Trade Show Series - Guest - Unflappable Kate McKinnon

Friday, August 26, 2011

Admittedly, to this day - I've still not had a conversation with Kate that lasted more than five sentences - I'm such a fan of her work that I freeze up just trying to form a sentence (I tend to sound more like a female version of Lennie Small – “tell me about the rabbits, George”). I do know that I admire her prolific artworks, her writing style and her energy is out of this world. And I've always wanted to say "Here's Kate - Kate McKinnon that is...
Kate McKinnon
7. What suggestions do you have for display ideas that meet both convention center guidelines and fire marshall specifications:
Just be sure to have visible signage, preferably hung high. That's the most important thing for being found. Display isn't my strong point, but I know that I love booths best that have good ones. Display superstars in my world include ZoaArt, Gail Crosman Moore, JC Herrell, Susan Lenart Kazmer, Beyond Beadery, and Cathy Collister of Glass Garden. They are all genius at showing what they sell.
One of Kate's artworks

8. Can you share tips for increasing sales:
Make what you love, and then pay attention to the people who show you the courtesy of looking at it. I deeply dislike buying from people who are there simply to sell me as much as possible. I buy little to nothing from people like that. I spend my money at the booths of people who are there because being there is a function of making the work that they love. I buy from people I like, people who seem real, people who seem like they are actually seeing me as a human being. People whose work strikes me as real. And when it comes to buying from shops- I can get seed beads or fixins anywhere. I buy from the actual people I love and want to support. It's all about the quality of life experience for me. I would never buy from a person or a shop that I didn't like.
My friend Cynthia von Buhler has a quote on her website that I think is really great- "It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice."

9. Outside of shows, how do you market yourself or your brand:
I am very active online. I write in my blog every day. I use Facebook to connect with people, not to sell things. But being there helps people remember me and find my blog, my shop, and the other people I admire and want to support. If I would remember to sign all of my work, that would be a wonderful thing for marketing as well.

10. Do you use a standard setup for every show you attend or do you adjust your setup for each show:
I have a few good pieces, like an Abstracta frame display, a collapsible earring rack, and a few slotted wooden trays, and I take them everywhere. I like halogen desk lamps for my lighting- tracks and poles are a huge hassle to fly with. But if I drove to shows, I would have that too. I always wish I was better at display. My favorite setups are those I can do at home or close to home- antique wooden vanity boxes with mirrors, vintage lamps with delicate shades, statues of Godzilla.

11. OPTIONAL: What reason would you give your clients for attending shows as a buyer, even if you were not a vendor:  The reasons to attend a show are always the same, to see what's out there, and hopefully buy at a discount. 

Groovy Cuff

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12. Optional: What makes you continue to attend shows as a vendor – i.e. money, marketing, social networking:
The only thing that keeps me going to shows is to spend quality time with fellow artists and clients. It's exhausting, expensive, uncertain, and takes a huge amount of time to do a show. I can always make as much money online, with a web sale, as I can at a show. But if I don't go to shows, I don't see my peers, my friends, I don't get to meet the people personally who choose my work. For me, the circle of making isn't complete until the piece has found its person. I like to be there for that moment, and that's what shows are all about.

Like what you’ve read – find Kate and buy her one-of-a-kind pieces here

Next up – Pat Riesenburger of Urban Stitch,(retail) Aussie Threads and Fibers (wholesale only) and The Crafty Retailer (blog)

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