Wednesday, May 25, 2016

This Way.

Finally the trees have leaves. Yay. I'm back to hiking my trails a few times a week and I can't tell you how happy it makes me to see little green tufts of grass after a really hard winter. This is one of the things I enjoy most in the world. 




I hope you have a great week 
Love, Laura




My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns



article and images ©Laura Beth Love 2016

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Beautiful Broken China Jewelry

I just listed these new pieces in my Etsy shop, and you can find them here...

I hope you like them! Check back for more later this week!


What do you think?

Enjoy the rest of your week! 
Love, Laura


My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns



article and images ©Laura Beth Love 2016


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Craft Shows & Art Festivals: Which Type is Right For You?

In my last blog post, Preparing for Your First Craft Show, I talked about some of the things you might want to think about before you sign up for your first craft show. Some of the things I suggested you to take into consideration are the amount of work involved, a reminder to have the proper permit or license, and to be set up to accept credit cards.

I advised you to start a notebook where you can write ideas, take notes on shows that you visit, and write lists of things that you will need to participate in art or craft shows. I can't stress how important it is that you visit many craft shows! Check your local newspaper find out when and where upcoming craft shows and festivals will be.


In today's post I'm going to talk about some of the different types of craft shows and give you some insight to the pros and cons of these different types of shows so that hopefully you can then determine what type of show might be right for you and the type of craft or artwork that you create.

This can be a pretty broad topic, so I'm going to narrow it down as best I can. First of all, there are big shows and there are small shows. There are also shows where shoppers pay an entry fee to enter, and other types that are free to visit.


Word of advice: Do not ever purchase premade crafts and then resell them under the guise that they were created by you. This is a giant no-no in the industry and is known as "buy/sell." This is a practice that is greatly frowned upon by other crafters as well as promoters. If you're caught doing this you will  be kicked out of the show and you will gain an instant bad reputation among crafters and promoters.

That's not to say that you can't use certain manufactured components within your design. But as to what those components are and how many of them you use is a popular debate among crafts people. These types of things also help denote what types of craft shows you should be in. There are shows that are purely "crafty" types of shows with lots of preassembled type items and then there are shows that are geared more toward fine crafts and artwork where each and every item is made purely by the hands of the person selling it. Where do you fit in?



In my opinion it's always best to start out small to test the waters. Large juried shows usually have costly entry fees as well as a jury process which means that your items are closely scrutinized by the promoters to make sure that you are of the quality standard that they require. These types of shows are mostly for fine craftspeople, artisans, and artists. Going into those types of shows can be a great goal to have, but start smaller to gain experience and to see if you like it first before investing in lots of displays and equipment you will need to do bigger shows.

Smaller craft shows such as those run by organizations such as women's clubs and churches (and also some craft festivals) will not have such strict guidelines but generally the quality of crafts will be on the lower side. Again, where do you fit in? Remember what I said about visiting lots of shows!



Starting with smaller shows: these are the types of shows that you find at a church hall or at outdoor festivals such as summer carnivals, fairs, and town festivals and these are usually either free for shoppers to enter or might charge a small entry fee at the door. The crafter fee for a crafts person to participate in the show is usually low and might be $20 for a table or $40 for a table, or they might give you a certain area of space such as a 10 ft. square. When you are starting out it's easy to do shows in fire halls and church halls where the tables and chairs are supplied. Once you have been doing craft shows for a while you might later want to branch out into shows where you have to show up with your own tent or canopy, your own tables and chairs and complete displays.

I found out early on that my crafts did not fit into the smaller type craft shows or outdoor county fair type shows. This is when I was a stained-glass artist and I found that people who go to those shows were looking for inexpensive things to buy. Some seasoned, higher-end crafters will also tell you that they avoid any type of craft show where there are carnival rides or where food is served as a main attraction. That's because people come with their kids to ride the rides and eat, but not to spend money on crafts. Unless you are selling lower-priced items that are appealing to that type of crowd, you will just get a lot of lookers. Most often, families don't take their kids to carnivals to buy fine crafts!


