Friday, November 9, 2012

A Surprise Benefit of Selling At Festivals

We recently did a one day festival in Los Olivos, California which is a cute country town up near Solvang.  Great little antique stores and shops and restaurants. Situated in the heart of wine country, Los Olivos is a small town worth visiting -  

We didn't know quite what to expect with the street fair, but we set up our tent and jewelry displays and waited for the event to begin.

There were a few customers, mainly lookers who I call "bebacks," as that is a word one hears a lot from customers "I'll be back."  Anyway, the day started off with a parade of youngsters running and then a parade of jeeps, old tractors, and square dancers.  Colorful and fun.  

The parade didn't last too long and when it was over, we were in the business of being street vendors.  There were lots of people milling about and some came into the booth.  We had a few sales and a lot of lookers.  
As the day wore on, we realized that it would not be a great day for sales.  I think we made expenses - cost of festival, gas, and food - but that is all.  One benefit was that we'd spent the night with my sister Julia and her husband Gary in Buelton which is close to Solvang.  So we'd had a fun visit and here is a picture of them.    

As we were packing up at the end of the day, I was telling Steve that we could just cross "Day in the Country," Festival of Los Olivos off our list when a woman raced into our tent.  She grabbed a sea glass necklace, she'd eyed earlier and asked to try it on.  I helped her and got a mirror for her to look at how nice the necklace looked on her.  She bought the necklace and then turned to me and introduced herself as the director of The Los Olivos Nature Museum.  She explained that soon they would be moving to Solvang where they had acquired a bigger building and she wondered if we'd be interested in showing our jewelry in the museum.  Naturally, I jumped at the chance and we exchanged cards and phone numbers.  

Moments before the woman entered the tent, I had been bemoaning the day and suddenly, we'd made a sale and had the suprise benefit of being asked to be in a museum which was definitely a silver lining to the day.  So don't despair, if you have a slow selling day at a festival, you never know who you will meet and what opportunities lay just around the corner.    

Here are a couple of new pendants that we featured at the festival.  The red sea glass is very rare and it is wrapped in 14kt gold filled wire.

An end of the day piece of sea glass from England wrapped in sterling wire.  Note the tri levels of green.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Original Press Releases: Sea Glass Jewelry Designers Launch New Website to ...

Original Press Releases: Sea Glass Jewelry Designers Launch New Website to ...: For Immediate Release | Original Press Releases A media representative for Sisters Jewelry Designs, a sea glass jewelr...

Monday, August 13, 2012

Setting Up A Booth For A Festival

The first thing we do when we get to a festival is find our designated spot.  Then we start hauling all our stuff to the site.  We have tables, tent, jewelry displays, sign, and other things needed to make sales during the day.  Oh, and a cooler with some drinks and food.  (Food can be expensive at the fairs and festivals, so we try to bring our own).  The above shots were taken early in the morning when we were at San Clemente for their annual beach festival.

In the picture above you can see the festival tents down on the beach where they will hold races, surfing contests and more.  The vendors, like us are up on a bluff overlooking the beach - really a perfect place.

Here are a set of pictures showing Steve setting up the tent and securing it to construction bricks.  We have found that one needs to have weights to attach to the tent legs to hold the tent securely in place.  You never know when a strong wind might come up and want to blow the tent away - especially at the beach.

After we get the tent up and the tables in place, we set out the jewelry.  Placing the jewelry and displays takes some time and we are always changing where we put things depending on table placement.  So we find it takes about 2 hours to set up everything - tent to jewelry.

After we are all set up, then it is time to check out the other vendors or get coffee or just walk around as we'll be stuck in the tent once the people start coming.

Art fairs and festivals are a lot of work - setting up and tearing down after the show - packing and hauling, but they can be lots of fun too.  The advantages of going to festivals is that one can show your work, get known by people, pass out cards with your business numbers and websites and of course, sell the jewelry.  I like to think of ourselves as jewelry gypsies.  Here are a couple pictures of some of our new sea glass jewelry pieces.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Weather Nightmare At Street Fair

Well, here we are at another street festival - this time we were at Sunset Beach, California.  I had picked this particular festival because of its proximity to the beach.  Sea glass, beach glass jewelry - think beach and you get the reasoning behind my decision.  If you look to the right of our sign in the picture above you will see a silver car in the distance and beyond that is a sandy path to the beach.  Here is a slightly better picture.

As we set up our booth, I'm very excited.  I can smell the ocean air.  And I plan to walk over after we're ready to check out the beach,.  Here are a few of shots of the tables set up with sea glass jewelry.

