Saturday, 28 July 2012

The Folksy Fair

Nice to see you here after a fairly long hiatus on my part! Despite the fact that the singing teacher part of my life is now on school holidays, the jewellery designer and singer parts of me are definitely not and life stays busy, just without the added inconvenience of having to go over to Stockport 3 days a week! Ok, that is pretty cool, but it's been a busy week nonetheless. Not least because the very first weekend of the holidays contained this.....

'Folksy? What's Folksy?' I hear some voices saying....well, it's a British online marketplace for handmade goods, showcasing the work of British makers and designers. It is open to buyers from all over the world, but currently only British sellers. I do like this about Folksy - Britain is really a small island and it's good to have something homegrown like this, alongside it's transatlantic friends. (You can find my Folksy shop here.) Folksy decided to organise a fair to co-ordinate with the folk stage of Sheffield's free music festival, Tramlines.

Back to the fair itself....I am quite an old eeyore at times, and although I was thrilled when I found out 2 weeks before the event that I'd been accepted into the Folksy Fair, during the week before I was plagued with doubts; new issues sprang up seemingly every day in relation to the event and I threatened to pull out more than once. You know, the knee jerk reaction of 'Fine! I can't do it...I'll just pull out then...!'. Oh, you don't? Just me being an over-emotional pessimist then...

In defence of my brattish-ness, I was in the middle of a horribly busy and stressful 3 week period, including a school trip by coach, to Italy in the middle week. A wonderful week in many ways, but full-on as I am sure you can imagine. We arrived back to school late afternoon on Friday the 13th, having spent 75 hours on a coach during the previous 7 days, to a Saturday consisting of a morning of beading teaching, and an afternoon of 10 individual singing exams - my pupils, mainly aged 8-11, and I was accompanying them all....Sunday 15th was a craft fair, Monday into school for teaching, Tuesday private pupils at home, Wednesday was my secondary school exams - only 5 this time, but still...and follow this with a primary school concert, Thursday secondary school concert, Friday back to beading teaching with a full day beginners' workshop....and then Saturday and Sunday was the Folksy Fair! If you consider that the week prior to Italy was very similar in its packed nature to this one, then perhaps you can understand now that my nerves were a little tattered....and that week also left little time to make any kind of preparation for the fair itself!

Somehow I missed in the application process the fact that each seller needed to have their own shelter. I spotted this the weekend I returned from Italy and had a little panic. I am NOT a happy camper, and we do not have any kind of tent. Nor had I put one up since going to guide camp in approx., oh, maybe 1994?! Apparently, camping equipment has moved on since the 40s tents we used back then, but I still had to get one (threat to pull out no.1)- and not just a tent, but a whole bloody gazebo! Miraculously, our lovely friend Jane came to the rescue as she did indeed own a gazebo, which she duly lent me. And it couldn't be too hard to put it up between Helen and myself? Threat to pull out no.2 came when Helen (who had swapped her weekend shift (she's a doctor) so that we could tackle the fair together)found out that she was going to have to go into work on the Saturday anyway as part of an extra theatre list. I was going to have to not only (wo)man the fair by myself on the Saturday - not too bad, I've done plenty of craft fairs by now, it being a new venue only ups the ante a little - but more scarily, pitch the gazebo myself. And threat no.3 when we realised that because Helen was on-call on the Friday, we weren't going to be able to leave Manchester until 11pm on the Friday night, to drive through to Sheffield. I don't drive, and with the gazebo poles and extra panels we had purchased, along with all my jewellery and props, the train wasn't a viable option.

However, despite all my stresses and threats, we made it through to Sheffield, arriving at 12.30am, crawling into our friend Sarah's house (away on holiday but still opened her house to us - a true friend). We got up at 6am so that Helen could get back to her hospital in time for work, and I taxi-ed it over to Endcliffe Park, where the fair was taking place. 

Here I am, just arrived at Endcliffe Park at 9am - open to vendors from 9, fair starting at 12. Although as it's a public park, there were folk around from the start. Looking fairly exhausted and make-up free! But look at that sunshine behind me....
hmmmm.....what do I do with these again...? With a little help from my next-door neighbours, I put the gazebo up and set up my little stall.... 

Finished setting up at the skin of my teeth! A little dark due to my dark green gazebo (beggars can't be choosers, but if I do more of these I'll hopefully invest in a white one). I moved the LH table forward about half an hour in, but due to the tree roots that were on the RH side of my stall space, it couldn't come too much further forward than this.
The lovely Kirsten from Love Felts even gave me a cup of tea when I was setting up. A life-saver! 
My view of the stall.

Day 2, and the sun was still shining on the Folksy Fair! We were so lucky with the weather - there has been a monumental amount of rain in July and so the ground was fairly muddy (good for my gazebo pegs!) but the sun shone throughout the weekend. 

Very glad to have Helen join me on the Sunday. We almost lost the gazebo several times due to the wind but thankfully it stayed put with a little help from park workers - thank you! We changed the set up slightly for day 2 as you can see below....

The two tables pushed together; I think this works better in many ways, and it allowed us to sit alongside the stand. I had a theft on the Saturday and we thought this would allow us to keep an eye on the stall better, without the customers feeling they were being watched. Sadly, it didnt' work as we had a second theft on the Sunday - vigilant were the security of Tramlines however, because they caught the two girls at the end of the Sunday! Just silly teenagers, probably on a dare. Thankfully neither of the thefts were expensive items and neither contained handmade components, which I was extremely thankful for.

A couple of final shots before we took everything down. We even made a few sales as we were packing up though!

And it's back to tables and fabric. Phew! A long weekend, but a thrilling and rewarding one. 

A brilliant weekend for Songbeads. Folksy organised a fantastic event, and it worked perfectly to piggy-back onto the folk music element of Tramlines. I met so many lovely people, both customers and other vendors. I should also say a big thank you to Andrew and the others from Folksy who were there throughout the event. It was great to touch base with the people who work behind the scenes at Folksy - great to put faces to the computer screen, so to speak. I'm going to share some of the lovely goodies that I bought over the weekend in further posts - I was pretty good for once, but there were a few items I couldn't resist! I'm so glad that Helen ignored my threats to pull out and gave me the support and the push I needed to see it through - it was so worth it. I've come away feeling inspired and motivated and with lots of germinating's amazing how making contact with customers can do that for you. Thanks so much to everyone involved. I can't wait to do it all again next year!


AlisonMooreDesigns said...

Sounds like a brilliant event! Glad you had fun. Hope to see you in Perth :-)

Charming Peggy said...

Oh dear! You have been one busy lady!

Heidi Post said...

I hadn't seen this 'til now. Your booth looks great, but what a complicated tent! Wow. I think I'm gonna have to borrow your mini-easels as earring display ideas. I have a dozen small black plastic plate stands that would be perfect for displaying earrings like that!!! I'm planning on doing a show in October, so it won't be terribly long before I get to use them. I just need to make loads more jewelry between now and then.

I'm sorry about your thefts, but congrats on the sales and the nice weather :)


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