2012 Spring Crafts in Chelsea, Recapped or Better Yet On Being a Stationery Hustler

This is the last recap for a while. I promise. Well, until June 23rd that is when I do my second Brooklyn Flea market in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. (That’s still two weeks away, so giant sigh out loud.)


The 2012 Spring Crafts in Chelsea was held on Saturday, May 19th on W.21st street between 8th and 9th Avenues. I was closest to 8th avenue, which I appreciated because I love being so close to the street. You get to see traffic as it comes in from that side and I’m close to entering, exiting, and catching cabs. It also means I don’t have to carry my load for half a mile down the street.

I’m pleased to share that the wind this year did not take down my display. Of course my display wasn’t much, but last year proved that I needed weights and this year, I didn’t bring any. I clearly learned nothing. Really, I just forgot. Either way, there was only one really strong gust of wind that flew my business cards off the table, but it managed to bring down two of the shops to my right. By bring down, I mean completely bring it down-products everywhere and tents needing to be reassembled. I realized how fortunate I was to not have a tent, or anything displayed on tiers or various levels.

Alas, my display was lacking. If you compare the photos below to the photos from my table at Brooklyn Flea a few weeks ago, you can tell quite a difference. The table then was too busy, too colorful and everything was for the most part flat.

Now, I’m not being too critical of myself. After all, this was my third market, EVER. And so you learn. As anyone who just starts a business, unless they’re super sharp-on-their-game, I think it’s difficult to put everything in order – from the creating to the printing and designing and crafting there are all the other business aspects, too- finances, logistics, administrative things like running to the post office to ship things and your brain is constantly turning with ideas. It takes a solid person to know exactly what they want their branding to be like from the beginning. If they have that, well, then they’re just plan awesome and may not have to deal with any of the lessons many of us first time market sellers does with each new and different market.

Anyhow, it wasn’t until this event, Crafts in Chelsea that I realized my table screamed amateur. It felt too busy and too flat. While I had always said that it is more about me getting my name out there and interacting with customers and potential customers, I realized that while every one had great things to say, I was not making it easy for my customers to look and see things clearly. In fact, I thought to myself, “Sara, where is all the Pottery Barn, Proper Topper, Le Sabon, and Papyrus merchandising knowledge that you picked up all those years ago?”

And so I thought about what I could do different. Or rather how I could go about setting my table up differently to really catch the eye of buyers and entice them to pick things up and engage with not just the products, but me.

It wasn’t until the next day, when I attended the National Stationery Show that I knew what I had to do – tell a story – and how I was going to go about accomplishing that – vintage goods from Etsy sellers.  I wrote about this process extensively in my recap of Brooklyn Flea – Williamsburg last week.  I am so glad I did because the display was great and it was almost, not quite, what I wanted it to be. I’ll add a few things here and tweak things there until I get it right, but I’m pleased to say that I’m pleased over all.

But enough about displays. Let me share with you the day. Because it was a good day.

I made some great sales. I got to see some of my fellow team mates and artist friends. I also had two very good friends of mine come out and support S2 and me, which is always fun. I also got to see my friend Grace Kang who owns Pink Olive a gorgeous and magical shop that I go to when I am looking for the perfect gift for friends and family. Grace has two shops (one in Brooklyn and one in the East Village) and I had the pleasure of meeting her back when I first started at Etsy. Since our meeting, we’ve seen each other a few times and each time I like Grace more.

It was a total surprise to find her walking the market. It was even more surprising when she purchased an item from me and talked to me about displaying and figuring out what pieces of a line you create are worth keeping and not. It was an incredibly inspiring conversation and it definitely got the wheels turning in my head for how to market myself, what to focus on in regards to product lines, and more importantly, how important is is to let my products tell a story, while I convey their value. I don’t know that Grace knows how much I took from that 10 minute conversation!

Pictures (just a few) from the day are below.

As always, I’m glad I did Crafts in Chelsea. It was a gorgeous day. I got to see some friends, meet new people, had a celebrity siting (Ethan Hawke) and learn a little bit more about myself, my products, and being a stationery hustler.

Crafts in Chelsea helped me get to Brooklyn Flea and for that I will always be a fan of that marketing opportunity.  On to more stationery hustling. That would be a good book title, no?


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S2 Stationery & Design

A rule-breaking designer, artist & entrepreneur who's passionate about paper and handcrafting stationery. I also write, travel, and focus on eco + social good.

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