biz chat: holiday show season inventory prep and sales

Square Analytics
With the holiday show season fast approaching I wanted to do a four part series to help you get prepped. First thing I do is look at our sales data from Square of the previous holiday season. If you don’t use Square, please come up with a way to be able to look back at your sales data, it’s so helpful. Stitch is great, too! We use Stitch to manage online sales and show sales combined (it helps to keep us from over selling), but when I just want to look back at show data, I use Square data. You’ll want to know the quantity, size, style, and price point of each item sold. I have a separate button in Square for sale prices, that way I can easily see the difference in numbers between the regular and sale price points.

If any of the goodies we sold last holiday season are still in play for the upcoming season I look at the best sellers and make sure to start our inventory minimums with the quantity that sold last holiday season.

Poor sellers get the boot. Medium sellers may get the boot, too. Holiday show season is when you want to focus on upping your inventory on your best gift items to maximize sales to get you through the January lull. We sell 1-inch buttons at shows; those are not really a great gift item, but are good for stocking stuffers and just to pick up at check out. We do not up our inventory on buttons for holiday shows. We make “enough” and have them near the check out, just as an add-on item. By minimizing our not so “gifty” (made up word) items we have more time and money to spend on upping our best gift-giving sellers.

For items released newly this year, I like to do spring shows to get a feel for what people are liking, buying, and how they feel about our price points. I use this data to determine the quantities we’ll need per show for the holiday season.

With a holiday line I will not have real data for the designs, so I try to have lower quantities on these, because getting stuck with holiday themed goods after December is not ideal. This happened to us our first holiday season, and every time I looked at the leftover holiday cards the following year I was so frustrated. We did sell the leftovers at a discount the following holiday season.

Keep in mind the chance of each sale being given as a gift is more likely than a purchase for the buyer, you want your items to have your brand name on it. Make it easy for the gift recipient to be able to find you, so that they can become a future fan. Include more than one business card with purchases, too, that way the buyer can keep one, and give one away. Invest in quality cards and or stickers to give away to help get your name out there.

If your packaging has been rock-star awesome all year, then kudos to you! If not, now’s the time to up your packaging. If you can simplify the gift shopping experience you’ll be remembered fondly, and may gain repeat customers.

When we do a series of holiday shows in our hometown we release something new at each show and let our customers know. This gives our customers a reason to come to the next show, has been a great way to gain repeat sales, and an opportunity to chat multiple times with our customers.

Come back next week for a post on booth set-up tips! If you have any questions or tips to share, leave them in the comments below.


holiday show prep

Armadillo Booth Building
If you’ve been following along on Instagram you may have gathered I’m deep in holiday show season prep. That is a pic of our booth (in the making) for Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, not painted yet, of course. I couldn’t even get a full shot with my phone within the space I had in my parent’s living room. We have a corner booth that is 8×10, 8ft tall. We hadn’t even put the beams that will hold the track lighting up yet when I took this shot. It’s funny how this looks so much bigger than my normal 10×10 pop-up tent. My mom said “are you sure it’s supposed to be that big?” haha!

My parents have been unbelievably supportive through this booth building craziness. They let me clear out their living room, since it’s rainy and cold here and we needed a closed-in space with a level hard floor, and high enough ceilings (hooray for vaulted ceilings!). They let me, Josh, and our carpenter take apart their chandelier lighting, and raise it up to fit the booth under it. This structure will be in their house on Thanksgiving! My brother even had to “suffer” through a Tracy Chapman Pandora station (which is what our carpenter wanted to listen to). I like Tracy Chapman, so it wasn’t a big deal to me. I’m going to have to come up with some super awesome “thank you” presents.

This weekend is Renegade Craft Fair in Austin, which kicks off our “show every weekend until Christmas” time. I’m just a little bit stressed out. Ha! More like pretty stressed out. I’ve heard about other makers getting a creative surge this time of year and wanting to spend their time on new stuff. This year is my first time to experience it. I normally look forward to the holiday show season buzz, but now I just want to fast forward to January to be able to create new things at a more manageable pace, and to focus on prepping for Surtex. It’s so distracting not fully thinking in the moment. I’m hoping that once I’m set up for Renegade I’ll get that holiday buzz back. If you’re in Austin, be sure to stop by our booth, we have lots of new stuff and will continue to release new stuff at each show. YAY!

the haps: con prep

Messy Desk.

My desk is covered with accessory making stuff, and as you can see, Ami is keeping track of my work. I’m making brooches while I listen (& 1/2 watch) videos from the Make Art That Sells course. I’ve hit that point before a big show/con (or in this case multiple cons) where I freak out. I especially freak out when I know I’m leaving Ami for quite awhile, this time it’s two weeks. My housemate loves my cat, so I know he’ll play with her, but it’s not the same. I’ve been spending extra time cuddling with her and brushing her lots.

My house usually gets messy when it becomes massive prep time, my studio is just not big enough to handle that much con/show prep. I plan on spending next year being better about always having stock on hand and not making to order, so that I won’t need as much space. Outsourcing our screen printing & tee shirt packaging is certainly going to help with that. My studio will then just be used for art, paper goods, and accessories. I have PLENTY of space for that. I’m so excited for the changes we’re making to Robo Roku.

