|The Fabulous Wendy Baker|
6. Do you have a timeline for when and how to apply for tax permits or certifications for other states? And a good way to keep up with multiple permits and tax payment deadlines:
I am so bad at all of this. So I like to pay my taxes to the show promoters at the end of the show day. Often each show promoter has a "day of show" solution to help folks like me. When I grow up and get more practiced with this, I plan to get very organized with a book and keep particularly careful records all together. I have done this for my internet shipping needs and it has been such a lifesaver. Everything is in one place.
7. What suggestions do you have for display ideas that meet both convention center guidelines and fire marshall specifications:
So far, most of my show experiences are small scale local participations. Their requirements for tent and weight set-ups are on the applications. It is pretty straightforward. Also I haven't had any experience with fire marshall /convention center guidelines yet. As an architect (I like to refer to this as a retired condition nowadays), I was practiced with some building technology issues. The stuff I learned when I practiced has carried through to these selling venues whether I was actively thinking about it or not. The fussier things get, the more chances for complications arise.
Now I just like to keep things as simple as I can. My only real need is for adequate lighting and there is usually some easy solution to manage this through the show promoter. My fixtures for shows are made from recycled elements. My husband is a great carpenter and has helped me make many of my display items.
8. Can you share tips for increasing sales:
If I had a clue, I would be so much happier.
I have a higher end necklace line that I love to make. Most of those pieces run around $250. It is not the most convenient price point in this economy. This has pushed me to make a lot of pieces that can be purchased with a quick trip to atm. things just under $20.00 increments are great for folks to give as gifts. I do offer some discounts to regular customers and folks who buy large quantities of things at one sweep.
9. Outside of shows, how do you market yourself or your brand:
I am learning to carry business cards all the time. And I wear what I make. It is not subtle, so I get pretty good feedback quickly. A trip to the supermarket can be more rewarding than one might expect. I have ladies come up to me often and now I have cards to give them. It puts it into their minds without formality. I get a lot of emails back this way with custom orders resulting occasionally.
10. Do you use a standard setup for every show you attend or do you adjust your setup for each show:
I do both. I try to make at least one improvement or display system per show. It lessens my nervousness and I am also excited to show it off. People like seeing that you are excited about your own work.
11. OPTIONAL: What reason would you give your clients for attending shows as a buyer, even if you were not a vendor:
To get some immediate perspective on what you are making to sell. Validation of your skills or style is also really exciting. Finally, MONEY. It matters when you need to pay your mortgage or for groceries or new supplies.
12. Optional: What makes you continue to attend shows as a vendor – i.e. money, marketing, social networking:
I am trying to do more shows and have plans in the works to improve my sales. I am trying to create a brand based on my work since it is very personal. I have 2 kids going to college this September and I am freaking out about how to pay for it. Steady selling is helping my confidence and purse.
13. Additional remarks:
You really can't move forward if you don't try different ways to sell your things. It is really important to keep trying too. It is going to be different every time and you just never know what will work until you make the effort to stretch your comfort zone.
As for the idea that you may fall on your face... recently, I literally fell at the end of a long day at a rainy, outdoor venue produced for the first time. In spite of a banged up knee, I had one of the best showings I ever have had. So I fell on my face. I did get up and had a follow up series of nice shows after that. I needed to have the worst case scenario of bad weather; exhaustion and the uncertainty of a new event coalesce. It really showed me that I could do the show scene and make it work for me. The ensuing shows were a snap after that.
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