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Spring 2019 CraftHER Market Recap

Sam and Jess at the CraftHER Market

The CraftHER Market was a great success and such a wonderful way to start out my 32nd year!

It was such a busy, busy day and and it all kind of feels like a blur (with so many wonderful faces of friends, new and old, spattered throughout). I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what an amazing experience it all was.

Additionally, I wanted to show some gratitude to the people who helped me make this day a reality, share my learning experience, and shout out some of the other makers I met through the process.

My Spring CraftHER Market Experience

To start out, here’s a small collection of photos of my set-up at the market, followed by a little video of my booth. We were stuck behind the booth so I didn’t get many photos at this event.

Spring 2019 CraftHER Market Booth from Samantha Soper on Vimeo.

BIG Women Supporting Women Energy

The whole experience really did take a village. Yes, I did many, many hours of solo prep work in the months prior to the pop-up: from pressing buttons to decoupaging matchboxes to making my own signage holders and designing table signage. But there were a few women I wanted to call out specifically for everything they did to help me make this market a positive, successful experience.

As a small business owner, I think it’s important to mention that, even though they are my friends, none of these women were helping me for free, because I strongly believe in fair payment for an individual’s advice, services, and time. And it doesn’t make me any less grateful for everything they did to assist nor does it make them any less worthy of a shout out.

I had the best booth help in the world thanks to my sister, Jesseca.

Honestly and a million times over, this market would not have been as much of a success without her help.

From having a large enough vehicle to transport everything to helping me set up the displays to single-handedly running the register on her iPad, she was everything (and more) that I could have hoped for from a booth partner. She even kept on me about putting customer’s items in the nice little bags I got with an issue of Almost Real Things, featuring my Krystalline Kweens series. She communicated awesomely with me the whole time and was so friendly to all of the visitors to my booth!

She’s also an artist! She does digital illustration under the pseudonym Third Eye Monsters. Please go check her Threadless shop and follow her on Instagram.

My display looked amazing with thanks to my super skilled friend, Amber.

When I got word that I’d be doing this market, I knew I needed to elevate my display game, literally (like in the sense of getting my merch higher up off of my table). After a little research into what I wanted, I commissioned my friend Amber Draper, owner and operator of Draper Construction, to build me some custom collapsible display options.

She was super dependable and reliably flexible when I asked if I could get the displays a little early. Additionally, she got it done, even though she came down with pneumonia. That’s a tough babe! The wood working on the display pieces was absolutely beautiful and the designs were unique and efficiently designed.

If you’re local to Austin, I highly recommend her work. She can do a wide variety of construction contracting, so get at her for your home improvement needs.

I had a great merch selection thanks to my friend, Panda.

While she’s been my artistic muse a couple of times, the motivation and inspiration she brings me from a practical retail standpoint is beyond reproach. Back in November, she brought me to a local Austin gift store to point out suggestions of practical, useful things I could do with my own art, like matchboxes. She enabled me to make buttons with my illustrations, by allowing me a trial use of her button maker so I could gauge the return before making the investment. It was so worth it and I’m buying it off her.

One of the biggest keys to my success with this market was the variety of differently priced merch I had at my table. The buttons were one of my highest selling items the day of the market, which I wouldn’t have had if Panda hadn’t offered me the means of self-production.

Some day she’ll be a famous nail artist, so you should follow Hexcellent Hands to keep tabs on her journey.

I have to give thanks to the team at Boss Babes ATX, especially Natalia Rocafuerte, for the entire amazing experience.

You know when you are trying to break into a new social group or trying to make friends at work and you’re worried that maybe you’re not cool enough? I’ll admit, I often get a little intimidated and worried about being accepted into creative groups around the Austin area.

This was my second time applying for the market, so I was a little self-conscious about reaching out, even after I got in. But I know not putting myself out there, wasn’t going to get me anywhere. I contacted Boss Babes ATX to volunteer interest and openness to CraftHER-related blog interviews or social media take overs, when I had noticed a few other makers being featured.

In response, Natalia was warm, friendly, and receptive to future volunteering, though they’d already locked down their pre-market content calendar. However, less than a week later they came through with the amazing opportunity to appear alongside them on CBS-Austin’s We Are Austin segment. If you missed it, you can watch that below!

Natalia Rocafuerte does some really cool audio-visual work. They’re also a DJ and they do work with various organizations, like Boss Babes ATX and Chulita Vinyl Club, to help foster communities for female-presenting and non-binary creatives and people of color.

Always Love a Good Learning Experience

This section is part reminders to myself, part a communication of my creative goals to my readers, and part advice and solutions for anyone interested in doing pop-up shops in the future.

I need to do a Drag Race Legends series.

Several people walked up to my booth, excited to see that I had RuPaul’s Drag Race illustrations, only to be let down after asking if I had portraits of Katya, Alaska, or Bianca. I definitely took notes every time someone asked for a queen I didn’t have to do a Legends series in the near future.

