September 19, 2012

To Market, to Market...

The trip to Pittsburgh and California, PA for the artisans market at the women’s conference at Cal U was a mixed bag of good and bad experiences. The market was a great get our feet wet, low expectations, first time as vendors, experience. However, only a handful of artisan vendors isolated from the conference rooms in a single-purpose building on the very edge of campus added up to very little foot traffic. We did not expect large crowds or many sales, but the conspicuous lack of foot traffic was a definite disappointment. We both managed to sell enough wares to the few campus and conference folks who passed by to not be embarrassed or feel like failures. And we received much positive feedback, which doesn’t add up to money in the bank, but is encouraging.

I’m glad we participated and am grateful to Roya’s friend Andi for alerting us to the opportunity. Overall, I’d say it was a good experience. Not least of which is that being a vendor forced me to create packaging and labels for all my wares and finally do an inventory and set pricing schedules. I find organization very satisfying, plus it settles and calms my mind. And despite the sleep deprivation and self-induced anxiety, I had fun visiting with Roya and Andi.

Upon reflection, the two most important things Roya and I did to make our market experience as successful as possible was to bring along plenty of food and water (do not underestimate the importance of staying fed and watered!) and to accept credit card payments. Roya got a Square Reader for her iPhone which we both used to process credit card payments. It was easy to use, if a bit temperamental, but after multiple swipes every card went through. Roya went with the free plan that charges only 2.75% of each transaction. (There is also a plan with a flat monthly fee and no transaction charges.)

Of course, there is always room for improvement (like packing a tripod for better pictures - just saying). I definitely need to come up with a simple, concise way to describe what odd bird studio is about. Because creative re-use shapes my decision making in all aspects of life, I forget that re-use is not on everyone's radar. Not only do I need to explain what I do and how I do it, but why being green is important. Any suggestions how to do that in 15 seconds or less?

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