Monday, March 31, 2008

Prepping (Neurotically) for My 1st Outdoor Market

When I started this blog three years ago, my intention was to record the experience of setting up shop and starting a business.

Lately I find myself negotiating a new channel in this Greenjeans adventure, one familiar to many of the makers we work with, but totally foreign to me: figuring out how to prepare for an outdoor market!

The Brooklyn Flea starts this coming Sunday, and as much as I wish I could just relax about the whole thing, it is causing me a bit of anxiety. In fact, today my brain feels like a bagful of tent parts dumped on the ground with no assembly instructions.

Questions abound: Does our tent need sides? Where do we get weights for the legs? How do we jack up the 30" tables so they're 40" tall? Where can we get a banner printed with our name on it? What kind of fabric do I want to cover the table? Is it worth spending $20 on a great antique crate from Ebay to use in my display if it costs me $50 to have it shipped? Stuff like that.

I know there are a million tips and strategies for creating successful booth designs, and appreciated the timeliness of the recent issue of the Crafts Report that has a lot of good info on this.

Because part of me wants our booth to be a gorgeous perfect thing right off the bat. I want it to be cleverly designed, comfortable to browse, and dosed with the right amount of je ne sais quoi to entice people to happily part with their hard-earned money.

On top of that, the perfectionist in me has teamed up with my self-consciousness and built an inner monster that is preoccupied with presenting the "right" image and catching the eyes of shoppers, bloggers, and media photographers. I've been told to expect a good deal of coverage of the Flea, and I'm dreading the possibility that we'll look totally... lame.

However, the realistic side of me knows that good booth design take time, and trying too hard at any look looks worse than anything. Besides, this is a brand new venue and I don't really know what to expect in terms of the space, the crowd, the other vendors, or what people will want to buy, so there are a lot of wildcards that I can't reasonably prepare for.

In cases like these, I know it's best to think simple and work with what I've got. Forget about walls, and focus on table displays. Don't worry about offering jewelry until I find a safe way to show it. Definitely do a banner sign, but maybe I'll make it myself so I don't have to order a rush job. Forget about spending money on stuff that may not be what we need. And above all else, don't take ANY of this too seriously!

In other words, I want to embrace the looser, freer format of the outdoor market and not be overly self-conscious about Greenjeans' first appearance "on the road." The whole reason I wanted to do this in the first place was because it sounded like fun, not because it would stress me out.

Perhaps that is my real guidepost: forget fussing over all the details and just play with it, let it be easy, let it be fun --

-- and save my analytical brain for when it's time to put the tent together...!

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.
Image of Brooklyn Flea site sourced here, and Scream sourced here.


melania said...

how quickly time passes - i remember a couple of months ago when you first posted about this market. will you be there every weekend? also, i wonder if it would make sense to bring printouts of your jewelry photos w/ maybe a sign up form for people to request more info, an email sign up. and i'm sure your booth will be gorgeous. will try to stop by!

Punkinhead said...

Well thank goodness you found the perfect apron for this ambitious new endeavor!! :) Love your mission - keep up that handmade, sustainable battle cry!!