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While it’s never my preference to do two shows back to back, I am really glad I am doing these. The Folsom Renaissance Faire was a blast. It was my first year doing that gig, and for sure it will not be my last. I’ve been consistently impressed with the folks from Renaissance Productions all season and this Faire was probably my favorite of them all so far.

The Cap is not doing any more shows with me this year (gosh darn that need to earn a living) so I could not use our wooden market stall. It takes two people to set up, at minimum. One of those people must know how to use the power tools and how all the bits go together. Of the two of us, I am not that person. The alternative was the pop up that we use at non-Faire festivals.

One problem with using pop ups at Faire is that you have to disguise them in clever and crafty ways.

It’s a good thing that I am both clever and crafty.

It took 5 canvas painter’s tarps (in assorted sizes) from Lowes, 10 packages of baby-poop-tan bias tape (color selected because we needed a lot of packages, and that was the only one they had in any quantity), 4 large tubes of Liquid Seam “no sew” iron on adhesive, 3 bottles of Fray Check, 8 packages of iron on Velcro, 1 large piece of heavy watercolor paper, a charcoal pencil, my good fabric scissors, and an iron. I had to buy a new iron though, because our last iron “accidentally” got left at Casa Fabulous when we moved.

The new tent

The end result is pretty fantastic, no? I stole our sheer kitchen curtains to use as the front leg wraps, which created a little bewilderment when Cap came home on Sunday night and found naked windows. Whoops.

It worked out so well! Set up and tear down was a breeze, and better yet, it all fits in my Honda. Survey says: “We’re just going to use the pop up for everything, from now on. Let’s repurpose the market stall wood and build a catio!”

So here are some important things that I learned when I was adapting the pop up for Faire.
1. When you dag a canvas wraparound (dags are the little scallops) that was 40 feet long to start, you are basically doubling the amount of hem around which you will have to painstakingly fold and iron those little bits of bias tape. You might want to pack a snack.

2. Did I mention you’re ironing that shit on, with your iron set on “Wool”? Buy some band-aids and burn cream.

3. When doing interesting things at 3am with fabric, toxic chemicals, and a very hot iron, it’s more than likely that you will get more help than you need, whether you asked for it or not.

Please, stop helping.

4. When the iron-on Velcro that was supposed to hold the roof and back wall of your booth together fails spectacularly on the day of the Faire, do not fall to the ground and sob hysterically. That’s what G-d made spring clamps for. You can find them in the automotive section of Lowes. Trust me. They are pure metal magic.

5. This remains true when the Velcro that (in theory) anchors the wraparound to the edges of your roof fabric also fails.

6. Spilled Fray-Check will inevitably wind up dried into clumps in the long-haired cat’s tail. You will probably never get it all out.

In the end it all worked out and I spent <$200 to get it all together, if you don’t count having to replace the iron and ironing board.

The hardest part, aside from the endless ironing of what felt like 1000 feet of dags, was having to spread it all out on the deck afterwards and soak it with fire retardant. I’ve never used a deck sprayer before so there was a steep learning curve there (pro tip – there are likely not ‘extra pieces’ included in the box, so if you wind up with a surplus of pieces, you’ve left something vital out of the equation), plus my new respirator kept fogging up my safety goggles.

The baby-poop-tan bias tape isn’t bad, and I thought the color worked well with the jute detail in the kitchen curtains. At some point before next season, I’m going to be adding tassels between the dags and some 6” wide decorative sari trim to the top of the wraparound.

Not bad for $200 and a little elbow grease!

I will be doing a solo run at the All Hallows Festival this weekend. The Festival itself runs from 10am – 12midnight on Saturday and 10am – 5pm on Sunday, and it’s located at the Motherlode Fairgrounds here in Sonora. I’m doing a little jig about this, because doing local shows means I get to sleep in my own bed. If you are local, please come on out and say hi!

In the studio this week, I’m working up some sugar skull DDLM earrings for this weekend. We sold out of them at Folsom! I’m going to hold a couple of pairs back, so look for those to show up on Etsy next week. I’m also working on my designs for the October Teahouse and Fairytale clubs. Those will be going out in the last week of October.

