Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Craft Fair Extraordinaire Feature Interview #11 (Sweet Plum Vintage)

Today, after much waiting (which I am very sorry about!!!), I am proud to present Sweet Plum Vintage. It is fun to see her progression of her show setup through the images she graced me with! I love how colorful her items are, and I also love the great variation of goods that she offers.

Sweet Plum Vintage offers super cute, one of a kind jewelry like earrings, fancy necklaces, and the like, adorned and embellished with beautiful vintage buttons and reclaimed vintage pieces. These pieces are all statement pieces, and if you wore one to a party or to work, all the girls would have to comment how cute you look, and ask where you got your goodies!! My favorite item in her shop right now are the Lucky You Vintage Button Earrings, which are cute blue/periwinkle earrings with little mushrooms and lucky horseshoes on them!! I don't know where she finds such amazing vintage pieces, but she sure has an eye for details and color!!

Lucky for us, Cara would like to offer a 20% discount to blog readers in her shop! Anyone who mentions the Craft-Friendly Blog during their first purchase at SweetPlumVintage on Etsy will receive 20% Off their first purchase!! How great is that!Please make a comment in "Note to Seller". Hurry over to her shop!!

Here is her fun interview!!

1.) Please tell us a bit about yourself:
Name/Company Name: Sweet Plum Vintage
General Location if you want: Ann Arbor, MI
Website or Contact Info: www.sweetplumvintage.com
tel: 650.814.7796
email: sweetplumvintage@gmail.com

2.) What form of art/craft do you make?
Whimsical handcrafted vintage and antique button jewelry

3.) When did you start vending at Craft Fairs? Were you successful at first?
I first started selling at fairs in 2009 (only in the past year) and I would say that my sales have been hit or miss. I think a lot of it at first is making sure you have great branding, great presentation, and good price points and style that market to your target audience. I'm constantly designing new products and fairs are a great testing ground to see what speaks to people.

4.) What is/was your favorite Art/Craft Fair you have ever attended/vended at and why?
Thusfar, my favorite Fair was the Saratoga Art & Wine Festival in Saratoga, CA. It is one of the smaller ones that I have done, but it was in my previous hometown on our little Main Street, close to home and around people I love.

5.) What was your least favorite Fair to attend/vend at? Why?
I would also say the Saratoga Art & Wine Festival was also my least favorite, because it is such a small town, and it doesn't attract a wide audience. Also, the audience didn't really fit my target audience. It's really important that they are a match. I did the San Francisco Union Street Eco-Urban Festival which was a much better match, targeted at young, well-to-do urbanites with a passion for all things "green".

6.) Who tends to be your target audience? What tends to be your best selling item(s)?
I would say my target audience is women with a whimsical, playful sense of style between the ages of 25 and 60 who like to invest in one-of-a kind pieces. My best-selling items are my new "Bubble" Fabric Vintage Button Necklaces and my vintage button rings.

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...

You are your best marketer. I think it's really important to ask if there are opportunities with Show coordinators for marketing, but to rely on yourself to generate the major marketing campaign for the show. I usually do a give away at my shows whereby when you sign up to receive my monthly newsletter, you are entered to win a piece of jewelry. I also make postcards with my story on them, and the vision of my company, and of course hand out tons of business cards! I'm in the process of working with a great web design firm to create my new website and a new logo, and plan on printing new stickers, t-shirts, and other fun marketing materials.

My first few shows were done in conjunction with an eco-friendly company, FairTribe, who sell eco-friendly clothing and accessories that pairs well with my jewelry. It was mutually beneficial for both of us. This can be a great way to go, because as long as your target market is the same, your booth will likely attract more people (with more merchandise), and cost you a lot less (fees can be very expensive!).

8.) Have you ever helped put a show together or run a show? Which one(s)?
No, but I was thinking about doing one in my hometown of Ann Arbor and joining forces with some of the fabulous local jewelry artists and some local chocolatiers and wineries for a night of art, food, and wine.

9.) How have Flickr, Etsy, Facebook, etc helped you expand your crafty business?
I started with Etsy to see if I though I could really make a go of being a jewelry artist. Now that I am becoming more confident with my skills, and more aware of my target audience and where I want to go, I am working on creating a site separate from Etsy to distinguish myself a bit more. Etsy is wonderful in that it allows everyone to post all their creations, but it doesn't allow you to interact with your customers in all the ways you might want to as a professional artist. For example, there is no where to have a portfolio, to adequately market to potential wholesalers or retailers interested in consignment, and so on and so forth.

Flikr has been great as a way for me to show my portfolio to the web world and in particular to Flikr groups that focus on jewelry, buttons, and jewelry marketing and PR. In fact, I met the writer of this blog on Flikr and was asked to be featured! You can post pictures to your own Flikr account as well as to these groups for more directed advertising. It is also a nice way to quickly browse through other people's work and get inspired! It is very heavily populated though, so you really have to make sure you tag your items well, take great pictures, and join groups that would be interested in what you have to offer so that they will take the time to look at your art.

Facebook has been a great avenue to connect with Fans, get their opinion on new ideas, offer special sales and promote all facets of my business: workshops, recent press, interesting "behind the scenes" tidbits and pictures of work that has been put into various retail locations among other things.

10.) What do you think the difference is between an Art Show and a Craft Fair? If there is any difference...
I think there are many differences between the two. First of all, the type of work they are looking for: craft fairs tend to populate with artists with a "folksie", "down home" kind of feel, while Art shows are looking for work that is very refined. I'm wouldn't dare say that one is more "art" than the other, I just think they have a different feel to them. I also think they attract a different demographic. I would say that in general Art shows tend to attract an older, wealthier crowd than craft fairs, and I think it is because of the price point and the style.

Also as an artist, the application process is very different. Art Show jury members are looking for very "professional", uncluttered, clean photographs that center on the work of art itself. All of the photographs in the set you apply with should flow together. They expect to see a booth shot, without anyone it it, that clearly shows 3 sides of the tent and set-up you would have. From what I understand the booth should really highlight your work, and be clean to the eye.

I think the application process is different for craft fairs. Some people might say they are less competitive. In a certain way they are. I think they are interested in not only the work, but the context you put it in. It seems there is some more leniency on the background in photos, and booths can be a bit more eccentric and colorful.

11.) If you wish, please list your upcoming shows for 2010 and beyond. I have applied to many and am waiting to hear back! Cross your fingers!

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 would say, whatever you do, make sure it is the pieces at your booth that you are highlighting. You art should be the centerpiece, not the stuff around it, though done in the right way props and the like can be used to augment the story your art is telling.

I would also say it's nice to do something a bit different. For some reason the white and black velvet busts get really boring to me. I've seen countless booths with tons of these lined up with beaded jewelry on them, and I don't remember them. I like to see something a bit different. They now make really cool wood and linen busts in all kinds of natural tones which I personally love. I would invest in good lighting and good, clear, signage so that people can easily spot you out of a crowd of tables and will remember you. Don't expect yourself to have the perfect booth the first go around. I have plans for a completely different booth set up for the next time I am in a fair or a show.

13.) Any closing remarks?

The most important piece of wisdom that I got recently from my aunt, a professional photographer, was to remember that you are not your art. Remembering that I do many things in my life, not just my art, is really important, and that if someone rejects my art, they have not rejected me. When I remember this, it's easier for me to put my work out there, get advice and feedback (positive and negative) and improve. I hope for everyone out there trying to make a living from their art that have the courage and humbleness to keep putting there work out there-because it truly is a gift!

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