Week of 6/19 - 6/25/2016
Sunday: I spent the day with my mother, who is hospitalized, due to her increased spread of cancer to her spine. My brother was with us, and my dad and sister.
Monday: It was a full moon, which doesn't treat me well for sleeping anyway, and I didn't fall asleep until 2am Tuesday. Before going to bed, I emailed both the farmer's market manager and the manager of a new show we were supposed to do this upcoming Saturday, hoping that the new show won't block me from vending next year, as I canceled our weekend. I told my husband and daughter that they should come out now. He is planning this.
Tuesday: Got up at 6:30am anyway. Coffee. Breakfast. Went to the hospital. My sister joined me.
I am writing this on Tuesday (rare for me to write it as the days pass), and I'm sitting in my mother's hospital room, in the dark. My sister is holding her hand, and my mother is resting because the pain meds have finally had some sort of effect.
I would not wish this experience on any human being. Cancer is absolutely the worst thing imaginable. As a daughter and human, this is the most difficult thing I have ever had to do.
Posting these updates as I go seems more sensible at this point. More later as I am able.
Week of 6/12 - 6/18/2016
I can't remember what I did before Thursday.
On Thursday of this week, I got word that my mother's cancer had spread to her spinal cord. An amazing friend volunteered to drive with me across two states so I could be with her, quicker than flying. We drove out on Friday, and I was with her on Saturday.
As I write this, I am still with her.
Week of June 5 - June 11, 2016
Sunday: Wow. Beautiful weather. My daughter finally vending with me, because it's summer break. Tons of people at the market.
Crap sales. Absolute crap!
This sales day was very near to the lowest sales day I have had in 13 years of doing this. It was absolutely appalling! I suppose I have been spoiled by that market for the past two years, but come on! I mean, after taxes and wages (for my daughter) and my booth fee (10%), it was hardly worth noting!
I decided to be positive and be grateful for what I have: I made enough money for groceries for the week, as needed. I can feed my family. We still have my teacher salary and we have made enough for the car payment this month. All is well. We have enough.
Growth mindset and abundance mindset are important to me. I cannot get bogged down in feelings of scarcity. I believe that we attract what we put out into the world, even with our thoughts, so if I focus on the things I have and be grateful for them, then I will attract more of what I need, not less.
It's what my grandmother taught me (and maybe yours taught you): count your blessings.
After the market, I ate some lunch, and then I took a nap. I NEVER NAP! I feel like I've said this before, so I guess I should stop saying it, because now I've said it twice.
I RARELY NAP! That's better.
Got up from it with adrenaline ("Gah! I fell asleep!"), and decided to go to Costco because my growing daughter needs a new swimsuit that fits. We do this, have some ice cream, and come home. She tries on the suit--it does not fit. I will have to go back another day this week, I'm tired.
I settle in with my computer, and start writing my blog post for the week. I finish and publish it, then start writing the newsletter that I send out, to let people know about it. Right in the middle of writing the newsletter, I realize that the time is NOW, and I save, pay for an upgrade to my website, create a landing page, go to my email system, create a form for collecting emails, paste the code on the landing page, try to edit the photo, it doesn't work, I don't care, hit publish, and then create an automation in my email program. (I use ConvertKit, and you should, too. This is an affiliate link, and again, I don't care--you should use this email program. It's amazing! Click here to get ConvertKit!) I then go back and update my newsletter to include information about
my online course I'm writing! Gah!
A long time ago, I was planning on writing a "how-to do your handmade business" ebook. I surveyed my people (you people! It's probably you reading this! ;) ) and the overwhelming answer to my question about what they wanted was, "Tax info! Paperwork info! How do I do this?" I've decided that, since I'm a professional teacher, and have been for 24 years, and since I'm a writer, and have been for a bazillion years, that perhaps TEACHING folks how to do this stuff is better than an ebook. So I started collecting emails of those who are interested. The course title right now is Make your Biz Legit: A Step-by-Step Course for All the Paperwork in Your Handmade Business.
That's a good title, right?
Hey, do YOU want to be on that email list? CLICK HERE to get on that email list! I'd love to keep in touch, and let you know about the progress of the course, and you will know first when it's going to launch. And. AND! You will be eligible for special deals, as well! Can you tell I'm excited?
