Sunday, March 20, 2011

Weekend Project: The Definition of Insanity

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
--Albert Einstein

You may remember my phenomenal failure at the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo in Tampa last year. If not, the short story is that I rented a booth to sell the "How Much Fabric?" Reference cards - and lost my shirt....

Okay, not literally, but I didn't come anywhere close to breaking even. Any sane person would have walked away poorer but wiser.

Sammy says, "Oh, no! Tell me you didn't..."

Sorry, Sammy. I did. Kind of...

When the organizers of the Expo contacted me this year, I explained that I had lost a lot of money and wouldn't be participating again. But they offered me an option. What if they could find a vendor who would be willing to let me sell my cards in her/his booth, in exchange for my assistance working the booth?

I guess it's true that hope springs eternal, because I said yes. The vendor who agreed to the plan was Clare Rowley of Creative Feet. Here is her booth:

Clare sits at the sewing machine from 10 am to 6 pm and does a non-stop, high energy demo of her products - the three sewing machine feet and the octagon-shaped free-motion embroidery and quilting hoops - that she has invented. She always had a crowd, and some people stayed and watched for hours.

I sat in the back corner and rang up her sales. If you look closely you can see my display on the table on the right.

Here is a close-up of her machine - a BabyLock. It took her 62 hours to hand-paint it and was an attraction all by itself.

Here is a close-up of my display:

And even closer:

So, it was quite an experience. Watching and listening to Clare was an education - she has been an inventor, an artist, a certified sewing machine technician and a business woman for her whole life.

What it wasn't, was profitable. For whatever reason, I barely sold any sets. I'm not sure if this just isn't the right crowd, or I haven't found the right way to "pitch" them, or what. It's probably a bit of both. Sigh...

It's not much fun to hear "I told you so" from a cat! ;)


Faye Lewis said...

I am so sorry! I keep your set of cards in my purse all the time - and I use them. Do you sit have a web site set up for them?

CarlaF-in Atlanta said...

Sorry to hear that Gwen. Each year, the Expo in Atlanta has more quilters (vendors and attendees) than fashion sewers. I think next year, I'm going to save my money and go to the American Sewing Guild Conference.

Lori said...

Sorry to hear it wasn't a success but happy to hear you did have fun learning from your booth partner

patsijean said...

Personally, I do not understand the slow sales as your charts are well researched and practical. I love mine.

Maybe as CarlaF suggests, it is the venue.

Becky said...

Sorry to hear that it didn't go so well! For the record, though I don't currently have one of your card sets, I do plan to get one sometime if they're still available! (Just waiting until the money's a little less tight.)