A week before we left for our trip to Alabama, my neighbor sent me an email asking me if I was still making pillows, and if so, would I like to share a booth with her at the upcoming Art in the Garden event. I love this event and I adore the P-Patch where it’s held. In addition to crafters selling their wares, they have craft projects for kids, live music, a beer garden, and food trucks. It’s their annual fund raiser and it’s a really fun way to spend the afternoon. So I replied to my neighbor with an enthusiastic “Yes!” and got busy filling out the application.
Then I started to get nervous. Was I crazy? It was only three weeks away and I only had eight completed pillows, no display, no business cards or payment system or web-site or etsy site. What was I thinking? And I was about to leave on vacation! But there’s nothing like a deadline to light a fire under my butt, and so I made a plan. The week before vacation I would focus on the business side, and the week after vacation I would sew like crazy and make my display.
The first thing I did was order a Square device and download the app so I could take credit cards with my iPhone. That took about two minutes. Check! Next I set up a gmail account for my business. Check. Then I decided to make business cards. What to do, what to do… So I took out my sketch book and found a sketch that I thought would work well on a business card. I scanned it into Photoshop, along with the name of my business which I had hand-printed, then put it all together with my email and web address, and saved it as a jpeg file. Now I could import it into an on-line business card app. I decided to use Zazzle, and it was a pretty straightforward process. 100 two-sided business cards cost me $24, including shipping. I also needed tags for the pillows, so I decided to make business cards again, but this time using VistaPrint, where 250 cards costs only $23. I put my business card image on one side, and care instructions on the other. Here’s how they turned out:
Curious about the name? “So Fashion?” Well I have Miles to thank for that. Here’s the story. When Miles was about 3 years old he would look at things, like a car or someone’s outfit, and ask, “Isn’t that so fashion Mama?” I thought it was so cute, but for some reason I thought he meant, “Isn’t that so fashionable/hip/cool Mama?” I would hesitate and reply “Yes, I guess it is Miles.” Because sometimes it was on old Pinto, or some other not-so-attractive car like it (no offense), and I worried a bit about his level of taste. But as he got older and more articulate, it turned out that when he was saying “so fashion,” what he really meant was “old fashioned.” When finally one day he corrected himself and said “I mean old fashioned” I thought to myself, Duh! Of course that’s what he meant! Leave it to me to confuse the two, and to project my own meaning onto it. So funny. (He also used to call his pacifier his fire pass. Nadine knew exactly what he meant.)
I originally thought I would name my business “Spruce.” I liked the idea of my pillows sprucing up your home and life. But one day when I was driving around, and my mind was wandering around, I landed on the idea of calling it “So Fashion.” I was thinking not only about the idea of how we all put our own meaning onto things, but also about how I love modern design and technology, but I also really embrace the traditional, the hand-crafted, the old fashioned. And I liked the idea of a name with a story. So there you have it.
So I got a bunch of stuff taken care of before we headed off for our week at the beach, but I didn’t get a web-site or an etsy site set up. Oh well. I figured that it was okay not to have them for this very small first step into pillow selling, and I convinced myself that I probably wouldn’t sell any pillows anyway. And off we went on our relaxing get-away.
When we got back, with only five days til show-time, I started to sew like the wind. On Thursday I painted an old crib I had white, thinking that would be how I would display my pillows. And by Friday night I had 16 completed pillows, and was ready to go. Ta da!
The event started at 11am, so we had plenty of time to set up, and even though my wares were bulky, set up was pretty easy. Unlike my booth-mate who had lots of big frames to hang, and boxes of greeting cards to set up. Todd was an amazing help to both of us, and I have to say, he has a great eye for creating a lovely display. We got done in time, and I think it looked pretty darn good, especially since neither of us had done a test run. Here are a few shots:
My mother-in-law showed up at 11am sharp and was my first customer. I told her I couldn’t possibly sell her a pillow, that it would be a gift. She does so much for us! But she insisted, and I took her money. My neighbor said, “She totally wants to help you out. You should let her.” Okay, that made me feel better. And then throughout the day I had a lot of friends and neighbors stop buy, and many of them bought pillows. So nice! And by the end of the day I had sold 8 pillows and made $400. Wow! I really didn’t expect to sell so many or make so much. It was really exciting. But more importantly, I learned so much. I learned which patterns and colors people liked the best. I learned that most people didn’t know that I had designed all of the patterns myself, and done the silk-screening. I learned that I am a spaz when in comes to taking people’s payments. And much much more.
So, what’s next? Well it’s definitely time to take some good photos, get an etsy shop set up, as well as a web-site. And I need to make more pillows! I need to make a lot more of the pillows I called “Stay Tuned” (the ones with the TVs on them) because those sold out right away. And for the pillows I called “Manifesto” (the ones with the words) I need to make more with the grey material. Grey was the hot color. I also want to figure out how to best present myself and my pillows – how to share my story better. And finally, I need to decide where to sell them next! Doing the Art in the Garden event was the perfect way to dip my big toe into the craft-show waters.
And when I wasn’t busy selling my pillows, I couldn’t help but take a few photos of the amazing flowers at the P-Patch:
Stay tuned for more on the progress of my etsy site and web-site. And please check out my neighbors photos. They are spectacular!