You might want to tune into our Instagram feed this weekend for some great cosplay and costume shots – the folks at All Hallows really do it up! You can find me on Instagram as rainhannah.

We’ve got some great new goodies to show off this weekend at the Folsom Renaissance Faire. That’s this weekend at Folsom Lion’s Park! Gates open at 10am, hope to see you there!

Oh, and if you mention reading this blog post to me at the Faire, you will totally get 20% off your total purchase. Sweet!

An illustrator friend re-posted this link on Facebook this week. I thought it might be a useful read since we are hoping to be accepted to vend at a big Bay Area convention in early 2015. While it is not a comic con, I imagine that the format is somewhat similar. There will be panels, rituals, and discussions going on that are the actual focus of the event – rather than an attitude of, “we specifically came here to shop.” As I was reading, it struck me that this article would be pretty useful to anyone who is directly selling their art at big multi-focus events – not just cons.

I thought I’d share it here, rather than just hit “like” on Facebook. She is so spot on with so much of what she says.

What does that mean at a Faire or festival? Well, I’ll tell you, I sell one of the most saturated products at any festival. You can’t shake a stick without hitting someone with jewelry on their table. It’s small, it’s portable, it’s light… heck, even the ladies who were selling bath products next to me at Twain Harte Art and Wine this summer had a little rack of cheapie $5 earrings for sale next to the handmade soaps. So how do you stand out?

Well for one thing – uncomfortable as it is – she has a good point – you can’t sit with your head down over your sketchbook or your knitting!

Here’s what’s true for me – I hate the cold sell. I am shy and somewhat introverted. As a result, I have always had a pretty low key selling approach in person. A hard sell at a craft show is, in my experience, kryptonite. But it is also true that, conventions, Renaissance Faires and music festivals aren’t traditional craft shows. There is a lot going on and people don’t come to these things just to shop. They came to dress up, eat, listen to music, see shows, drink wine with friends, or whatever… the shopping – while often quite epic – is a secondary activity. You don’t want chase them out with sales kryptonite, but you also don’t want to lose their attention.

Nothing says sensory overload like a Faire or music festival. Between street theatre, parades, music, cannons going off, the ale-stand around the corner, or what’s happening on main stage, there’s plenty of distraction. If you don’t get people to engage with you or your goods within the first ten seconds of entering the booth, something shinier will pull them right back out. So lately, as a result of that sensory competition, I find myself standing up more than I am sitting down. I am trying to be better at interacting at the street level to pull folks in. I talk to everyone who passes by. If there’s a crowd blocking my booth because of a street gig, I am learning to go out and engage them to come into the booth when the gig is over instead of getting pissed at the actors for being thoughtless about blocking my front door.

My challenge this year has been all about being more present with the audience. Even if my wristband says Vendor and not Actor, I’m just as much a part of the ensemble as any guild member. I am not just an island in the middle of it all. Being part of the show means having a great costume, greeting people in character and maintaining that for the duration. Even if they don’t buy, I try to give them a cheerful and positive interaction that makes them glad to be at Faire. If I wanted to speak mundane, I could go to the craft fair down the street. Heck, if our customers wanted mundane, they’d be at the craft fair down the street. Folks paid upwards of $20+ for their ticket to the Renaissance Faire or the music festival, so the least I can do to say “thanks” for that is to help perpetuate the magic they paid for. Yes, it’s exhausting, but if I wanted to sit on my ass and knit, I could just stay home.

This all goes for music festivals too, not just Ren Faires. Heck, this even applies at street fairs and “mundane” events. Whatever the show is, you’d better be putting it on just as hard as the performers and promoters. Even if I am still not doing the hard sell, even if I am still pretty low key and all about the friendly, no-pressure connection, I am finding sales are up as a result of that one simple adaptation.
Whether you’re at a Faire, a festival or a mundane craft fair, the world of handmade is changing. It’s crowded, in a way that it wasn’t ten or even five years ago. All you have to do is go look at Etsy to see how much. You don’t have to get louder, but you do have to stand out from the crowd and you have to find new ways to authentically engage with your market. Because, at least in my case, everyone is making jewelry now.