Sea Glass Nuggets Hanging on Chains

Shirley's Crochet Necklaces with Sea Glass

View of  side table

View of Booth Closeup from Front

Another view

Another view with Steve in background

As you can see, a lot of our jewelry is mounted on cards and hangs on boards.  Finding a great way to display our jewelry is difficult and I'll go into that in a later posting.  Anyway, when the weather is great and there is no wind our displays work well.  But at Sunset Beach, we learned what can happen when the wind starts to howl.  In the afternoon, of the first day, a light breeze came up.  As our booth was situated backing toward the beach access path, we didn't have any buildings to block the wind as it came in off the sea, this was a real problem.  

The afternoon progressed and as it did, the slight breeze turned into a wind, a raging, pull your hair out,  wind.  All the cards on the boards went flying.  The tablecloths ruffled and blew back over the tables.  And finally, our whole tent began to lift off the ground.  As the tent readied itself to fly away like a kite, we scrambled to save it.  We didn't have strong stakes to hold down the tent, we didn't have sides or a back for the tent, so we had to lower the back legs trapping us inside.  The vendor to our right, helped us tie down the back legs to his generator and we scrunched down inside to weather the wind.  Needless to say, our sales fell off as no one wanted to stand in front of  a booth that had the wind slapping their face.  At 4:30, we started boxing and bagging our jewelry so when the fair ended at 5 we could make a hasty retreat.  

As we drove home, we realized that we needed to be prepared for the wind the next day.  We went to Home Depot and bought a tarp for the back end and strong steel stakes for staking down the legs of  the tent.  The next day we were prepared for the wind. 
Shot of Booth Enclosed with Tarp

We only enclosed the back of booth

The tarp wasn't especially attractive, but it did the trick of keeping out the wind.  (Right now we are looking for a more attractive covering)  What the whole experience taught was to be PREPARED for all kinds of weather. Remember,  if the street fair is near or at the beach, you can count on there being some breeze or wind. 

You can find us at our new website  where we are always posting new designs in sea glass jewelry - necklaces, pendants, earrrings and more.  

New Ice Blue Sea Glass Pendant with Mermaid Charm and Pearl

Coming soon - more adventures selling Sea glass jewelry at street fairs and art fairs.  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Street Fairs - Sometimes You Lose

Encinitas Chamber of Commerce

On April 28, 2012, we left our house in the desert at 4:30 in the morning and drove to Encinitas, California to do a two day street fair.  We had to get there early, between 6-7 am to set up our booth and then park our truck away from the venue area.  Encinitas is about a two, two and half hour drive from Palm Springs.  I was looking forward to the fair as it is located a few blocks from the beach and I'd never been to Encinitas.  I'd picked Encinitas as one of the fairs to attend because of its beach location as we sell sea glass jewelry.  I was thinking "location, location, location."  

Looking right at vendors setting up

Looking left at vendors (later the street would be crowded with fair goers)

When we reached main street, I looked around and thought "what a lovely town," with its specialty store fronts and beachy atmosphere.  We were told to set up our booth at space 818.  This early morning setup is always fraught with difficulty of maneuvering around the cars, trucks and trailers of other vendors to get to our spot. Finally, we parked and unloaded, tent, tables, signs, chairs, jewelry boxes and other stuff.  Steve went off to park and while I waited for him to come back, I looked at the long line of vendors.  The fair boasted 400 vendors, but I didn't know if this was good or bad.  Good that a lot of shoppers would be at the fair and maybe bad because of all the competition.

When Steve got back, we set up the tent and tables and then laid out our jewelry on the displays.  We are always changing our displays - trying to find the most attractive way to show off our pieces.

Steve standing by one of our tables

We also had a table going across the front.  It is always a decision on how best to place the tables for best visibility.  Lately, we've hit upon one table across the front to catch the eye of the people strolling along.  Also, in the best possible world, if we can get the sunlight to fall on our jewelry we are happy as the light makes the sea glass glisten and sparkle.  

Shirley's crocheted sea glass necklaces

 Sea glass Earrings

Various sea glass necklaces

The fair opened at 9 am.  People started coming.  We were excited, then we were not.  No one seemed interested in sea glass jewelry.  A lot of people didn't even know what sea glass was so we had to educate them.  I was surprised as I'd thought since we were in a beach town, everyone would know about sea glass,  but that was not the case.  The vendor next to us who sold hats did a brisk business, while we sat and sat.  Occasionally, someone would stop and admire the jewelry or tell us about their sea glass hunting adventures.  And occasionally, someone would actually buy a piece of jewelry - especially the lower priced pieces.  We were happy to have a sale, any sale.  As the day dragged on, the street became crowded with people - really crowded.  People strolling, eating ice cream and carmel korn or hot dogs, pushing baby strollers, walking dogs.  I realized that most people were just looking - not buying.  It was a day to get out of the house and go to a free event.   I also realized that most of the vendors were selling food or low priced items made in China - the street fair was a glorified swap meet, not exactly our venue.  It soon became crystal clear that we needed to be in art fairs, not street fairs.  Art fairs are juried affairs which allow only artisan wares, paintings and other things created by artists.  

