Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Craftstravaganza 2013!

The big event is this Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at the State Fairgrounds Progress Center. You won't be able to miss me, because I'll be right inside the FRONT DOOR!

Wow, and yikes! I figure I'd better step up my game. So I've been brainstorming display options and making lots and lots of stuff to sell. No photos this time, you'll just have to come and check it out! Besides the signature raincoats & hats, I've got purses and bibs ($10 and under!), aprons, dresses and skirts. I keep thinking I have enough and then I look at a piece of unused fabric and think "I could whip out a (dress, apron, bib)."

I don't want to be worried about running out of inventory, as I almost did at No Coast last December. Can I just say, that was my most successful sale ever! I sold a few things before it even officially started, and I was pretty much constantly busy. As I did last year, I came home Friday night and whipped out a bunch more items for Saturday, and it was a good thing I did! Some highlights: I sold my first ever boy's coat (one of my dinosaur models), and one woman came back to my booth after looking around and said she hadn't found any dresses she liked as much as one I had (it's one of my favorites, too -- made of sweatshirt fleece and zebra print fabric), so she bought it. I also sold a dress to a little girl whose mom was one of the other vendors. She put it on over her poufy skirt and it looked so cute, like it had a petticoat underneath! She wandered around the Midtown Global Market (free advertising!) and made me a cute drawing as a thank-you.

So I got a little spoiled at that show and I hope I can keep up the momentum on Saturday. I have a soft spot for Craftstravaganza because two years ago it was my first show, the first time I was "validated" as a member of the craft community. I've been really fortunate to be included again in 2012 and this year, plus the fabulous inaugural Craft'za in November at the Soap Factory, which was a great event I hope will happen again this year.

So thanks for stopping by the blog, and consider stopping by Craftstravaganza! If children's clothes aren't your thing, there are about 90 other really super-talented vendors selling all manner of stuff!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Catching up!

Figured it was time for an update on the goings-on here at Caddie Jo Designs. Lots of stuff, but I'll give the short version...

Craftstravaganza! May 12 at the Fairgrounds. I made less money than last year but sold more items (thanks, purses, bibs and aprons!). I discovered, no surprise, that it's really fun to make a lot of sales. One woman I thought I recognized; then she said she'd bought her niece one of my raincoats at No Coast and she just loved it! That was just so nice to hear. Also, I sold four purses to boys, yes, to boys (dinosaur and monkey patterns, no flowers or polka dots!). I never would have thought of marketing them to boys (I guess call them something else?), but that's what's so fun about interacting with customers -- you learn things. Many thanks to Craftstravaganza proprietors Andy and Jenna who not only included me in the show but bought a raincoat and bib for their girls! And thanks to Laurie and Cotty, Caroline and Alan, and Ann and Wayne (who brought me a much-needed afternoon coffee) for stopping by my booth!

(Just have to interject here that sewing in my third-floor, non-air-conditioned "studio" this summer put me in mind of the turn-of-the-century sweatshops... my thermometer said 97 one day and the fan just didn't help much. At least I, unlike those poor women sewing shirtwaists, could wear as little as possible, drink copious fluids and quit when I wanted!)

Next up was the No Coast Summer Craft-o-Rama July 22, the first one held in the warm months. This was my first outdoor show, and it was so, so hot, even with the tent I borrowed from my crafty friend London.  (Caroline and Alan rescued me with an iced tea midafternoon.) But it was a lovely, family-oriented event at Silverwood Park in St. Anthony, with puppet shows, kid-friendly bands and food trucks. I sold quite a few small items and one raincoat. And I introduced a few of my newest items:

Dresses and skirts! I finally semi-mastered the serger I bought last fall (after a helpful class at the Textile Center called "Scared of Your Serger"), so I could start making professionally finished garments. I have had so much fun designing and making these... the dresses have pleats, or gores, of contrasting fabric, and the skirts are ruffled, all trimmed with bias tape handmade by me! (I scored a bias tape maker at a yard sale for $35 -- regular price over $100.) For fall/winter, I also made some dresses/jumpers out of corduroy and sweatshirt fleece, so cute! Pictured are just a sample of what I've got. If you want to see more, you'll have to come to my next shows...