Aaaaanyway, after all of that work, it was time for Game of Thrones. After that, it was time for bed. I did not fall asleep, though--terrible sleep. It always takes a while for my body to remember that I DON'T have school tomorrow. Oh, well, I suppose I can take a nap, as needed. WHICH I RARELY DO.
Monday: Up at 6am, even with crap sleep. I force myself to go back to sleep until 8am. I get up, and get dressed, and go to the doctor's office for a blood draw, to check my fasting blood sugar and A1-C. Come home, make coffee and breakfast, and hang out online for a while. At 10am, I call my mother and help her to set up her Skype account, so we can talk to each other every day, face-to-face. My niece is over there, helping her to manage the technology, which she does, and success! My mom is up and running on Skype! We talk for about 30 minutes, and then she needs to nap.
Just as well, I have work to do! Instead of actual work, I make my plan for the week on my calendar, including today. At 12:30pm, I start making liquid soap! WHAT I AM MAKING ACTUAL SOAP ARE YOU KIDDING ME? ON A CRAFT BLOG?
Yes, finally. It's time for actual production. Hooray!
I use the "easy method" outlined in my book, Making Liquid Soap in Your Own Kitchen, because liquid soap STINKS when made completely on the stove top and I am not into that. I need this to happen in the background as much as possible. I get it going and then get some blog posting done (this much! Right now!). Later on I have roller derby, and I'm going to attempt a Persicope broadcast at 3pm. Here's hoping it is successful! Do you have a Periscope account? I love watching them--let me know in the comments what your username is! Mine is @crafterev, if you want to follow me.
Periscope broadcast -- ridiculous. I need more planning, But I did it! A whole 1 person stayed with me the entire time! I need to up my game, here.
Went to roller derby practice, it was awesome. A great end to a productive day.
Tuesday: Up and at 'em. Get some work done, do a Skype chat with my mom. I check on the liquid soap -- looking good. Needs to sit, and then I will dilute it sometime later this week. Maybe next. Don't know. I do some work on my course, Make Your Biz Legit, (sign up HERE to get information first when it's ready to launch!), and realize that if I don't schedule time for writing this, it will never get done. But today, it got done.
Went to the gym, worked out hard, sweating from my head (it's so hot!). I realize I have been exercising every day for about 5 days in a row now, if I include farmer's market vending, AND I DO. Hmm.
Wednesday: Up and at 'em again. Skype chat with mom. Get some work done for the blog here--I wrote the blog post for my Ultimate Outdoor Vending Checklist (click here to get it!), and posted it. Went to the gym. Realized that it's day 6 in a row of exercise, and that's pushing it. Took my daughter swimming for several hours while my husband made soap for the private label order we received. (Did I mention that? No, I did not. Not this week, anyway.) Finish the day by binge-watching Vikings.
Thursday: Day off from the gym, yay! This is intentional, not only because I need a day off, but because my husband had to go in to the hospital for a procedure. We took him there in the morning, my daughter and I waited around while it was happening, were called back about an hour afterward. All was well, and we were out of there before noon. Amazing!
Spent the rest of the day resting, because days off are a real thing, and necessary.
Friday: Work all morning then go to the gym at noon. Prepare for two shows this weekend by packing the buckets and packing the car and taking it all to the venue to set it up. Izzy is vending on Saturday, but because he was recovering from his procedure, I went to set up. Glad I did--no weird vending traffic, and our spot is INDOORS which is good because it's supposed to be hot as balls on Saturday. I set it all up, come home, finally take a shower (so stinky, and I'm a soap maker), and rest for the evening.
Saturday: It's Mancraftival! We qualify for Mancraft markets because Izzy is my soap maker. I make the rest of the stuff and do all the paperwork, etc. but those of you who are soap makers know that having someone make it for you? It's amazing. Anyway, I get up and go to my friend Ann's new house because I haven't seen it. She makes us breakfast with the eggs I brought her (I have chickens, have I mentioned it?) and banana bread she made. It was a lovely visit with a great friend. Home again to get Izzy up and get him ready for Mancraftival. I drop him off, get him set up, and come back home to the kid. We hang out at home, then I go BACK to Mancraftival because my friend Rhonda is helping HER man vend, and needs a break. She has never been to GB Fish 'n' Chips, which is a travesty, so I take her there for dinner, with my daughter. Delightful!
