Each time I have a vending opportunity and sell little or nothing, I have second thoughts about the whole process. Is it worth it to load it all up, set it all up, sit there for hours, only to pack it up with maybe a few dollars in my pocket? Then the notices start arriving about opportunities that I haven’t tried before, hubby suggests new shapes or scents for soaps, I try a new product for myself and think it will sell and start downloading the applications.
Last night I ordered some “holiday” shaped molds and a flower shaped mold for cold process soap. Last spring, I added a sheep, a goat, and a couple traditional shapes. I rarely make the loaf shape that has to be sliced anymore. I played with a gorgeous swirl, but it didn’t set up properly and had to be re batched which caused the swirl to be incorporated. Then last night, shortly after I completed applications for two events I have never done before, a friend and I chatted and she may have yet another we can do together, both demonstrating fiber prep and spinning as well as vending our wares. The Holiday Markets at the Blacksburg Farmers’ Market, that I have done those for several years and had mixed results will conflict with one of the others, but I can still possibly do two of them. If they all pan out, that will be 5 events in a couple of months and will hopefully reduce my stock so I can reassess what sells and what doesn’t. Oddly, the two soaps that are preferred by my eldest’s family and by me are two that don’t sell at events very well.
I started out with mostly body care products and a few knit hats. As I have continued my adventure in spinning, more knits and weaves have been added, but the types of markets that I am doing generally don’t support the cost that a hand spun, hand knit or hand woven garment require. If I were to value my time invested in the process, the prices would be so high as to frighten off lookers. As a result, I generally try to recoup my fiber cost and some tiny amount for my design and time, but mostly consider it my entertainment expense. If a 4 ounces bag of wool costs $15-$25, pricing a hand spun, hand knit hat at $30 causes folks pause, but really doesn’t pay me for my time at all. It takes several hours to spin the fiber and several more to knit a hat out of medium weight yarn, my hand spun is often finer and so takes longer, so the pay for my time is $5-$15 total for 8-10 hours of work, not even sweatshop pay.
Maybe I’m going about this wrong. I started making soap for family, but only one son’s family wants it. With jobs and kids in the house, they need easy to care for clothing, so hand washable hand knit woolens aren’t favored. I have tried online shops and don’t sell much if anything there either. Maybe I should just make enough soap for the two families, spin and knit what I will wear and not worry about selling any of it.
Can you tell, I am discouraged, but still hopeful?