Sunday, March 23, 2008

Girls Love Dinosaurs

As a sort of last-minute idea, I've decided to sell at the Luna Arts Festival on March 29. It's supposed to be a showcase of female artists and businesswomen, and my booth rental fee benefits, in part, Middle Way House, a local support system benefitting women and children who are the victims of violence.

I'd almost decided against selling at local, smaller markets, partly because I think my work is pretty weird and not to the general taste, partly based on a very silly couple of tiny craft fairs I did around Christmastime, including one for Girls Inc. at which it turned out I was the only vendor (I still pulled a profit, but being the only vendor...just embarrassing), and partly based on this book I've been reading, Crafts and Craft Shows: How to Make Money, by Philip Kadubec. Kadubec isn't really my scene, since he describes his work as "country traditional," highlights booths that look like little general stores or post picket fences at their entrances, and might possibly think that the Internet is a fad, but he was a very successful crafter before retirement and is very insightful about the business of crafts. He prefers larger shows that are precisely targeted toward your particular craft, even though they have scary-large booth rental fees, over teeny-tiny little local fairs that are really cheap to enter. Teeny-tiny little local fairs, he argues, can also be pretty ticky-tacky, don't necessarily attract anyone who wants or can buy your stuff, and waste time better spent more professionally marketing your business or even just making stuff.

I think Kadubec is right on track with this, based on my small experience, and he's voiced the reasoning that will allow me to no longer waste my time at, say, the Christmas craft fair at Matt's office. I think this Luna Arts Festival is going to be awesome, though. From what I gather, it's an established fair with a history, which is a pro for selling at it. It's a craft fair/expo with nothing else distracting, like a chili cook-off or auction or something, tacked on, but with local musicians playing and drawing in their fan bases. It's woman-centered, which I'm always on board with, and I can use it as a dry-run for building a booth that actually looks really professional, before jumping into applying to any big shows.

That being said, I'm still not going to show my regular Pumpkinbear stuff. Kadubec also speaks about the possibility of saturating your local market, especially if you don't sell stuff you can use up, like soap, but stuff that sits around and stays stuff for the rest of your life, like record bowls and T-shirt quilts. So I think it is important that if I sell a lot locally, I do provide some significant variety in my work. And therefore, I've decided that for this fair, Pumpkinbear will be selling under the alias Girls Love Dinosaurs.

My concept is stuff, primarily recycled but not necessarily, that is thematically centered on dinosaurs--primarily for kids but not necessarily. I worked hard the whole weekend, took Willow out for a photo shoot this morning before it started snowing (something else Kadubec suggests--awesome photos of your stuff or your creation process displayed in your booth or in an album in your booth. It humanizes your creation and highlights its uniqueness and the handicraft aspect), and here's what I've got so far (I can't fix the dismal winter lighting on any of the photos, because my 8-year-old bootleg copy of Photoshop 6.0 finally crapped out on me, and my legitimate purchase of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is currently still winging its way to my door):
These are the Fatty Stegasauruses, made from recycled wool sweaters and polyester batting (I like the fact that I can upgrade the stuffing to make them really eco-friendly, and they're a possibility for selling in a local store or two here). If I have time to make another batch before the fair, I might make a different size or type...say, apatasaurus?
These are the dinosaur-themed "summer quilts," meaning they don't have any batting, per se, just either a fleece back and binding or a fleece middle and a flannel back and binding. I still machine-quilted them, though, which is awesome fun. I'm thinking three sizes--a "play" size, for doll blankets or what-have you, a "baby," size, which is a crib quilt, and a "kid" size, which is a twin.
And these are my soldered glass pendants, made from dinosaur stamps that I bought from Western Mountain Stamp and Coin, which sells packages of stamps sorted by theme--I also have the cats-themed one and the space-themed one, and I really want the maps one and the elephants one, too, only I'm already swimming in stamps. I'm particularly pleased with my soldering work since I bought grozing pliers from Hobby Lobby that permit me to smash the little uneven bits off the edges of the glass that I can hardly ever cut evenly, and the joy of this has given me good-enough glass-cutting karma to actual make some pretty accurate cuts now, as well.

So I'm thinking this might be a sweet product line, because people tend to like dinosaurs. My girls are obessed with them, as are a lot of kids, and they're also quirky enough to perhaps draw in the quirky crowd. If they're the next stuffed chicken or not, I don't know. What do you think?


Tina said...

I am not sure what took me so long, but I finally decided to just start from the beginning and work my way through your posts.
I love these dinosaurs! Do you still make them or do you have a tutorial?

julie said...

I still have the pattern that I made for them and...sometime, one of these winters, or when the girls are off at college? I'll digitalize it and post it!


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