Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Craft Fair Extraordinaire Feature Interview #10 (Beyond Her)

I found this amazing artist from another person I interviewed. I am proud to introduce Beyond Her. Paule Hewlett makes an assortment of goods including calendars, apparel, mugs, note cards, textiles, tablets, and books. I am super impressed with her organic style when it comes to her booth setup too. Having beautiful items in the booth is of course the main challenge to success at any show. But the overall look of her booths are just beautiful and I would give her an A+! I love the way her booth really looks like a store filled with her personalized, screen printed items. I can't believe how full the booth is, but your eye is never confused. She also seems to use very natural materials in her work, which is echoed by wooden displays and an airy feeling.
Paule was kind enough to answer a few questions, and I am glad to share her answers with you...

1.) Please tell us a bit about yourself:
Name/Company Name: Paule Hewlett / Beyond Her Productions
General Location: Texas / California
Website or Contact Info: www.beyondher.com / paule@beyondher.com

2.) What form of art/craft do you make? I think of myself as an "imprint artist," which means that I find ways to put my art onto different surfaces. I started out producing calendars and note cards featuring my watercolors. But then I got interested in screen printing. I changed mediums, started working in pen and ink. And now I have something like 40 products, ranging from paper to ceramics to all kinds of textile items with my original images either silkscreened or printed on them. The selection is always changing, but the idea is to create functional, beautiful objects for the office, home, wardrobe. I call it Art for Every Day.

3.) When did you start vending at Craft Fairs? Were you successful at first? My first booth was at the holiday fair at my church, and from there I went to country clubs. The sales were fair, but after a while it was clear this wasn't my clientele. I tried some of the Texas Craft Fairs, but again, about one out of every 15 people liked my style of products. I started doing a small First Saturday Arts Market in a funky neighborhood in Houston, which is small but more my cup of tea. I'm reading now about "indie entrepreneurs," and "alternative wares," which means that people are recognizing that there is a difference. It's getting easier and easier to find appropriate spaces.

4.) What is/was your favorite Art/Craft Fair you have ever attended/vended at and why? I have two: one is a holiday show in Austin called Blue Genie Art Bazaar. A group of artists rents an event venue and provides 8 x 8 x 2' vertical space for 100 artists. The show runs for three weeks in December and they handle all sales - artists simply re-stock. They run a great show and everyone does well. The other is Renegade Craft, which I did in San Francisco. It was more of a lark than a business venture, but I was SO impressed with the crew - total professionals. Everything was uber-organized. Plus, the wares were unusual, high quality and priced accordingly. It was a great atmosphere.

5.) What was your least favorite Fair to attend/vend at? Why? I did a show called Unique LA one spring that was just too big. Shoppers got disoriented and bored, and as a vendor it was easy to get stranded in the outback. It was also in a downtown space that didn't have a community to draw from. Everyone went home disgruntled, although the show continues. It might just have been too young a crowd for me.

6.) Who tends to be your target audience? What tends to be your best selling item(s)? I love my customers! They're usually art-oriented and a little bit of an outsider. I have some apparel that appeals to youngsters, but most of my buyers are 30 and older. They do museums rather than malls. They like my dishtowels and napkins, because they cook; they like the cards because they write thank-you notes. If I ever get a man in my booth, he's either lost or very cool.

7.) Do you ever do marketing for your upcoming shows, or do you leave it to the Show Coordinators? If you do promotions, how do you do them, and do they seem to work well? Do you ever do giveaways at shows? Give out lots of business cards, etc... Even if the show is out of town, I do my own marketing. Sometimes I print postcards and send them ahead to local retailers to get them to come out. For local shows I usually do an eblast - I've found people like to be invited to events and for me it's nice to see a friendly face. Most of these people are great customers.

8.) Have you ever helped put a show together or run a show? Which one(s)? Right now I'm helping to organize a monthly event at my studio space. There are about 30 artists -mostly fine artists and photographers. I'm looking for some way to NOT have to load in and out of a show, so I'm the most motivated to make it work. It's pretty casual right now, but we can see the numbers improving. All these things take time . . . . I'm very patient.

9.) How have Flickr, Etsy, Facebook, etc helped you expand your crafty business? I love the convenience of Facebook - one announcement and your show is advertised! I also use it to preview new products and announce new outlets. Etsy is still mysterious to me: I can't figure out why some months are so much busier than others. But I keep posting. . .

10.) What do you think the difference is between an Art Show and a Craft Fair? If there is any difference... Art shows are really more like gallery openings - the focus is on chatting and viewing more than selling. My joke is that I bring the "merch." Fine artists are amazed at my set-up and inventory. My booth might have 200 items, and they might have six paintings. But it's a good mix for me.

11.) If you wish, please list your upcoming shows for 2010 and beyond. I'm thrilled to be doing the Renegade Craft Fair in Austin May 15-16, 2010. I do the First Saturday Arts Market in the Houston Heights almost every month. And of course, I'm putting out a personal invitation for everyone to join us at the Third Saturday Open Studios at the Hardy/Nance Street Studios through August.

12.) Any words of advice for people who do not think their setup is as good as it could be? What is your most successful layout for a table or booth. Be as general or specific as you want. I set up differently every show, much to the annoyance of my husband. But the dynamics change depending on who's next to you and where you are in the floor plan. If you're small enough, setting up with the table up front is most comfortable for shoppers - no commitment. But I have so much stuff, I have to make it inviting to come in. I try to make it look as boutique-y as I can, similar to a nice shop. I put clothes and bright colors inside, to draw attention. And I've used everything imaginable to utilize the vertical space. My entire house and studio have come into play as display items!

13.) Any closing remarks? Couple of things. To simplify for me and my customer, I'm experimenting with taking fewer items centered around a theme such as a holiday, or cooking, or summer. I'm still evaluating if this is a good idea or not. The other thing is I have flyers from all my shows at every show to give out. It starts the conversation. Which, by the way, is HUGE. Talking to people in the booth makes the time go faster for you, but it also warms people up and enlists their support. Don't be shy! {Thanks for such a lively interview!!!}

If you want, feel free to browse more of her beautiful images HERE.

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