Sunday, March 30, 2008

Running away with the circus?

This week was great. I:

Paid my last rent check to my landlord in Connecticut-------- who decided since I have been such a great tenant (paid my rent on time EVERY month, never had a complaint filed against me, only told off one neighbor-and she really deserved it) he was going to let me out of my lease 15 days early, and only charge me half for May! He also decided I didn't have to paint my apartment back to white (I think he felt bad for accidentally giving me an eviction notice intended for the neighbor I told off).

I went to NYC and swatched for the last show of the season at the Hartford Stage. I love NYC, and I will admit, I had a few pangs of sadness at the idea of not moving there, but a few less when the job I had applied for in NY called and offered me waay less money than the one in DC.

I started giving away furniture for my move. This might not sound like a great thing, but it feels really good to give your furniture a new home.

I spent a day backstage at Cirque Du Soleil fitting thongs on hot Italian acrobats.


but I did spend a day backstage working on building stage masking for Cirque.

It was amazing. In general it was a lot like any backstage experience, only international and with contortionists. The best part about it- it was so not an American experience.

They played French rap, German techno, and Canadian folk music while the technicians set the stage and rigging. Everyone was really, amazingly, insanely hard working, really nice, and even the Americans had a Canadian accent! Their kitchen trailer served healthy food, separated all their trash into compost, paper, glass, plastic, and 'other' for recycling, and they had "did you wash your hands?" signs from the Canadian government everywhere. It was completely the same as an American Backstage experience, only completely different.

Oh, and if you ever wondered how all those performers keep in such tip top shape- it's because they work......hard. We arrived at 9am to begin work, the performers were already there working out, standing on each other's shoulders, bending over and kissing their own *sses. It was amazing. At one point we had 3 young contortionists rehearsing beside our sewing area, I was having a really hard time concentrating. My mind kept going back to the 12 year olds folding themselves in half backwards. All I could think was the dialogue that must have happened in their lives- Here is a sample of what I imagine it was like

Adult: What do you want to be when you grow up?

Girl: hmmmm

Adult: Veterinarian?

Girl: No.

Adult: Doctor?

Girl: No.

Adult: School Teacher?

Girl: No.

Adult: What then?

Girl: Contortionist.

Adult: That's nice.

We finished work and quickly toured the costume area---where they make their own shoes. And I don't mean they make ballet slippers, they make beautiful, colorful, artisan quality gorgeous shoes. I went home and have started to wonder.....could I run away with the circus?

Like I said it was a really, truly, amazingly, great week.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Andre The Giant Has A Posse

If you know what this are automatically cool.

Once upon a time (1987ish) there was a young girl and her brother was a skateboarder. She was a very crafty, very nerdy, figure skater sort of girl. Her brother was a very cool, very straight edge, very skateboarding sort of fellow. He had some fabric patches, and later some vinyl stickers that had a silk screen print that said "Andre The Giant Has a Posse" with a image and some other stats for the pro-wrestler. The younger nerdier girl said to her brother and his friends "what does that mean?" and they told her if she didn't know, she wasn't cool enough to know..... brothers can really suck sometimes.......

Fast forward 20 years to 2007ish and that nerdy girl is now a rock star crafter, who never forgot how if felt to want to be a part of something so cool, so esoteric, that if you didn't know what it was you probably aren't cool enough to be a part of it. Enter and the CT Etsy Team. Etsy is not so cool that you need a password, but it is still just indie enough to be cool. Oh, and the Andre The Giant and later OBEY patches--they didn't mean anything--just like the name Etsy- doesn't mean anything.

And here is my homage to the OBEY patches:

Not quite Andre The Giant, but cool for sure. I'll have the stand alone patches at the Craftastic on April 13th ($2) as well as a few of the zipper pouches ($8). A portion of the profit will go back to the CT Etsy Street Team to help promote the rad, indie crafters in CT to advertise, host markets, and generally make Etsy as big as Andre The Giant.

Oh, and they were my first trip into the extra cool, extra indie world of homemade silkscreens. I am in love. I used actual silk for the screen, and I think it worked better than tulle or stockings.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Craft Market Tres

It is about 2 days before the market, you have all your pieces done, the tags are on, and you have a plan(ish) for what your display will look like. Now comes the hard part. The part where you have to talk to people you don't know about your work and they either buy it or they don't. This can be more difficult than all the seaming, felting, painting, and exacto cuts combined.

I watched a documentary about buzz marketing a couple of years ago, and it changed my life. Buzz marketing is a style of guerrilla marketing where you create a 'feel' or *buzz* around a product without overtly advertising it. The easiest way to market something to people is if they see someone who they want to be like using, enjoying, or taking part of a product or service.

Therefore; give yourself some buzz.

When I get up and go to work in my crafty studio, I do it in whatever I have been wearing and a paint stained apron. This is not how I dress to go to a craft market. When I am a market vendor I think about who my target audience is, and I dress like them (this is easy, since I'm part of my own target market). If your market is young slightly conservative moms, try to look like someone they would go shopping with, take out your nose ring, and wear a sweater set. If your target market is Brooklyn hipsters, pull out your ironic tee shirt, slap some Vaseline on your tattoos and put on your ballet flats. Remember: part of the 'buzz' is creating 'the image'.