Adapt or die. It’s good advice. How are you adapting? How is your market changing? What do you think about the article?

UPCOMING SHOWS IN OCTOBER
Folsom Faire: October 18, 19th, Folsom Lions Lake Park, CA
All Hallows Faire: October 25, 26th Motherlode Fairgrounds, Sonora CA

It’s been a busy few weeks and the next few will be busy too. It has all come down to one crazy push before we end our 2014 show season with the Sonora Christmas Festival in November. Applications for 2015 are already going out, if you can believe it. The wheel, it keeps on spinning…

We had SUCH a nice time at the KMVR Celtic Festival.

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Doesn’t the booth look nice? We were right next to the Utilikilt folks, and the nice people from Willowroot Wands, plus we had another one of my favorite industrial style jewelry designers on the other side of us. Totally fantastic neighbors!

The weather was, alas, not so congenial all the time. It thundered, roared and rained like mad on Friday night. Saturday dawned bright and beautiful, until the weather gods let loose again as evening rolled ‘round. It poured all night and through Sunday morning, not drying out until about noon. Our booth held up pretty well overall for the deluge, with only a few drips and leaks inside. I was pretty amazed at the hardy Northern California festival-goers – they were total troopers and came out in droves, despite the rain! Ultimately they were rewarded with bright sunshine and blue skies, though. It was so beautiful up in Grass Valley!

There were some amazing acts lined up, including a few of my favorites, like Mary Jane Lomond, 1916, Tempest and Runa. Our view of the main stage really did not suck.

stage, saturday, KMVR celtic

From the front of our booth, on sunny Saturday morning.

Stage, KMVR saturday night

And later that night.

How could we EVER complain about this? We had the most perfect view of the stage. We were basically enjoying the best 2 day concert in the world while making money! On Saturday night, we ate organic crepes, drank hot sweet spice tea, and danced in the rain to the lively tunes of the Screaming Orphans. Joy was rather overflowing at times.

Also (and it is entirely possible that it was not an “also” but rather, the first thing I noticed when we arrived) there was a pie truck.

pie

I might have eaten four warm, freshly baked, hand pies.

Blackberry.

Actually, let’s just be real, I totally ate four warm and fresh blackberry hand pies over the course of the festival weekend. Of course, this meant that I suffered the fibro flare from hell later, because of gluten and sugar, but it was maybe worth it. Because, pie. And also because curry for breakfast and gyros and crepes and bratwurst and endless cups of the aforementioned hot, sweet spice tea (great in the rain). The food at this festival was top notch, even if it wasn’t precisely on the paleo bandwagon. Hey, ya gotta fuel the body, right? Maintaining one’s body heat in the rain takes calories!

happy

It takes a lot of pie to keep smiles like this intact. We had the best time ever! Oh and there was a fire breathing dragon.

dragon

Isn’t he a handsome fellow? Best dragon ever.

So nice to be at a festival with the Cap and to take a long weekend in a beautiful location (Nevada City/Grass Valley) that neither of us had ever visited before. We tried Air BnB for the first time and had a great experience with our hosts. Can’t wait to come back next year if the nice folks at KMVR will have us!

So what’s up next? We’re doing Folsom Faire, at Folsom Lake Park on the 17th and 18th of this month. Very excited about this event! Then the following week, we’ll be doing the All Hallows Festival right here in Sonora. In November, we’re off to Kearney Park, then the Sonora Christmas Festival, and then? We fall over in an exhausted pile and do the laundry.

In organizing my festival calendar and figuring out application dates for the upcoming 2015 season, I had a bit of an epiphany. This year, I pretty much did exactly what I’d originally envisioned when I first opened Honey&Ollie, four years ago. We hit every faire and festival that was on my wish-list. We had an amazing time, got creatively inspired and totally fell in love with all the new customers and new friends of H&O. I am so glad we took the leap into the faire/festival circuit. This was where we ultimately needed to end up, where we are meant to be right now. Such a difference from when we were sitting in our booth at Crafted, waiting for crowds of shoppers who never came (though I hear that it’s a little more lively there now and that the market is really picking up steam, which is great news). A former co-vendor once said how glad she was that she had a “home” because it meant that she never had to go do an outside show again. I am genuinely glad that it has all worked out for her. Just because that particular model didn’t work out for my business doesn’t mean it isn’t a great model for hers. The model that resulted in stagnation for me was, perhaps, exactly what she needed to bloom.

