Packaging

One more post about my Craft Show (I think I’m secretly nostalgic about that crazy day – hahaha!) When thinking about how to package my products, I wanted something that was a walking advertisement of my brand first and foremost. Secondly, it had to be simple, clean-looking, hip and different. I didn’t want a typical handle paper bag with a logo slapped on it. Most importantly, how to do this economically….? And this is what I came up with: a resealable cellophane bag with a handle (3M ScotchPad Carry Handle – I searched for this far and wide and finally found a vendor online) that attached to it, so that the product inside would show. And for the final touch, a sticker of my logo on the front. 🙂 Here’s what it looked like. It was one of my favorite things that day!

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The back side:

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It looks like a little clear handbag, doesn’t it?

Thrift Shop Dresser Makeover

You know the saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”? That’s the phrase that kept coming up while I was perusing through the aisles of my local Salvation Army Thrift Store. lol! I was literally in treasure-hunting mode; partly because I had so much fun transforming my chalkboard (from the same store) and second, I needed to test spray-painting a furniture, in preparation for an interior design project coming up. (We’re probably going to paint lots of chairs and a community table!)

On my previous visits, I would stop and marvel at a piece of furniture that screamed “Buy me! I need some TLC! Transform me, please…” And then I would ponder, ‘where the heck would I put this in my tiny little house…?’ and reluctantly walk away…. only to return to the same exact spot a few minutes later, trying to justify over and over why I need to purchase the item… ‘What do I need to move in the living room to make space for this…’ etc. (hahaha) Luckily for my pockets (and my humble abode), I haven’t caved into temptation yet. But this time, it was different… I had a PURPOSE. (Finally! Well, I still needed to find further justification. Please read on.) 🙂

I didn’t know this but thrift stores have occasional sales where everything in the store is __% off. On the day I visited, they were having a 40% off sale. And that’s when I saw this potential of a beauty:

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It came with six metal knobs (that matched the metal legs, which caught my attention in the first place) but two of them were damaged. The drawers had cool horizontal ridges that gave it a pleasant look. The whole piece said “mid-century cool” so I totally wanted to make it mine……. EXCEPT, I ended up not getting it that day. hahaha! Only because I really couldn’t find a use for it in the house.

Well, a few days passed and I kept on thinking about the dresser. So that’s when I knew I should just get it because I would totally regret it if I didn’t. With a $40 price tag, it wasn’t going to hurt the piggy bank anyway. Although I missed my opportunity to get it at 40% off, I still got 30% off! So I was a happy camper. 🙂

So now the decision on what color. I had purchased a can of celery green paint previously. It was a nice color on the cap and I thought it would be a soothing look to the dresser.

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But after using up the can, the color just didn’t give it that sophistication I wanted. It was too meek… So I decided to go the other direction and go bold instead. Since I didn’t want to reprime it all over again, I stuck with the same color family and chose a lime green. By the way, I like the Rust-Oleum brand better. It kept its promise of double-coverage and I didn’t need a 2nd can.

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It took me all afternoon sanding, cleaning, priming, painting, and coating with a clear protection in the sun to finish the dresser. (And got a bit of a heat stroke while at it. Forgot to hydrate in between… It was a very sunny California Spring day!) As for the two damaged knobs, I replaced them with a couple of drawer knobs I had tucked away for about 15 years!! (I got them from a trip to San Francisco a long time ago from a hardware store called Bauerware. They’re still around! Check them out: www.bauerware.com.) These were going to adorn my lovely French country kitchen cabinets one fine day. But currently I don’t have the budget to do a kitchen remodel. So… for now, they found their new home on this dresser. 🙂

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Here’s the finished product and the before & after! It’s not perfect but it’ll do just fine housing my printer on top and supplies in the drawers. And I ended up needing more storage space for my craft items anyway, so hey! I got my justification afterall! lol.

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Craft Show Display Tricks

When I was given the choice of setting up indoor or outdoor for my first craft show, my mind instantly pictured white tents in rows with stuff hanging up on the walls/ceiling, with gorgeous light shining through, giving everything that glorious morning brightness. So the choice was easy. Outdoor it was.

Ok, so where do I start? 🙂 Since I’ve never done one of these, I didn’t have a vendor tent in my possession. So I turned to Google search for help. After a couple of hours of reviewing different blogs and company pages, I decided on the Undercover 10′ X 10′ Instant Canopy w/4-wall. At $230 (plus tax), it wasn’t too ridiculous of a price.

A few days before the show, I practiced setting up the tent and did a dry run.

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I was going to go super cheap and make most of the displays myself, but boy am I glad I purchased those great looking trunks from Michael’s! I got them 40% off during a sale and they just added such a nice touch to the whole look I was going for. The theme of my show was “Shabby Chic Spring”. Spring always reminds me of freshness, flowers, and traveling. And since a part of my inventory was makeup bags that can be used for travel, I liked the idea of putting them in the these pretty trunks.