Here is a list of things to remember the day of the market

1. Change. People come shopping straight from the ATM machine, so you should be able to make change for at least a couple of $20 bills.

2. Tape. Something on your display will need to be taped, trust me.

3. Scissors and some string or yarn. Something or someone will need it.

4. Bags or something to put purchases in.

5. Lights, extension cord, table/display and a table covering.

6. Business Cards or postcards.

7. A notebook or sales slip book to record your sales in.

8. A small project to work on. It is a great way for people to strike up a conversation with you.

9. Water and a couple of healthy snacks. It's easy to forget to take care of yourself, but you will feel much better if you can eat something and keep hydrated.

10. Your fabulous products and your smile!

I can't wait to see you all at the Craftastic spring fling.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

5 years.

5 years ago our country, for better or worse, invaded Iraq. I was thinking today...what was I doing 5 years ago today, and how is my life different?

5 Years ago I was:

Just finishing my degree.

Dating a guy who I was sure I was going to marry.

Living with 3 roommates, 3 kitties, 2 fish tanks and more than likely a couple of mice.

Getting ready for a job interview as an apprentice with a major Chicago theatre.

Worried that the economy was going to tank due to the impending war.

Looking back I realize that almost nothing tangible in my life is the same, and yet almost everything is exactly the same. It is scary to look back at what can change and what stays exactly the same in 5 years.

No one knows decisively when this war is going to end, or why we got involved in the first place. The thing is we know is our vote does count, and we should use it whenever we get the chance.

Take a moment and think back to what you were doing 5 years ago today.

Now think ahead...what do you want to be doing in 5 years....

Now remember, if you don't vote, it won't happen.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Craft Market Dos.

Okay, so you have carefully decided what to make, how it should be priced, and the day of the market is about a week away. It is now time to label and display your work for sale.

I generally use business cards or a nice hand written tag for my labels. On the labels I include my company name, a way to get in contact with me (a URL or email address), and any care instructions, if there are any that apply. I think it is a good way to make your work feel finished, professional and it lends an air of confidence to your work. The more professionally you can present your work, the better.

Once everything is labeled I price it all individually. The only time I think it is a good idea to group price things is when you are dealing with 'stocking stuffer' gifts, or jewelry you are displaying on a board. Remember, people are paying you for something unique, so play it up. The more unique the item feels, the better.

Everything is priced, tagged, labeled and ready to go. The best advice I can give anyone about presenting work is merchandise, merchandise, merchandise. Go to a store you think is beautiful. Look at how items are presented, things are presented in a way that makes you want to touch it, try it on, and is visually interesting.

Levels and vertical presentation boards are a great way to make yourself stand out in the crowd. It is really hard to get someone to walk across a room to look at something if they aren't interested. There is nothing more boring than walking into a craft market and seeing flat tables with work lined up in neat rows. Asymmetry, odd numbers, and multiple levels are interesting.

If you need to see an example- go to an upscale, trendy store and take notes. A well merchandised store will always make more money than a cluttered and poorly lit one.

If you are selling wearables, be sure to have a mirror available for viewing. People want to see how great they are going to look in your work before they give you money. You should also be sure to bring additional lighting if the space is dark or if you have something like textiles or jewelry that is better viewed in bright light.

Next post, You and your business image.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Feminist Heaven!

Okay, so this is supposed to be a post about craft fairs, business, and the state of the creative mind.....but instead I have just discovered BUST magazine's personals website, and I think I might be in heaven. Oh, BUST I love the! Let me count the ways.

1. Interviews with Ira Glass and David Sedaris in the new 'We love men' issue.

2. Fashion spreads featuring only handmade pieces.

3. A f!cking personals page for me to meet a rad, crafty, intelligent, politically minded man.

4. The Boobtique

5. Need I say more?

I heart BUST magazine.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Craft Markets. Uno.

Last week Jillian made 2 new posts about what she has learned from her new trip into participating in craft markets.

This weekend I attended a Connecticut Etsy Street Team meeting and am starting to prep for the Craftastic spring fling. As I read Jillian's posts, meet people on my team, and get to know the online community as real people some things have become very clear to me. Etsy is FULL of wonderfully talented incredibly skilled people. Some of them are participating in Etsy with an entirely different mindset than I am. Part of that is the difference in life view and part of it is purely what people want to get out of Etsy as an online marketplace. I am also learning that although I think of myself as a newbie to indie craft, I have a lot more experience than many of my team members.

As I am prepping for the last craft market I will be a vending in for a while I thought I would write a multi-post tutorial about what I have learned participating in craft markets over the last 5 years. Remember, I am writing about small venues with less than 12 or so crafters. If you are going balls-to-the-wall and trying your hand at a giant venue with 30 or more vendors, it is a totally different story.

Here is part uno.

When I am planning what I am going to take to a market there are a couple of questions I ask myself. These include:

Who is my target audience? and what is their income and spending level (realistically)?

