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First Time

I was so happy (and nervous) to finally test out all my products at a craft fair!  I signed up for a local craft fair that was about six hours long so it was a good test run on how to set up my booth, see which products and scents people responded to and generally see if this was something I would want to do on a regular basis.  I learned a lot and very thankful for all the support I got from friends and family!

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Things I learned:
1. My products are all-natural and have a melting point. This means that I will need to consider temperature conditions and times of year before I sign up for fairs. Some fairs offer indoor spaces and I think that would be best for me.

2. There is a difference between craft fair crowds, school fair crowds and farmers market crowds. I think my products will sell better at farmers markets so I’ve signed up for a few of those before the end of the year.

3. A partner is a great thing.  My sister volunteered to stay with me during the fair and I can’t tell you what a difference that made!  First of all just having the moral support was huge. Secondly, I had help transporting, setting up and tearing down. Thirdly, there was someone else there when I needed to go to the bathroom and grab lunch or when there were lots of people asking questions. The lady in the booth next to me said that she likes to partner with a friend and they get booths next to each other so they can do the same thing.  Great idea!

4. Water and snacks are essential.  You really need to plan ahead and make sure you are well taken care of for the duration.

5. Don’t make a ton of stuff. I was so worried about running out of something that I spent two weeks staying up until midnight making tons of product only to find out that the traffic wasn’t as heavy as I thought.

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Being Brave

So it’s been almost eight months since I’ve worked on the business. I’ve been quite busy finding another job, living in fear, getting engaged, etc. I was very lucky to find a part-time job that I love doing design for a musical theater company. After making the leap from the secure, albeit frustrating, full-time job, I’ve been trying to cope with all the changes and haven’t been doing much work on the business. Now that it’s settled down and my job is slower over the summer, I have more motivation to get going on the business. I realized that most of what I was doing with my procrastination and avoidance was because I’m a perfectionist. If I can’t do this thing perfectly, then there is no point in starting it at all. With the help of my spiritual team I’ve been slowly gaining confidence in myself and taking chances.

So today I finally put my fear aside and decided to post my first item on Etsy. I watched a youtube video tutorial on how to build a light box for photography a few months ago. Today I set that puppy up and took a few photos of my therapy neck pillows. I’ve been researching how other people are listing their products and their policies, shipping, etc. So I took the photos, posted them and set up my shop! It was so exciting to see my product listed on the internet! I shared the page on Facebook page and within a few minutes I got an email that my item had sold! What? I couldn’t believe it! My friend had logged right in and purchased the item. I am filled with love and joy whereas before I was only filled with fear.

The lesson here is to feel the fear and push through that and do it anyway. If it is your passion and you feel called, pulled, pushed to do it then go ahead and take the leap and choose to take a chance on yourself. What’s the worst thing that can happen? You can fail. But if you never try then you’ll never know what’s possible.

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Therapeutic Aromatherapy

I’ve been dabbling in aromatherapy for a few years now – mostly just combining scents that I find attractive together or making soul-warming scents like pumpkin spice or orange and clove.  I haven’t really taken the time to get to know all of the essential oils and what therapeutic qualities they have.  I know that lavender is calming and rosemary stimulates memory but I am very interested in learning more about their properties.

When I was placing my last order on Bulk Apothecary (love that store!) I saw this book and knew it was perfect for what I need to learn. It’s called The Aromatherapy Companion by Victoria H. Edwards and is full of medicinal uses, emotional uses and body-care recipes. I’ve only gotten to about page 20 but I’ve already learned about two scent combinations that will personally help me. I tried them in the bath and was amazed that they worked!  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised – hundreds of years of homeopaths can’t be wrong.

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Clary Sage: I ordered a little vial of clary sage but wasn’t sure what I should use it for.  Now I know that it has a calming effect. I combined a little with lavender in the bath and instantly felt the tension of the day melt away.

Lavender and Bergamot: Bergamot has an orange quality to it and I don’t think I ever would have thought of combining that with lavender, which has a flowery quality.  Lavender and bergamot play nicely together and the bergamot enhances the calming properties of lavender.

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Long Beach Farmers Market

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As part of my research I went to our local farmers market here in Long Beach.  I was very surprised to see the amount of crafty/handmade booths mixed in with all the fresh produce/prepared food booths.  It turns out that this same company puts on a farmers market every day of the week from Huntington Beach to San Pedro.  Right now all the spots are full but if I really get going with the business I’ll have to see about joining. I don’t have enough stuff to do a weekly gig right now.  There was a lot of foot traffic and the vibe was really nice – music playing and lots of people eating dinner and enjoying themselves.

