11-12+13-16 The (Bumpy) Road to Renegade
In late August I applied to the Renegade Craft Fair, considered a "big deal" in the craft community, it was one of few fairs I had actually heard of before getting into this whole crochet business. It was a big and expensive deal to go, $300 for a half booth, 600$ for a full, (these are tiny little guys, talking 6x6 feet) with an estimated 17k guests over the entire weekend. I asked for a small business loan from my mom to cover the half booth, assuring her either she'd get it back if I didn't make it, or that I would more than make it back if I actually got to go and pay her back then. I chatted to Alexi about it over drinks and she also applied for a half booth, and to have me as her booth mate! (How lovely <3! )
As the day-of-finding-out got closer, I made as many hats and scarves and sweaters as possible (17k people, after all, all love knitwear). The day of came! I received my "we regret to inform you" letter and felt a pit about as large as my college rejection letters. Well, frick, I thought to myself. I guess I was after too much too soon. Alexi texted me, she had gotten in. Happy-for-her-but-frick.
So I started to slow down, taking my time to work on my patterns etc. About two weeks or so later (about 3 weeks away from the craft fair itself) Alexi texted that we should go for drinks. She told me she had counted on us having a full booth and had asked the organizers if there was any way to add on another half booth, as she had expected one of her friends (yay friends!) to also get in, who didn't (it was me guys). The lady responded that because of a cancellation she did have a half booth and that she could bring her friend (I was the friend, guys!). So Alexi is a generous, wonderous being, and I had 3 weeks to plan, make as many things as possible, buy grid walls, buy merchandising stuff, find out how to get Square on my phone, learn about "the buyers wandering eye" and how to cater to it... and you know, also still have my day job and my boyfriend's birthday two days after (naturally I had promised him a time-consuming cabled sweater). So needless to say, I was grateful and also freaking the F out.
So we began, planning, making, comparing grid wall prices across 5 different sites, drinking, laughing, spray painting, lifting heavy things, hand-stamping our bags, getting Square set up on our phones, and convincing our boyfriends to donate several hours of heavy lifting, driving, and general emotional support.
Day of arrives, we get up slightly before the ass crack of dawn. Peter (that's mine) went to go get the car (because he is a blessing and a prince) and we go over to Alexi's studio. So I kid you not, we got a large SUV, we filled it completely to the brim, and still had stuff left over! So Alexi, her man, and I walked back to the subway with our bags and boxes and made our way over to Manhattan.
We got there at 8, the show starts at 11, it took us approximately until 11.30 to set up. There was lots of coffee, and bleary-eyed excitement. Turns out setting up 4 pieces of IKEA furniture and unpacking loads of knit wear, and the rest of it takes friggin ages.
But then we were off! We never sat down, we ate nothing all day except for a bit of energy bar, and lobster mac at 4pm (but we did have several coffees), we chatted with customers, we packaged orders, we gave receipts.
It was so exciting! People bought things! And they weren't my friends or my family! (Well... my friends also came and bought stuff) but there is something super affirming about people you don't know being like "yes, I will pay for your wares".
We did the same thing the next day, but I was so tired from the first day I hardly remember it. Steady streams of people, questions, encouragement, coffees, friends, try-ons, etc. I have no idea how I would have done it alone. It was so much more fun, and super helpful to be there with Alexi!
We called it a success.