I guess that’s one of the great things about small, creative businesses. It isn’t a one size fits all thing. We all have a niche, somewhere!

Perhaps the Universe determined that I would benefit most from the quest to find my niche – to reconnect with my voice and my vision, and so it gave me the opportunity to do that.

The energy and vibrancy of the music festival/small ren faire circuit has been so rejuvenating and inspiring! It has infused my little business with so much energy and brought me back, full circle, to where voice and vision were always waiting. I feel like I’ve found my true North again. I love being on the road like this. The 2015 calendar is filling up, even as we are bringing 2014’s show circuit to a close. Four more shows to go this year! Hope to see you out there at one of them!

Final Week!

This is the FINAL WEEK to sign up for the Honey&Ollie Autumn Earring Club! You have TWO great options to choose from this time around. A fairy tale themed club, a travel themed club, OR if you can’t decide? You can do BOTH (at a sweet discount!).

And? If you sign up TODAY, you get FREE shipping! Just use the code OLLIEFREE when you check out. That’s a $12 savings, free shipping for all 3 months of the club! Can’t beat it… hope to see you in the club!

A KMVR Celtic Festival wrapup post is forthcoming. We had the best time!

And then it was just me…

After a 20th birthday celebration with a gluten free, deep dish apple pie, Cap Jr. has packed up his boxes and headed off on the next leg of his young adult adventure. With the Cap in LA working again, I am on my own on the mountain for the first time since early May.

Settling back in to things up here. I sat out on the deck with a cup of tea this afternoon and breathed in the peace and quiet. It felt like the first deep breath I’d taken in ages. The last few months have been anything but peaceful, what with two young adults bouncing home and then out again, an extra cat to juggle, all the travel, shows and the attendant and varied personal dramas that go along with those things. Kind of nice to sit on the deck with my cup of tea and just… let it all go for a minute.

While we’ve definitely still got hot summer days going on, the nights are starting to dip down into the lower temps. An extra sweater does the trick for now, but the season is definitely turning inexorably around towards wood stove evenings. The tips of the oak trees are starting to turn yellow, pines are shedding needles all over my deck, and I expect the Juncos to turn up at the feeders any day now.

We’ve been here a whole year, one full turn of the seasons. I love this place in all its faces, though I admit to a brief and panicked perusal of the local home rental pages when the Cap and I realized that WINTER IS COMING AGAIN. It was alarming to realize that it’s going to be here in a couple of months and we still don’t have an SUV or firewood (the firewood, at any rate, has been ordered). Once we calmed down, the Cap pointed out that it’s ultimately cheaper to buy a few cords of wood than it is to move house! We had a good laugh and are looking forward to being on the mountain for another go at winter.

Also, the charming Gold Rush era town in the foothills that we were looking at is right in the middle of ANNUAL TARANTULA MIGRATION.

That’s a thing.

Really.

That’s a thing that happens in real life.

That’s a thing that happens every year in real life.

It’s not a “this happened in that nightmare one time, and then I woke up and realized that it was an awful dream, oh thank GOD.” kind of thing. No. It’s a real life, happens every year like clockwork thing. You wake up and it’s September, batten down the hatches and listen for the pitter patter of all the tiny legs because NO, LIGHT THEM ON FIRE, here come the tarantulas.

It’s exactly like the Alaskan tundra, except, instead of herds of caribou thundering over the horizon, you get furry herds of eight-legged scary, wrapped in death, hanging out in your driveway.

The executive decision was rapidly made. We’re not going to be moving down to the nightmarish elevation where that happens. Nope. Staying right here on the mountain. I’ll take the snow. Lots of snow, please. Pile that snow right on, ok?

