I have been selling A Misty Dimness (AMD) Soap at craft shows since November 2015. I've gone through quite a few displays and setups since then. In 2015 I did my first and only show, in 2016 I did roughly five shows, in 2017 I did eight shows, and I'm finishing off 2018 with a whopping EIGHTEEN shows.
That is a lot of time to be hauling around a setup that I don't particularly like. I've changed and expanded my setup every year, thinking this year will be the year that I fall in love with my booth. So far, I haven’t experienced a mild state of like much less love. I don't like my display, my customers aren’t attracted to it, and it is not reflecting the quality of my product. Here's what's wrong with my display (ordered only by the order they came to mind):
1. Customers can't tell what I'm selling when they walk by.
2. It looks cheap.
3. No cohesive theme.
4. It doesn't adjust for stock fluctuations.
5. It isn't easy for customers to find what they want.
6. It isn’t easy to haul and setup.
It is the time of year where I start setting goals for next year, deciding where I want to take my product. I want to do fewer but bigger shows, some of those shows are juried based on product and display – and my display is sadly lacking. Looking further ahead, I’d like to do the 2020 South Dakota State Fair. This gives me roughly 16 months to design and test a booth display before the 2020 application is due.
Since September I have been obsessively thinking about a new display. I have researched, Googled, and Pinterested every soap display, craft show do and don’t, and craft booth tutorial on the internets, and I have cried in frustration. Too many of the booths require huge amounts of props or displays on par with what I already have. Some booths have more props than product! Why can’t I find the answer to “How do I sell soap at craft shows?”?
Light bulb moment. I can’t find the answer because no one else is selling MY soap to MY customers. In three years of doing shows, I have never let my product speak for itself. I’ve always done fast, or cheap, or “this craft show is in a school gym so it doesn’t matter what it looks like”. If my product were running the booth, what would it say?
I looked at my 2020 end game, closed my eyes, pushed down my fear, took a deep breath, and then imagined my soap selling itself at the state fair. What did it say? Who was it talking to? I’m not going lie, it seemed silly the first few times I did it, but after a few days a dialogue started to form. After two weeks of doing this every day, I finally had a very clear conversation and I knew what my soap was saying. Most importantly, I had found that one thing that my soap really wanted people to know, that expressed not only what my soap is but who I am as a maker.
I finally have direction for creating a booth that I’m already madly crushing on. I’ve completely stripped down my booth display to two tables. Yep, I’m even buying a new tent! I’m inviting you along on my journey, every step of the process.
The next booth display post (I can’t promise it will be the next post) we’ll talk about what my soaps told me, and how that translates into a booth display.
Stay Soapy, Friends!
October is not off to a great start. I have been sick for pretty much the whole month, I missed a week of work, and probably more concerning, I did not make soap (or do much of anything in the lab) from September 29th through October 18th. I was a sick gal. I didn't get any blog content made or YouTube video editing, in fact I didn't do a lot of anything, and now that I'm feeling healthy it is kicking me in the butt.
Am I worried or stressed out? A little, but not to the point of panicking. Why? 'Cuz I have a plan. That plan is called The White Board List.
The White Board List has been part of the soap lab for about a year, but it really hasn't been put to constructive use. I'd write stuff on it, erase it, write new stuff in an endless cycle of Just Having a List. I felt I was doing something, or being goal oriented, just because I had a list. Really though, I was not meeting any of my goals, I was running loosey goosey through my days in the lab, and I couldn't find my desk in the office to save my life. We won't talk about all the things I was avoiding for other areas of my business, or the deadlines I was missing.
I hit a wall in August. A wall of exhaustion and frustration. A wall that looked a heck of a lot like the Hall of Shame. Something needed to change. My goals needed to be at the front of everything I do. I made a list of my goals, and then I made a list of what needed to be done in September to accomplish those things. I put that list on The White Board. Front and center every day.
I then took that back on track list from The White Board, and made a monthly checklist - If I do these things every month, during these weeks, the jobs are smaller, I'm not forgetting anything, and I will accomplish my goals.
September was a great month. I didn't get everything done on the list, but I made lots of progress. At the end of the month, I evaluated, decided what was important for October, and created a new list. That list is keeping me sane right now because all of the things I want to do are on that list, but not all of them are priorities. I can edit that list, wipe things off, change things when better ideas come along, but not lose sight of my big goals.
And that is why I'm not panicking now. My white board list and the monthly checklist are working together to keep me on task on focused. I know what needs to be done, what is priority and what can wait until the priorities are done.
How do you use lists? Or not use them? Do you have a system for running your business, or your household? And am I really the only person who happily nerds out talking about list management?
Stay Soapy Friends!