First Craft Show
My first craft show was a two day event. I had no idea how much to bring, so I thought best to err on the side of caution and have a ton of soap. OK, it wasn't really ton but it sure felt like it when I had it all packed to go. As you can imagine, after the last few months having a blast making soap, I really needed to sell it so I can make more soap. I tried hard to not have any grand expectations since I didn't know anything about the event or the venue. Turns out that while this was the 8th annual event for this show, what many vendors didn't realize, including myself, was that it was a first time venue in a well-to-do part of Akron. There were about 100 vendors in all with three soap makers total. I was placed at the back which made me a little nervous. Take a look at my table. I'm open to constructive criticism. The first day, I did pretty well considering there was lots of negative talk from vendors about the lack of volume Since I had nothing to compare it to, I was blissfully ignorant and happy if anyone stopped to sniff the soap.
Then of course there were plenty that walked past with nary a glance or a sniff. My theory is that those people have never used handmade soap and if they caught even a peripheral glance, they were relegated to "just pretty soap that I don't need." Most of the people that stopped at my booth already knew the benefits of handmade soap. I made only $176 in sales on day one and on day two, it was extra extra slow with only a trickle of buyers and tallied up day two with only $70 in sales. I still have a ton of soap left. Overall, it was a success even though I still need to find homes for the leftovers. My daughter was a real trooper. I think she had a lot of fun that first day with all the selling and shopping other vendors, but Sunday when the crowd was thin, it was boring.
I've been in a maniacal experimental soaping streak, so I had 28 kinds of soap which I lined up naked on my little display stand. The wrapped versions were nestled in baskets or boxes. People are funny about picking up stuff and maybe I need to re-think fingers all over the soap. I mean it's soap...it's self cleaning, but I understand that germs could park themselves among the swirls or crawl under botanical bits. For my next show, I'm only going to have, at most, 10 varieties displayed on wooden soap decks. Then customers can pick up the decks to sniff it. When the inventory gets low, I'll swap it out with a new 10. My best selling soaps were my oatmeal milk and honey soaps followed by my citrus goat soaps. My whipped shea butter was a great hit, but I think I could have done better if I had more than one scent available. I made lavender, but can you believe it...some people can't do lavender. Interestingly, I didn't sell a single bar of Holiday Soap. I guess it's a little early for Christmas shopping.
I'm not wild about my dark blue table cloth..it was a beast to iron. I'm eagerly waiting the arrival of a fitted table close cover, a table cloth condom so to speak, which will negate the need for ironing. I hung up the iron along with my nurse's hat about 20 years ago. My soaping sister Kim--yes, we are equally afflicted with the must-make-soap gene--bought one for her show and I think it looks so sleek. She's a master decorator and it's such a bummer she's all the way in Florida! We could bulk buy our oils if she still lived here! Such is life...
I think the best part of the show was talking (and shopping) the other vendors. I talked to both the other soap makers and they gave me great advice. So much to learn. My next show is November 9th. I promised myself I will not make any more soap. Instead, I hit the craft store and picked up supplies to make fancy decoupage boxes for soap gift boxes. It'll be fun, but compared to soaping, it's like a chewing a pencil when you really want a cigarette.