With that in mind, you may want to avoid those types of shows unless you are selling inexpensive family-oriented items. Here's a real-life example: I once participated in a craft show at a county fair that was outdoors under a huge tent and the woman next to me was selling bandanna pet collars. She was selling them left and right and could hardly keep up with her customers, she was so busy!  That was the perfect show for her, but it wasn't a good fit for me. I spent a lot of time at that show cleaning dust from the ground off of my expensive stained-glass boxes and art glass windows! See what I mean? Again, think about where your craft might fit in.



Once I outgrew those smaller shows at fire halls and tested the water at outdoor festivals I was soon ready to move on to shows that were a little bit bigger and that had more of the type of audience that would buy my type of crafts. For some of these shows, I had to supply my own canopy. Everyone uses basically the same kind, the EZ-Up white canvas topped type that is 10 ft. square. I think I bought mine at Sam's Club years ago for about $200. That was a small investment in my business. Most medium to larger sized craft events will specify things such as, "all canopies must be white" – It's kind of standard in the industry – so like I said before, visit lots of shows! Look around and really pay attention and see what the visual set up is like. Ask questions from participating craft people or promoters while you're there. Tell them you might be interested in participating in the show next year and you will get lots of information. Write it in your notebook. At this point in your business you should already have business cards, so bring some along to share with other crafters and promoters. 

Some larger type shows that are indoors will supply the tables for you for an additional fee outside of your entry fee. This could be $10 or $20 per table plus a few hundred dollars fee to participate in the show.  (Show costs to participate vary widely from show to show, area to area, and promoter to promoter!) They will most likely also supply electricity (bring your own heavy duty extension cords!) for an additional fee. You will also need to supply your own table covers and those are also sometimes regulated by the show to be a certain color- black or white is usually the best choice if not. Table covers should always reach the floor on the front and sides of your tables. Your display should always be kept within your space unless the promoter permits otherwise. Know the rules and regulations of each particular show you are going into and make sure that you adhere to the rules.



The first big show I did was indoors and cost a few hundred dollars to enter. I could hardly afford the entry fee! I paid a bit extra for them to supply the tables to make it easier for me – and that was a really wise choice because it saved me so much work – and I also paid for electricity which was another wise choice because it was actually kind of dark inside the building. It was a large stadium but when you think about someone coming up to a table and looking at your items, you want them to be illuminated and brightly lit so that you show them off the best you can. I didn't even accept credit cards yet, but this promoter specified that you had to-- so if you did not have your own credit card system, they accepted them for you. They took a small fee to do this but it was well worth it. I made a lot of money that weekend - a few thousand dollars - and I was in heaven. It was my biggest show up until that date and I learned so much. The promoter gave me a check for my credit card sales at the end of the show. They also processed any personal checks I received, which saved me a lot of sweat worrying about whether I should take a check or not. 

So as you can see, there was a benefit to being in a larger size show with a promoter who took credit cards for me and screened personal checks. It offered me some small amount of protection - especially since I was just starting out doing larger shows. I found that my work did well at larger shows and this is right at the time when I was starting to introduce my jewelry into my line of stained glass and glass and china mosaics. This show was not very simple to be a part of though - there was a jury process to be accepted and also a waiting list! Big shows are planned months and months in advance - sometimes over a year in advance!

If you're reading this post and you've done craft shows - big or small - please leave a comment below and add your voice to this post. I'd love to hear your show experiences with all types of shows!


What do you think?

Enjoy the rest of your week! 
Love, Laura


My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns



article and images ©Laura Beth Love 2016

Monday, May 16, 2016

Poppies! New Broken China Jewelry in My Etsy Shop

I love poppies. They're one of my most favorite flowers (my other favorite is hydrangea, and I'm also partial to peonies, lilacs, wisteria, irises...). Most china dinnerware patterns that have flowers on them feature roses of course. Pink ones. I can tell you this from personal experience. There are hundreds of china patterns that feature pink roses. Every once in a while you'll see yellow roses or red. Maybe a white one here or there. But they are mostly pink. I covet china patterns with seldom seen flowers like poppies, hydrangea, irises. Give me wildflowers like hollyhock, foxglove, asters, and I am forever happy.  Here are a couple of new pieces that I listed in my shop yesterday.







