Whew! I survived my first Francesca Watson Designs vendor show – the awesome, fun, and excellently organized Rusted Gingham Barn Sale in Gonzales, Texas. I did better than I hoped or expected, and you can read more about the “lessons learned” over at Art Jewelry Elements today.
Last week was tough. This whole summer has been about learning for me – learning how to be an artist, learning what disciplines I do and don’t have, what things I need to pursue, how to be more humble. I’ve felt a little scattered, honestly, in spite of my focus on the Barn Sale, and it showed – I think – in the outcome. I didn’t have as many pieces as I wanted to (I’ll be writing an article for Art Jewelry Elements about the difference between one-of-a-kind and production artistry) and there were all sorts of things that came up to thwart my efforts.
I was grateful for this sweet woman.
My best friend Kimmy, who knows me and loves me anyway. She gave up nearly her entire weekend to help me – and it was her birthday on Sunday!! – and I could not have been more grateful. Friday morning started rough – in spite of having a checklist and having been up very late the night before putting the finishing touches on things, I discovered one thing after another that somehow wasn’t in the packing boxes or in the car or in my studio. I was near tears by the time I got in the car, just from sheer frustration, and was running more than an hour behind schedule. I hate being late just about more than anything else – so the traffic stoppage I ran into on my way to pick her up was just the icing on the cake. Then, just as we were getting on the road, I got a phone call that undid me – one of those things that I think will turn out to be an honest and well-intentioned misunderstanding, but hurtful anyway. So after months of planning and preparation, I wound up on the road to my first show literally sobbing and so late that I couldn’t even pull over to the side of the road to get myself together. If it hadn’t been for the fact that I really felt obligated to the show, I might have just turned around and gone home and pulled the covers over my head.
But I was obligated, so we carried on. In spite of all the delays and drama, we were only 17 minutes late for our load-in time, still within the half hour we’d been given, so thankfully we didn’t inconvenience anyone else. We got everything unloaded in just three trips, and the setup was easy. I had a pounding headache from crying and the dusty barn (it was a real barn sale, after all!) which kicked my allergies into high gear. We had the nicest vendor neighbors, Buddy and Camille Horton from Red Rock Porch, and they watched our booth for an hour or so while we made a quick supply run to the local Walmart and checked into the hotel for a 20 minute power nap. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without Kimmy – she is so good and down-to-earth in stressful situations. She spoke encouragement and prayed over me and just did whatever needed to be done. Even so, that first day was very hard. We skipped the vendor meet-and-greet that night in favor of an early return to the hotel and a good night’s sleep.
Saturday was much, much better. Some quiet time in prayer and a rested mind gave me a new perspective on some things, and we headed to day two of the show energized and excited for what the day would bring. According to the final count, there were more than 2,000 people shopping over the course of those two days, including some friends who made the trip down from San Antonio just to be supportive (thanks Janice, Sherry, Karen, and Martha!!), and I sold more than I was expecting. I made back all my show expenses, plus more than enough to pay off the Lortone tumbler I bought a month ago (when my old tumbler bit the dust) and buy the Foredom flexshaft I’d been lusting after for more than a year. There was even a little left over for a new set of enamel samples so I can indulge in my new passion of adding glass to metal.
But I also came away from the show with a long list of lessons learned and things I want to focus on for the coming year. It was an incredibly valuable two days, and getting a chance to meet a whole range of lovely people was an added bonus. My favorite moment was the husband who scooted back to our table to buy something secretly for his wife. “She loved your stuff,” he said. “I want to make sure she has something from you for her Christmas, but I don’t want her to see me – so if I run off suddenly, I’ll be right back!” It was a reminder of how personal and powerful jewelry and adornment is for people. What a fun and rewarding privilege to spend my days making things that bring them such pleasure!
A final thank you to Tracy and Suzanne, the lovely Girls at Rusted Gingham, for putting on such an awesome show. (I’ve already got next year on my calendar!) The rest of this week will be about doing some planning for the coming year and photographing the pieces I have left so they can go up in my Etsy shop. And, of course, spending some time in the studio. And (somewhat obsessively) watching the election returns tonight and praying for our country.
What do you have planned for this week? (Did you vote today??)
P.S. Yes – I have pink streaks in my hair. More on that later!