...Which are: Minneapolis Craft'za (the debut of the fall/winter version of Craftstravaganza), 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Nov. 17 at the Soap Factory in Minneapolis, and No Coast Craft-o-Rama, 3-8 p.m. Dec. 7 and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 8 at the Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis. These will both be great shows with tons of cool stuff ... come see me, or just come to buy Christmas presents from one of the really talented vendors.

Lastly, there's a new future customer in the family: Our granddaughter Vera Fae Harper, born July 16. Here she is, thinking of all the things Grandma is going to make for her!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sewing up a storm for Craftstravaganza!

Craftstravaganza is this Saturday! Last year's was my very first craft show, and it was a great experience. But I learned a few things there (and in other shows in the past year) that I'm taking to heart this year.

No. 1: Unisex coats. I wrote before No Coast in December about my dinosaur styles. Now I have a couple more designs:
How cute would this look on a little boy? It's lined with smooth red acetate and has red snaps. And of course, no ruffles. :)

Then there's this one, which could be for a boy or a girl:

A menagerie!  It's lined with super-soft brown cotton and has orange snaps, with brown seam binding trim on the pockets.

One more new raincoat design, but it's definitely girlish:

Kind of hard to see, so here's a detail:

Ooh la la, it's a map of Paris! Lined with pale blue silk, with ruffled pocket trim and blue piping and pink snaps.

No. 2: I decided to lower my prices. I know, I know, that's being a bad businesswoman. But I'm not selling many at the current prices. For boys especially, I'm not sure if anyone will pay more than $50. So the simpler coats (without ruffles) are down to $48, and the ruffled coats are at $55. We shall see if that jump-starts the sales.

No. 3: I have continued my quest for smaller, cheaper items to sell. The $10 purses have gone like gangbusters everywhere I've set up shop. So I'll have a dozen or so of those on hand Saturday. My two newest items:

Bibs! These are super fun and easy to make, and have been road tested by one Laney Fae Royce :) (shameless baby plug here).

I've sold a few to friends, but this will be their first time on the open market. They have little pockets and snap closures, and are machine washable, which of course is a must. This is just a sample of the styles I've made -- I have 13 in all. At $8 apiece, I'm hoping people will snatch them up for baby shower gifts! (I did see similar -- though not as cute, I daresay -- bibs at Target, two for $6. But come on! Support local artisans!)

The other new item is pullover aprons:

Kind of a fuzzy photo (as always, forgive the amateur cell phone photography). These also are fun and easy to make. Love that monkey print, and the strawberries. Each one probably would fit, say, a kindergartner (pretty long) to a small adult. Could be used as a painting smock. These are $18 apiece because they use a good bit of fabric and seam binding. I was only planning to make three, but yesterday when I stopped by the all-new Sewtropolis at 48th and Chicago, I found some beautiful flowered laminate that I couldn't resist. Gotta quit buying new fabric until I sell some more stuff! I added a ruffle across the pocket on that one. Didn't get a chance to photograph it, so you'll have to come to the show to see it!

Okay, this has gone on long enough. Just making up for lost time. Anyway, hoping for a good turnout and a little ka-ching at the Fairgrounds Saturday -- 10-5 p.m. I'm in the very same spot as last year, in the Fine Arts Building; the show has also expanded to the Progress Center next door, so be sure to wander over there and see more talented people including my colleague London Nelson!

One more item: Found out Monday I'll be in the first-ever summer No Coast Craft-o-Rama, July 22 (a Sunday) at Silverwood Park in New Brighton. I hope to introduce some little dresses at that event ... more on that later!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The lowdown on No Coast

Well the No Coast Craft-o-Rama has come and gone... exhausting and fun! I would say I did okay. Not stellar, but I feel satisfied. If I had a dollar for every time someone uttered a variation of "Oh, how adorable/cute/sweet/precious!" I'd be ri-- well, I'd have a couple hundred dollars.

