This weekend was the first time we've ever held the Handmade Harvest Craft Show outside of Almonte.
This show has always been held under the quaint, rickety barn boards of the Almonte Agricultural Hall. Previously we've been able to host between 50 & 60 hand makers at this show and, despite the lack of heat (there's literally no heat) and occasional rain storm, it's served us well.
This year I was unable to count on the Ag Hall as our spring show location (renovations are underway) and, on the heels of a very successful Etsy: Made in Canada event at the Bell Sensplex, I was encouraged to go bigger and take my baby to the city.
Or at least the suburbs.
More than 300 makers applied for this season's show, and of those, we selected 143 to participate.
Our photogenic graphic artist in residence (she designed our posters!) Dawn Walker of Walker's General Store has mastered the art of selling with a smile.
Our new friends from Baltic Club make it a challenge for shoppers to pick a favourite.
Todd from Really Horrible Enterprises educates-slash-woos some shoppers with the help of his not-so-horrible bitters & vanilla.
The Little Yeti team without their little yeti
Tiffany and Terry (Teri?)-Jazz-Hands from Twill & Print
Because of the increased cost of doing a show in a venue of this size, I chose to make it a two day event rather than a one day like we usually do for spring. Overall, the show was a great success, but for some reason I just don't feel the same about it as I have previous years. A little of the magic was lost somehow. From a shoppers standpoint, I believe it was a major home run.
Swag Bag enthusiasts get an early start to the day
The level of talent in this group was bar none. The makers were pros and the product was original, on trend and well branded.
Ceramic mugs by Krystal Speck
Bluetooth speakers by Daff Design
Clay figures by Isabella DiSclafani
Silk screened pouches from Bespoke Uprising
I heard only gushing compliments from those who came to buy buy buy.
More than one person even took the time to write me personally to say it was the best show they've ever attended.
So that's something.
The makers (my true loves) however, were for the most part underwhelmed.
Though the shoppers came (3400+ to be vaguely precise), I wonder if perhaps there was just so much to choose from.
They trickled through the aisles with so many different ways to spend their budgets. And with two days to shop instead of one, I don't think there was that sense of urgency to purchase.
I'm sure there are a million and one other reasons I could obsess over. Not the least of which being spring shows are tough sells overall, but with every show I put on, I am always looking for that perfect formula in while both sellers and buyers feel equally satisfied with their experience.
How ever can I please everyone? I wish I knew.
Perhaps I have grown Handmade Harvest too big for it's britches too quickly.
Perhaps a big show isn't what we're all about.
Perhaps I was blinded by the idea of being in a high profile venue in my quest for the craft show organizers crown.
(Pretty sure there's a crown. There better be a fucking crown.)
Wooden inspiration plaques, keeping me humble, by Frontier Collective
I am so in love with all of the makers that make up Handmade Harvest.
Many of them have become great friends, and I value the work that we all put in together to make these shows great and keep our collective entrepreneurial dreams alive.
It's just as important to me as an organizer that the experience behind the scenes is as good as what our shoppers take away.
The only girl I know who can rock painter's overalls (found at the dump!), Sarah from Mariclaro.
This isn't the post I imagined myself writing today. But, this is real life. I don't need to be just another sunshine and roses kind of writer and, alas, a blog sometimes takes you down paths you just need to go.
I'll be clear.
By no means do I consider this past show a failure (3400 shoppers ain't no slouch). But it just didn't feel like me.
I'm going to spend some time reassessing the vision and purpose of Handmade Harvest.
If it means coming back to our small town roots and nurturing a more select group of makers, then that's what I'll do.
If it means renting a goddamn fleet of caravans and hitting the road, then that's what I'll do.
If it means going back to the treehouse for some wine-infused soul-searching, then that's what I'ma do.
Next up?! Manmade!