Today is move-in-day for one of the bigger craft shows I do each year. So this morning after making coffee, milking the goats, and feeding the dogs…I also loaded the soap trailer. I hope I haven’t forgotten anything, although I do already have a list of “don’t forget to grab tonight” things rattling around in my head. It would probably be a better plan to write the list down…but where’s the challenge in that?
So, after my day job, I’ll trek back across campus where I had to park with my trailer, drive around the block and hopefully get a spot close to the main door and start unloading the trailer. It takes a lot to do a craft show…let’s start from the bottom and work up…this is an indoor show, so no tent, walls, and weights:
- squishy floor mats
- 3 tables
- table risers (PVC pipe)
- 1 small cash table
- fabric back drop
- tape to hang the back drop and signs
- wooden shelf risers
- table covers
- display baskets of various sizes and shapes
- fake pine trees
- box of kleenex
- bath tub and stand
- box of “bubbles”
- 40-ish scents of soap (12-20 bars of each)
- 3 primary lotion scents (5-10 assorted sizes of each)
- foot cream (10-15 jars)
- Courageous box – soap, lotion, cream, lip balm
- 3 lip balm options (20 or so tubes of each)
- crochet wash cloths (20 or so)
- Salves – tattoo and newborn (4-8 of each)
- lotion bars (20 or so)
- display signs and pictures
- decorative miniature bathtubs
- directors chair
- cash box
- assorted bags for purchases
- business cards, information sheets, pens, notebooks, stylus, CC reader
- COFFEE, Water, Food
I think that about sums it up. If I hustle I can get unloaded and completely set up in about an hour and a half – but I usually plan on 2 hours. Tonight I’ll mostly just get the floor, tables, and probably the back drop up. I will unload everything, but tuck it away overnight and not have the whole display ready to go. An hour or so is my guess. Friday morning I’ll arrive about an hour before the show starts to set up the product and make sure I’m all set for the day. After a very long day on Friday, I’ll cover everything for the night and head home. Saturday morning, I’ll grab more stock from the soap room if need be and head back in to do it all over again. Except that Saturday we are done at 5pm, and I have to pack it all up and haul it all back out to my trailer and load up again before driving home. Sunday I’ll unload the trailer and probably do some restocking of my boxes to get ready for the next show. I know I need to place a couple supply orders, and I need to make some more lotions and lip balms and such for more shows this fall and winter. Good thing I have boundless idle time on my hand and zero other responsibilities, right???
So this begs the question: Heidi, why do you do it? Well, lots of reasons…I like to make my products available to the public. With a scented product, internet sales are difficult (would someone PLEEEEEEZE invent scratch and sniff internet????), so getting my soaps out in the public space where people can pick them up and smell is great. Goats milk soap is kind of the Cadillac of the soap world – true soap snobs generally enjoy goats milk soap above just water based soaps because they are so much more gentle and nourishing. I also focus on natural colorants and the highest quality oils – no hot pink soap or neon green in my stuff – sorry! My target audience is generally women ages 28-63….ready to spend a little more money on a high quality treat for their skin. They have some discretionary money to spend, and they are paying closer attention to health and wellness. I also want to appeal to the local people, and the local economy – buy local, use locally sourced ingredients, and that sort of thing. So I like promoting my small local business, my excellent products….but you know what??? In a lot of ways…I totally hate it. I’m socially anxious. I hate small talk. I hate pushy sales people who get all up in my business. I hate obnoxious customers who tell me what is wrong with everything I do, how terrible something smells, and how I’m committing highway robbery charging FIVE DOLLARS FOR A BAR OF SOAP….do you know how many bars of soap I can get at the Dollar store for $5??? Ugh. I hate the long hours. I hate the way my muscles ache after sitting in one chair for 12 hours. I hate the back aches after carrying in and out HEAVY boxes of soap. It’s exhausting…the planning, the execution, the tear down and go home.
And again: So, why do you do it then???
To challenge myself. To make myself get out of my comfort zone. To talk to strangers, to start conversations, to push my own boundaries. To inform the public about the benefits of my products, and to encourage them to support their local artists, farmers, crafters, and business owners.
I’ve also used this platform – this venue to spread awareness about MRKH through my Courageous Project. It’s my voice, my way of putting MRKH in the public. By simply setting up a display in soft feminine appealing colors, adding a selection of elegantly packaged products, and a subtly framed sign with basic details about MRKH, I am letting the world see our beautiful flower logo attached to lovely products and a name that begs the question – What is Courageous? What is MRKH? And I take a deep breath and I tell them it’s a congenital form of infertility that affects 1 in 4500 women world wide, I was born without a uterus, cervix, and the upper 2/3rds of my vaginal canal. Responses vary of course, everything from pity to embarrassment to respect. I’ve had many poignant conversations over the past year while standing in my soap booth – and THAT is why I do this.
To challenge myself. To push myself out of my comfort zone. To spread awareness about my life and my experience with MRKH. To learn to be more Courageous.
Be Strong. Be Courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9