I went to a lot of really super slow shows when I first started doing shows...I wasn't smart enough to quit back then. I was just too stubborn to give it up. I was absolutely determined to make my business grow. I have no idea how I found time to do craft shows, much less make enough products to sell at the shows because I was working as a full time special education teacher at the time. I was burning the candle at both ends. I think my sanity suffered for it. But with sheer determination and a disgust for school politics, I quit my teaching job in order to work on my craft business full time.
It was sheer craziness and madness. I had no business sense. I didn't calculate the risks correctly. I was absolutely convinced if I could work on my craft business and sell at farmer's markets then I would be able to make a decent living. In the summer of 2010, I worked at 2 different farmer's markets, did a bunch of unsuccessful craft shows on the weekend, and even did a gig on Saturday nights at a music festival. Some Saturdays I wen to a craft show in the morning and then the music gig on the same night. It was completely exhausting. I must have set up my rickety old green tent a 100 times or more that summer. The worst part was that I wasn't really selling anything and many times I didn't even make the booth fees.
I finally decided to give up on farmer's markets. People were there to get their veggies and go home to cook. They weren't interested in buying my stuff. So I got another real job, but kept doing craft shows on the side. My booth displays got better everytime I set them up or learned a new trick from a fellow vendor.
I switched jobs again and was laid off 8 months later in Jan 2012. While I was out of work, I applied for a ton of jobs. I kept doing craft shows and kept better track of what worked and what didn't. I started analyzing the data from the info I put on www,outright.com. That program is something like quick books but much easier. I changed how I approached my etsy shop. I actually joined some etsy teams because there are only so many job applications you can fill out before you go nuts. Slowly, the business is growing. My expenses are slowly balancing out with what I am making at different shows. I started to share booth spaces with other vendors to keep the booth fees manageable. The last quarter of 2012 I saw my first profit. I was ready to give up on this whole craft fair non-sense. But I am starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. I have much better displays, products, and knowledge than I did before. It has been quite a journey. I think I've grown as much as my craft show displays have grown. And it seems that each time I do a new show something else changes and I find better and faster ways to set-up all my products.
One thing that I did from the very start of my business, is that I networked with other vendors. They knew way more than I did. So early on I went around asking the "nice" and "friendly" vendors for a business card. I told them I would e-mail them about upcoming shows, if they would return the favor and send me info about shows they found out about. It was a great way to find local events. Before I only used craigslist and didn't know where else to look. Now people are sending me the information. There are over 200 local San Diego craft vendors on this network that was started by word of mouth. I wish I would have networked with customers the same way :) I started to get info for so many different events, I was getting confused. So this year, I am adding the San Diego Craft Shows link on my blog. I am going to try to keep it current and update it with all of the shows I find out about. There will be links back the the event websites for those that want more information. I hope it will be beneficial to both buyers and sellers. I won't go to all these events, but there is always someone from our craft network that will be there. So hopefully, this will help more local San Diegan's to help out some small business owners one sale at a time. Hope you all enjoy this new added info to this blog.