Preparing for an event can be hard work, stressful and time-consuming, ESPECIALLY if you don’t have a plan.
The reason I say this is we just signed up for out 1st major (to us) event, called Harvest Market, based in my home town in Iowa. It’s a BIG event in my little town (pop. ~7000). ALL the crafters, hobbyists, and small businesses in the area come together to showcase all their holiday products. It is usually the Monday before Thanksgiving, so this year its November 25th. It’s hosted by Produce in the Park and the Atlantic Area Chamber of Commerce.
As you can imagine, we are both excited and a bit scared, to be attending this event. First things first, what do we currently have for sale? How much do we want to have on hand for sale? Do we have enough time to make, much less package, everything we want to have?
So after a minor panic attack on my part (yeah my brain does that sometimes) and some time breathing, I started a list of what we needed to do. This included small things that we were ready to do anyway (like ordering a larger amount of business cards and stocking up on labels and packaging supplies), to thing we THOUGHT would be farther out in the future, like making a sign and having a pretty table cloth. Even bumping up the finished and packaged inventory became more of a priority.
So the list goes something like this..
- Know what we have on hand – not too hard since we already have a rough inventory system in place. Just double-checking for accuracy the next time we spend some time at the workshop. Or I could ask mom to do it since the workshop is at her house …hmm something to think about. Also, we have been having a few sales that I’m not sure got taken out on inventory (oops!)
- Decided what kind of “paperwork” we need to have at the booth. I confess I asked a few of my friends who have done events like this in the past. I got some really good advice too! (thanks to David and Aaron for the info and feedback!)
This included such things as a price list (yeah, knew that), and about us page (hmm) in a stand-up picture frame so it’s more visible (oh!), and an ingredient list comparison for our soaps. Even things such as a basic order form (just in case we run out of specific products. Hey! A girl can dream!) and a receipt form for all our customers.
One of the main things that the guys suggested was that color draws attention. I had never really thought about this that much. So we decided to color coordinate our price list to our items (as much as we are able) as well as to our box sets. All the lip balm products are listed in orange, the body powder in reds, the basic bar soaps (and sample basic bar box sets) are listed in light green, the specialty bar soaps (and the deluxe bar sample box) listed in light blue. And just for fun, our Rose Garden soap is listed in (what else) rose red. 🙂
The ingredient list comparison was interesting, to say the least, not to mention eye-opening. What do we put in our soap vs. what is usually in most store-bought soap? Have you ever really LOOKED at what is in your soap from the store?
- Decide how realistic our desires are vs. what we can actually make in time to sell. “FIND A REASONABLE NUMBER!” – my brain can be quite instant, can you tell? Timelines were a must for this part, we even built in some extra time just in case we had an off week (car troubles, bad weather, other things cropping up for family, etc.) the fun part of deciding how much to make, is we don’t really have a sales history to work off of. We know that we have sold more Oatmeal Breakfast Bar than anything else (except lip balms) but that is only 2-3 bars.
Will people like it at a craft fair vs. my describing it to a friend and her buying 2 bars to send to a grand baby with really bad eczema? /shrug who knows.
We DO know we don’t want to run out, so we decided to make at least 12-16 full-size bars of each flavor. This should allow us to have a lot, without running out (we hope!), and still allow us time to make enough that we can get our sample boxes set up for sales too. Otherwise, that’s what the order forms are for!
- Next, we had to decide what to make when, to boost our stock levels. The soap has to be done first, as it takes a while to cure. Almost everything else we do takes less than an hour to do, and most of that is time spent cooling or setting stuff up to package. So knowing we had to do soap, we made a list of our current stock from least to most, so we would know what order to make more of them in. We also have a small complication of Michelle not currently having a car. So travel time is different from what we usually do. We have less time together, but more time separate, to make soap.
So, we decided to divide and conquer! We will do the more intricate soaps (the specialty stuff that takes a bit more effort) together, while I can do some of the basic soaps at the workshop on days when she works. Michelle is also doing a few newer scents/color combos to try to appeal for the holiday season (see the Facebook page, Sweetsistersvegan, for sneak peeks!)
So, we are well on our way (we hope!) to being prepared for our 1st event. I’m pretty sure we have missed some things, but we have time yet. We hope to see you there!
Carrie & Michelle