In the beginning, it all seemed so simple. Develop some great products that I’d want to buy myself. Give them to friends and family and see how they like them. If they like them and they are truly a product I would spend my own money on, begin to sell them to friends and family. If they sell well, open an Etsy shop. Bing, bang, boom – small business level unlocked, right?! Yeah, it didn’t quite go that way…
First of all, I owe infinite thanks and gratitude to my friends and family who willingly beta tested my products. The feedback they gave me (and I asked for it to be blunt) largely affected the products I sell today. Want to know why there are no purely yellow bath bombs anymore? Someone told me when dissolved, they reminded them of pee in the tub. Want to know why I’ve gotten rid of the flower petals (other than on my rose and lavender bath bombs) and instead decorate my bath bombs with dissolvable toppings? Someone told me they hated scooping “floaters” out of the tub when the bath was over (ewwww!). So yeah, I hear you! My products are tailored to please YOU: your feedback MATTERS and I absolutely listen!
Beta testing completed, I opened an Etsy shop. Now, this sounds simple enough, and really, the Etsy interface is pretty user friendly. Still, it ain’t as easy as it looks, folks, especially for someone who’s a bit of a luddite and has absolutely no graphic design or business know-how. I didn’t know how to price my products. I didn’t know how much to keep “in stock’ and how much to make ‘to order”. While I prefer to make to order as much as possible, bath bombs require significant drying time, up to 48-72 hours depending on the humidity (and in the NC summers, it’s humid, y’all). I want to ship orders quickly, but I need product that is actually dry enough to ship (otherwise it crumbles). Also, my Etsy orders seem to come in spits and spurts; sometimes days or weeks will go buy without a sale. Other times, I’ll get 5 orders in a day. Some days people view my shop, and other days it’s a ghost town. I’m honestly not at all sure I’m doing the whole Etsy thing right. I have no idea how to market, how to get people to try my products when there are so many others to chose from. But maybe, maybe if I sold them in person and people had a chance to try them, then they’d want to order more, right? Heck, I should sell them at a Farmer’s Market or Craft Fair! Duh…
And here’s where the FOMO comes in folks. FOMO, or “Fear Of Missing Out” for those of you less hip to modern slang, is real y’all and I have a raging case of it. You see, I live in a city with an amazing Farmer’s Market. They even have a neighboring craft market, the perfect place to sell my wares! I looked. They aren’t accepting new vendors until 2020. You have to submit in application in the fall of the year prior to even be considered for a space. There is no guarantee of being accepted, even if you get your application in on time. Such was the case for other neighboring cities and towns. I was too late to apply.
What about Craft Markets? Certainly there are holiday craft fairs and festivals I could apply to?! First of all, finding a contact person for all these fairs and festivals is hard work. Second, getting those folks to respond to you? Like pulling teeth. And when you do finally get a response? My experience has been that the window for vendors has sadly closed literally days before I made my cold call. The most devastating one was with a local craft market I would have loved to participate in that closed the application window literally hours before I cold called. Don’t worry, I’m on their wait list, their mailing list, and now follow them on all social media platforms. I won’t miss the opportunity next year!
So now I have to wait. I’m so excited about my products and am dying to sell and see if people like them. I want to “dial in” my business and only make what people really want. But how can you even know what people really want if you have to wait for your opportunity to sell?! Who would have though applications for Farmer’s Markets and Craft Fairs were done nearly a year in advance? I certainly didn’t! Everything always looks so casual and informal. It’s not! It’s months of planning, orchestrating, applying, rejection, dusting off and applying again. Its only because of all their hard work that these folks are able to make it look effortless.
So I’ll keep tinkering on Etsy and filling sporadic sales when they come. But it isn’t all staring yearningly at Farmer’s Market booths and counting down the days until the fall application season begins for 2020. I actually have an amazing opportunity to vend at a pop-up self care event right here in Durham this Sunday, 7/14! While I’m tickled, I’m also super nervous. What if no one shows up? Will my credit card reader actually arrive in time and work? What if people do show up but they just don’t want my stuff? What if they do want my stuff but I didn’t bring enough? How much should I even bring? Should I bring it all? That’s crazy! I’ll just bring 99% (ha). Oh my god – what do I even wear?! Yeah, I’m excited, but I’m a wreck.
So, I’ll admit, I have some Farmers Market and Craft Market FOMO. But my turn will come. I just need to wait and be patient. In the mean time, I’m gonna keep on making awesome products available on Etsy. This Sunday. I’ll be selling them in person at 1415 E. NC HWY 54, Durham NC 27713 from 2pm-5pm. Come on by, say “hi”, and check out my stuff! I hope you love it as much as I do!