In honor of fall (but not tarantulas), I’ve got some good new stuff up in the shop.

autumntrees3

Autumn colors and all.

lggreencopperhoop1

Love this time of year so much.

riverstone2

It hasn’t gotten quite chilly enough for the Fall ritual of Paleo pumpkin pie with Yunnan tea, but I have laid in the appropriate fixings. Soon. It will happen soon. Till then, I’ll just put on a sweater and thank my lucky stars that the only things migrating around here at the moment are some turkey buzzards.

carnelianhoop1

Well. Except, perhaps, the cat. The cat spent most of the trip in her carrier, complaining loudly. She kept it up for the entire trip to Portland.

rest stop cat

The cat was more like, “Yo this really sucks. This cage is small. Do I get complimentary peanuts? A soda? Anything? Are we there yet? When are we gonna get there? Guys? Did I mention THIS SUCKS?”

For like, 800 miles.

She isn’t complaining here in this shot because we put the carrier on the picnic table at the Dunsmuir rest stop and she was enjoying the fresh mountain air. We were enjoying the fresh mountain air and lack of complaining.

We risked the Vortex of Awful that is Medford, and got a motel for the night just to give everyone a break from the incessant feline yodeling. Honey didn’t mind the motel. That’s probably because she got to enjoy laptop time and free wi-fi. We did mind the motel, but that’s a story for another time and possibly a one star Yelp review. The bears were thrilled that we took them to their favorite diner chain for dinner.

diner bears

Sadly, the diner was caught in the Medford Vortex of Awful and thus became fodder for another one star Yelp review. The bears said that they didn’t mind the sand in the Captain’s salad one bit (they are, after all, bears) and they think we’re just picky. We’ve decided to skip Medford entirely next time and try our luck in Grant’s Pass instead.

Grant’s Pass has bears too.

bench bear

The downtown is just lousy with ‘em. Bears on every corner. It might be a sign. “Come here to Bear Friendly Grants Pass and the food won’t suck and you’ll have a photo op on every corner!”

And then… Portland. Which is a Vortex of Awesome. We had a really good time in Portland doing not much of anything at all. There was a trip to Powell’s Books, but then, there always is. You can’t go to Portland and not visit Powell’s. The bears were gratified that we made it in time for storytelling.

storytime!

The cat settled in beautifully. She was thrilled to be in Portland, obviously.

relaxing

There was epic coffee. Because, did I mention, Portland? Portland has spoiled me for coffee forever. I may not be able to survive on the swill they serve in California or really, anywhere that is Not Portland.

coffee a la portland

And then it was a leisurely drive down the coast of Oregon to Eureka. August tends to be foggy and cold in Eureka. We didn’t do much there either except hang with my dad, take epic naps, and go out for a hot tub one afternoon. There was talk of the beach, but then naps wound up being the more popular option.
The best part about Eureka – aside from my dad and being home for a minute – was finding gluten free chocolate mud pie – also dairy, egg and nut free. I might have eaten the entire thing, sans the few slices I (grudgingly) shared.

gluten free pie

This pie was not from Portland. They didn’t sell this pie in Portland, which is baffling. I’m sure this is an oversight that Portland will rectify before my next visit. They do, however, have a website for this pie. If you are eating gluten free, you really should take a look.

Then, alas, it was back to reality, back to life, and back to the mountain. I’m in crazy catch-up mode, trying to finish stock for the Cameron Park faire this weekend, putting finishing touches on the market stall setup and getting All The Things done before we leave on Friday. It can’t all be naps and hot tubs, after all.

I’m doing this show solo. Someone at the Faire is going to want to swap a pair of earrings for booth sitting while I run to the privy or go get food. I just have to find that person and beg them to help me. The Cap will be hanging with Cap Jr. for one last weekend, before taking him down south and dropping him back with his mum next week. Looks like my nest is about to be empty again, just in time for stacking the firewood delivery, and chopping kindling and eventual snow shoveling.

Well played, young adults. Well played.

On a shop note! Earring club signups are GO! There’s the Faerie Tale option, the Travel and Tea option, and a dual option for those who want to go for broke. I’m so excited about this new direction for the club and offering multiple themes/designs plus tea is going to be oh so much fun!

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