Sunday, 8 July 2012

The way I see it....

Today's post is how I view life when I'm doing a craft fair. It's a strange thing, as you are thrust into a room of other people that sometimes you've never met before (which is a big deal for me, trust me!) and that you are, in effect, competing with for customers. I always, always get nervous in the run-up to a craft fair, in the same way that I always get nervous just before performing on stage either in a play or a musical show. I think it's to do with the fear of the unknown - you don't know what the other stall-holders are going to be like, whether anyone will actually buy any of your work, or even whether anyone will look at it as they glide past!

Usually, I can gauge when someone is going to buy something from me - and my heart starts beating just a little bit faster when that happens! Last weekend at the event on Victoria Dock, I had such a moment when a man bought the latest painted jewellery box, "Blythe".  He made a purposeful move to the trinket boxes in general, made a comment about one of the wardrobe-styled ones taking a long time to do, then when I mentioned that the largest one cost more than the rest due to the different compartments and the size etc. he simply said "I'll have this one please".

There were no more incidents last week, other than a couple of children roughly handling my boxes. Some children are sooooo clumsy (and have filthy hands, too) and it's really hard to know how to respond, especially when their parent is with them. I don't want to stop people touching my work - that is often how people decide on buying something, but maybe I could get a sign put up saying that any damages must be paid for - although I've yet to see that on another stall so maybe others have a different way of dealing with it.

Yesterday, at the MadeandsoldinHull fair, which was a great success for all involved, I believe, the sweetest thing for me was the little girl who initially came to each stall with her friend and asked if we had anything for 9p. About 20 minutes later, she returned and the amount had gone up to 20p, then 21p and finally she had £1 in her hand hoping for a bargain. I suppose I could have given her one of my little cup-cake charms for £1 instead of £1.50, but she wasn't really interested in anything that small anyway so doubt she would have accepted it! She turned down a ring on my neighbour's stall for £1 so she was obviously fussy about what she wanted also!

There are times when you wonder why you put yourself through the process of standing/sitting there for hours at a times only to overhear rude remarks about your work. However, thankfully, yesterday was not one of those occasions and I thoroughly enjoyed the day. It was particularly nice to meet some people that I'd only previously spoken to on-line.

Overheard remarks, even though at times they are upsetting (or at least they may dent your ego a tad), are often also amusing afterwards. I remember some from previous fairs I've attended - one woman asked the woman she was with (ignoring me completely) if my mini paintings on easels were "boxes". The woman with her said "No, they're just plaques".  Plaques are obviously lower down the chain of artistic creations, boxes are perhaps slightly higher up, but God knows where mini paintings are! Another woman asked me about the same paintings, squinted at them and said "what are they, then, just ornaments?"

Some people just don't realise that what they say to each other at their side of the table can actually be heard by us at this side! I've often heard remarks such as "Oh, I could do that easily" and "you can buy them in such-and-such for only £2 and paint them yourself" . I just think to myself "yes, but I'm actually doing it, not just saying that I could!" . I just try to spend my time smiling at people and saying hello when I make eye contact with them. Some people just blank you out altogether, however - a customer recently seemed to be taking a lot of interest in my mini paintings, as though she was trying to work out whether they were painted or not - so I just said "these are all hand painted by me" to which she just looked at me and walked off!

I had an unusual conversation yesterday with a man who is running a summer club for Youths and he was looking at my painted notebooks as inspiration for a craft project for them. He took some photos of the ones on display (asked my permission first) and we had quite a chat about how I created them, he thanked me, took my business card and went away. Several minutes later he came back and bought one of the books so that he would have an example to show them before they started. That sort of transaction is always such a pleasure - I feel good that I've hopefully helped someone else and I also made a sale out of it, which is an added bonus!

This is the book he bought - "Royal Crest".

The worst thing about doing fairs is when people just walk straight past your stall without even trying to feign interest. Yes, I realise that everyone has different interests, but to be polite, you'd think just the briefest of looks wouldn't hurt, would it? Perhaps us creative souls just need to switch off when that happens, and concentrate on the people that are interested, but it's really hard sometimes!

I am lucky in that my husband always supports me by coming along and sitting with me, even if he's the only man there (which does sometimes happen) and I really don't know if I could do it alone - so I really do appreciate the fact that he's there with me. He must get bored, I know - he brings a book to read and sometimes goes outside for a walk if it's a nice day, but I don't suppose there are many men that would endure such things - or that have the time to do so.

I sold 3 photo frames yesterday, a cup-cake key ring and a cup-cake trinket box as well, so all in all a really good day. The event organisers (Lucy Lines and Leni Bratten) were very friendly, extremely well organised and knew everyone by name when it came to saying goodbye at the end of the day. I always make a point of thanking the organiser at the end of any fair (provided I can find them) - even if I've not made a profit. I know from experience what a thankless task it can be, so try to show my appreciation especially when it has been organised so well.

Today, our 17th wedding anniversary, incidentally, we are off to a rehearsal for the junior production, followed by a Youth section rehearsal, so will not be back home till gone 7 at least. The weather is rubbish today, so it's not too bad that we are indoors rehearsing for a lot of the time!

I think I may spend more time jotting down the comments from potential customers, and collecting those from others to share in the future - it seems everyone hears something!