The First Show

It's 2013, which means its been 7 years since I registered Freshie & Zero as a business and started dragging my then boyfriend (now husband) to craft shows to sell my jewelry. I would like to share a little story about how it all began...

I remember my first craft show well. I was so excited! My glorious tent was so shiny & new. I had practiced setting up my clean, non-scratched display tables in my apartment, and I had crafted many unique display pieces out of dowels and plastic sushi grass. I was ready to sell my jewelry to the craft show hordes that would surely amass in my tent. I was a full blown rookie. 

Everything was so clean!!
I should have realized being set up right next to port-a-potties was a very bad sign.

The first day we were supposed to be open at 10 am but a storm in the area prevented us from setting up on time. It was the first of many irritating set up experiences, but I was unfazed. We were still set up by noon - the show wasn't over until 10 pm that night anyway, so I still had 10 glorious hours to sell my jewelry, plus all day on Saturday (literally - 10am to 10pm again - these are show hours I avoid like the plague these days).  I was READY.

On day one I sold a single pair of earrings.

I started to think I had made a very bad business decision. I don't remember what I sold on day 2, but it didn't get much better - maybe ten things? I realized that maybe selling my jewelry was not going to be the walk in the park I thought it would be!

I still laugh about that show. It was really more of a beer festival than a crafts festival - they should not have allowed crafters to participate but hey, they wanted to make money off our booth fees. Oh the memories - the constant complaining from the other crafters, the drunk festival-goers stumbling in and out of the port-a-potties (that whole 10 pm thing). If I had any real craft show experience, I would have seen the warning signs on the application (for example, listing our area as "arts & crafts" and allowing a first come, first served admission process). But I didn't know any better - I was such a freshman.

Today, I feel much more like an upper-classman, flush with years of real-world experience, and luckily I have come SUCH a long way from that day next to the port-a-potties! If I had let that awful show determine the course of my career, things could have turned out very differently for me.

The reason I am relaying all of this to you is because sometimes I still find myself at a show where the tumbleweeds are blowing and sales are not cha-chinging. It's annoying, but not the end of the world. Unfortunately, for some people, it is the end of the world. I have met crafters who change the entire course of their career based upon one miserable show. I think this is a grave way of thinking. We all have to start somewhere. We all have to pay our dues and learn the hard way.

We all have to be freshmen sometimes.  

Luckily, I had many things going for me at the time.  I had a supportive boyfriend who laughed that show off with me (and many more dreadful shows I attended that first year). I had supportive parents who believed in me. And I had gut feeling that I was doing the right thing; that making jewelry could realistically be my future. My success definitely didn't happen overnight. I did everything by myself for the first several years. Slowly, I made baby steps towards my current situation like hiring a photographer, an assistant, and moving my studio out of the house.  It's been seven years, people. It's been a long road, but a good one.

Are you feeling like a freshman? Or do you feel like you've earned your spot in the senior house?

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