Actual raincoat sales were a lot rarer. The two days went like this: A raincoat sale early (Friday within the first hour, Saturday within the first 15 MINUTES), then it was all purses. Six purse sales each day. All I can say is, I'm glad I decided to make them! After selling six out of my inventory of 10 on Friday, I made three more Friday night -- was sewing until almost midnight.

At least 70 people took my business card, and some took photos of the coats (I'm assuming to show them to someone, not to copy!). I had a lot of good conversations. All in all it was a really fun experience. It was great to see lots of folks I know! I hope I get a chance to do it again next year.

Here was my setup:

I hung the purses on a little mini Christmas tree (on the table to the left). A little brainstorm I had last week when I was trying to figure out how to display them (course that only works at this time of year).

And here was one of the coats I sold:

Really cute little two-year-old girl. She wore the coat all around the building afterward -- I kept seeing her! She tried on the hat, but her mom decided to buy a purse instead. I think it was a red purse with white polka dots -- I'd have to check my notes. (You can see a few of the purses on the little tree, at right). This was the first turquoise coat I've sold... the others have all been brown, pink, or brown and pink.

Coming home in the sloppy snow wasn't so much fun -- a screw fell out on my rack and I had the darndest time wrangling it up through the parking ramp to my car. The tablecloth fell off the rack (I'd thrown it over the coats) and got trampled. Then I drove up onto a sidewalk coming around a curve right near my house. Fun times!

Well, Tuesday is the Senior Expo and Wellness Fair at The Waters Senior Living in south Minneapolis. As always, I have no idea what to expect. It's only costing me $10, though, and they're advertising hand massages! Sounds good to me.

Monday, November 28, 2011

No Coast Craft-o-Rama!

I'm so, so excited (and a little nervous) to be part of No Coast Craft-o-Rama, the big two-day craft show this weekend. I always thought of this show as the Big Time, and I could hardly believe I got in. The particulars: 3-8 p.m. Friday, 9-5 p.m. Saturday, at the Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis (you know, the old Sears Building). Tons of really talented craftspeople will be there, including my friend My Friend London,  If you come, be sure to make it to her booth. Beautiful hand-spun yarns and candles. Admission is free. You can get parking ramp validation by buying something from the regular vendors (not the No Coast vendors).

The biggest new thing for me is boys' coats! Well, at least unisex. Don't want to pigeonhole. Several people had asked if I sold boys' coats and my answer was no, because I couldn't find any laminate suitable for boys. I mean, most boys won't even wear polka dots (so I'm told; I don't have any boys). But a few months ago, when I ordered some fabric from a company in Hong Kong (I didn't realize that's where it was until I got the confirmation e-mail), I got a sample of some of Michael Miller's "Dino Dudes" fabric. So cute! Brown, with orange, lime green and blue dinosaurs. I ordered up a few yards and made two coats (one with orange snaps, one with lime green snaps) without ruffles or anything girlish. I plan to sell them for slightly less because they required less fabric and time to make, plus, I think, people tend to spend less on boys' clothes than girls'. 

Okay, as usual forgive my substandard phone photography. This one is a size 2-3. Here's a closeup of the fabric:

So I'm hoping these will get a good response. Now, of course, a girl could wear them too. Just trying to diversify!

Just finished making three more little purses this evening, another attempt to offer lower-priced items. And since they're made from scraps, they are practically pure profit -- if they sell! :) I did sell one purse and one raincoat at the HandmadeMn Market on Oct. 22, and two custom raincoats at the Gustavus Adolphus Church Bazaar on Oct. 1. I was excited to get those (my first custom orders!), even though it meant I had to order more fabric rather than sell from my existing inventory.