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Before going further, let me quickly mention about the tent walls. There was some wind on my dry run day; about 5mph. It doesn’t seem like much but the walls were flapping around, scraping the ground and getting them dirty! I first tried securing them with duct tape but that didn’t help much. The solution was anchoring them down with bricks (or anything heavy.)

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Anyway, now the question of how to vary the heights of my displays. I began to amass boxes of all different kinds (at my full-time job, we get a lot of deliveries in boxes). I’ve tried painting them white, covering them with pretty papers/shelf lining, and stacking them up in a number of configurations, etc. But boxes still look like ugly boxes and they just weren’t going to achieve the look I was going for… Ok, scrapping that idea.

And then, I saw online of people using wine crates as displays! What a genius idea!! And even better, you can probably get them for free if you ask the store owners politely. (haha) So I began calling around, asking local wine and chain stores if they had any spares. Sadly, the only place that *might* have them on the floor was Costco… (Ah, Costco… If I ever lose my full time gig, I might want to go and work for them. I heard they treat their employees nicely.) So I visited three different branches but only one of them had the wooden crates. After a couple of visits, I ended up with four FREE sophisticated-looking wine crates (thank you, Costco!) And here they are, holding my pillow covers very neatly!

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Ok. Onto displaying my reversible totes. For this one, I spent quite some time researching online but I wasn’t too inspired by anything. A while back, however, I had saved fabric selvages from my sewing projects. I had seen a lamp shade cleverly made out of selvages at a fabric store and I really liked the look of them. So I thought about how I can use them to hang my totes. And then voila. Shower curtain hooks! I could tie the selvage pieces to the hooks at varying heights and hang the totes on them! Cooool…

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And for the rest of the products, I used the old-fashioned line and cloth pins method to hang fabric flowers and more pillow covers. That added the “shabby” to the “chic”. 🙂

Lastly, I used a mini cake stand that I had gotten from a going out of business sale at Macy’s for my promotional items (scented lip balms) and a cool old ash tray I found one day (rummaging through my mom’s junk closet) to hold my business cards. (Mom’s not a smoker but she used to collect ash trays on her travels long ago. Pretty quirky collection if you ask me!)

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And those are the “tricks” I used and wanted to share. 🙂

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Chalkboard – Thrift Store Find Remake

I’ve always had a fascination with chalkboards. I love how they’re versatile, functional and if you make one yourself, you can make them into any size or shape! With a craft show coming up, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to do a DIY chalkboard. Here are some simple steps I took to create one:

STEP 1 – Find an old framed board/canvas from a thrift shop or around the house. I went to my local Salvation Army store and lucky me, they were having a 40% off of everything that day! I snatched up these beauties, all for under $20!

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STEP 2 – Tape the inside edges of the frame with painter’s tape and paint with chalkboard paint using a foam brush (or a mini roller if you have it). I used the Rust-Oleum brand I found at Walmart. The paint can is fairly small but a little goes a long way. The recommendation is 2 coats and wait in between coats to completely dry.

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STEP 3 – Carefully peel off the painter’s tape BEFORE the paint dries completely. I admit, it is hard to do this since the paint requires 4 hours to dry completely before a second coat. I should’ve went over the edges with an Exacto knife before the peel. But since I omitted this step, some of the paint on the edges peeled off with the tape. Oh well. I just went over those areas carefully with more paint.

STEP 4 – After your board is completely dry, go over the surface lightly with a white chalk. This “conditions” the chalkboard before you start using it.

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And Voila~! Here is the finished product. I used it well at my craft show last weekend. It came in very handy for those last minute signs!

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(Oh, a note about the free lip balms. I was giving them out as promotional items with purchases at the fair as well. I think I’ll ask my Etsy customers if they want one with the shipping since I still have a bunch left!) 🙂

I want to paint the frame white in the near future. I like the current gold color very much but the frame didn’t really stand out in the crowd, which is what I wanted it to do.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Griffith Park (from Alexander Henry)

My best selling items at the craft show yesterday were made with Griffith Park Red Sage fabric from Alexander Henry. I had stumbled upon this gorgeous cloth in a quaint little fabric shop in South Pasadena. I’m calling tomorrow to see if they have anymore to secure a few more yards of it, because this fabric is from 2011 and it’s hard to come by. Here’s one of the reversible totes that were sold out yesterday.

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I love this fabric for its vibrant colors, bird design, and nature theme in stylized hills and flowers!

My First Craft Fair – Review

Is it already over? The day I’ve been dedicatedly preparing for three whole months? My first craft show ever was a SMASHING SUCCESS!!!! Well, ok, maybe not that smashing. 🙂 But overall, it was a great experience builder for me. It was a 5 hour show from 10AM-3PM. We (my sister and dad – I got such great support from my family for this show! I love them so much…) arrived 2 hours earlier to set up. The weather was a blessing today, considering it had been raining on and off for three days prior. There was a little bit of wind that kept knocking down my chalkboard sign, but besides that it wasn’t much of a factor.