I’m so grateful that Sierra and Marci are coming over tomorrow to help me finish up. They are both jewelry making speed demons. Especially Sierra, since she does that day in and day out. I have so much to do and very little time to get it done, with a 3-day out of town show this weekend, and a departure time of 7am Tuesday, I have to make the most of today-Thurs. Since I still have 20 more days of iron to take before I’m straight, and only got 4 hours of sleep last night, my mom acted as my chauffeur driving me around to get my errands done, and to sorta watch over me. I definitely needed a driver today.

Let’s break down the haps…

Client sites – almost done for the year!! <--- soooo close, sooo close!! Accessories, MATS course work, laundry, and errands. THINKING ABOUT:
What I need to wash, buy, and pack for two weeks of travel.

The drive to LA. I love that drive so much.

My Depeche Mode Pandora station, it’s so 80s and swirly.

Salad, vitamin water, and my strawberry/banana/silk/oj/emergen-c smoothies, still. I’ve also been bad and taking “shots” of my lemon beer salt…. so bad for your teeth.

Jennifer for picking up my slack on our new project, Sierra and Marci for helping me out (again), Roxy for always sending me texts that make me smile and laugh, Maria for being one of the sweetest people I have ever met, and doing weekly check ups on me, Ashley for sending amazing SNAIL MAIL (she is so funny!), and Brandy and Melissa for being super patient with my crazy schedule. Good grief! I am pretty needy right now, but soon that won’t be the case, and I’ll be back to my hyper-productive self.

My two week trip to LA full of cons, family, and my bestie!

Downton Abbey (Series 4 is such a downer!)
The Good Wife (SO excited for next week!)
The Blacklist & Sleepy Hollow <--- new fave shows RANDOM FACTS ABOUT ME:
I spend 75% of my time in pjs.
I have never tasted anything pumpkin flavored…not even pumpkin pie.
8oz of a caffeinated soda will keep me awake ALL night. Caffeine is not my friend.
I’m slow at making jewelry because I enjoy the process, and want to take my time (and my OCD kicks into overdrive).
I love Depeche Mode more than The Cure, but am having a hard time deciding if I love The Smiths/Morrissey more than DM.

the haps: so much, so much!

This expression kinda illustrates what I’m feeling. You can view it as excitement or stress, and well, I feel both right now. I’ve been sick since 9/29. Which totally messed up my plans of having 80% of my stock ready by 10/15. I’ve been useless for awhile now, which means this holiday season I will not be as far ahead as I hoped.

I went to the doctor last week, and they told me my iron saturation levels were very low and they put me back on my iron prescription and told me it will take a month to get my levels up, and that I have to stay on the iron forever. I was told that I was anemic before, but I thought I just needed a temporary boost. Turns out I need a boost always. Between being sick and low in iron I have been really weak, and not capable of doing much. For over a week I didn’t sleep more than 4 hours a night because I was coughing so much. Last night I got 11 hours of sleep. It was much needed.

Let’s break down the haps…

Getting better.
Client sites – almost done for the year!! <--- soooo close, sooo close!! Getting back to making/painting/stitching up goods for the holiday season – this will be a constant for awhile. Probably won't get a break from this one until after Christmas. TCL site refresher (STILL in the works... or back burner, but it needs to get finished). THINKING ABOUT: What I can actually finish in time for DesignerCon.
Holiday season booth set ups.
My master plan for making up lost time in creating goods for the holiday season.

DesignerCon. I’m not sure if we will do well doing a show where most of the vendors will have a similar aesthetic, but it will be fun to do a show with other artists that have a fun, and or cute sensibility.

Phoenix and my Ben Folds Pandora stations.

Salad… everyday. Since I’ve been sick, salad and my strawberry/banana/silk/oj/emergen-c smoothies are about all I like to eat right now.

Cultivate Art Collective, a collective that was created by a member of last session’s Make Art That Sells (MATS) class. This collective was formed so we could all do licensing shows together and it would cut down costs, and allow us to have a smaller support group. The first session of MATS had over 500 students, Part B has over 200. While the groups are supportive, they are big. With CAC, we have less than 40 members and are able to support each other better. Thanks to CAC, Robo Roku will be able to show at Surtex (a licensing show) for 1/2 the cost if we went on our own, like we were planning. Also thankful that my biz doubled its income last year. We got our taxes done on the last day, 10/15 (will not procrastinate next year). Which is not typical growth. I think it’s because Josh only worked PT at his day job last year, so we were able to get more done.

Product releases for this year, stocking up for our upcoming 7 shows in 2 months, the TCL site update, and thinking a bit of all the designs we’ll need to get done for Surtex.

Downton Abbey, Scandal, Project Runway, The Good Wife, The Blacklist, Sleepy Hollow, Supernatural… I watch a lot of t.v. in the fall.

I hate trying on clothes at stores because I am afraid there are cameras watching me.
I love to play American Girl by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on Rock Band and want to learn it on a real guitar.
I have a bad habit of helping people to the point it hurts me. My housemate gets mad at me about it often.
I hoard stationery.
I keep my cereal in the fridge.

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