A few weeks back, I participated in the American Craft Council Show in Atlanta. This was my first time doing a show of this caliber, with serious artists and a hefty price tag. I’ve had some time to reflect on the experience & I thought I would share a few of my take-aways. Here goes!
1. Anytime you have an opportunity to stretch yourself (no matter the outcome), it is a good thing! Intimidating artists, stunning displays, a smart & knowledgeable audience – this show had it all! It was scary & I was nervous, no doubt! While I was setting up the day before the show began, I majorly fumbled around with my booth display. My plans for a unique wall of Wallets went out the window almost instantly, and I had to go to plan B & C for my lighting just about as fast! In the end, my solutions worked out fine! Will I do it differently next time? Heck yeah! Was I cranky trying to figure it out? You betcha! Did any of my customers know? Not a chance!
2. You never know who you will meet! Two holidays ago, I did a show where a lovely woman named Arwen Fine got my information, but we didn’t really connect in person. Through online communication, she then invited me to participate in her online gallery, which has been a great budding partnership. Well, at the ACC show, we finally had the opportunity to chat in the flesh! It was fantastic!
3. Take notes, be influenced, but stay true to you! It’s so easy to get caught up in all the amazing things other artists are doing. Are they better than you? Maybe. They might have more raw talent, more drive, or more experience. But, no one is you! And someone (hopefully, large groups of someones) will connect with you over everyone else. I had a woman walk into my booth like she was on a mission & buy a bag. She made a point to tell me that she normally has to walk the entire show once before she buys anything. But, I was in the first aisle and she couldn’t go further without owning this handbag! Woohoo! I’ll take 30 more of her, please!
4. A great show doesn’t guarantee great sales. The ACC Show had so many wonderful elements going for it, yet I didn’t get close to my sales goals. Is it because I’m a first time artist? People are nervous about the state of the world? There was too much fiber at the show? It’s nearly impossible to pinpoint the exact reasons I didn’t sell well. But at the end of the day, it’s up to me to analyze the data and decide what’s next.
5. Keep learning! This show definitely affirmed that I am moving in the right direction – which sounds odd since you wouldn’t call it a success by looking at my bank account! But, when I analyze the arc of where I’ve been and where I want to be, this totally fit. I took copious notes on improvements I will make the next time I’m in this position. I’m already feeling better prepared!
So, ten years from now when I look back at this time in my career, I think the ACC Show in Atlanta will definitely be seen as a pivotal moment! How? I’m not quite sure yet. The good news is, I don’t have to know right now. I only need to carry on – taking risks, being brave, and weaving like crazy! I’m excited to see what’s next!
What valuable insight have you gleaned from a recent experience?