I hope you like them! Check back for more later this week!


What do you think?

Enjoy the rest of your week! 
Love, Laura


My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns



article and images ©Laura Beth Love 2016

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Visiting Local Farms & Roadside Stands for Flowers in Pennsylvania

I spent an entire afternoon last week cleaning out my koi pond, draining it and refilling it and getting it - and my yard - ready for summer. We had a mild winter and I was happy to see that all of my fish and even my frog had survived the winter.

We had just gotten over more than a week of damp, wet weather and I couldn't wait to get outside. I love having my coffee in my backyard every morning. I usually land up taking my laptop outside with me and working outside for a while. It's so peaceful next to the pond. I could just read or work there for hours. I could go barefoot all summer long. Summer is by far my favorite season, and there's nothing I love more than feeling the earth and grass beneath my bare feet. 

I'm excited to get flowers planted around my patio, pond, and in my flower beds. Each spring I go with my sister to a couple of the local Mennonite farms where they have huge greenhouses and sell all types of flowers. We go together and split flats so that we both have a nice variety to plant.


This was the first farm that we went to, they have four or five huge greenhouses. This is their roadside stand.

My sister wanted to take this cat home. He was so friendly! 

On our stroll up to the greenhouses we first came to this huge row of rhubarb. I love strawberry rhubarb pie! My last rhubarb plant was a transplant from one at my mom's house but it didn't make it, so I'll have to try to plant another one asap. 

Stepping into the first greenhouse this was what I saw. What an awesome groovy chair! I couldn't resist snapping a picture of it.


There were loads of petunias and geraniums and some snapdragons but the sky was getting dark and it was going to pour any minute, so we decided to just look today and come back in a couple days to buy after we saw what they had. 


I had never seen black pansies before - kind of creepy! And they weren't dark purple, they really were black. 

We left that farm and drove on to an organic farm's roadside stand that my sister frequents. There's no one there to man the stand, it works on the honor system; you leave the money in a jar. That's how many of the roadside fruit and vegetable stands operate in Pennsylvania. This one had fresh eggs, rhubarb, and asparagus. My sister said their asparagus was to die for, so she bought a bunch. One left! 





We pass these old railroad cars on our way...while driving through Topton, PA.


Rain coming so heading home... but we'll be back in a couple days to buy our flowers.



Enjoy the rest of your week! 
Love, Laura


My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns



article and images ©Laura Beth Love 2016

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

My 5 Favorite Things For Today... Wednesday, May 11, 2016




 This omelette that I've been making a lot lately...fresh eggs, grilled red pepper, jalapeno peppers, onion, tomato, garlic, a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese, fresh ground black pepper and a pinch of oregano. Yum.


I'm not really one for nail art. Not my style. And manicures never last long on these hard working hands. But I love this. I always do them myself.


 These pinks that my daughter Rachel gave to me for Mother's Day along with a poem she wrote all by herself. She's a great writer!


This moody portrait of my daughter Erica. If anyone in my house is always laughing and being funny, it's her. I think I like this photo because it shows a different side of her personality. It's just cool!



This woodpecker that I got a glimpse of on my tree today. I wished I could've gotten closer but he's always so fast! 


What do you think?

Enjoy the rest of your week! 
Love, Laura


My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns



article and images ©Laura Beth Love 2016

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Preparing For Your First Craft Show


Throughout my career people have asked me what it's like to sell at craft shows. That's a question that I could answer in many different ways because the experience really is multifaceted, but for the most part, participating in craft shows is fun and exciting! You get to see all types of new things and meet all kinds of new people. You get to interact with customers face-to-face. You get to see how other craftspeople operate their businesses at craft shows, and you get to see how the promoters run their event. But best of all, you get to experience a great feeling of accomplishment as you get to live an amazing chain of events, all of which you created, and in which you are the star. From the very beginning -- from sitting down to create your items, then to finishing and marketing and selling them, and finally handing the sold package over to a happy customer -- is a life experience that is rewarding in many ways. 

