While I am an ambivert (leaning heavily on the introvert side post-quarantine), I love showing my work at local craft fairs. I get the most satisfaction out of seeing my work bring others joy, so there is nothing better than just watching people look at and react to my art. For me, it doesn’t even matter if anyone buys something (though when they do, I am very grateful), I just really enjoy spreading my cute cheerful art out into the world and receiving the kindness and appreciation people give back.
Yesterday I had a booth at the twice-annual Hayes Valley Urban Air Market in San Francisco, my third since beginning my small business journey. I had my concerns about how it would go, with spring shows having less draw than shows closer to the gift-giving holidays, the Bay Area recently resurfacing from the long lockdown, the seemingly last-minute announcement of the show, and the clouds looming in the sky.
The turn out ended up being great, with the blue sky and sun making an appearance in the afternoon, and everyone out enjoying a post-lockdown Pride weekend. I was even more surprised that attendance continued as the clouds returned and the wind picked up. I was very glad to be prepared with twine and bungee cords to literally hold down my fort as I watched the poor vendor across the way have their merchandise topple over multiple times.
This fair felt especially daunting because it was my first big craft fair since quitting my job. The pressure to be successful and earn some income was much greater, but I tried to remind myself that doing shows like this in the past was what helped solidify my desire to leave my day job for this dream. I found myself having wavering confidence when people asked if I did this business full-time. In the past, I think I used my day job as a crutch to mentally reassure myself that my business didn’t have to be this or that because it was just on the side of a full-time busy job. This time, I didn’t have that crutch and processed the reality as people asked me about it. To some, I gleefully stated that I did this full-time since quitting my job 6 months ago. To others, I made it seem like I quit my job to do art, but my business was still on the side, to compensate for any insecurity I had that my business should be “better” if I am doing it full-time now. That self-criticism is definitely something I am working at, but overall I do feel great about being able to say that I create fun cute things for a living now. Even better, when I got a new idea during the fair or someone suggested a new medium I should make merch with, I took in that idea in knowing I could spend time thinking about it really soon if I wanted to. The ideas no longer had to go in this drawer in my mind to be addressed “eventually” when I somehow had the time for it in between all the other work I had to do first.
To be honest though, my feelings about this could have been totally different had the attendance to the fair been less, which you can never really depend on. I know that if less people had attended or seen my work, then there would have been many questions and doubts running in my head about if people would actually like my work, if certain products would sell, if I would make eventually enough money to live off of… I am eternally grateful for every interaction and positive reaction to my work that I receive. I remind myself to hold each one close to my heart so even if there are slower days where only one person sees and likes my work, I can feel good knowing that I made even one more person smile that day. As one lovely customer told me toward the end of the fair, “Your work makes people smile. That’s pretty awesome,” to which I truthfully replied, “that’s my goal”. 💛
If you liked this post, please let me know! And if you want to see more of my stuff:
👩🏻🎨 Check out my art on Instagram @madebychanamon
🧋 Support me on BuyMeACoffee
👩🏻💻 Visit my website www.chanamon.com