I tried to be as outgoing as I am capable of with the customers. So there were lots of hi's and some chit-chat with anyone that seemed receptive to it. I kept track of which bags were picked up the most & which were commented on the most - both to me and each other. My Ann, mixed Patina Tote, Red Metal Bloom Clutch and Red Grosgrain were probably the top four that were positively commented on to me. The Ann was probably number one...people seemed to love the teeniness of it combined with the oversized ring handles. Mental note - make more of these :) Luckily, I already had 3 cut out at home.
But how much of what people say at fairs can be taken as true and not just being polite? Not that I think people lie, it is just that I believe most people just won't say anything if they don't like what they see. I had so many people stop & looked at numerous bags and almost gush about how great the craftmanship was & how beautiful they all were, that I decided to take it all just the way they gave it :)
I only wish they actually bought them :) There was only one negative price comment made. And it was done with the same words as the positive comments..."$40 for this bag?" - one version said with a "wow, that's great" face and the other with a "you've got to be kidding me, for this?" face. But I am sticking by my prices. I put a lot of work into these bags...and many hours go into each one. I have some bags that were from patterns, but most of them I drafted myself. I wash, cut & iron all the fabric myself. They all get lined, most are zippered, and many have zippered pockets inside. There may be a quicker way to do some of it, but I don't want to scrimp and have a lower quality product just to save time.
I also need a sign….more than the little 8x10 one I have now. And I somehow need to convey the fact that, yes, I made these. I do not know why that is not apparent. There were some people who thought some might be vintage (which, in some cases, the fabric used was vintage). Others thought maybe they were simply repurposed or altered. One person thought I was just a vendor for a company that produces them…and not by hand. I think the best comment about this came from a little boy who was there selling his drawings at his mom’s booth (he was so cute!). He said they looked like they came from a store. I lightheartedly asked him if that was a good thing. His response…”heck yeah – they look too good to have been made by a person.” He may have been only about 10, but he was the only one who explained why they didn’t realize my bags were handmade. Ah…out of the mouths of babes. Made me feel good, regardless of his youth.
So what can I take from it?
Well, for one - don't give up. There were enough positive reactions that I am sure I will be able to sell them. Probably not until after the holidays though. Purses tend to be a rather personal purchase, everyone has their own 'thing' for what they want.
Second - if I want to sell like crazy...make different types of bags.
Option 1: novelty totes. Those things fly off the shelves. You know the kind...with cute little monsters or screen printed pop culture. But they just aren't me - not for making anyway, I can't make cute...but I love it.
Option 2: make leather bags. Too pricey & hard on my hands...all that poking through tough material…my hands would cramp up (I can barely grip a scrub brush long enough to clean the tub).
Option 3: Upcycle. The vintage goods and changed/re purposed/upcycled items go fast too. But I want to make things from scratch. But they are so cute. This one was from ReWare…their Boating Bag:
So what am I left with? Keep doing what I'm doing and don't give up. More than one person suggested trying brick & mortar since my bags aren't totes or novelty, but more of a straightforward purse. Not sure where I'd begin though...maybe I'll blog as I research it.