You're going to learn a lot. If this is your very first craft show, prepare your brain to be like a sponge to soak up all kinds of new information. No matter how ready you think you are before diving headfirst into doing craft shows, you will find that you have a lot to learn. Trust me when I say that you can never be too prepared. Some things that are apt to go wrong may be things that you would never expect. But you can't be discouraged, you have to just keep going! If you're learning to ride a bike and you fall down, you don't just quit and never learn to ride the bike. You get back on and try again. 



Preparing for your very first craft show can be extra nerve-racking because it's all new. Add your anticipation and excitement that has been building up to the big day and you just might find that you are a bundle of nerves the morning of your first show. But you can relax, because I'm going to give you some advice and tips that will make your first craft show a fun and enjoyable experience.

I participated in live craft shows for years before later moving my business online to my own website, and I also sold my jewelry and artwork on eBay for many years - and this was way back before Etsy was created! I have lots of real life experience to share and am excited to create this blog series which will consist of different articles about selling at craft shows. Now, on to gearing up to participating in your first live craft show!



One of the most important things is that you are well prepared. Another very important thing is that you go into the experience with an open mind, a sense of resilience, and with no major expectations. Some shows you will do very well at, while others may leave you a little bit disappointed. That sometimes is just the luck of the draw and unfortunately usually can't be avoided. Some things that affect craft show attendance can't be controlled, such as the weather. But you can always come away from any craft show with lots of knowledge about how you can improve your work and your business, and that is invaluable information.




You're going to find out what people like, and what they don't. Sometimes the item you think will be your biggest seller will fall flat and instead, and unexpected item will be in big demand. You'll learn a lot about your products, your customers, and your business. You will learn things about your work and your business that you cannot learn from any other venue.

Selling at a craft show is very different than selling your items online. Perhaps you already have an online shop and this is your first "real life" craft show. Or maybe your craft has been your hobby up until now and this is your first time presenting your crafts for sale to the public. Either way, here are a few things to think about before you embark on your first live craft show.



First of all, ask yourself why you are doing this. Your answer could be that you are doing it solely to earn money. Or maybe you want to test the waters and see how your products sell. Craft shows are certainly one of the best types of ways to do your market research. But no matter what your reason, if you do it purely for the experience of it, and for the fun of it, then you will always have an enjoyable time because you are there for the right reason. If you go into craft shows thinking that you are going to be an overnight sensation then you just might come home with a bit of a bruised ego because (you will soon find out) each show is different and each show will bring different results. Go into it knowing that piece of information - along with a positive attitude - and you will eventually go far. 

It takes time and experience to find out which shows are good shows and which shows you should avoid, and some shows that are great for some people turn out to be not so great for you, and that's just the way it goes sometimes. There really is no magic formula. Sometimes it's just luck. One of the best things you can do at a craft show is to network. Make friends with other artists and crafters and don't be afraid to ask them craft show questions. Ask them what shows they've done and what their experiences have been. This was one of my favorite parts of doing shows. We loved to exchange information and help each other, exchanging business cards and giving each other tips for what shows are good and not so good. Looking back on this now, it also occurs to me that the vendors who were the friendliest and most apt to share tricks of the trade were also some of the most successful vendors at the events I attended. Coincidence? Or good karma? 


Know that doing craft shows can be tremendously hard work. When I did my very first shows years ago, I was a stained glass artist. I made beautiful stained glass boxes that I crafted from the most unusual and beautiful pieces of glass I could find. I also made window-sized stained glass pieces. Transporting and hanging these pieces was a difficult job. They had to be wrapped in layer upon layer of bubble wrap and securely packed to travel to the show, and then they had to be very securely displayed, and of course cleaned from fingerprints - - you get the picture. My packed up crates were extremely heavy and at the same time very fragile. It was very time consuming, and it took me forever to set up and then tear down once the show ended. No matter what you are selling, it's super smart idea to enlist a helper! 

