First things first - Inventory Planning. The idea to try out a craft show needled its way into my mind about this time last year. I was creating projects for Stitch Magazine that I had absolutely no use for. Between then and now I've also taught two online classes, making a ton of projects each time, many of which also have no homes. In a sense these projects are already "paid for", so if I were to sell their physical selves at a craft show it would just be icing on the cake. That and it would clear out my cupboard, while releasing me to feel "ok" about making things for no one in particular, a frame of mind I'd really like to adopt.
You know what, this reminds me that I haven't pointed out in awhile that Stitched in Color is my business. In case you're new to this space or kind of glossed over that fact, I'll just make sure you know that this is a business, not a hobby for me. I feel incredibly blessed to be doing something I love, my art! as a job. But it is a job - I put in at least 40 hours a week (ha!) and make most decisions factoring in the business perspective.
That said, I really think I'm doing the craft show mainly for fun. I may sell items that are already "paid for", but I'll also be investing lots of time, money for booth design and money for new product materials. If the experience is actually fun (mostly) and I do sale enough to make it worthwhile, I'll do it again. But, that's a big IF!
Ok, so inventory. Let's talk about what I already had sitting in my cupboard at the time I was considering doing the Indie Craft Parade:
*4 baby quilts (since then, I've made another one - a Little Fling)
*3 metal clasp coin purses
*1 pillow cover
*2 wall hangings
*1 set of bibs and some pacifier clips
*1 set of coasters (since then, I've made another set)
*1 adorable girls top that Aria hated a long time ago
*1 potholder (like literally, ONE. I don't think you can sell 1 potholder?)
*1 covered journal (since then I've made 3 more)
So, I had 15 items and I've already made 7 more. The having of 15 items is what really pushed me into this. I hate seeing things I've made sitting in a dark cupboard. Maybe a craft show will be a way of giving them away while making a leetle extra money and developing my brand?
Inventory Planning goes like this - what do I want to make, what to people actually want to buy and what can I price high enough to make my time worthwhile? The right items will satisfy all criteria. Also, it's important to have more low-priced smaller items than pricey baby quilts. Although I have a wide range of random goods already made, nicely displaying randomness is far from easy. My best bet is to develop a small list of inventory categories that I feel are winners so that I can design a booth to showcase them. The misc. already made items that I don't decide to run with will just have to find a random space on the table!
Here are the inventory categories I've decided to focus on:
*Stretched wall art
Quilts: Although the baby quilts are what I had most of going in, I don't expect them to be a very marketable inventory category. They're expensive and people don't usually understand why. Plus, they're only for babies. Still, this is something I absolutely love making! I already had 2 girl quilts and 2 gender neutral quilts. I decided to make 2 boy quilts and figure out a way to display them. I'm taking a chance with this category, but it's probably top of my list of things I'd like to have license to make as desired all year long.
Picnic Blankets: These blankets are more "useful" than my baby quilts and lower priced. I feel that adding this category may help me market the baby quilts by reinforcing the quilt aesthetic. To keep the cost down, I've chosen a quick design that showcases the fabrics. I'm counting on the fabrics to sale themselves! I hope to make 4-5 picnic blankets like the one I shared yesterday.
Covered Journals: I'm a sucker for making these. The experience is therapeutic! I prefer to make them from scraps, which keeps materials cost low. Since they aren't time-intensive, I can keep the sales price low as well. I think this is likely to be a strong selling category so I'll make more journals than anything else - I'm planning to have 20.
iPad Sleeves: Here's where I feel out of my element. I haven't made these before, and I don't even have an iPad. However, I believe that the young, artsy crowd shopping at this particular show is likely to own an iPad. And, they probably wouldn't be shy about paying for a cool cover. I'm thinking to make 6 iPad sleeves, but this inventory category is low on my priority list.
Coasters: I believe in coasters. I use them and I enjoy giving them as gifts. I hope that others will feel the same way! It's great to have a very giftable inventory category, so here it is. I'll make sets of 4 coasters probably in a very simple design. Perhaps 8 coaster sets would be adequate?
Stretched Wall Art: This category is much like a mini-quilt but in a format that's more recognizable as wall decor to the general public. I enjoy making these very much. They take little fabric, but lots of thought and sometimes lots of time. Fortunately, people expect to pay good money for something they'd hang on a wall. I wonder if this could be a lucrative category. I'm thinking to have 10 or more pieces.
And that's enough! Really, when you add this up I'm planning to make about 50 items between now and September 7th. Limiting myself to 6 inventory categories also helps me have fewer challenges with booth design. I do wonder if this is enough inventory for a 3-day event with 5000 attendees (my word!), but if I run out that's not the worst problem I could have.
My next step was to take out the calendar and figure out how many items (and which) I should make each week to keep me on schedule. I mixed up easy and more time-consuming items giving myself about 6 to make each week. Monday I made a set of coasters and a journal cover. Tuesday I made a 16" x 20" wall art. This week I should make one more set of coasters, another journal cover and finish up a quilt for a friend (not for the show). Oh, and I also have stuff still in the works with Handstitched Class. I'm definitely not forgetting that!
Here's the set of coasters I made on Monday. I pulled out some abandoned patchwork and added the linen strip to bring the squares to size. It was supposed to be a quick project, but I actually had a terrible time with many little things and found myself muttering, "I didn't even want these anyways!" So, yes, it was my first "grumpy craft show lady" moment. I'll be sure to report on how that part progresses!