What Goes Into an Art Fair and What Comes Out

by Anne Marie Esposito, President and Founder, Sparklefly Candle Company, Inc.

Last Saturday, I vended at the Levittown Fire Department Art & Craft Fair.  It was a beautiful day and the volunteers were so wonderful.  It was a great day to meet new people and introduce myself and one of my favorite ways to test my products with the potential customers.  At the end of the day on my trip home, exhausted and starving (needing some chocolate) and going over all of the new smiles that greeted me that day, I thought about all that went into making that one day happen.  

1. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

What do I bring? What products do I want to get into your hands, out in front of you? What are my best sellers and what are my new sellers? What colors will look good together on the table? What scents are perfect for this time of year? And believe me, the questions go on and on. If I'm not careful in my selection, I may either go with too much and overwhelm you, and me, or get stuck in this decision process forever and not get to the next step. Thankfully, I take all of my cues from you. What are you buying, what are you "liking", what's causing a buzz and what are you writing to me about. THANK YOU! You just helped me get to stage 2.

2. Purchase all of the supplies.

Fragrances, wax, stones, jars, packaging, chain, beads and this list is mighty long too. Every item is hand-made and usually made specifically for that event or for the short time afterwards.

3.Start production.

Pour 32 pounds of candles, create the Sparkle chains and mix up the 32 pounds of Sparkle Stones.

4. Work through whatever illness or other planned or unplanned life events.

Unfortunately for me, I was hit with a doozy of a virus during production. It lasted 13 days and led to a visit to the doctor and some hefty antibiotics. I did take it easy for a day. Cuddled, had home made broth made FOR ME by my husband and even a Chocolate, Phish Food Sundae with Peanut Butter Sauce and little Peanut Butter Cups. That hit the spot. But you can't rest too long. The show must go on!

5. Packaging and packing up.

Individually labeling, wrapping and packing every item, every sample and every gift set. Packing up all displays, tablecloths, tent, signage, pens, sign up book, kindle, coupons, business cards, extra gift boxes and labels, extra wrapping, chairs, tables, lunch, scissors, calculator, change, inserts and on and on. Making sure I check off my list and check it over again. And guess what? I STILL forgot 2 shelves. I always manage to forget to actually put something in the car.

6. Resting

It is so important to get a good nights rest the day before an event. Especially when you consider you will be up before the crack of dawn and will be back home in the evening. You will be setting everything up, standing all day, meeting and greeting and then breaking everything down and driving home, hopefully with a BIG cup of coffee and lots of good thoughts about the day. This time, I got to snuggle up with my kids and read a book, while they quietly did their own thing next to me.

7. Time to set up

This means unpacking your car at the speed of light and then parking it what seems like a half mile away. Setting up your tent and tables and displays and hoping and rearranging and hoping again and then some more final touches and hopefully time for coffee and a few deep breaths before the show starts.

8.Spending time with new and old friends

On the day of the event it is showtime but for me, most of all, its time to catch up with old friends and try to make some new ones. Like my friend Michael Belling at Photo-Spell. He is the ultimate pro. Always prepared, always willing to help and one of the most talented artists I know. I always count on him to be across from me and lend a muscle or an ear or a laugh. I honestly could not have done an event like this one without his help and support and Lord knows I appreciate it. And then there's the husbands that stop by the table and I witness how lovingly they purchase items for their wives or how carefully a mother selects just the right candle for her daughter, or how excited that pre-teen got over Sparkle Stones because they can't burn candles in their room. It's all of these special moments that make the effort of the weeks prior worth it and that cannot be experienced behind my desk processing on-line sales.

I leave you with this last image taken from Camden and Kate over on Instagram. The next time you go to an Art Show, please keep this in mind and don't try to avoid eye contact or pass us by, instead stop in and say hi and ask about our products and pick them up and smell them, taste them, feel them. If it's not your thing, it's ok, we understand if you don't purchase today, but it was nice to meet you anyway.