Last weekend was an anniversary of sorts for Forbidden Woolery. At the W.O.O.L. retreat in 2009, I vended for the very first time. It was a small retreat with a “Vending Hour”, but it was one of the most amazing experiences of my fiber life. Up until that point, I had only ever sold my yarn and fiber online. There’s a little thrill that still goes through me every time I get an email telling me I have a sale. But there’s also something inherently discouraging in having an online shop. It’s so easy for a shopper to look at your product and just keep clicking on. They can’t feel the softness of the fiber or the sproing of the yarn and fall in love the same way they can in person. There’s no personal interaction – the human element is missing. And, as a seller, you get no feedback on your product.
So when I actually got to interact with shoppers for the first time, I was so completely uplifted. And to hear positive feedback from other dyers I have immense respect for was indescribable. I let them convince me to vend at the Chancellor’s Sheep & Wool Showcase in April 2010 as part of the Indie Oasis, a group of independent dyers and artists, including Bittersweet Woolery, Into the Whirled, and Stitched By Jessalu.
I spent weeks dyeing up stock, and worked until 2am the night before the show, finishing up my yarn display case, sticking labels on shopping bags, weighing and pricing braids of fiber. And, finally the day arrived. I had no idea what to anticipate – would shoppers react positively to my product? Would I make any sales at all? And what happened absolutely blew me away – I couldn’t have had a better day. Beautiful weather, wonderful people, and a reaction to my product and branding that was beyond expectation. And I was hooked! I knew for certain at the end of that day that this was my calling.
Last weekend was the 2011 Chancellor’s Sheep & Wool Showcase. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t anywhere near as nice as the previous year – it poured for most of the day and while a lot of hard-core fiber enthusiasts still showed up, the foot traffic suffered considerably. Honestly, I was cold and miserable for pretty much the entire day. I had planned to show off my newborn son to my friends in the Indie Oasis (and wooing shoppers into my booth, of course!), but he ended up spending the entire day in the truck with my in-laws while I shivered in my booth, alone.
The day wasn’t a complete wash-out though. The women of Indie Oasis were awesome, as always, and my new booth set up was well-received. I made some great contacts and, even though it was a very slow day, I still felt a sense of renewal and confirmation that this is, in fact, my destiny.
I didn’t take many pictures – wandering around in the mud and cold rain to take photos wasn’t high on my priority list. But I did snap a few shots of the booth.
The set-up was a little cramped and backwards, because of the rain coming into the booth.
Here are the new batt and yarn displays. Both are a little emptier than I’d planned, but a newborn takes up a lot of time! I’m really excited about how they transformed the look of the booth, though.
And the fiber – my cascading waterfall of color that I cherish so. There were lots of new colors this year that I’m really excited about – Sunnydale, Kreacher, and Dobby to name a few. I went heavy on the Harry Potter colorways to celebrate the upcoming release of the final movie in July.
The next festival is the Long Island Fleece and Fiber Fair on May 21st. I hope to see you there!