Tag Archives: craft

Motherhood and the Creative Process

Inspiration strikes. I rush to find paper and pencil. Lines flow from my hands and I am entering the zone. That place where the rest of the world falls away and I focus on the task at hand. Time has no meaning here.

Then the baby cries. The sound that no mother can ignore. I rush to his side, all thoughts of what I was working on fade away. My baby needs me.

I have two beautiful children. They have introduced new levels of joy and chaos into my life. Sometimes the chaos side can be overwhelming. The holiday season, the busiest time of year for my art, is here. It is also the busiest family time of year, with birthdays and family gatherings in abundance.

When I first started my business, I remember reading blogs from successful craft business moms who somehow managed to produce high quality and quantities of their craft while being amazing mothers. I thought, I can do this too. It should be a piece of cake. I only work part time at my “regular” job. That’s plenty of time to balance motherhood and both my job and my business.

The reality is that it is not as easy as it looks. Finding balance is the key. Sometime that means that my house isn’t as clean as I think it should be or that I take on fewer commissions than I would prefer. Sometimes it means splurging on a babysitter before a craft fair to make sure I have time to produce enough inventory. Sometimes it also means having a table at a craft fair that is a little sparse. Sometimes it means getting a couple hours less of sleep a night.

Working long stretches at a time aren’t possible anymore. I have to be ready to jump into a project the moment the youngest is napping. I have to be ready for the inevitable interruptions.

I’ve found that I am a mom, not a super hero. I’m human and that is ok.

Here are some of the things I have learned:

1. Don’t compare yourself to others – Every parent has their challenges. Even the ones that make everything look easy. Do the best you can do. Don’t worry about everyone else.

2. Find balance – We all know and feel that our kids should come first. But unless we are going to close down shop, we need to remember to give some time and attention to the business. Sometimes it feels a bit like juggling knives. Sometimes everything just falls into place. Honestly, to me this is the hardest thing to do. You have to find what works for you and your family. Take one day, one moment at a time.

3. Share your creativity with your kids – Inspiration can fizzle if you don’t cultivate it. Some of my best ideas have come out of what we call “special art time with Mommy.” My eldest loves to draw and paint. Nourishing his artistic spirit also nourishes my own. He has reminded me how much the act of being silly can inspire creativity.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – There is this myth of the super mom. She is someone who is so together she can do anything. She doesn’t ever break down. She is so amazing that she doesn’t need help.  Here’s the thing – she doesn’t exist. Everyone needs help at some point. there is no shame in asking. People wont look down on you if you ask. That help might be what you need to succeed.

5. Don’t forget yourself – This can be said to any parent, not just those pursuing their creative business dreams. If you are over extended and worn out, you wont be able to take care of anyone or anything else.

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Craft Fairs

I now have two small craft fairs under my belt. While that does not make me an expert by any stretch of the imagination, I did learn a few valuable things from my experience. Before my shows, I did some online research on what to bring with me and how to stage my display.  For my checklist, I used a list by Bazaar Bizarre and adapted it to my needs. It is important to keep in mind that the fairs I went to were small, local events. If you were going to a bigger festival, you would probably need more things.

  • Information and directions to the craft fair – For Applefest, I needed to find the person who ran the festival to see where to set up. For Colors of Fall, I was given a map and my spot was marked.
  • Inventory – I brought everything I have to both events. I highly recommend bringing more than you think you will need. It can be hard to gauge how much you will sell, particularly if it is your first show in that venue. At the smaller fairs I went to, I learned that I need to have more lower priced items and fewer higher priced items. I brought a portfolio of work I had sold to Colors of Fall. The people who were really interested in my work would take the time to look through it.
  • Inventory List/Price List – All of my items had prices clearly visible, however they were not affixed to the items. It was nice to have a list of prices so that I could make sure the tag was next to the right piece if someone had set it down in a different spot after picking it up to look at it. Having a complete inventory list will also help you keep track of what you have sold. I marked an item as sold immediately on my inventory list.
  • Change –  For the small fairs I went to, I had $100 in $5’s and $1’s. I kept it in a locked cash box. Some people like cash aprons or cash bags better because it is easier to take it with you if you have to leave your booth for any reason.
  • Display – This was something I put a lot of thought into. Your table (or tent) is the first thing your potential customers are going to see. Make sure that you cover your table with a cloth at the very least. I also added some seasonal elements (leaves and gourds). Don’t forget your sign. You want people to know who you are. Here are some pictures of my display. There are a few things I want to do differently next time, but it isn’t a bad start.
  • Helper – For me, this was important. I really wanted the moral support for my first show. And having someone around to mind your table/booth while you go to the restroom is a life saver. Here are some pics of my awesome helpers.

  • Business cards – Customers may want an easy way to find you again.  I went through a couple hundred at the very small fairs I went to, so bring a lot.
  • Receipt book – I didn’t actually use the one I brought, but I really want to use it next time especially with the larger purchases.
  • Cell phone – Always a good idea to have
  • Packing materials and bags –  I used the paper that my unfinished bowls were shipped in to wrap purchases. For bags, I used ones I kept from the grocery store.
  • Snacks and water – To help keep your energy up
  • Miscellaneous supplies –  Pens, paper, tape, sewing kit etc.
  • Business license and tax permits – It is the law. Make sure you are conforming to it.
  • Camera – It is a good idea to take a picture of your display for future reference and for marketing
  • Portfolio –  If you have room on your table, it is nice to bring a portfolio or even just a photo album of work you previously sold or didn’t bring with you.
  • Craft Supplies – Work on your craft during downtime… besides the fact that people are curious and may ask you about it, it keeps you busy.
So far my experiences have been positive. One of the fairs was not high in sales, but was full of information. I learned which of my designs seem to be the most popular and what price range people were more likely to buy.  I hope my next craft fair in Tupper Lake, NY on October 15th proves to be a good one. 
Cheers and good luck in your own artistic endeavors.