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It’s that time of year again! We are banging down the door of the Christmas season and it’s prime time for crafters to get out there and make some much-needed holiday dough by participating in fairs and festivals with the general public. The convenience of selling online is awesome, but nothing beats the pride achieved by closing that face-to-face sale. For me, I also relish in seeing the amazement in people’s eyes when they see my 100-pound embroidery machine at work – and the reaction when I tell them how much it costs! “Make that for less than I charge,” indeed!
On November 4 and 5, I am participating in an event called Business Boutique, that is geared toward small-business-owning women. It is headed by a Dave Ramsey protege named Christy Wright, who uses her experience as an entrepreneur to encourage, educate, and empower women to chase their dreams – and make money doing it!
Why am I – a crafter – so excited about participating in an entrepreneurship-themed conference? Not only will I have my embroiderables like weekender totes and cosmetic bags available to personalize on the spot – with an audience of thousands of Southern women who love a monogram, but I will also have copies of my books available, along with flash drives preloaded with my best-selling designs. How many female entrepreneurs do you think will be attending who are hoping to grow in embroidery? My guess is a lot! This is an amazing opportunity for me to hit two huge markets with one event – the embroiderer and the embroidery customer. I am stoked!
So anyway, as always I’m in a frenzy with one week to go, making dozens of lists of things to finish up for DLB, what to pack to take to the event, and of course my regular duties around the house as well since I’ll be absent for the better part of two days.
I realized that my lists could possibly help others, so I decided to post them here; you can download a .PDF checklist to print again and again by joining my Facebook group and looking in the “Files” section.
First of all, remember to start planning for an event a week out, at the minimum. You must allow yourself plenty of time to gather extra materials you may not keep handy. If you’re ordering custom printed marketing materials like business cards or postcards (I get mine from vistaprint.com), allow three weeks or longer for printing and shipping to avoid paying rush fees.
Here are the must-haves that I take to an event; they may be slightly changed if the venue, for example, provides a table and chair, tablecloth, etc.
- Money! Always bring plenty of “change” – ones, fives, and tens to make change for cash customers. Bring a card reader if you plan to accept plastic. I have a PayPal reader and an Etsy card reader. I sell ITH designs for making your own little baggie to hold these so you never lose them.
- Table/chair. If the venue does not provide these, you’ll need to bring your own. I prefer a nice sturdy chair, not the lounge-y ones like you take to a sports game.
- If you need wi-fi access and it’s not provided, consider buying a hotspot. I have one from AT&T that we use when we travel.
- Charging cables for all your devices. There are awesome options now for charging any of your gadgets.
- Related to chargers, I highly recommend a “power bank” device that will charge your devices on the go, when you have no access to a wall outlet. I have tried numerous power banks over the years – most being those little ~$10 wonders sold at TJMaxx or Walgreens. They never worked. I even have a cute unicorn emoji head power bank! Doesn’t work. A friend recommended this Ravpower portable charger on a recent trip, and I went out on a limb and paid the $40 for it. Success! It actually works, and by the way, $40 is less than I’ve shelled out for the cheapos that didn’t work for one charge over the years. I also purchased the hard-shell case for mine. This thing goes everywhere with me now.
- Shopping bags. If you have shopping bags to offer to customers, be sure to pack those.
- Always remember one or two trash bags. You don’t want to spend valuable sales time hunting for a garbage can, or worse, littering in your workspace.
- Obviously, you need your embroidery machine. I take my 6-needle, Iola, because she’s all I have, she’s super impressive to the general public, and I have a studly husband who can carry her around for me. But a smaller single needle sure would be great to use for traveling purposes.
- Your laptop/tablet – whatever you use to make designs to transfer to your machine. Don’t forget the charging cable, too.
- Power cables! Don’t forget the power cable to your machine, an extension cord and/or power strip, as well as the cable connecting your laptop, if you use that. As soon as I unplug mine, I tape the power cords to the back of my machine. You could also put them into a zipper bag to keep in one place.
- HOOPS! For crying out loud, don’t forget your hoops! You literally cannot embroider anything without them.
- Extra needles. If ever your needle will break without any warning or not when you expected, it would be while you are embroidering, live, for a customer. Bring extras.
- Thread. All colors, all styles. Remember to loop the end around the end of your cone if it has a place to do so, to minimize mess.
- Bobbins! Don’t forget your prewound bobbins and/or bobbin thread to wind as you go.
- Stabilizer. Bring your cutaway, tearaway, water soluble – whatever you use often.
- Scissors – no matter what you bring, you’ll definitely need scissors! I love my Kai Dressmaking Shears for big jobs and Gingher curved 4″ scissors for snipping and cutting appliques.
- An assortment of fabric, if you plan on doing any appliques or in-the-hoop goodies on the spot.
- Binder clips, fabric clips, painter’s tape – whatever you use to keep items secure while embroidering.
- Flash drive and/or cable to connect to your machine.