A few days after No Coast, I'm in a craft fair at an assisted living center (!), The Waters Senior Living in south Minneapolis. One of the staff members found me on Etsy and asked if I would take part. I do have to take the afternoon off from work, but she said there are well-to-do grandmas who live there. So I figured it was worth a shot. You never know where your customers will come from. My past few sales have been to grandparents!

Hope to see some friendly faces this weekend! Tons of Christmas shopping opportunities! Support local crafters!  And follow me on Twitter, @cynthiaj56, for general observations about crafts, movies, sports, TV, politics and other random stuff!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Two more craft shows this month!

After a pretty lazy summer, I'm getting back in gear with two craft shows this month! First up: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. this Saturday (Oct. 1), the Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church Juried Craft Show in northeast Minneapolis. I hear it is a pretty well-established show that is a cut above your usual church bazaar. I'm curious to see what kind of clientele stops by -- could be a big grandma crowd. The second one is the HandmadeMn Market, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22 at the Ballentine VFW on Lyndale Av. near Lake St., sponsored by HandmadeMn, the group for Minnesota Etsy sellers. It will be fun to meet a lot of fellow Etsy-ers. Since I still have a pretty healthy inventory, I have only made one new raincoat:

A turquoise, red and pink flowered coat with red-and-white polka dot hood lining and pocket trim. I had wanted to use that fabric for the cuffs, too, but messed up my order and I didn't get my new polka dot shipment until today! So I had to improvise. I probably will whip up a hat to match. If I make any sales this Saturday :), I will be doing some more sewing before the show on the 22nd. I bought some black-and-cream houndstooth laminate today at Treadle Yard Goods in St. Paul, which I thought might pair nicely with the red-and-white.

In a previous post I mentioned trying to make my own laminated fabric. Well, I finally got around to doing it. It was definitely more hassle than I thought, and I'm thinking it is probably not worth it. To begin with, the vinyl isn't quite as pliable as I'd like... almost has a bit of a crackly feel. And it is TOUGH to get that laminate on the cotton with no wrinkles, little specks of fiber or, as I discovered to my chagrin halfway through the project, hair! I found a hair under the vinyl.... it wasn't super noticeable but once someone saw it, they'd be grossed out! Can't do that to a customer. So I had to redo a section of the bottom ruffle.

That coat isn't finished yet, and I'm not sure if I think it's worth it to continue:

I do like the underlying fabric. I'm a sucker for polka dots, which you might have noticed looking at my other designs. Any lining besides white will kind of change the look of it, though. I've got tons of the fabric left over... if you recall, I used a twin sheet set. When I get to designing regular little girl clothes, another dream of mine, I'll put that fabric to good use.

On that note, I figure the first requirement of making regular clothes (where the seams are exposed) is to acquire a serger. I found what I think is a pretty good one at Really good price and high user ratings. That just might be my next big purchase.

And finally, I can't resist introducing our new granddaughter! Laney Fae Royce, born Sept. 21. I've already knitted a baby hat for her and will be working on a sweater soon. And of course, there will be raincoats! She's just a little doll and we're all so excited.

(As usual I apologize for the photo quality... they're from my phone... and I'm no photographer!)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

New designs!

I've actually had these made for a long time, before Craftstravaganza, but I just last week had them photographed! Aren't those little girls (Ruby and Zinnia) adorable? (And isn't photog Leslie talented?)
Just finished putting them all up on my Etsy shop.
The DIY festival last Friday was a good experience for me, even though I only sold one coat. As at Craftstravaganza, I got really good feedback -- the prevailing sentiment: "Oh, they're SO adorable! Too bad I don't know any little girls...." But I did get some good advice on marketing as well, and I figure as new to the game as I am I need to just get myself out there. The festival itself needs a few tweaks, I think. It was only three hours long, kind of hard to find, with limited parking (it was at the U's Rapson Hall). But it was only their first year, and I think it will grow into something bigger.
Next up is my grand experiment with making my own laminate (described in the previous post). No, I haven't tried it yet! But soon.