It’s Been A While

Let’s just say December was one of those months that hit me from behind and spun me around. All I can say is I feel lucky that I was ahead of schedule when it hit.

As a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) (you can read more in my blog post about it here) this is already a difficult time of year. It is a time that I have gotten better at anticipating my reactions and preparing for it. All of the extra tasks leading up to the season as well as the extra activities throughout the season can be extremely hard on an HSP in that we get overwhelmed and then drained fairly easily so we must manage our energy the best we can. Of course, it is challenging because a lot people don’t understand and can also be offended if you turn down invitations. They have to know it’s not them, it’s just the season. And with having a four year old I must put my energies towards her wellbeing first and foremost.

Having said that it doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy the celebrations. I really, really do …I am just limited in how much activity I can cram into a day. I have learned that I have to say no or I will crash and then I won’t be able to do anything …at least not in good humour.

I try really hard to get presents done by the end of November. I also get the tree and decorations up by the end of November. This allows me to have more time when the activities start up in December. And this year I accomplished that. I was especially conscious of it this year with having started up my business as I knew it is a busy time for someone with a handcraft business.

But sometimes there are things beyond your control. I was on top of it but was sideswiped by life. So some of the extras didn’t get done. I had a couple of custom orders that I didn’t get photos of before they left my hands. (And they were good ones, too… If you are lucky enough to live by the ocean you are lucky enough …and …Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part). And, of course, my blog has suffered, too. I haven’t written much at all.

Now I am hoping to get back on track and even have a market coming up. More on that soon. Today I had a much needed painting day. There really is something soothing about  the creative process. It’s been a while and hope they will be more plentiful in the near future.

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My First Craft Market

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My display at the craft market. I was given the table and table cloth to work with.

 

Well, today I attended my first craft market as a vendor. I learned a few things along the way. Previously I wrote about how as a newby I missed a lot of the deadlines to apply to be a vendor at Christmas markets (If you missed that post you can read it here). Then, I applied to a couple but didn’t get in. And eventually I decided to do a market at an elementary school. The table fee was low so I figured I didn’t have a lot to lose and, if anything, it would be good to get some experience with being a vendor at a market.

I think I did pretty well in terms of getting a market checklist together and making sure I had everything I needed. Hubby woke up early with me and drove me and all the stuff (a lot of stuff!) to the school. Hubby only had to go home to get two things I forgot (luckily it wasn’t a far drive). Even so those two things I could have lived without if I had to. (Hubby also surprised me with a handmade rustic business card holder this morning. You can see it on the far right corner of the table. It’s gorgeous. Isn’t he great?)

I also think I did fairly well in terms of setup. It is difficult to set up a bunch of signs on a flat table so I brought a couple of props along, basically things I had on hand, to raise some up off the table to make them easier to look at. Linda from Cottage Living (the shop where I have some signs displayed …if you missed that post you can read it here) kindly lent me a tree from the display in her shop so I could display my ornaments (how awesome is that?!). I may need to rethink a few things for next time but overall I think it turned out okay.

So, we managed to get up early, get there and set up just in time for go time. And then …nothing happened. There were no people (except for the other vendors). Now I will say that this market was run by the PAC (parent advisory committee) of an elementary school and as I found out it was their very first year. However, I was a bit concerned when I noticed earlier in the week that the event wasn’t advertised in the craft market section of the local paper. I know I had seen other school craft fairs in there.

Also, when my son came with his girlfriend he commented that there were no signs on the street leading up to the school. From the outside you would never know there was a craft fair going on in the gym. I think that the main people who came were friends and family of the vendors. I didn’t expect a huge, huge turnout like some of the bigger craft markets get but I guess I at least expected the parents of the students to attend.

On the upside I had lots of time to visit for the friends and family who did come to see me. (Thank you so much for coming to those who did!) I also enjoyed talking to a couple of the other vendors. I got some experience in and won’t be so overwhelmed preparing for the next market. And, at the very end a lady came to ask me about a custom order and took my card. If that order follows through then it may just make the day a win. I think the biggest thing I learned is to ask what the marketing plan is before committing to my next market. That, as I found out, makes a huge difference!

On the downside I am a bit disappointed after putting in so much work to prepare for this market. And, I have lots of stock! Anybody want to buy some Christmas ornaments?

 

What it Means to be a Handcrafter When it Comes to Christmas

As soon as Halloween is over the Christmas markets start up in abundance. Have you ever thought “what?, already”?! What if I told you that as a handcrafter you need to start thinking about Christmas in the Spring?! I know … and you thought it was bad that people didn’t even wait until Rememberance Day was past!

I opened my shop last March. It was July when I realized that I had already missed the deadline on some applications to be a vendor at Christmas markets. Wow. I also had the opportunity to apply to a couple of markets but I didn’t feel confident that I would have enough inventory to be a vendor at one market let alone multiple. As someone who crafts around the schedule of my 4 year old it is difficult to know if I will have guaranteed time to get things done. So, I passed on the opportunities.

Shortly after (maybe end of July beginning of August) I came across another opportunity to be at a Christmas market so I took the plunge and applied. I wouldn’t find out until mid-September if I was accepted. I wasn’t. Which was fine but at the same time it’s hard to know if you should apply to more markets when you don’t know for some time which ones you will be accepted to. I suppose one should just apply to a bunch with the notion you can say no if you are accepted to two on the same day.

After I wasn’t accepted I found a couple more to apply to and in the end will be at the Sunnyside Elementary School Winter Market Fair on December 6, 2014 (details in the photo below). I am happy with just doing one this year as I learn the ropes of the handcrafting world. It certainly is a crazy time of year with lots of extras already thrown in …shopping, decorating, events, the list goes on. I don’t think I would have been prepared to do more than one market anyway. I would have had to start preparing last spring! I should have been making my Christmas items then so I could spend the time now updating my shop etc. It’s really amazing how much time it all takes.

I have a friend from high school who does markets pretty much every weekend throughout the Christmas season. I am in complete awe as to how she does it and stays sane! (Her shop is Home for the Holidays if you are curious). Perhaps it gets easier with time and experience.

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My Christmas Ornaments are Done and in My Shop

I finally finished my ornaments and listed them in my shop. (Well they have been done for a bit it just took me time to get it together and take photos, write descriptions and all that fun stuff.

The wood ornaments are almost like miniature versions of my signs. They are actually made from the odds and ends leftover from hubby cutting wood to size. Back in September I had been looking at a pile of the wood bits trying to think what they could be transformed into when suddenly the light bulb went off …christmas ornaments, of course!

Here is what I came up with:

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Simple Rustic Tree Ornaments

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Simple Rustic Star Ornaments

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Rustic Reindeer Ornaments

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Rustic Heart Ornaments

And then I have really been loving all the tree branch ornaments I have been seeing. I showed my hubby the ones my sister made and the next thing I knew he brought me a pile of a sliced up branch he chopped down from one of his jobs. Here is what I came up with:

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Simple Wreath Tree Branch Ornaments

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Well Loved Ice Skates Tree Branch Ornaments

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Pine Cone Tree Branch Ornaments

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Decorative Peace Tree Branch Ornaments

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Berries and Branches Tree Branch Ornaments

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Sleigh Tree Branch Ornaments

And that has been my christmas ornament fun so far. I have done a few christmas signs, too that I am excited about. Those will be posted soon.

I have to admit that it has taken me a little time to do the photos. We have moved since my last real set of photos and it takes time to find the right spot in the house with the right light. Also, I used to use the wood floor in our old place as the back drop for my photos so I had to creatively come up with something new. In the end I (mostly) used a pile of driftwood I have as a back drop and I am quite happy with how it turned out.