Sea glass with Abalone pendant

Sea glass pendant with sterling wire wrap and sterling mermaid

Rare cobalt blue sea glass wrapped in sterling wire

The fair closed at 5 and by 6, we were headed out of Encinitas back to Palm Springs - a two hour drive home.  We were exhausted and disappointed, but we'd learned a lot.  While Steve drove, I tallied up our sales - $305 which wasn't so bad, but we'd spent $300 on the entry fee for the two day event and another $80 on gas to get there.  We were in the red.  As we drove home, we decided that we weren't going back for the second day.  We reasoned that if we didn't sell anything we'd be out another $80 for gas and deeper in the red.  We called my sister and we all agreed to forget the second day.  Was it the right decision?  I don't know - I just tell myself that you win some and you lose some.  

Please check out our new website at

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cayucos Sea Glass Festival 2012

Early Friday morning, 6:30 to be exact, Steve and I left Palm Springs and headed for Los Angeles where we would leave our standard poodle, Dylan, with Steve's parents for the weekend.  We then headed north to Cayucos for the second annual Cayucos Sea Glass Festival.  After eight hours of driving, we rolled into the small beach town around 3:30.  We checked into our hotel, then headed down to the Veterans' Hall at the end of the pier - where the festival would be held.

The organizers, Kiki, Leila, and Carol, (sorry I don't know the names of the others), were having a mixer for the vendors.  It was a fun event with food and music.  The mixer was a chance to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. We also had a chance to locate our spot and set up our display pieces.  Since the two tables were already covered with white table cloths, we decided not to use our black ones.  After setting up our display, we headed off to the hotel and went to bed early as the next day the clock would switch to Daylight Savings Time and we'd lose an hour.  The time change can really throw you off.  I would be tired for the next two days.  

Bright and early, and I mean early, 7:30, we headed back to the hall to set out our jewelry.  During the night, we'd decided that we needed to use our black table cloths because the white ones were short and we wanted to hide the boxes under the tables.  So off came the displays, on went the black cloths and then on with the displays again.  All around us, people were setting up their booths and chatting and drinking coffee. It was a fun atmosphere.  It takes us a long time to set up because all of our jewelry is in individual plastic bags to keep the silver from tarnishing.  Finally, after a couple of hours we had the tables set up.  

As you can see above, there are a lot of pieces to remove from bags.  At the end of the show, all these pieces go back in their bags.  Time consuming, to say the least.  

As we were setting up, we could see out the windows a line of customers forming.  Every time, I looked the line was longer.  Eventually, the line stretched out of sight and down the pier.  I didn't know whether to be excited or scared.  At ten, the doors opened and a crowd of people surged into the room.  

The crowds continued to come all day which was great.  We were so busy, we didn't have time for lunch or a break.  We didn't care, we were happy selling our jewelry and talking to people.  The event had been so well publicized that people came from as far away as Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Solvang, Los Angeles. The first day was a total success.  When the day came to an end at five o'clock, we were happy and exhausted and hungry.  We met our friends, Victoria and Ken, who also had a booth at the festival.  Victoria also has a shop on Etsy called Victoria Roberts Sea Glass Jewelry.   
We decided to go to the Sea Shanty restaurant for dinner which, unbeknownst to us, is owned by one of the organizers - Carol Kramer and Bill Shea.  Great food at the Sea Shanty and highly recommend it if you are in Cayucos.  

The second day of the festival started off slow, then really picked up as the day went on.  We didn't sell as much as the first day, but it was still profitable and we were very happy with our sales.  When the doors closed on the festival on Sunday night at four, we were tired and my legs hurt from standing for two days, but we were still ready to go have some fun.  We hooked up with another vendor, Don the Beachcomber and Joan the surfer and went back to the Sea Shanty for another meal.  Don and Joan had a booth in the tent outside with a few other vendors like the sisters from Relish who traveled from Erie, PA to be in the show.  And Margaret of Adornment.  

Monday, we drove back to the desert - glad we'd been included in the Cayucos Sea Glass Festival.  We'd written some special orders that needed to be created and we were looking forward to getting back to the workroom.  

This is a picture of one of our new necklaces that we previewed at the show.  Rose gold chain with a side drilled sea foam green sea glass piece.  Dainty and delicate.  

You can find us at Etsy or at our new website