I still need to get through season 11, but keep an eye out for a Legends series after that. ;D

Never give up and keep on growing.

As I mentioned previously, this is the second time I have applied to this market. After my first rejection, I was discouraged and felt a little bitter. But I got over it and I continued working on building up my brand and my content. I am happy that I kept growing, kept making, and kept trying because my hard work paid off.

If this is a market you dream of participating in, keep working at your creations, diversify your merchandise, and solidify your messaging. Know that sometimes recognition comes slow, but don’t give up on your creative dreams. With continued effort, your work and creative brand will grow, mature, and will inevitably get where you want. Just keep growing!

No one knows you’re interested unless you speak up.

I was super glad I set my self-consciousness and rejection sensitive dysphoria aside, in order to reach out and express interest in market-related PR opportunities. I had never had a particular goal or bucket list item to be on TV, but it was an experience I will never forget. It almost felt like a dream, but it did happen, and it happened because I showed interest.

When I asked, I knew there was a good chance that they had already created all of their feature content. Setting my expectations with that in mind, I knew it didn’t hurt to ask; just in case. Additionally, there was no way for them to know I’d be interested, unless I asked. I am so glad I did because it opened up the opportunity of a lifetime. Don’t be entitled, just be excited for potential!

Display racks with feet should have proper markings.

People kept tripping over the stands on my art display racks. This wasn’t a great experience for anyone and disrupted the flow of traffic to and from my table. I’m sorry if you were one of these people.

To solve this, I’ll be wrapping my stand feet in bright yellow tape so, hopefully, they are more visible. I’m also looking into different configurations for my display racks where I don’t need to use the feet, at all. If anyone has any suggestions, leave them in the comments below!

6’x6′ is not as big as you think it might be.

As I mentioned earlier, Jesseca and I were stuck behind the table the entire day. Of course, I had an idea in my head about how I wanted things set up. When Jess offered a suggestion about the layout that would keep us from being stuck behind the table, I was stubborn because of ~*~My CrEaTiVe ViSiOn~*~. In retrospect, she was definitely right. While completely necessary, it’s always humbling to admit to yourself, especially to your younger sister, that your creative vision is maybe dumb and inefficient.

Another great piece of advice, that I regret not taking, was to set up my entire display in the measured space prior to the day of the market. This advice was given to me by my grandmother (a legend in the Florida craft show scene) and suggested by several of the market organizers prior to the pop-up. Note to self: It doesn’t matter how many times you do this, don’t get cocky about it.

Huge thanks to those that came out to celebrate this big day with me

I am so grateful for these friends who took time out of their Sunday to come see my work and wish me a happy birthday. It was really fun to see so many familiar faces at this event. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR COMING OUT!

Per usual, I’ve listed these angels out below, with links to their businesses, projects, and portfolios, as applicable. (Please let me know if you have a project you want me to link.)

Want to get a reminder for my next show or event?

A Selection of Other Makers from the Market

As always, I like to give a shout out to some of the other creators I meet at and in the process of preparing for these events. I like to lift up other makers, especially those who are nice to my awkward self.

1937 Apothecary

I was excited to work the market with this vendor, because the owner, Sarah Kerver, and I once worked together in the creative department at Golfsmith. It was neat to see one of my old coworkers at a market, where we are both now creatively supporting ourselves independently.

She and her daughter had some absolutely delicious CBD popsicles available at the market. They have a ton of pop-up shops coming up, so check them out for your CBD needs.

Adrienne Rivers

I met this awesome illustrator at the CraftHER Market vendor meet-up. She has such a gorgeous illustration style and features so many different body types throughout her portraits.

Chef J-Rodi with 3 Small Plates Catering

Chef J-Rodi exudes a bright and friendly energy that is completely contagious. I met her at the vendor meet-up, where her cheerful attitude calmed my networking nerves.

At the market, I got the chance to try her Caprese panini and limon tea cakes, both of which were absolutely delicious. Check her out next time you need a caterer.

Allie Eileen

I’ve featured Allie on my blog before because she was my display neighbor at the Chocolate and Art Show. It was fun reconnecting with her and seeing how each of our illustration businesses had evolved since September.

Fox Lash

The compassionate babe on the right (in the picture below) does some amazing work with animal-friendly lash artistry, including extensions, tinting, lifts, and facial waxing. And she was real sweet to me at the networking event!

Jewelry by Hamaila

Her booth mate spent a bit of time talking to us at my booth, so I went and checked her out as the market was ending. Hamaila had some elegantly minimalist 3D geometric jewelry.

Curly Executive

This mega-ambitious multi-business owner, Mélissa Peng, came by my booth to tell us about the grants for women creatives in Texas she was sponsoring on her site. I will definitely be applying for one of them, because it never hurts to try.

If you are a female creative entrepreneur, most especially a woman of color, you should go check out and apply for the grants. As stated previously, no one knows you’re interested unless you tell them.

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