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Kearney Park Renaissance Faire has come and gone. This was a nice site and it looked like the actors and battle re-enactors were really having a good time. The weather was quite pleasant, though it was foggy enough at night that our canvas was soaked through each morning.

We saw some familiar faces – Mr. James Fraser and Mrs. Claire Beauchamp of the Outlander saga were strolling about the village green at one point. I always enjoy the cosplay that is out at these small faires, but at every event there is one that is just a standout. These guys did a fantastic job, just fantastic.

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There was a wonderful pirate ship in the middle of the green – complete with pirates! The kids were having a pretty fantastic time playing about on it.

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Gate was low and our sales were disappointing, but we got some vendor leads on a few other festivals to try out next year. Time spent with family who live in the area was nice and the Captain came up for the weekend, which was also fantastic.

And then… it was Monday.

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This picture pretty much sums up the Monday I had.

See, I drive a 2007 Honda Fit. It has those neato programmable car keys, the ones with the clicky buttons that unlock your door from across the parking lot. Well my fancy clicky car keys decided they were tired of mountain living and didn’t want to return to spacious Nuthouse Estates. They stowed away in the van and went to Los Angeles with Captain Sexypants this morning (at 2am), instead. This went undiscovered until Burbank, and precipitated a panicked text at around 6am, which precipitated a panicked phone call to a local roving locksmith.

Me: Hello, are you a locksmith? Can you open a car? I mean, if I lost my key, can you open my car and make a key and shut off my alarm?

Locksmith: Yes.

Me: Thank god. Help. Because my car keys are in LA and I’m not. Can you help me? I need you to unlock my car. And make me a key. A clicky key. And there’s an alarm. Did I mention the alarm? Can you make the alarm stop? Because the keys are missing. I’m stranded in Fresno and I haven’t had coffee yet. Or pancakes. Can you come soon? To the hotel? Not too soon because I want to take a shower, but like, forty minutes soon? Because my keys are in LA and I need to go to Starbucks and I want pancakes. And to then eventually go home.

Locksmith: Uh. Can you repeat that? And slow down? And, uh, stick to the salient points like what hotel and what kind of car?

Me: It’s a red car. I mean. It’s a Honda. A red Honda. It has duct tape on the bumpers.

Locksmith: ….

Me: This has never happened to me before. I don’t speak Locksmith. Please come. Save me.

Locksmith: That’ll be $265. It’s not cheap.

Me: Fine. FINE. Fine. Dude, I’ll sacrifice a goat and get you a virgin too if you can fix my car.

Locksmith: No. Just the $265.

Me: Thank god. I know this is an agricultural community but I was stumped on the goat.

Locksmith: ….

Well eventually we got things sorted and the locksmith came out and tried to make me a key. This proved to be impossible. It took him two hours and ultimately he failed to rekey my car.

NO GOAT FOR YOU, LOCKSMITH.

We do, however, know that my car alarm totally works, because it went off for about 30 minutes nonstop while he was working. In front of a bank of hotel rooms, where nice people were trying to sleep. I guess it was harder to shut off than anticipated.

I went into my hotel room, shut the curtains and hid from the imagined pitchforks and torches.

90 minutes after that, tow trucks became involved.

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This is Tony. Tony works for 1st Class Tow in Fresno, and Tony is awesome. He’s Italian and really friendly and he saved me from the FAILsmith. Call Tony if you ever break down in Fresno. 10/10, highly recommend!

The upshot of the entire day is that the Fresno Honda dealership charges $350 for one new programmable key. And they had to drive across town to another dealership, to get that key. The one key blank in all of Fresno that works in my car.

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Because, fuck you, that’s why.

Thanks for that, Honda. I mean, thanks so much for having my key blank in town and for going to get it and for making my car drivable again. I’m super grateful. But really, $350? Is it made of gold? Are there tiny hobbits inside the fob? Is it run on elfin magic? Pixie dust? What is up with that?

All of this is obviously why God invented wine.

