. I’m not sure this show was worth doing again. I had a wonderful time, but the profit wasn’t huge. Am I better off doing smaller, less expensive shows? In the past, I’ve made almost the same amount of money at them while paying smaller booth fees. Do I search for shows in areas that are typically more oriented toward handmade/artisan/independent sellers? Areas that are higher income? Or do I just keep doing a variety? I’m not sure. I’m pondering while I start looking around for some more shows to do.
What’s my takeaway from this show? I need more depth in my kid hat inventory. People wanted them. They loved my Yoda hat, but since I only had maybe five kid hats available, they didn’t sell well. I need more colors, more styles, more sizes. And the button slouch hats will definitely be a staple. They’re quick to make, stylish, and the buttons add great flair. I want to have some chemo caps too, soft and snug acrylic beanies. I had a request for them and hated that I didn’t have anything that was just right. (Of course I also had a request for camo alpaca beanies/gloves marketed as “Hunters’ Special” but I don’t think I’ll go that route.)
I’m never going to be the both with tons of colors in only three or four styles. That’s just not me. But I think I can find a way to meet the customers’ needs and still make what I love. They want kid hats? I love making hats. Having a variety of colors and sizes is all I need; they don’t have to be the same pattern. They want slouch hats? Man, the possibilities are endless. I’ll be making slouchy beanies forever and be happy doing it.
Making money from yarn is hard. It definitely takes time and effort and patience. In the last month or so, I’ve been posting more frequently on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and it’s helping. I’m nowhere near a rockstar but I’m engaging with more people, and I think my visibility is slowing growing bit by bit. Now I need to to take the next step and be more present in person; i.e. do more shows/fairs. I’m looking at this as a job, but I’m still loving it. How lucky am I? Very! Especially since I had so much time to knit the last two days that I finished three hats, including this one.