Monday, November 21, 2011

The Big Weekend

So, now that you've read up on my craft fair prep, here's the skinny on the fair itself, so to speak.

The show started out well. I headed out in plenty of time to stop at my mom's house and help her finish loading up before we went to the show. We arrived early and had to wait a little bit before we could get in (which is pretty much a necessity since parking is at a premium for this show). My mom watched the booths and my youngest kiddo while I unloaded (I also had my 2 year old with me. He rode on my back in the Ergo while I unloaded since he surely would not stay still and my mom would not be able to chase him). We got unloaded and started setting up.

No sooner had I gotten my display up and picture taken, than I got my first sale of the show! I sold a buggy right away. I was ecstatic! The show was off to a great start! The momentum didn't keep though. It was a good sale for my non-baby items, but my baby items didn't sell very well. I had a ton of people looking at and interested in my navy blue three tiered cake. It really is an eye-catcher. I handed out a few business cards, but since I'm not local to the area, it makes future purchases difficult. I really need to get shipping figured out.

The sale over all was great for me compared with last year; however, on the baby side, it could have fared better. I sold a pair of shoes too which was exciting. The mom of a toddler had trouble finding shoes that her kiddo could walk well in and wouldn't pull off so she was happy to find these. I'm so glad that they were what she was looking for!

Next year, I want to see how things would work out with an additional table, a differently arranged space, and many more small items as they seem to do better at shows than larger items. I'm not sure if and how this would all work out, but we will see. I've got almost a year to think about it and plan.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Prepping for the Craft Fair

After finishing up my harvest diaper cake (and another order which will be written about after the shower in a couple of weeks), I needed to get to work preparing for the annual craft fair I do with my mom. This year would be my second year bringing my baby gifts to the show. I actually had some inventory left from last year, but I had sold a buggy at the show last year. I also sold one of my gender neutral cakes sometime in the middle of the year that I had in inventory from the show. I dismantled two cakes I had made for last years show to use some of the baby items for another cake. All those items needed to be replaced so that I would have enough at the craft fair.

The first cake I worked on was 2-tier girl cake. I was super excited about this cake. Ever since I saw the blankets I used for it, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. This cake, the "Cupcake Cake" features a cupcake printed receiving blanket, plus another coordinating blanket. The lower tier is lined with washcloth cupcakes. The topper for the cake is a large cupcake made with a onsie and a washcloth. All the cupcakes are topped with red pom pom cherries for effect.

The second cake I made for the show was a 3-tier girl cake, a butterfly cake. For this cake, I used two butterfly print receiving blankets and a coordinating green blanket with dots. To embellish this cake, I added washcloth butterflies and flowers. I also added pink flower shaped teethers to decorate. This cake incorporates a kind of washcloth flower I had never done before and I love the final look. While not in the pictures, I did at antennas to the butterflies before wrapping the cake for sale.

The third new item I made for the craft fair was a 2-tier gender neutral cake. This cake featured a duck patterned blanket, plus another coordinating blanket around the tiers. Added to this cake was a matched duck hat and mitten set. I also added a washcloth, some baby bath samples, and water filled teethers.

The final new item I made for the craft fair was a buggy. This buggy needed to be a boy buggy. I selected a car print receiving blanket for the main buggy basket. I added coordinating washcloths for the buggy hood and the "blanket" inside the buggy.

Along with these new creations and the other baby items I had in inventory, I was ready for the show. I had high hopes of improving on last year's sales. There has been a definite progression of my work over the past year and I was proud of many of the new cakes I had to offer. In my next blog post, I'll give an update on the show including pics, so make sure to check back!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ready for the Harvest!

I recently completed perhaps my most time consuming cake and I would do it again in a heartbeat because it was so much fun! This cake presented a particular challenge as it was to be diaper free. The cake was for a friend of mine. The mom group that I belong to was planning a shower for one of the moms in the group. We decided on a fall/harvest theme for the shower. I, of course, volunteered to provide the diaper cake which would also be my gift to the expectant mom.

Here is where the challenge came in: the mom is a cloth diapering mom but already had a HUGE diaper stash and didn't need any more. So, it was to be a diaper-free diaper cake. Or just a baby cake, I suppose. Not to worry. I decided that this was an easy enough hurdle to jump. Towel cakes are becoming increasingly popular for wedding gifts so, why not do the same with blankets? I usually use receiving blankets for my diaper cakes anyway and the mom had requested receiving blankets since she didn't have the ones from her last baby anymore. I was all set and ready to make a Blanket Cake! This was easier said than done.

6 blanket cake, first attempt
I collected 6 blankets in various boy patterns (since the mom was expecting a boy) and proceeded to start construction on the cake. I was all set to cover the cake completely in ribbon  to match the theme so the pattern of the blankets really didn't make much difference in regards to the final product. As I began to build the cake, I noticed one big glaring problem. The size. It turns out that since flannel isn't a particularly thick fabric, when relied on entirely to build a cake, it is quite lacking. I put the ribbon on the see how it would all work and the result was less than awe-inspiring. Tiny cake (even smaller than my mini 2-tier holiday cakes), the white crinkle paper looked completely out of place, and there were issues with the ribbon (but that was easily remedied). It was back to the drawing board.

3-tier, 10 blankets, final cake
I had intended a 3-tier cake, but as it was, that would never work. So, in the end, I picked up some bath toys that were in a cylindrical container. That container acted as my core for the cake and I started to build again. With the addition of four more coordinating blankets, the cake, though smaller in diameter to most of my other 3-tier cakes, was much more impressive. New ribbon encircled the cake, coordinating paper shred was added, artificial fall leaves were arranged around the cake board, and then it was on to the final touches.

First pumpkin attempt
The final touches were a whole new ball game. And I mean new. New project for me, new to my diaper cakes. Just new. I decided to maintain the theme, I'd crochet a collection of stuffed squashes and gourds to decorate the cake. After the shower, they could be used by the expectant mom's kids as play food. I'd never crocheted food before so it was entirely new territory for me. Luckily, I had crocheted before (my mom taught me, several times) so I knew how to do the stitches and read a pattern. Armed with my crochet hook, cotton thread, patterns (which were difficult enough to find - or make up as the case turned out to be fore some of them), and the phone to call my mom for help in case of difficulties, I was ready to go. The first project was a pumpkin for the topper. While the pumpkin turned out great, it was entirely too bright and too big for the cake, so I remade it with a smaller hook and different colored yarn. I then moved on to the other gourds and squashes. I followed patterns for some, and others I just made up based on how I knew I wanted them to look. They turned out great. I added them to the cake and wallah! I was done.
Gourd set (including 1st pumpkin)

The final cake was such a work of art. it became my new favorite cake and I was so proud of how it turned out. There were so many new techniques that went in to building this cake and I couldn't have been happier with it. The cake looked fantastic with the rest of the shower decorations and their fall/harvest theme. The best part is that the mom loved it.

Finished cake as presented to the mom
I now can add a few new products to my product line - non-diaper baby cakes and crocheted stuffed toys. We'll see how similar projects turn out, but so far, it's going well.