I mean, look. I was going to get pancakes on my way out of town. Lemon berry pancakes. I’d picked out the place, had Yelped the menu, was all set up for a nice leisurely breakfast, and… no. I waited for two hours until the locksmith was willing to admit defeat, then I had to walk a whole mile, uphill both ways, in the rain, in searing heat, barefoot, to Starbucks while I waited for the tow truck. Starbucks, for the record, does not provide lemon berry pancakes. Because fuck you, that’s why. You’ll drink your sugar frosted coffee bomb and like it, missy.

Our hotel was, naturally, located on the one street in Fresno without a Starbucks on every corner, and without a damn pancake in sight.

Oh and the wifi at the Honda dealership? Totally broken. Because, fuck you, that’s why.

I finally got my new key at about 4pm, which was too late for driving back home.

I am grateful for family, who not only put us up for most of the run of Faire, but then also came to my rescue with food and a place to sleep tonight, when it became apparent that I wasn’t going to get home before dark.

We’ll try again tomorrow.

Can All Hallows have come and gone? Yep. We had a fantastic time! I always love this fun local festival. The costumes, the kids, the music…

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These parents were good sports and obviously understood that they are living props for their charming and adorable baby. Who is here, obviously WINNING at Halloween. If this picture is any indication, he is also winning at parents and at life. Be happy, little family. You are awesome.

The All Hallows Fantasy Festival is my favorite Sonora event.

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There’s just something about this magical little fall festival.

I love the local color that comes out to play. Sonora is a pretty conservative area on the surface, but for AHF, all bets are off.

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I love to see all the familiar faces, love the kids and the air of excitement that pervades the fairgrounds all weekend. It is just so unique out of all the events that I do. We had a deluge of rain and thunder on Saturday, but folks were in very good spirits. The local coffee roaster who had set up on our row was happy to meet the needs of the wet and shivering crowd, as did The Kitchen Witch with her amazing and magical teas.

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We were so close to the stage area, we basically got a free show for two days! I am here to tell you that it is not possible to get too much of the Wicked Tinkers, they just get better and better. And yes, before you ask, that is a Tinker on the table. I’d make a joke about not looking up, but, well someone probably already made it.

So that was the end of October. It is hard to believe that it is November already. Where did the year go? Weren’t we just growing tomatoes and blueberries? I just sent out the first of the Autumn Earring club offerings.

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Teahouse theme was “Russia”, and they got a gorgeous array of richly hued natural sapphires.

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Fairy Tales theme was “The Firebird” and they got rubies, tanzanite, moonstone, carnelian and yellow garnets.

Both clubs got a sample of Harney & Son’s Russian Country tea, which is my favorite samovar blend and the “old reliable” tea that I drink most often during the autumn and winter months.
Not every month is sapphires and rubies of course, but I do try to spoil my earring club folks whenever possible. November’s themes are “Iceland” and “Snow White” – and I am thinking about ways to capture fire and ice, the aurora borealis, and ravens and snow in stone.

Autumn is my favorite time of year on the mountain. The oak, aspen and dogwoods are turning, their yellows and reds splashed against the evergreen sugar pine and cedar trees. Much to the delight of the cats, our daily average temperatures have dropped enough that we are using the wood stove every day. Team Woodstove is committed to outdoing last season’s synchronized napping record, and if the pre-season effort is anything to go by, I think they just might do it. I am also delighted by the woodstove and might have contributed to the synchronized napping effort once or twice…

Only two events left this season! I’ll be out at the Kearney Park Renaissance Faire in Fresno, CA this weekend, November 8th and 9th. Captain Sexypants will be all dressed up and hanging about, and so will my super awesome Booth Minion, Anna. If you’re in the area, you should stop by and say hello! Mention you saw my blog or Facebook post about the event and you’ll get a sweet 10% off your total purchase at the booth!

Upcoming Shows in November
Kearney Park Renaissance Faire, Fresno California
November 8th and 9th, Kearney Park

Sonora Christmas Festival, Sonora CA
November 28, 29, 30th, Motherlode Fairgrounds, Sonora

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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