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.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Getting ready

I've been busy finishing up some coats for a couple of upcoming occasions: The second photo shoot on June 2, and the DIY Unraveled Festival on June 10. I don't know quite what to expect from this festival; the proprietors found ME on Etsy and encouraged me to apply. It is the first one they've done, and it's only 3 hours long. At this point in my fledgling "career," though, I figured I should have a go at it, for more experience and feedback, if not actual sales!
I'll post photos from the photo shoot soon after I see them! So excited for my new styles to be captured by the talented Leslie Plesser. 
All the coats I've made so far are with laminated fabric by Michael Miller, Heather Bailey, and a new one (red with big white polka dots, very cute) from Riley Blake. But I'm about to branch out (or at least give it a try) with fabric I've laminated myself.
I had an epiphany several weeks ago while reading this blog by Jeanne Oliver Designs. She told about taking her designs to a trade show or fair, some such, and feeling mocked and embarrassed because they were made from highly identifiable fabric (in her case, Amy Butler). She realized she'd never make a name for herself unless her stuff looked original. I had been thinking about that myself after seeing another coat-seller on Etsy using similar fabric to mine. How can I truly call these my designs if the fabric is so well-known?
And laminate has such a small selection, really. I see the same designs everywhere. Now, they are adorable, and that's what drew me to them. But I've decided I'm going to try laminating my own. I've bought some iron-on vinyl and some fabric (actually, the fabric is a sheet from Target -- I challenge anyone to find laminate that will look like mine!). I'd hoped to have a sample done before the photo shoot but I think I'll aim for the DIY show.
So that's what I'm up to now; the photo below shows my current "collection." (I took this photo, so you can see why I'm hiring a professional for the real shots!)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Caddie Jo is blogging!

Hi and welcome to Caddie Jo Designs! Above you see one of my little girls' raincoats, the very first one I made when I started this adventure in the summer of 2010. I'll update this blog with news of new designs and other tidbits that occur to me and maybe might interest one or two people....
First, a little about how this business came about. I've always loved to sew (made my own clothes growing up, my wedding dress, and plenty of clothes for my two girls, who are now in their 20s). In recent years I'd done little but pillow covers, curtains, maybe a bag. In spring of 2010 I stopped in a cool local sewing shop, Sewtropolis, to pick up some interfacing or some such, and was immediately taken by the beautiful, soft, laminate fabrics Nikol has there. I returned to buy some to make placemats and she said some people bought it to make raincoats. That little nugget stuck in my mind.
A month or so later I had hit a bit of a down period at work (I am a designer for the features section of the greatest newspaper in the Upper Midwest, the Star Tribune), my creativity feeling a little stifled. My mind wandered a bit, and I can't quite pinpoint what made me flash back on that day at Sewtropolis, but I immediately seized on the idea of making little girls' raincoats out of this beautiful laminate.
Some online fabric-store sleuthing yielded so many beautiful fabrics, I was a bit dazzled, and so excited about my idea. My first step was a trip to Jo-Ann to look at patterns. I found one I liked that was not a raincoat pattern (important -- more on that later) but that could be adapted. Then I took the plunge and ordered fabric in two designs, to complement each other. Those are the fabrics you see above, both by Michael Miller.
My friend and colleague London Nelson, an experienced and talented crafter (she spins and dyes her own luscious yarn, and makes deliciously scented soy candles), offered me many, many invaluable tips. Such as: To call your design your own, you must change a pattern inat least a few significant ways.  I took a basic coat pattern and a) used snaps instead of a zipper (London also directed me to an awesome source for snaps); b) made the coat longer; c) made patch pockets instead of side pockets; d) changed the shape of the hood. The designs have continued to evolve with different trimmings and contrast pieces.
After I'd made three coats (a size 4 and two size 6), another very talented friend and colleague, Leslie Plesser, offered to photograph them on real little girls! She helped line up a colleague's daughters and one day in early August (it was hot!) she took gorgeous photos that are soooooo much better than I could ever have done (that's her handiwork at top). A few weeks later I opened my Etsy shop (with design by my daughter Caroline) and on Oct. 4, 2010, I made my first sale!
That's how everything came to be. Sometimes I still can't believe that I got an idea, followed through, and actually turned it into a budding business!