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With everything set up, I even had some time to spare and got some pictures taken of my beautiful booth (yes, I took a lot of pride in setting it up and designing the layout of it). Then I stood back and anxiously waited for customers to arrive. 10AM came and the place was empty… My friend Christine and I looked at each other and said, “Why isn’t there anyone coming? Is it still too early for everyone?” Christine set up a booth next to me with her awesome paper crafts and jewelry. I knew she was talented but after seeing her wonderful creations, WOW, she is GOOD and I am so proud of her! Here’s a picture of her booth next to mine.

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A whole hour passed by before my first sale (YAY!!) The nice lady bought a small makeup bag. She just walked right into my booth without hesitation. This lady knew what she wanted and came to get it! 🙂 I’ve noticed that most customers did the onlooker walk-by, as if they were afraid to come into the booth. I had read about this kind of behavior in my research before the show. So I thought maybe moving my table forward a bit more and hanging my tote bags so that they stuck out from the corner would help. Another lady came by and purchased a couple of the fabric flower ponytail holders. (Thank you!!) It was like I felt validated with every purchase made by clients… lol. And another hour passed by without any sales. 🙁 Wow, seriously, where is everyone?

So I took this opportunity to walk around and check out some other vendors (honestly to see how they were doing.) It didn’t seem like they were attracting much foot traffic either. Maybe people decided to just stay home today, not bother coming out after the rain. Well, whatever it was, I have to admit it was kind of disappointing. I put a LOT of effort into this show, albeit I am inexperienced doing craft shows and didn’t really know what to expect. From picking out the fabrics, pre-washing them, ironing out the creases, cutting them out, ironing on the interface, sewing at the sewing machine, taking product photos (which was beaucoup fun!), figuring out how to display the products, and other fun-filled logistics. No joke, a lot of man-hours were put into this first show. But ok. I didn’t sign up to do this to make lots of money, although it would’ve been nice to sell everything and achieve instant overnight success! haha. Realistically, my heart was to get my name out. I am a start-up afterall and the most important tool at this point is publicity and let people know what ZansuCreations is all about. I’m not quite sure how well I’ve achieved that goal today. But I need to start somewhere, right?

Sales didn’t start picking up until 1PM or so. I had two hours left and was determined to make every last minute count! So after some discussion with the sis, we decided to drop the price on certain items and give people discounts. 10% off one item, 20% off two or more items. And what do you know… More people were interested and more purchased. Yup! Valuable lesson learned #1: People don’t really care about free promotional products. They care more about getting a discount. I think it’s the psychology of it all. You know you’re getting a great deal when you get a certain percentage off. No one wants to pay full price. I sure don’t. That’s why I enjoy going to sales. 🙂

Valuable lesson #2: Add cheerful colors (especially the color red) and designs to attract customers. Interestingly, most items sold had the color red in it. Maybe because red is traditionally a more feminine color and that was definitely my target group. I did a half and half of shabby chic and fun, energetic prints. I think that’s kind of who I am anyway. High energy and I love most anything Parisian.

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Lesson #3: People don’t read signage with lots of words. Keep signs simple and try to minimize them. I tend to be detailed-oriented and informative on things like this so I made lots of signs. TWO price lists, “We Accept Cash & Credit Cards”, Large, Medium, Small, “You get a Free lip balm if you LIKE us on Facebook” (which was a total flop, btw.) 🙁 I think I was the most disappointed about not getting anyone like us on Facebook. Having thought about it, would I want to bust out my phone at a craft fair and type in facebook.com/ZansuCreations and LIKE the page; a business I’ve only discovered today JUST to get a free lip balm? Hmmm, maybe not. I think I made it too hard for people.

Lesson #4: Make things easy for your customers. Don’t make them type things out on their phones to get them to like your FB page! haha. My sister was right. Maybe I should’ve offered a 30% discount for those who liked my page. Maybe then, those who were serious about getting a deep discount would have done it. 🙂 Well, I was pretty ecstatic when I got home to find that one person from the fair liked my page. (THANK YOU, Heather!) She was a vendor I was chit-chatting with while I was passing out my business card. (hey, hey! Glad I walked around and networked! Yes, I get excited pretty easily.)

Overall, it was a great day. I learned important lessons and something to take to my next craft fair whenever that may be. My body’s exhausted and I feel like I came back from an all-day hike. I probably don’t want to look at a sewing machine for a long time. But I may have to as I have a custom order from a friend who wants me to make a bag for a baby shower gift… And for some of the requests I got at the fair today, like a couple of totes with certain prints on it and a brush bag. Ok fine. I will go at this again… but after a week or so of fully vegging out… 🙂

Thank you to all those who came out and supported my shop! Especially to those who drove so many miles just to see the products in person! You guys brightened up my day.