I have had three glorious sleeps, cleaned my entire house tip to toe, sorted my storage area and started pecking at a huge pile of paper on my desk since Scott and I closed up my booth Sunday at The Signatures Gift show. It was an amazing success for me, though the days were long to be on my feet for over 12 hours at a time.. but nothing a hot bath could not sooth. What I did not expect, was to sell out of recycled wool sweater leggings and to receive so much positive attention for my new bag collection. I sold 10 of them. Very happy about that. AND I am overjoyed to have met with some fabulous retail women who have asked to carry my bags in their fabulous stores. Workshop Boutique / Flock (Byward Market and Westboro, Ottawa) and Sacsou (Gatineau, Quebec). Workshop recently opened a new location in Westboro called Flock. I have always wanted to be featured in Workshop. They carry Canadian designers and the most creative collection of clothing and fashion accessories for all those super stylish fahionistas in Ottawa. Wohoo. And Sacsou is a brand new boutique in Gatineau on boul. St Joseph that carries fabulous shoe brands including El Naturalista & Fly London, plus a selection of Canadian designed handbags and totes. I have yet to visit their new digs, but by the way the owners were dressed, I can tell it is going to be a fashion mecca in this city.
There is so much choice in gift shows to attend at this time of year for small companies such as mine. It can be tough to decide where to get the greatest return for the effort that goes into attending. Often times you might have heard about a show that is a must attend because the traffic is high and the quality of craft is edgy, but sometimes you will attend simply because your BFF is already signed up. I prefer to get into the good shows (big and small) if they will have me, and bonus, if my friends are there too, we can share runs for coffee and watch each other’s tables when in need of a bathroom break. As I have said, I love craft shows.. but I don’t really want to be just a warm body with cool stuff, “filling an empty table” for certain upstarts. Quite a few people have approached me to take a table at their “Holiday sale”. While this is flattering, not only am I trying to limit the number of shows I attend to something manageable, but I try to filter out some smaller shows that are not well organised and have little or no advertising. Some gift shows are held in church basements and legion halls, you know the kind. But do not be deceived. I have attended some amazing craft shows held in such venues that are overflowing with happy consumers buying crazy-unique product made by super stylish designers. I have also visited craft sales in similar places that include one too many wildly colourful slippers with pom-poms, afghans with too many frilly bits and crochet Santas made in 100% acrylic Phentex. Not my thing really (I know, I know, I am a yarn snob, what can I say…) you know these types of sales.. we have all been there. But I am happy to have visited and read about hip shows in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver. The trend is clear. More and more gift shows and craft sales are catering to a demand for superior, hand-crafted objects and locally made designs. They are providing well advertised outlets for a new breed of hipster designers out there. From glass, silver, wood, photography to textile, plus, plus. I hope this movement continues to grow and that buying high-quality, locally-made wares becomes more mainstream in this North American, brand-conscious culture.
I am now heading into a week of administrative catch up and to sew more leggings for the show I am attending at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Gatineau, that runs during the first two weekends of December (2-5 and 9-11 Dec). It is the second year for this Christmas Craft sale and my first attendance. From what I have heard through friends who sold there last year, the quality of product was high and visitor traffic was super. Sometimes the smaller shows can generate great sales because the atmosphere is more intimate and the selection of vendors limits you to being the only one selling in your product category. The Museum grand foyer where the sale is to be held is a spectacular venue. I am looking forward to my last show for the season and onto exciting plans for the year ahead.
I am also sending a very special thank-you to my lovely friend Fiona, who happily returned to the show for a second visit on Saturday, this time to help me with sales. What a natural saleswomen. I loved how she kept referring to “we” when describing to visitors how things were made. I am going to keep her number for when I will be in need of a VP Customer Service and Sales! (Free bags for life! Just keep that in the back of your mind Fiona!)
Thank you to my sweetie Scott for delivering sushi on his way home from a business trip after suffering through an overnight flight and for helping me pack up on closing day. My handsome knight keeps shining and pulling through for me. (Love you.)
Happy sewing and showing everyone!