A few months ago I began taking my handmade wares to local craft shows. It's something that I'm familiar with, having done the same about ten years ago, with a different craft, however. I do enjoy the process of puttering around the studio on my own schedule, and the "going to work" part being only one full day. Years ago it worked beautifully, the economy was very strong, times were different.
It seemed then that if you made lovely things, people would simply adore them and buy them. It is such a different state of affairs today. I've talked with many artisans over the summer months and it seems I am not alone in my observations. Crafters and artists are struggling a bit out there, some shows just making their entrance fee back. It didn't take many misses for me to begin reconsidering my options. I closed my yoga studio here last spring when I began homeschooling Emily and was hoping to replace that income. But these efforts just weren't proving to be worth the many hours and precious weekend time for my family. What's a girl to do?
It was getting to the point where I was wondering if all the things I make are unappealing. Though some people did not seem to appreciate my use of recycled textiles... oh, they're used fabrics... friends and of course Adam assured me I was not spending all my time sewing up piles and piles of ugliness. So I got over that possibility and just started watching people, walk up and down the rows of crafters with few if any packages in their hands. Nobody was buying. People seem to be holding those purse strings pretty tight these days.
I contacted a kind and generous soapmaker I met at the very first show I did back in May, she had invited me to join a few truly local crafters that were featured at the Coventry Farmers Market each Sunday. She told me she really thought my “customer” would be there, that people would appreciate what I do. And the entry fee? Well, let’s just say they barely charge a thing! The hours were wonderful too, 11-2 pm, three hours! I agreed to give it a try… and it was exactly right for me. Plus, I get to see many of my friends and other folks I know as it seems to be where my tribe congregates on Sunday afternoon. The people shopping at a farmers market aren’t interested in a tote bag for less money from a big box store. They want one lovingly and fairly made, one with a local story. I have found my customer, indeed.
I asked Winter if she had any other dates available, she said yes and guess what? I cleared all other show plans from my agenda and will be doing the market exclusively for the next five Sundays. I'm truly happy, working in all spare moments each day. It'll be worth it though. You know why? Because the two times I have been there already, each person I spoke to appreciates the fact that at least half (if not more) of each bag I make is from repurposed fabric. This tribe gets it. My family loves hanging out with me here too. A quick three hours, during which we get to enjoy great bands, countless demonstrations, yummy samplings, and good times. All the while being surrounded by some of the most important people in the community, our farmers.
So sometime over the next five weeks, starting this Sunday, if you are in the area be sure to stop by. This group is truly the rock stars of Farmers Markets, we are so lucky to have such a treasure right here. The Boston Globe says it is one of the top ten things to do in New England on the weekend. Check out this weeks newsletter, thank you Winter for your great photo of my bags in there, wow!
Okay, back to work. But first, see the stack in the first photo? I tend to design... embroider... patchwork... then cut, cut, cut... make pockets, linings, and straps, then some more straps... days go buy and nothing will look finished, then it all comes together in the final hours. That'll be my afternoon today, and hopefully morning only tomorrow. And finally, I do hope you noticed the incredibly sweet loopy, cotton, vintage trim on the pocket above and in this last photo here, oh my. After a dry spell for a few weeks, my flea market is back in the game.
May your weekends be filled with autumn hikes, bonfires, simmering soups, and farmers markets.