Almost two months ago on June 23rd, I sold at Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene. The original Brooklyn Flea site. Well, the one before they opened the Williamsburg, Brooklyn location (where I have been selling at mostly this summer).
The day overall wasn’t that great. I would love to tell you that I had a killer day that day, but I didn’t. I made some small sales and got tons of promising feedback and gave out quite a few business cards that has led to some custom order leads and spreads the love of S2, but my expectations were not met.
My tent partner, the amazingly talented Lauren of LolaFalk Designs told me not to judge Brooklyn Flea off of that one day because it was a bad day for everyone that sold that day. Okay, maybe not everyone, but several of our neighbors also mentioned how they barely made any sales that day. It turns out that the weekend was the first real weekend of the summer. It was warm and and there were activities galore in the city including the epic Renegade Craft Fair in the ‘hood. However, friends who sold at Renegade mentioned a lack of sales at that market as well.
It was great to know that we were all in the same boat, but it made me ponder the entire market situation in general. I mean is NYC a handmade market saturated environment? Are people looking for handmade wares in other places? Are markets losing their appeal? In other words, what the what?
It took me a year after launching my business to even think about doing markets and I jumped right into a huge market (remember Celebrate Brooklyn, anyone?) and I learned then and there that stationery and concerts don’t mix. I mean, yes, I did make $80 in sales those three months, and I did get a wedding order and some interest and positive feedback, but I also sunk $900 into supplies, transit, food, damaged products, and fees to be part of the selling group.
This didn’t turn me away from selling at markets because I decided this year to step back from Celebrate Brooklyn and instead focus on Brooklyn Flea. I wanted to test out different venues and try to reach different markets. I’m glad I did, but again, I wonder about the state of the handmade market industry. It was once small and got more foot traffic. More people looking for handmade good and looking for the small pockets where they weren’t accessible to everyone. This isn’t the case anymore and realizing that and how amateur my display looked, I decided to invest in my market set up. I wanted to shine and tell a story and capture the attention of buyers, especially buyers who may not really have a need for stationery, but might be inspired to buy because of the appeal and the story behind my products, my business, and myself.
This year, in the interest of telling my story better and selling my products, I purchased almost $300 worth of items to use as display props. I’ve also rented zipcars to scoot my materials around, I’ve taken cabs to closer markets, I’ve had friends help me which required some sort of pay (sometimes, not all the time), booth, table rental (I’m buying a table in the future), and tent rental fees, and I’ve had food expenses (even though I’ve tried to stay on the cheap). To do these markets I’ve spent quite a few Benjamins to make them successful, with the Brooklyn Flea Fort Greene Market being the main market. My thoughts were, if I could shine at this market, then I can shine at any market. Don’t get me wrong, I did shine; I did get feedback and inquiries and sales and exposure, but it also taught me a lesson.
One I needed to learn. Patience and faith are a must when doing markets, building a business, and putting yourself out there. Putting yourself out there being the most important thing you can do as a business and as an individual. (See, told you important lesson here!) The lack of booming business didn’t stop me, as a matter of fact, I went out and signed up for Williamsburg Brooklyn Flea dates in July and one this month (THIS SUNDAY, August 12th) for exposure. And I’m glad I did.
So while I could go on about money lost and time spent frying in the sun and melting, I’m not going to. Instead, I’m going to talk about what made my Fort Greene Brooklyn Flea debut awesome – my amazing friends. I don’t have pictures of all of the friends that came out, but I do have pictures of two of them and I want to make sure I give them the shout outs that they deserve because they were awesome. Amazingly awesome.
One friend, Mazi, was my helper that day. He spent the whole day in the sun helping out. That’s him below organizing some stationery.
He turned out to be one of the best helpers I could have had. He drove and parked the car, he carried a ton of the heavy things. He loaded and unloaded the car. He stood in for me when I had to run for water or snacks or to the bathroom. He talked to my tent partner. He helped me set up and take down and organize my products. He even gave me marketing tips for how to tell certain things. He even brought ice cream for me and my tent mate, which was a total shocker and totally awesome. He was definitely an alpha male and I seriously couldn’t ask for better support.
My other friend that I have a picture of is my friend Greg, who runs this amazing blog, and turned out to be an amazing marketing assistant for my booth that day.
He kept telling people that “his beautiful friend, Sara, made all the amazing stationery for sale on the table.” I mean really, could you find a better seller? NO! Not to mention friend. Absolutely NOT. I’ve known Greg since my DC days, I’d say back in 2003 and we disconnected in 2004 and reconnected in 2009 here in NYC. Isn’t it crazy how time works? The fact that he came out, sat down, helped sell my stuff, talked to me about life and about being impressed with my business meant more than I could ever really express.
My friend Jen, who I don’t have a picture of, drove all the way from Montclair, New Jersey to come see my products in the flesh and support me. She didn’t stay long, plus when she arrived the tent was filled to the brim with Greg, Mazi, Lauren, my tent mate and fellow seller and me. She walked around and then came back before heading home. I wish I had a picture of her from the day to share because it meant a lot that she came to lend support.
I am fortunate that my friends come out to my shows all the time. They really do and they turn what could be long days in the heat into awesome days full of love and support and sunshine. That is what life is about, really. It’s about the people that care about you and want you to succeed. It’s about surrounding yourself with people that care about you and want you to succeed. It is about the energy and the love that friends and family provide you as you take big steps and leap into the unknown.
I have always been a motivator to my friends. At least they’ve told me that. They’ve shared the ways in which I’ve inspired them to keep going and to do positive things. The fact that they in turn come out in trickles and droves to support me and return the positive energy, makes my world so large, positive and keeps me motivated to keep putting me out there.
In the end, Brooklyn Flea Fort Greene was a great success because of my friends; $80 in sales made and $375 spent be damned!
Don’t forget, this Sunday I’ll be at Brooklyn Flea in Williamsburg from 10-5 (unless it rains). This will officially be my last market before my big trip. More details soon.
If I don’t get to see you, do something big and brave and find the pro in it regardless of the con. Until next week!