You will need a helper to step in and take your place when you need a break, to help watch over your stuff, and if you get super-busy, you may even need them to run and get change or grab you a drink. Your helper is very important! Treat them well, buy them lunch. Give them coffee and chocolate. Also, don't use your child for this job. Your helper should be a responsible adult, just like you. When I was doing shows while I was in college, I used to bring my mom along to my shows as my helper. She loved it. Not only was she my biggest supporter and cheerleader, but she really wanted to be there. We made so many great memories and when I think back now to some of the shows we did, I smile. I sometimes had to tell her that she didn't have to sell my work so hard, but now I see that she was just so proud of me. Love you mom! 



Craft shows are physically demanding. Trust me on this one. You need to have the stamina to get up at the crack of dawn (sometimes earlier), drive to the show destination, unload, set up - - and all that happens before the show even starts! Then you are on your feet all day, hopefully very busy and taking care of lots of customers. Then once the show closes you have to tear down your display and pack it up, haul it back out to your vehicle and then drive home and unload it all. You can see just from that brief description that you will need a lot of energy and stamina to make it through the day. And of course during the event you will need to remember to breathe, drink lots of water to stay hydrated, and eat. You also should be well rested, and not just the night before the show, but every night. 



To do craft shows you need to accept credit cards. Luckily, nowadays this is super easy, but back in the day I had to use an old fashioned knuckle-buster to swipe plastic cards, and also had to suffer the nervous feeling that comes when someone wants to write you a personal check.  We'll talk all about that in a future blog post, but for now, just know that to participate in craft shows you need to be financially savvy in the ways of commerce. 

You will need to have some cash to make change, as well as a merchant account so that you can accept credit cards from customers. Thankfully with today's technology, this is now a pretty simple process. Usually all you need is a cell phone and PayPal Here merchant account, or Square card account. Open the merchant account by going to their website and applying, and if you're approved they will mail you a credit card swiper that you plug directly into your cell phone's earbud jack. It's as simple as that, but it's still something that you need to be set up with before you start doing craft shows. Must you take credit cards? Well, no. But if you don't, you are probably losing out on about eighty percent of sales. That's about the percentage of my sales that came from credit cards in my last few live shows. Accepting credit cards also means that you will get many more sales of multiple items in one sale -- that's when one person buys multiple items. (more about that in a future post!)

While we're talking about financial stuff, you need to also be aware that you will need to check with your state and local laws and get the proper licensing or permit that you will need to legally be able to sell to the public. Know that you are also responsible for collecting any state sales taxes and submitting them to the proper places. If you are going to participate in craft shows that are outside of the state that you live in, you will probably need to obtain a separate license to sell in that state, as well as collect that state's sales tax and submit that as well. There is lots of background work that you have to do before you do your first craft show. The good news is that once you get those things done, they're done, and you're good to go! 




Another important thing to think about before you embark on doing craft shows is your display and packaging. You will need to invest a little bit of money to create your display. Even if you creatively fashion one from salvaged materials, there will still be some expense involved, so be prepared for that. Lastly, there is a fee to take part in craft shows. This varies very widely from venue to venue and from town to town. It could range from $20 for a table for an afternoon at a church hall, or hundreds of dollars for a weekend venue with a big promoter. What are your goals? 

My best advice for those of you who are tossing around the idea of doing craft shows is to plan, plan, and then plan some more. Visit tons of shows. Keep a notebook where you can write down the shows that you visited and what you thought of them. Write down the dates, the show name and place, the types of vendors that you saw there, and if there was a (shopper) fee to get in. Look at the types of displays that the crafters are using. Look at the price ranges of the items being sold, the types of items being sold, and the quality of the items being sold. Know where you would fit in. Once you visit a lot of different shows, you will be able to determine these things. Start a special notebook to store all of this information in one place, and take lots of notes. 



Start writing lists of shows, and lists of things you think you will need. This is a great place to start and will give you a good foundation to build upon. Start a craft show list that contains every single thing that you think you need to bring along with you to a show. I'll share mine with you in my next post. 

I really hope you enjoyed this article. Check back soon for my next article in my Craft Show series! If you found this information useful, please share it with a friend and please leave a comment below. I'd love to hear your take on craft shows that you've visited or participated in!





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What do you think?

Enjoy the rest of your week! 
Love, Laura


My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns



article and images ©Laura Beth Love 2016