After Mancraft is over at 9pm, I help tear down and load up and drive home and load out into the garage. As I unload, I restock the buckets for tomorrow, for our weekly farmer's market. Hopefully tomorrow's market will be better than last week's.
I love vending outdoors!
Since 2004, I have been setting up shop at my local farmer's market, selling soap to the masses. Well, back then, there weren't as many masses. Nowadays, it's hard to navigate the street because the market is so packed with people. I am lucky to live in a place that has such a great market so close to home; I am doubly lucky to be a part of that market as a vendor for so long.
Because I have been around so long on this scene, I often get asked questions about vending, from those new to outdoor vending. The questions range from:
"Do you know the local tax rate? I forgot."
"You don't happen to have some duct tape I can borrow, do you?"
The answer to both is, of course, "Yes." And the tax rate. You get it.
Aaaanyway, listen, there are lots of things craft business owners need to know when vending outdoors. I could probably do an entire blog or video series on this exact topic, because there are a lot of things to think about for the very specific skill of vending outdoors. There's tent choice and weights, display choices, labeling choices for products, how to TALK TO HUMANS, how to manage the money, how to deal with market managers, etc. Maybe I should do a blog or video series. Maybe I just made my list and I'm copying it and pasting it to a doc right now! (Not maybe, I just did it.) Let me know in the comments what aspect of outdoor vending you would like to read about.
As a start, today I am offering you the Ultimate Outdoor Vending Checklist!
When I started vending, I didn't have much. Just a tent, one cheap-ass camping table (You know, those aluminum ones with the cardboard-type top? Ugh.), and a piece of denim to cover the table. The tent was super cheap, from a big box store, and I threw it away at the end of my first season, because it was broken in 4 places and I had to tape it with duct tape in those four places every time I had a show.
Oh, those were the days. Not very well thought-out on my part.
I got smarter as the years went on, and as I packed my car each time, I mentally checked off everything on the checklist as I packed my car:
and so on. As time went on, I kept forgetting things here and there while vending, and the list got pretty long, so I had to write it down.
I suppose that's another tip for outdoor vending: write everything down! My memory is just too full for details anymore.
Since this blog is meant to be helpful to you, I'm offering you the checklist that I use when getting ready for an outdoor show. I've spiffed it up so it looks nice. Click the button below to get yours, and please let me know what you think should be added to it, so I can update it.
Enjoy your vending! I hope you sell out!
Week of May 29-June 4, 2016
Sunday: Market day! Great day, blue skies, sunshine. Up at 6am, have some coffee and some eggs, wash up, get dressed, and time to load the car (6:45am). Load it up, drive 5 minutes down the road to my local farmer's market where I vend every week, feeling lucky that it's so close and also so awesome. Drive in, NOBODY in my spot this time, very good, very good, unload, park, and set up. Vend during the most gorgeous day of the year, have a very good sales day, pack it up, drive home, unload, collapse. Note to self that tomorrow is Memorial Day. Write blog post, send it out, watch Game of Thrones, go to bed.
Monday: Up and at 'em early, take the computer to the kitchen table, and have a Face Time conversation with Sharon. We are collaborating on yet ANOTHER project for online courses--yay! I show her, via our call, how to use the Photo Booth app on her computer, to record videos of herself. She has never used it before, but finds it easy (it is), and we are successful. I take some notes, we wrap it up. I eat some breakfast, and then it's off to the gym for Murph. Murph is a fallen soldier who is remembered on Memorial Day in CrossFit gyms across the nation. We celebrate him and his sacrifice by doing his favorite workout:
1 mile run
300 air squats
1 mile run
I choose the partner option, which is essentially doing the whole workout with a partner, so it's cut in half. This, I can do. And I did. It's the first time in a very, very long time that I've run a mile.
Come home, shower, do some work on my new course, read some, write some. Time for roller derby!
Head to roller derby, attempt to participate, fail miserably because my legs are gassed from that morning. Yes, I am an idiot. Halfway through scrimmage, I decide to ref the rest of the time instead. It's a good choice, because after scrimmage is over, I can't participate any more.
