Do you enjoy meeting the buying public?
Do you enjoy talking about your work?
Do you enjoy educating consumers about the intricacies of your craft?
Are you prepared to defend your prices?
Can you handle comments from people who question the difficulty of what you do?
Can you make enough items to keep your booth well stocked for the duration of the show?
Do you handle stress well?
Do you have the energy to interact with people for several hours a day and for one or more days in a row?
Do you have the stamina to exude a positive persona when business is slow?
Do you enjoy making new designs and products frequently?
Wow. Yes of course this set is about doing retail shows, but think about what these questions aren't just asking, but what they are implying, how they challenge us to think about ourselves in new ways. Defending our work, our prices, and really being able to articulate the skill involved to someone without similar experiences? Ever have someone pick up a piece, interested, ask the price and put it down and look at you like you are running the biggest scam clown show on earth? Yeah, me too. Not easy, dude. I love my pieces like little babies. And I have human babies, so I know the difference, but still!
Here are the questions for you future wholesales:
Do you prefer to be away from home only occasionally?
Do you enjoy taking orders and making many of the same item?
Do you prefer to let someone else sell your work to the public?
Are you prepared to offer credit terms and minimum order requirements?
Can you provide product sheets and price lists?
Can you meet deadlines and commitments?
Do you have the stamina and personality to be businesslike and professional several hours a day for several days in a row?
Are you serious about your business?
Wow again. Let somebody else represent you? Your BABIES? And this is when you begin to see the tradeoffs - less $ per unit, but you're also not having to deal with the sometimes indifferent and/or hostile and/or low-information craft show attendee (funny to say but we’ve all had ‘em) and you are also able to batch your work and the stranger interaction. Wholesale feels good in the way it always feels good to be wanted, but to make it work you can’t go off at will and tinker with the newest cool idea that comes into your head. You have to organize, create a collection, have it ready, cohesive, a materials and technique list in case you require employees, and everything must be designed so it can be remade many times in the exact same way. Lots of streamlining. With retail, particularly through the web and the show circuit, you have a lot more freedom and control in terms of creativity, but you are personally going to have hustle your butt off and take a lot of hits for much less of a sure thing.
You know, most people who get serious and get the opportunities try to split the difference it seems. A little of both. And maybe that works. Whatever the case, this whole business of crafting is a whole lot more than making stuff. Who knew? Ha, ha. I’m sure you guys and gals all already do. Not me, though. I’m a newbie to the big show. And just in case there’s anyone else out there as excited and anxious and confused as I am, was, and most likely always will be, at least a little, well then, here you go. Here are some questions to get you to start thinking about how to take yourself seriously. Serious in a serious way. Serious like if you will.
Okay, okay. But, seriously, folks, I hope all is well and that you all had a great holiday season. Take a breather before you gear up for spring. Ask yourself the questions and really listen to the answers. You aren't always what you think you are - sometimes you're even better. So there!
All The Best,