5.12.15

Christmas stall


Well, that's that out of the way and I seem to have my life back again. I don't usually do stalls, as it's an almost impossible (and expensive) thing to do when you don't drive and live in remote ruralsville. But this one was only a couple of miles away and Brian-next-door helped me get everything over, on a stormy day with gale force winds and driving rain.


Thankfully it was all under cover. This is the annual Christmas Fair held at Concord International College, at Acton Burnell. It was bigger than I expected -  much bigger. My heart quailed, not for the first time, but I got stuck into setting up. I'd been planning this for weeks, so it was just a case of popping everything out.


 

There was a small emergency when I had to get Brian to pick me up again so that I could dash home and print off more price labels (which I thought I had, but patently hadn't). And also borrowed an extra table cloth from Jean, having scrounged some extra table space.


 I even unearthed my old stock of cards, and sold quite a few.


In the end it all went well. My old retail skills kicked back in and I had a pleasant smile glued to my face. There was a large footfall of over 2,000 visitors, not including the college students. My stall was nice and busy and I sold enough gubbins to make it worthwhile. My new Paypal card reader worked and the three hours flew by.


I was inevitably asked about my prices for my own needle felt work. One couple directly asking me why it was priced 'so high'. Once upon a time, I might have shrunk under a stone, but now I've got more confidence. For a start, I answered (keeping my pleasant smile) the smallest thing on my tree took at least four hours to make.  I am a published professional in my field, very well known, with over eight years of full time practise. And my work is collected, especially in America, where they really value good craftmanship. So the prices reflect my time, my skills  and my name.


It's hard not to be British sometimes and undersell yourself.  I now realise that I have to be my own walking, talking CV; there's no point in being overly modest.  What I didn't add was that with the hours of work I put in on each and every piece, I am still working for less than the UK minimum wage which is £6.70 at present. So I am pricing as low as I can afford to, even if it seems 'high'  because this is not my little hobby, but my livelihood.


But here's the thing - although I only sold one piece of my own work, the look of joy when so many  people came up to my stall and admired the displays was immensely rewarding. I put on, as they say, a 'good show'. And sold a lot of kits and supplies on top of that. I have to admit, I treated myself to a celebratory bottle of cheap wine and a pizza on the way home when Brian drove me back. He refused petrol money point blank.



I also had many people asking me if I was holding a local workshop, which is now on the cards and spurred me into setting up a monthly newsletter, which will start in January. It will be solely about needle felting - workshops for next year, tips on working, my own work in progress, new kits - that kind of thing. So there is now a sign up page on my website, here. Of course, your details remain completely confidential.  I've already had quite a few subscribers, so I'd better start planning the January edition...

20 comments:

Lootytoot said...

Well done for standing up for your prices! I make crochet teddies which can take me up to 6 hours to make I (try and) sell them for €15, and people have told me it's too high!!! I just about cover my material costs, it's not sustainable....

Jackie said...

Craft fairs....its OK when you have kits to sell but as you discovered the GP are totally clueless when it comes to handcrafted things. Good for you for sticking it to them.You are a famous and well loved Artist. I did a Craft Fair last weekend and I had a miserable time. I made about enough to cover my table fee. Never again. Textile events like Woolfest are brilliant because the visitors know what's what. I know that feeling about having your life back too. Its brilliant. I made three times as much as the craft fair in my etsy shop this week. Enjoy the rest of teh year and have a good Christmas. x

Soozcat said...

Wholly agree with you about standing up for yourself and setting reasonable prices for your work. Part of the difficulty, I suspect, is that needle felting is not as well known as a number of other handicrafts and most people simply have no idea how much time, skill and patience go into every piece. Anyone who's ever tried to knit, getting confused about the pattern and randomly dropping stitches, knows how much work goes into a handmade sweater/jumper, but fewer people have stabbed themselves repeatedly with a felting needle in the attempt to get the perfectly smooth finish you've achieved in your work.

Jamile Shirley said...

Way to go, Gretel, for standing up to price-hounders. No need to justify the cost, your work speaks for itself. It's simply BEAUTIFUL. I love seeing you in art-mode. I wish I could experience your stall in person!

Sending much Holiday joy to you!

Jamile

the veg artist said...

Well done you|

June said...

