It's been a week since I experienced my first out of state show. I debated whether I should have even applied to this show but when the email showed up announcing applications were open, I went for it. I figured what the heck? I did have a few worries. Is it really worth spending all the money? Will I even make any money? Am I ready for this? Do I need to make new pieces? What about all the money I'm going to spend? Money was obviously my main concern. And honestly, I probably wouldn't have been so willing if one of my best friends didn't already live in LA. So at least I had my accommodations covered. I decided to put my money worries aside and just go for it.
The day I left definitely tested my will. Right before leaving my apartment, I discovered the handle to one of my suitcases was broken. I still had to work a full day at the day job so had to lug everything to work. The train moved like a snail so I was late to work. And it was raining. Was the universe telling me I shouldn't be going?? But I persevered and made it to sunny, warm LA.
The show was being held at the California Market Center on the 13th floor. It was an amazingly open, raw warehouse space with a great view of downtown LA. Set up was held a day before the show on Friday. This was a first for me. I was used to scrambling the day of trying to get my things together with the show immediately after. It was nice to have some breathing room between set up and the actual show.
My booth neighbor was a husband and wife team from Oakland, CA who makes handmade soaps with an outdoorsy feel. This was Outlaw Soap's first time doing a show like this but you wouldn't have been able to tell by their awesome setup. Plus they had a ginormous bottle of whiskey and was giving out a shot to whoever bought 3 soaps at a time. I didn't buy any soaps, but they generously shared their whiskey with me. And by the end of that first day, I kind of needed it.
So I'll be honest and say, 'sales were not good.' I didn't recoup the money I had spent on doing the show, not even close. My goal was to sell at least 10 items each day. I only sold 8...total. After the first day, I was a little discouraged hence the whiskey. But I didn't feel defeated.
The 2nd day was better. Attendance felt a little busier and sales picked up a little more. But still, I made the least amount sales ever compared to my other shows. But you know what, I'd still do this show again. This show was such a great experience. I think it's important for any maker/designer/creator to experience their work and themselves outside their comfort zone. It brings about aspects of who you are and your work that you may have never noticed before. Also unlike shows I've done in Chicago, I gained a bigger sense that things were actually, maybe possible. Meaning not only were there normal customers walking around, but some of those customers were also buyers for stores/boutiques or even stylists. I left the show knowing what I needed to do next in order to reach these possibilities as opposed to 'ok, now what?'
Lastly, all the vendors I met were SO NICE. I don't know if it's just an LA thing, but really, I felt more camaraderie than competition. Even the other jewelry designer exhibiting across from me came over, introduced herself, and then offered me the best, simplest display advice ever. It was wonderful. ALSO, the creator of the show, Sonja, actually took the time to stop by and compliment my work. I couldn't believe it. I was a little starstruck and truly appreciated the compliment.
As for the actual show itself, it was extremely organized, well communicated, well decorated, and well advertised. Props to Sonja for putting on such a rad show. Many other vendors told me the spring show is a bit slower in sales but the holiday show is 'on another level,' as is the case for most shows like this. They also said they do this show mostly for the PR and the opportunities that may arise. So if you're considering doing an out of state show, do this one. Not only is it a great PR opportunity, but it's fun, the people are great, the staff/owner is great, and it's in WARM SUNNY LA. I don't know about you, but I was in dire need of some vitamin D at this point.
Here are a few of the awesome vendors I met:
-Outlaw Soaps: soaps for adventurous people
-Mimot Studio: think Everlane and Baggu but a little more sporty and quirky
-Molly M. Designs: incredible laser cut prints and jewelry. Absolutely beautiful.