speed dating in the crafty world

my daughter (bekah) and i (linda) started emmaroo designs this year. she’s laid off, i’m retired – we can finally earn a living doing what we want to do outside the cubicle and the office. with the internet, etsy and a huge craft community it should be easy peasy. right? we’ve been busily designing and sewing bibs, changing pads, purses, bags and sun hats. we have inventory. we have big plans for future designs. we sell at craft fairs. we sell on etsy. we took some items to a store. but our business seems stalled. the problem is, of course, marketing. what to do?

we decided to try speed dating. why not? you can’t learn to swim if you don’t get in the water. and being thrown off the dock seems the fastest way to go. so we applied to the i heart art: portland mixer match, won the lottery and we were in. now what? we read all the material they sent us, watched the videos. we sat down and thought about pricing and put together a wholesale price list with color photos. and we agonized about what to say in two minutes.

when we got there, we found ourselves in the second group. oh, no, another hour and a half to sit around and worry. so, rule number one (at least for us) was avoid the beer and wine and make new friends. the craft community is great for networking and advice. we took advantage of this and got to see lots of different crafts as well a picking up tips on marketing.

finally, we headed upstairs where 19 different retailers awaited our two minutes at 19 stations around the room. the event took place at design within reach, a furniture store. the seating was interesting at each station. i carried the samples, bekah had our cards and wholesale sheet to hand the vendors. often, one of us was juggling while talking as there was only one seat for the two of us.

we didn’t always know what they were looking for even though we had tried to do our homework on their websites. (note to self: make sure our website shows exactly what we are selling on the very first page.) we decided to practice our pitch by acting as if each and every one was looking for exactly what we were selling. rule number two – carry a small notebook to quickly jot down the name of the retailer and the items in which they show interest.trying to reconstruct two minutes times 19 retailers later was hard even for two people.

we made it through in what seemed no time at all. we got lots of interest and some valuable suggestions from people not interested in our products. everyone was very nice except for one rude retailer who did not seem to want to hear anything we had to say or even look at our samples (maybe she hated babies). so, rule number three – do not take it to heart if someone does not like what you are making. someone else will like it.

and finally, at the last station, we met two wonderful women who loved everything we were making, touched it and tried on the purses. the very next day they emailed us wanting us to come into their shop as soon as possible with a selection of our work. thank you etsy and i heart art:portland for putting on events like this for local crafters.

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