Becky's Big Adventure

Posted by Rebecca Stone on June 7, 2010
Jun 072010

Well, we got to the show (the Hollywoodland Annual Flea Market and Art Fair) yesterday around 6 am. Setup was a snap — it was hauling everything back down the stairs from our house to load in the car that was a pain, in so many ways. I had a box for each table, containing all the pieces that went with each one. This really speeded up prep time. I also had drawn a diagram of where everything went, which came in handy during periodic brain freezes. I had designed a poster in Adobe Illustrator to reflect the look of my business cards. Oz was able to round up a frame to fit it, and wired it to the front of my entrance-adjacent table. It looked fabulous. If you ever need a poster fast and at a reasonable rate, check out PosterBrain.com. I highly recommend them.

My first show experience was enjoyable. My booth looked wonderful, if not a little dressy for the event, with all the black velvet coverings (custom made by my friend Marysol) and props over burgundy tablecloths. Neighborhood friends stopped by to chat and check out my stuff. Another friend drove all the way from Santa Monica to keep me company for a couple of hours. We had a beautiful (though slightly warm) day and great music. Best of all, people looked at my pieces and, well, liked them. No one scowled, scoffed or burst out laughing. While I sat in the shade behind my tables and worked on some unfinished pieces I’d brought along, descriptors like delicate, pretty and unique floated on the breeze as visitors to my booth browsed. And…. I actually sold some things. Not a ton, mind you, but I recovered my entry fee and then some, even with the flea market situated right next to my tent.

I also met some of the other artists, and that is always nice. The only other full-out jewelry designer there was singer/songwriter Gina Venturini. I enjoyed comparing notes with her and visiting her booth. She uses many of the same materials that I do, but her style is very different — bold and super colorful. Check out her site: ginaventurinidesigns.com.

Today my feet hurt and I’m pretty tired. But, overall, it was a great learning experience. I got to try out some different marketing strategies, and now I understand the disadvantages of combining handcrafted arts and flea markets. Most people there came for the bargains and freebies (In fact, one of my favorite memories about the show was when someone approached me, asking if my bouquet of flowers was for sale — or the vase they were in — or the led lamp that was lighting up one of my displays — totally ignoring my jewelry — that WAS for sale). You can’t blame people for seeking out killer deals, but flea market stickers reflect price points that most handcrafters can’t afford. Lesson learned. Onward….

Up and Down She Wandered...

Posted by Rebecca Stone on June 5, 2010
Jun 052010

My recent activities remind me of the lyrics in a song I used to sing back in the day, when I could hit the high notes as a soprano in a madrigal group. I have been preparing for my first art fair, where actual people will see my pieces. We live at the top of a HUGE set of stairs (it’s called a stair street in the Hollywood Hills). In order to practice my set up and plan my booth design, I’ve had to bring all my newly purchased props, tables and tents included, up the stairs from the car and down the steps into the front yard, only to have to cart it back up and down again to transport to the show. Oh well, it’s good for the old waistline.

I think I’m ready, well almost. I think my booth looks good, but still plenty to do today, loose ends and all. The fair is right up the street — the Hollywoodland Flea Market/Bake Sale/Art Fair. No idea what to expect, but it seems like a good way to get my feet wet.

Hoping to catch up with my much-neglected Etsy store (still need to work on driving traffic to it) and to blog next week about my show experiences and a couple of other things I’ve had simmering. Please stay tuned to find out what happened in Becky’s Big Adventure.

Thanks for reading.

When I was about 5 or 6 years old, my idea of a tent usually involved a couple of chairs and a blanket. It was rudimentary but quite cozy, and I would often hole up inside with my favorite stuffed animals while waiting for wayward bunnies or similar furry creatures to stop by, lured by treats I would place outside my lair. I guess my plan was to invite them in for tea or something. Later in my childhood, tents became more elaborate affairs, sometimes even requiring tree-climbing skills. They became known more as forts to be defended (usually against marauding neighborhood boys led by my best friend’s annoying little brother). There were also the tents we would sometimes use when my dad would take us camping. These were usually olive-drab, army surplus jobs. Great for sleeping in and keeping mosquitoes at bay, though not particularly attractive.

Camping tents today are brightly colored technical whiz-bangs compared to those of my childhood. But lately, I’ve been involved with another kind of tent. Actually they’re called “canopies.” These are the peaked shelters that dot the landscape of festivals, fairs, farmers markets and flea markets. Commonly white, and, en masse, resembling clouds of whipped cream, canopies are a boon to jewelry designers. They provide shade for the vendor, the jewelry and the customers.

When I decided to try selling some of my work at shows this summer, my boyfriend, Oz, and I spent countless hours looking for and researching the various canopies on the market. We first bought a well-used Quik Shade, which we set up in front of the house for a trial run. As we live on narrowly terraced land, this was no easy feat, and we had to MacGyver our way to even footing. But when we learned about two Caravan canopies available for $50 each at a moving sale, we couldn’t resist. Caravans seem to be among the premier canopies used by artists, and these were barely used, pristine white with side curtains, sandbag holders and stakes, and bags with rollers included in the price.

Like many (so many) of my jewelry-making learning experiences, my journey down the road of canopy wisdom has been full of surprises. On this journey, I see people like Rena Klingenberg as my guides. An old hand at the jewelry design biz, she’s kind of like AAA for the jewelry crowd, always ready and willing to lend a helping hand on the road to jewelry-designer nirvana.

Among my recent revelations via publications such as Klingenberg’s Ultimate Guide to Your Profitable Jewelry Booth, as well as just scouting around at various events: Canopies should be white so the color of the jewelry can be shown to the best advantage without tinting via colored fabric. They must be easy to put up and take down, especially when single-handing. They should have straight legs so they fit in a 10×10 space. Weights of at least 40 pounds must be attached to each corner of a canopy in a way that will keep the thing from flying off in the event of a big gust of wind. Weights we’ve seen run the gamut: bags of sand (you can buy bags made for this by many of the canopy manufacturers, but these can be pricey. We saw some at Walmart the other day for about 10 bucks for four); pvc pipes filled with cement and hanging from chains or ropes; cement blocks; and plastic jugs of water. Side curtains are a good option to have as they help enclose the space and help shield against sun and harsh weather, although some kind of mesh or shadecloth might be preferable on hot days. Vents on top of a tent can help with air circulation inside, while also helping to keep the structure from lofting in a wind. A roller bag to transport your canopy is a big plus.

Anyway, who knew? Not me, that’s for sure.

But now that I have the canopy thing down, I just need to put one up at a show and lure in some customers. And somehow I know it will take more than putting a few carrots and a pile of cabbage outside the entrance to my tent — er — canopy.

Check out some of my latest treats (soon to be posted on my Etsy site (RebeccaStoneDesigns.Etsy.com):

It's hard to believe this is a natural stone, but it is. The incredible hue of apatite is striking when paired with fuschia Swarovski crystals and sterling silver.

It's hard to believe this is a natural stone, but it is. The incredible hue of apatite is striking when paired with fuschia Swarovski crystals and sterling silver.

I love banded the banded amethyst in this three-strand necklace and the way the green Swarovski crystals play off the purple and silver.

I love banded the banded amethyst in this three-strand necklace and the way the green Swarovski crystals play off the purple and silver.

The combination of deep-red garnet, sky-blue sodalite, translucent moonstone, pale rose muscovite and sterling silver produced a rich array of textures and colors in this piece.

The combination of deep-red garnet, sky-blue sodalite, translucent moonstone, pale rose muscovite and sterling silver produced a rich array of textures and colors in this piece.

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