- Kate Lentz
Last year, a beautiful coffee shop in my city started up a market on Saturday mornings a few times a month. They had a stunning event space in the back of the shop, usually for weddings, but it was perfect for 20+ local vendors to sell art, food, plants, clothes. My friends kept encouraging me to participate but I never felt ready.
After I quit my office job, however, I thought 'Why the hell not?' Back in April I filled out an application and quite honestly, forgot about it. It wasn't until September that I learned that I was approved to be a vendor at the next event in November. I was...terrified. But, luckily I had plenty of time to get some new products ready and since it was going to be around the holidays, I planned to make holiday cards and ornaments.
This was the first time that I felt rather organized. I spent weeks researching holiday-themed items on Etsy, looked at a million inspiration photos on pinterest, and filled notebooks with thumbnail sketches. The only down side is that I really started creating these items full-force during the Halloween season. NOT ideal, as I was already buried in Inktober work. But, I kept my head down and managed to come up with some not-too-Christmassy designs and had everything sent out to my printers.
I was nervous. I had no idea if people would be interested in my art prints or holiday postcards. With the cost of the table and the price of everything getting printed, I would have to earn at least $200-ish to break even. But I knew this was an investment. Any stock that was not sold at the market could be listed in my shop. Two birds, one stone.
Before the market, I set up the table I was going to bring to the event in my art studio and practiced the set-up many, many, MANY times so it looked just right. I did the same thing for the event back in August and it helped immensely. The only problem is that my studio soon felt cramped and trashed with all of the projects. At one point I had to stop all of the market prep and just do a big clean. I don't mind a little bit of mess while working on art but...this was just too much. The night before the market, I packed up everything I would need as carefully as possible. I loaded up the car so I wouldn't rush in the morning. Though I was nervous because this was my first real market AND I was literally doing everything by myself, I thanked my past self for being so organized.
I was mostly worried about the set up because I had to make multiple trips to my car. I arrived a few minutes before 8 and manged to have everything inside quicker than I would have thought. My hands were shaking as I set everything up...I used every bit of that hour to get the table exactly as I wanted. Sooner than I would have thought, the doors were opened and the shoppers had arrived.
For the first hour or so, it was quite slow. I was feeling a bit out of my element. All of the other makers seemed like total pros. They also all knew each other. I was relieved to see my mom walk in...she was my first customer! Eventually more friendly faces dropped by to encourage me and shop. Towards the middle of the morning, I was having a steady traffic flow to my table. I was pleased to earn enough sales to cover the cost of my table, the postcards I ordered, and most of the art supplies I purchased for the ornaments and clay pins. I couldn't stop smiling, even though I still had a mask on, while I met so many wonderful and supportive people. By the end of the event, I felt like I was floating. I could not have asked for a better event. Everything ran smoothly and I left there feeling like a real business owner.
It's Monday morning now and I still feel a bit exhausted...but I am also excited to list my holiday items on Etsy this week. With all of the positive feedback I received, I feel confident for the first time in a long time. The year is winding down and I am feeling grateful for all of the experiences I have gained. I feel like I have grown so much since launching my shop. I don't know the direction I will be in by the new year, but I can look back on the time I've had this year with fondness that I tried so many new things.