Gearing up for a Big Show
Gearing up for a Big Show
I have been in the handmade business now for two and a half years (on Etsy for a little over a year). What started as a fun trip to the weekly farmers’/art market has turned into a full-fledged business. This wasn’t an accident, I have worked hard to build my brand and build my business.
That said, this year I decided to enter one of the big three-day art festivals as a vendor. A vendor with a tent and the whole shebang! I have done two-day shows, always indoors and not like the volume of visitors who arrive for this kind of big, summer festival. The one I plan to attend estimates 20,000 visitors. I pondered on and off for several months last winter whether I was “big time” enough to do a big show. I also had vague anxiety about what I needed to do to prepare for such a show. How much inventory would I need? Where to start?
I thought about just working hard. Work and work and work and see how much I could make. But that felt too vague, too directionless. Instead, I decided to make a spreadsheet. Yeah for the geek in all of us!
The first thing I did was decide what exactly I would sell at the big show (i.e. narrow my scope). I listed those things on the spreadsheet. I made a wild guess about how many of those things I thought I might need for inventory for the show. Next I said, “How many of that thing can I make in one day?” Now I had a calculation of how long it would take to make all of the things I guessed I would need. It came to 4.91 months. This was January and the show is at the end of July, so it was doable! (Side note: I have written posts about pacing yourself. You need to make sure you can sustain a level of activity for the duration of your goal, so my “how many of these things can I make in a day” had limits. I only wanted to work Monday through Friday and I gave myself time in the day to fit in anything else I needed or wanted to accomplish.)
I thought about sales. How many “things” would sell in one hour given a brisk sales day? I thought, 20. Twenty seems like pretty brisk sales in an hour – that means one thing sells every three minutes. If that were to sustain over the course of three days, I had a number of how many “things” would sell. Is that number less than the number I guessed for inventory? YES!
I decided, based on my calculating, that I could make enough inventory to do a big, three-day show. Putting it on a spreadsheet gave me the game plan. I knew exactly what I had to do every day in order to accomplish the inventory goals. I also knew what supplies I needed to buy. If I’m going to make 200 purses, I need at least 200 magnetic snaps. Did I have enough metal to make jewelry? How many boxes and bags for packaging? I didn’t have to guess, it was all written down in that spreadsheet!
It was then just a matter of work ethic. Every weekday since January I have been in the studio working. Why am I spending time typing this? Because I hit my goal! I’m at 100% inventory. Anything I make now is additional inventory – of course, minus any sales in the meantime.
I’m still going to the Tuesday night market. That is giving me a gauge to see what is selling this summer, and I have time to adjust slightly before the big show. I have kept my Etsy shop and my website low-key since January, too. It’s all about focus and where you need to put your energy.
I don’t know yet if I guessed right. Things beyond my control can play into how the show goes like rain storms or my location in the park or gas prices. But everything else is in place and under control. I will write a post in August to let you know how it went!