The three bears
Creative Commons License photo credit: Michael C Clark

True Story: Color Me Crazy

Margeaux Smith is crazy about color so she started a business based on that, and economic necessity. As she says, “I started this company partly because I was tired of the boring, drab, old-lady colors that everything was made in and partly to help pay for student loans.” She makes one of a kind crochet hats and scarves in her distinctive palette. “I like wild, vibrant, bright colors,” she says.

Right now, Margeaux has an Etsy shop and is experimenting with selling her wares at craft fairs. She’s still looking for those just right people who would bask in the bright fun colors she loves, but she’s found “something is holding things up and I haven’t figured it out yet.” Today’s True Story is about Margeaux’s foray into selling at craft fairs and what she’s learned about reaching those “just right” people.

Fair #1 – Bust!

Margeaux didn’t go into her first (ever!) craft fair unprepared. She spent a lot of time researching online and learning from other people who had been there. “I was reading everyone’s experiences so I wouldn’t have to make too many of those standard newbie mistakes like not having business cards at your table or only going by yourself so nobody was there to watch the booth while you went to the restroom,” she recalls. While she learned the basics before jumping in, finding the right buyers was the challenge – the attendees at this fair were quite a bit older than she expected.

They also had the idea that the benefits of an item weren’t as important as the price. Unfortunately for Margeaux, her prices didn’t please them. “Several people at that fair said their mothers or grandmothers did crochet and just the way they said it made it seem like I almost had no right to charge for my stuff because everybody could do it,” she says. “They didn’t see anything special in it.”

Fair #2 – Better!

The next fair was a last minute arrangement. Margeaux was able to secure space three days before the event because there were still open slots. It was in an area with more modest income than the first fair but still promising. “I sold almost double what I made at my first fair so it was a step in the right direction and the people seemed a lot more interested in my products than the people did at the first fair,” she says.

The buyers at this event were more impressed with her handwork and the colorful expression. But, as Margeaux says, “The biggest thing I’m finding is that it’s hard as hell to figure out what people will like and more importantly what they will pay for.”

Fair #3 – Best!

The third fair was the signature event of the Etsy team, ShowmeEtsy, and was four hours on a Thursday evening in an area well known for its upscale community. Margeaux assessed the attendees as “Pretty hip people. They loved handmade stuff,” she remembers.

This last fair was a good one for Margeaux. “I had a pretty steady stream of people looking and asking material or stitch questions,” she says. “A few did ask how much something they were admiring cost, but most of those ended up buying what they were looking at.”

Now What?

Margeaux has put a lot of thought and effort into her business and intends to succeed. She’s planning new products that are unique to her design sense as well as working on adding new materials like bamboo and alpaca to her line. She’s fussy about the quality of her work too so she’s spending more time testing to make sure everything is just so.

With her ideas firmly in hand, Margeaux is looking ahead and has big plans. “I know a lot more about running a business than I did a year ago,” she says. Now, “It’s time to start really trying to connect with my right people and find my specific passion.”

Discount Alert!

Margeaux is kindly offering a 10% discount for The Artful Business readers. Just use the coupon code ARTFULBIZ when you check out at her shop.

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Prize Winners from our Kiss and Tell Party!

(In order of appearance)
  • Ryah Albatross
  • Patty K.
  • Christyna

You’ll be getting a note from me soon 🙂

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