Every time I venture out into a live event sale/show, I find myself coming home with a considerable amount of notes. This past Saturday at the Austin Flea was no different. There are always gifts. The gift of validation from shoppers, the gift of unconditional love from friends and family who support the effort it takes to pack and set up and dismantle. The gift of education that comes from seasoned sellers who provide tips on how to improve and expand your process. I try to log it all before I grow distracted.
During this event, I had the chance to meet people who were familiar with me or my work - either online via etsy or from other events. I even met an extremely kind shopper who shared that she read my blog and wanted to visit me - I'm still so touched by this. This was the first time I interacted with people who knew of me - and it was such an exciting and humbling feeling as I continue to learn and grow. Those conversations allow me to observe how potential buyers interact with my work. I get additional insight on what matters to them, what feels good in their hands and what lights up their expressions. It reinforces everything I've come to appreciate about my favorite forms and gives me the inspiration I use to further refine and improve my work. Can't assign a value to something so immeasurably significant.
I introduced sake sets this year and they received a very warm response. They also triggered the question - "do you make tea sets as well?" And now that I've been asked that enough - I will be adding tea sets to my list of production items, as well as more sake sets based on some feedback and meaningful conversation. I am working this year to limit the forms I produce this year smaller, intimate items: sake sets, tea sets, chalices, mugs, cups small, functional bowls and oil warmers. I have received additional requests, but I found great improvement this year when I focused in and produced larger volumes of forms. The goal? Master forms and further establish consistent forms people begin to associate with you.
As usual, I was sandwiched between two incredible vendors - Diane Petkoff of Tasty Jewelry and Kelly Davis-Burns of KellyDTees. Both ladies were hilarious, helpful and great folks to learn some more about the art of the show - I really hope I get to see them both again soon.
Another consistent "win" for me is the loving support of my family. This winter was the coldest I can remember since I moved here and Saturday morning began in the mid-thirties, overcast with a damp bite in the air. Despite that, my brother-in-law showed up on my doorstep bright and early, ready to work. He's a creative mind himself, so it was awesome to leave product placement up to him and incredible having someone so engaged and excited about the interaction and pace of the day. My mom and my step-dad also endured the cold to help hasten the set up process and secured hot coffee to fuel the morning. My sister went home from work and met us with an awesome dinner, with a bottle of wine to celebrate.
As is customary with me - it's never really about profit margins or any of that. I still feel there is so much to learn...that will never NOT be the case. These events for me are an opportunity to connect with fellow creators and prospective buyers. It is a chance to shake hands and talk shop. It is the opportunity to watch how people form a relationship with the item they plan to buy. I can understand why the curve of a handle is so incredibly important when I watch people pick up mugs and hold them for a moment until they find the one that feels perfect in their hands. I see the proof that each form has a person that belongs to it, and it to them. Every opportunity to place an item in the hands of someone pleased to take it home with them is just the icing on the cake and the motivation I use to continue to advance my techniques and produce more items that become a part of someone's home. It is for those reasons that I look forward to the next opportunity to meet and chat and sell.
Without the sunburn next time, please.
Who knew a day that could start so brisk would end with me having a lobster face?