For me I know most of my work appeals to educated women in the 24-40 age group who more than likely work in the arts, or are pretty crafty and trendy. I like to think of it as the 'BUST' magazine-reading-smarty-pants-market. So I work on developing products that appeal to these women and fit in their spending patterns.

Can I create this product and still make a profit on it?

If the answer is no, then it's time to re-evaluate how I am constructing something, the materials I am using, and how I am charging for the product.

Has this product sold well in the past?

I always bring some items I call my guaranteed sells. These are items that generally cost less than $15, are good gifts, and would appeal to a broad variety of people. If I make something and it proves to be unpopular I will stop making it. No need to waste my time making something that is unpopular, even if I am having a blast making it. Time to add that item to my 'personal crafts only' list. For me- these things include hand dyed yarn, jewelry, and knitted hats. The market is (in my opinion) flooded with these items and I don't need to try to swim in an already crowded pool. side note- I am still trying to get rid of some of these things, so look for them to be marked down like crazy at the spring Craftacular.

So now you have decided on what you are bringing to the market. Now let's talk quantity. In all the markets I have participated in (some holiday, some not) I have almost never sold totally out of anything. Having said that, I usually try to have a good quantity of items. What is a good quantity? Depends. If it is a holiday market- it could be as much as 20 of one item. For a non-holiday market, I try to have a dozen of my best sellers.

Most people (myself included) were totally overwhelmed by their first market. It is a daunting thing to have to go out and chat with people about your work, look them in the face and on occasion, have them ask really dumb, insulting questions. However, when someone is totally thrilled with your work and is willing to give you some of their hard earned money for something you made -it is worth all the time and energy. Trust me.

Next post- How to display your work.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

T A G ! I'M IT!

I got this Tag from Jillian from my CT Etsy Street Team So here it goes!

The Rules:

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.

2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.

3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.

4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Here are 7 facts about Katie of KatieCrafts.......

1. Fish is my favorite food.

2. I am 5 feet 9.75 inches tall (that means I am almost as tall as the average American man).

3. I grew up in Orlando, Florida and my first job was as a costumed character at a theme park in Orlando that rhymes with misney. At that job I was hit by kids, parents, tourists, other characters, and a float.

4. If I wasn't a costume craftsperson I would have liked to be an anthropological skeletal analyst.

5. As of my move in May I will have moved 6 times in 5 years. uugh.

6. I almost always keep my toenails painted.

7. I don't have a favorite color.

Here is the start of a list of bloggers I am tagging. I'll add to it when I have the time!

Mazie's Mommy


Immortal Longings

Ms. Kitty Fantastico

CT Etsy Street Team


When I am feeling a little overwhelmed. I like to sit back and watch the puppies.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Am I loosing my mind!???

It has been a really long week(s) since my last post. This weekend I was in Brooklyn for the Brooklyn Home Show; a shiny new craft market in ,well, some one's home. It wasn't the spacious Brooklyn loft I was expecting, it was a small, scratch that, teeny-weensy little apartment. At one point there was 30+ people there. I am almost happy it was a rainy, crappy, day. If it had been all sunny outside I think we might have broken the one building codes we left intact. As far as craft markets go, it wasn't fantastic, but like I said it rained. So there.

I will be participating in the Craftastic the second weekend in April. It will be at The Space in Hamden CT. Hopefully it will be sunny that day. I'll post more information as we get closer to the event. I think it should be a spring fling of a Craftastic time.

Monday, March 3, 2008


Me: I'm moving to Washington DC.

You: Really! I thought you were moving to New York!

Me: Yeah, so did I, but now I'm moving to DC.

You: Why?! DC is so much lamer than NYC

Me: Bite me.

There you have it folks! If you would like to ask me this question...again... Please phrase it as an interpretive dance.

Thank you.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

If it's good enough for Barack

It has been a roller coaster of a couple of weeks. I haven't been feeling well (actually thought I had mono again, but don't!!!) and at the same time I have been playing a strange little game of where do I want to live this summer/fall/for the next 5 years. So I gathered up my references, a portfolio of images, and all my nerve and sent out a smack of resumes to find a new home.

In a week I had nibbles from places as far away as Seattle, Santa Fe, and Washington DC. I quickly have learned that theatres are in need of people with good crafty skills plus a few braincells leftover from years of smelling paint, dye and hat sizing. It is clear to me now that there are tons of talented people out there, but very few that look at the arts with (even) a little thought about how to get it all done in a timely manner and not make yourself crazy/vegetative in the process.

Drumroll please........

I have decided to take a job with a rather schmancy Shakespeare theatre in DC where I will be crafty and management. It is a good move for my career, pocketbook, and -as if I needed it- my ego. It will also enable me to continue to make good contacts with NYC designers, live in a city, and gain some/more management experience. It's nice because DC has many of the amenities I was looking for in a city (public transit, Chipotle, a real art store, like minded men) and is lacking some of the rat race I was not looking forward to (constantly looking for the next job, living with your neighbor up your butt, having to buy my own insurance).

Now if I just had a cute baby I could borrow so I could meet some hot politician.......Oh, Maizie, Maizie.....wanna come visit your auntie Katie??????