I especially enjoyed talking with some of the vendors. One person sells scented salts and another sells homemade soaps.  I got good ideas on pricing and how to package items together.  I also liked the idea of combining several products together for an easy price like $20 or having a “show special”. Another great feature is that they list all of the vendors from all the different farmers markets with links to their websites. The company that puts on this farmers market also puts on others in the area (one each day of the week!). Right now they are full but it’s a great option for later when I’m up and running enough to commit to a once-a-week market.

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Antiqued Wooden Sign

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While planning out what I am going to have for my craft booth, I was inspired by an article I read about making my own wooden sign. I’ve always liked these but didn’t know how to get the letters on there without a stencil.

You start with a piece of wood large enough to accommodate the words you want on there, preferably a distressed older piece of wood.  Pick out the colors you want to use. You could either go to Michaels or another craft store and buy some small craft paints or you could go to a home improvement store and buy a sample bottle of paint.

Take your wooden piece outside or in a well-ventilated place and put on a under coat of paint.  Once this is dry you can distress it by sanding parts of it off or using a stain or darker color to make streaks in the paint.

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Next you want to go to your computer and open up a word processing program such as Word.  Find a font that you like and type out the whole word (you might not like the font once you see the whole word in that font). Make the first letter as large as you think you will need to fit on the wood and print it out.  Hold it up to the wood and measure to make sure all of your letters will fit. You might wind up with only one letter per page.

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Next you print out all the letters and tape them onto the wood, making sure to center the middle letter.  Take a regular pencil and trace over the letters making sure to press hard enough to make an impression in the wood but not so hard that you rip the paper.  Carefully peel back the paper and make sure that the whole letter has made an impression before removing the paper entirely.

Now you can paint over the letters. You can either buy a paint pen and outline the letters or you can carefully outline with a foam or regular brush.  Make sure you get an even coat of paint within the letters (unless you are going for the opposite effect).

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I was really happy with how this sign turned out!  I’m going to attach hooks to the top so I can hang this from the Easy Up on the booth.  Looking at the sign also makes my business feel more like a reality!  It’s inspiring to look at it and think about the future.

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Twig & Willow in Long Beach

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Wow! So we went out to breakfast after dropping my car off for service and discovered this beautiful boutique next to the restaurant. At first I was wary of going in because I could tell I was going to wind up spending money if I went in. But then my boyfriend pointed out all the handmade stuff and that going in would really be research (big mistake! big!).

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The boutique is called Twig & Willow. I had already been admiring the logo of the store before I walked in. If I had my own boutique, this is what it would look like!  There was beautiful handmade jewelry, perfumes, candles, lotions, clothes and bags!  A veritable feast for the senses.  The best part was that all of the items in the store were from small, independent handmade companies.  I wrote down a few of the names so I could research them later. I especially loved all the colorful packaging ideas. The ladies were super nice and helped me pick out a few items. I’ve been looking for a perfume for a while now but I’m super picky. I found one that I liked from a small perfumery named Lollia. I really enjoyed all of the inspiration from the store and I highly recommend that you stop by if you’re in the Long Beach area!

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OC Great Park Farmers Market

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We set off today for adventure and to research another farmers market.  My friend told me about the farmers market at the OC Great Park in Irvine. She said that the first Sunday of the month they also have an Antique Fair. It sounded like something I had to see. I’m still trying to figure out which farmers markets in the area will let people sell prepared food and crafts. I’m hoping to put together a schedule soon of places I can sell at and research booth costs, etc.

The OC farmers market DID have both prepared food booths and some crafts/handmade products.  I was impressed by the amount of foot traffic going through and the food trucks for people to eat at. It felt like more than the usual farmers markets I’ve been to in the area. It got pretty hot by 11am so I recommend getting there early (on the first Sunday the hours are 8-2 but normally 10-2).  A hat and sunscreen are imperative!

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I really appreciate that the vendors get to pull up to their booth so there isn’t a lot of schlepping your stuff from the parking lot! I also liked the fact that they had a shaded eating area and, in the antique area, they had a flop section with umbrellas and chairs (presumably for all the tired husbands). There were several good booth ideas such as pop-ups with vents, cute little shelves on the table to make things more vertical. I think the best lesson I received today is offering samples. I was already planning on doing that, but I really saw the psychology of it today. By offering a sample you are engaging with the customer, making eye contact and opening up a conversation. It also plays on the idea of reciprocity. You have just given them something and most people feel the need to reciprocate by buying something (if they like it). I noticed that some people just sat in their chairs as people passed and no one was coming to their booths. I was thinking that even if I wasn’t selling food items, I could still offer samples of hand lotion or something. It’s good to remember that it’s not just about putting your stuff on a table, you really need to be engaging with customers to make sales.