Thursday, July 23, 2009

Stories from the Front lines

Last week at the market a woman stood at my booth looking at the magnets for quite a while. They all look they same and fill a large display stand with a sign that says "Magnets".
After a few minutes she asked "Are these ALL magnets?"
Confused, I hesitated before answering, "Yes, they're all magnets."
"Oh," she said with a pause...and then, "What do they stick to?"
After a stunned moment I answered. "They stick to metal."
"Ohhhh" she said and thought about it for a long minute before asking "Is that all?"
When I told her yes, she left. I'm not sure what kind of magnets she usually uses, but I wish I'd asked.
I am constantly stunned at the questions people ask and the strange things they say at my booth. A few years ago a well dressed middle aged woman told me in all seriousness that she'd love to buy one of my clocks but couldn't because she lived in a different time zone.
Many years ago my friend Jane was selling jewelry at Pike Place Market and a woman spent a long time choosing a pair. When she finally narrowed it down Jane said "You know, you should really try them. Wait'll you seem them in the mirror, they look great."
The woman picked up the earrings, held them (still on the card) up in front of the mirror and said "You're right! They Do look great in the mirror!"
I just love people. It's endlessly amusing and astonishing working with the public.
Then there was the time when my boyfriend and I were selling hand panted eggs and a couple admired them, oohing and ahhing over each design. Finally the wife said "You know, I really love them.....but if you sat on them they would break."
I was speechless, but quick witted Bruce said "Well, I guess if you're shopping for something to sit on, you might want to look somewhere else."
And one my favorites was from another artist, who when asked for a business card answered "You know, I'm all out. But I tell you what - when I get home I'll throw one out for you."
(I'm sure most of you have your own stories. I'd love to hear them. Really, we should compile a book.)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Fun Part

I used to have a joke with my boyfriend whenever we found ourselves in the middle of some unexpected adventure, like getting hopefully lost in a strange town, or finding ourselves at a wedding with a bad band and a sleeping drunk at our table. I'd look at him and say "I love this part!". As if we were watching a movie. For some reason it always made us both laugh.
About a month ago I had an idea for a new product: magnetic bookmarks. I was just about to leave for a show in Las Vegas, and before I left for the airport I ran into the studio and made some quick funky prototypes. I packed them along, showed them to buyers and all of them seemed to love the idea.
Now, I've mentioned before that I'm impatient. So I didn't do the easy thing and decide to introduce the new line next winter. I decided to debut them at The Buyer's Market of American Craft in Philadelphia, August 1st-3rd. Which meant I had just over four weeks to design the whole line and have them printed, packed up and shipped, and create a custom point of sale display (which I'll be selling to buyers for their stores.)
Developing a new product line is fun, but it's also exhausting and stressful. And you can always count on the fact that there will be puzzles and problems along the way. So doing it with a tight deadline looming really amps up the tension. I had to design each of the bookmarks inside and out, (that's 24 different designs, folks) research and order the correct magnets (not as simple as it sounds), find a place that could make custom sized clear envelopes, as well as a place that would design a custom resale display and have it delivered in time, then create and print new catalog pages, specials flyers, postcards, signs, webpages, etc. The number of phone calls, diagrams, faxes and samples that I dealt with every day was staggering. It was crazy, every minute seemed hectic, every decision more complicated than I expected. But I did it. At least my part is done - as of today.
1600 magnets arrived yesterday. 24,000 bookmarks and 30,000 clear sleeves are due here by early next week, as is the display prototype. Then I just have to assemble and package about 300 samples, pack them all up and ship them out to Philly by the end of the week.
But you know what? I love this part.