I am 47 years old. What am I thinking?
Tuesday: Back to school for 3.5 more days. There is a light at the end of the tunnel! I finish my last IEP of the year, and begin planning for cleaning my room and storing everything. Home immediately after school, lie around reading information for my online courses project, shower, go to bed early, wonder how I will make it through the week, fall asleep.
Wednesday: 2.5 more days. I start to wonder why I am even here. It's Field Day at school. I might be bald by the end of the week. Come home, my husband informs me that the new Costco Business Center has opened and we should go check it out. We do this, and I find that they have 50 pound bags of salt that are cheaper than my current supplier, as well as 6-foot tablecloths in white (so I can have a choice). They also have better prices on oatmeal and brown paper bags. A productive outing for a crafter, I must say. This new Costco is close to our house, and I will be saving money on supplies for my business. Win!
Thursday: 1.5 more days. Today is Shenanigans day for the children: a different shenanigan in each class, plus one whole period of extra recess with popsicles. A good day all around--I am almost cleaned up.
Oh, and a new take on Shenanigans--the custodians informed those of us who teach in old storage rooms and don't have built-in cabinets that we can't use the cabinets because they have to move them to clean the floors. What.
We can't store things in our cabinets? We have to store everything in boxes? Because cabinets are not for storage? Maybe? I cannot with this information. WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF EDUCATION. I decide to complain, and they relent and say I can use half the cabinets--they just need to be able to be moved. I decide to leave all my books on my bookshelves, too. Take that.
Go home. Can barely feed myself. Read until I fall asleep.
Friday: ONE HALF DAY TODAY AND I AM DONE! I enlist my children to help me move a bunch of stuff to the book room. What I thought would take an hour takes them about 15 minutes. Dang, I love those kids! I spend the rest of the day finishing my room, because I don't have any more classes to teach because 8th graders are out of the building. I am ready to go by 11:00am, with my paper all signed off (we have to get a paper signed that says we have our grades in, our keys in, etc. etc.) except for having my laptop turned in, because what else am I going to do for the last hour? Relent at 11:30am and turn in my laptop, get my last signature, and turn in the paper. My child is ready to go as well, as she didn't go to the lunchroom, knowing I was taking her out to lunch afterward. I explain that I have to stay until 12pm, when the kids are let out. No problem. The bell rings.
I am free.
My daughter and I gather our things and run away to the car. I take her to Chipotle for lunch, she decides she wants it as take-out, and that sounds fine to me. We bring home lunch for everyone, eat, and I collapse.
My daughter, about 1 hour after we are home, informs me that she needs to use the microphone in the garage that she saw, because if she is going to make YouTube videos and make money, she will need a good microphone, and will I help her set it up? She makes a few intro videos on her phone, decides none are good enough, and decides to write a script for it because that will fix the problem.
Did I mention it's 1 HOUR after school has been out? This kid!
I had already informed my husband that I was declining all social invitations for that night, including from him, and he made sure I kept my promise. I did absolutely nothing of value on Friday night. Nothing at all. Went to bed early and slept like a rock.
Saturday: Vacation! My friend Sheila had contacted me last week, asking if I was available to visit with her early on Saturday, because she was in town for a conference, and would be available then. Yes, absolutely! I pick her up at her hotel and take her to a great breakfast spot. After that we went to Red Rocks Amphitheater, because she had never been there--so much fun. It was a lovely visit with an old friend, and a great start to summer. After that, I gave myself permission to do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for business today, as my summer is going to be busy enough. Recuperating from the school year takes a while; taking one day off is a good start. It's unnerving, though, because I have so much to do. I can't even take one day off anymore--it's too difficult. I decide to do some reading, because that's not very much effort. I pack my buckets for vending tomorrow, and try to rest for the evening. Red wine helps.
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Who writes this?
Hi, I'm Amy Kalinchuk. I am an author, publisher, crafter, entrepreneur, roller derby skater, wife, mom, and friend. I try to be organized and maintain an air of enviable breezy elegance. I do not always succeed. But crafting? I can do that. And small business. I can do that, too. So can you! No, seriously, you can do this! I'll show you.