Well done for getting it all together, your work looks extra lovely on display. I'm sure many were inspired to try their own hand at needle-felting.

Lin said...

Hooray! Glad it went well.

Thank god for Brian. Gotta love Brian.

And for those who ask such things, there is only one reply "If you have to ask, you don't get it." And there is NO reason to explain yourself. That reply is enough.

Years ago, when I was a SAHM, people would ask me "What DO you DO ALL DAY???" I'd reply "nothing." A) I didn't feel like I had to explain myself and B) whatever I said would never be enough anyway....so, sometimes you just gotta give them what they want to hear and let them walk away.

Caroline B said...

You are totally right about prices. If I was to break down hours/materials of some of my stuff, I think I get 'paid' less than some sweatshop worker! I gave up doing craft fairs as I was sick of the 'it's a bit expensive' remarks as well as having something I'd laboured over for a week being manhandled by some small snotty child covered in chocolate. I'm glad yours went well though, excellent that it was worth the effort.

Lorna said...

My reply to the costs of my paintings query is: It is a fair price and you will have still paid your cleaner more. Intereestingly it is the people who do not have cleaners who feel that my prices are worth paying. Go figure ...

Jess said...

We used to do these many years ago but in those days I was selling other people's artwork so it wasn't very satisfying for me. I'd like to do it again though one day with my own work.
I went to a small craft fair last christmas and there was a lady there selling the most exquisite and intricate hand cut cards. The prices were less than you'd pay for factory made cards! I know some people want a bargain when they come to these craft fairs but this made me feel very uncomfortable. Works of art take not only the time sat down physically making the item but all the previous years of hard work gaining the skills and experience. Well done at sticking up for yourself! They need telling!xx

Jeri Landers said...

Your booth, I mean stall, looks inviting and interesting. I most certainly would have walked into it and purchased one of YOUR pieces, I wouldn't quibble about your price at all. I used to feel uneasy with my high priced items, but nevermore. Just like you, I feel my reputation as an artist, illustrator and author,gives me a certain amount of clout and I will charge what I know the item is worth. I may hold onto a piece without selling it for years, but eventually the right person comes along and, WALLAH, it is sold. Last year I sold a $5000 painted papercutting that I had been displaying for over 3 years. I never felt bad about the cost, I knew what went into creating it and so did the customer. People sometimes try to barter on my books,which are only $21 a piece. When someone asks my husband, "DO I get a deal if I buy three books?" He says," Yes, you get a deal, $21 per book!" SO Three cheers for you... and me, and any artist who sticks to their prices!

Mac n' Janet said...

Good for you! You're a professional and as such should be paid accordingly. I love your work. I've tried needle felting one time and the little critter is still undone, the work is harder than it looks.

Gerry Snape said...

brilliant!...people want things cheap as they cant believe that you have spent so much time on your art...I found a fellow crafter in Milnthorpe this week saying exactly the same...more power to your elbow!!!

Frances said...

Gretel, your setting at the fair looks very inviting, and I can tell that much thought went into the "merchandising" of your beautiful creations. I am glad that you did find appreciative patrons in the midst of those who truly did not know what they were seeing.

Sorry about the weather, but do want to send another bravo to Brian-next-door...a marvelous man.

I caught a glimpse of an acorn hanging from a branch in some of your photographs and want you to know that I'm enjoying seeing "my" acorn hanging here in the apartment, reminding me of our Shropshire visit, and giving me a chance to admire your artistry close up.

What a busy time of year this is! I am trying not to get stressed....

xo

sara said...

Are your cards for sale anywhere please.
Thanks
Sara

storygirl said...

So pleased Gretel- good for you for valuing your worth and telling them what's what! Off to sign up for your newsletter now- if I don't comment before it, hope you have a wonderful Christmas x

frayedattheedge said...

What a super venue - so much better than where we were on Friday! You are quite right to stick up for yourself over pricing - a lot of people just don't appreciate the work involved.

Gretel said...

Hi Sara, I don't have my cards up for sale at the moment as I'm concentrating on re-building up the needle felt side of things, but I will be re-opening my old card and art shop on Etsy next year, in late spring. :-)

Twiglet said...

Such a great post Gretel - I am so glad all is well and ...you are spot on with your pricing reply! x Jo

Vintage Jane said...

SO glad you had a successful day! M x