This past weekend, Elektra Steel made its retail debut at the SF Etsy Indie Holiday Emporium! The event was held at Pier 35, a massive warehouse right on the water next to Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. It was held over two days, Saturday and Sunday, and I believe over 50,000 people attended (crazy!). I'm thrilled with how it went!
I could write a short novel on my thoughts and reflections, but here are the highlights:
Realizing I can go into production beast-mode. I amassed an inventory of 85+ pieces in six weeks!
Setting up my booth with Jasmin and Phil, and realizing that all my meticulous checklists and packing paid off, and I didn't forget a thing. Whew! (Don't miss the time-lapse video of booth set-up below!)
Seeing everything come together after months of research, planning, and agonizing. (This online class from Creative Live was crucial to my success! I highly recommend it to anyone preparing to sell at a craft fair.)
Talking with prospective customers! I loved explaining how each piece was made, answering questions about my process, getting feedback, overhearing people gush (!), learning what pieces people are drawn to (or not drawn to), and geeking out about welding with the few people who had some experience welding. (Side note: Working a booth all day is exhausting! I'm an extrovert and enjoy this kind of social challenge, but I can't imagine how introverts manage it!)
Seeing friends! I had a bunch of friends and family members show up to support me, and that made my day. I felt like I was at my own birthday party! Also, I ran into a few friends who came to the show not knowing I'd be selling there. Those surprise reunions were so much fun!
Getting ideas for new pieces. I had some unexpected hits (like the Prism Stands!), and it gave me ideas for new directions to pursue with my work.
Making money! I had no idea what to expect going into it, but I sold way more pieces than I'd expected, and I'm pleased with my sales.
And most importantly, feeling like this business is a real thing. It was magical seeing my vision come together in real life.
Below is a time-lapse video that shows how Jasmin, Phil, and I transformed a 10'x10' space in a warehouse into a welcoming little room in just over two hours. The three of us are a well-oiled machine: We've built two Burning Man theme camps together, and set up countless campsites. I couldn't have asked for a better build team! I definitely couldn't have gotten through the last few months without their constant emotional and logistical support. Not to mention that they kept me fed, hydrated, caffeinated, and sane throughout the show itself -- so grateful. On Sunday, my best friend from high school, Yennie, took a shift at the booth so that I could slam some food and use the restroom. Truly a team effort!
A couple other thank-yous... Huge kudos to my studio-mate Jeff (the woodworker behind Krakatoa Design), who's a craft fair veteran -- I can't tell you how many times I bugged him with questions about the minutiae of booth set-up and logistics! And it was great having company during those long days at the shop. And lastly, a big thank you to my friends and family who braved the lines and the crowds to come support me, customers who paid me real money for things that I made, and everyone who's shown their support for me and my fledgling business over the last year.
If you missed this craft fair, you have one more chance to shop Elektra Steel before the holidays! Come by the Urban Air Holiday Market next Sunday, December 13th -- it's at Pier 70 in the Dogpatch, from 11am-5pm. I'm excited to do it all again in just over a week! See you there!
(All photos by Phil Reyneri)