Fair warning, this could get long. Thank you if you stick it out.
After four years of making pottery and three years of selling in commission/rent based retail locations I've finally decided to put my big girl panties on and set up at a local in person event. I'm both excited and terrified. It took a lot of contemplation to get here and I'm going to review the barriers: Smallest to largest. Spoiler alert, I'm the biggest problem.
Presentation: We've gone to craft shows, flea markets, pottery shows and I've walked around fantasizing about how I'd present my work. In my mind my space is virtually irresistible. An oasis. Have a seat on a moss covered rock, dip your favorite mug into the margarita waterfall and enjoy a bird's song. I'll sashay over in my colorful swooshy hippie pants and give you a sliced lime. Ha ha ha. That's too much, but maybe you see it. Peaceful. That's my vibe. I can dream up a really cool presentation, but I need to know if I can actually stand there selling pots before I invest in it.
Goals: At the right venue, a potter can sell in one day what I sell in a month, so that's one good reason to set up, but I have to consider my goals. I love making pots at my own pace. I don't really consider the possibility of making a living at it because I don't want it to be a job. As for sales I track dollars but more importantly pieces sold so that I know how much more pottery I can make to maintain a decent selection. I love that people want my work. If I can spend my days doing something that I love and people respond by buying it, that's my ideal. It's not about money to me, it's about making pots and sending them to their homes so I can make more. I make a slight profit, but nothing that someone could live on. I just want to make pottery.
Venue: My debut is not a big high pressure juried show. It's a local spot that I'm already comfortable with, provided by a community minded entrepreneur that I like, and overall it's real low key. I'm not sure how well we'll do, but right now that doesn't matter to me. The experience matters. I'm carefully inviting people out, I'll even invite my neighbors and townspeople in a few days, but I despise the idea of being pushy. No, I won't do pushy. I hope to see some familiar faces, I hope to meet some people who know me through social media, and I hope some neighbors come out.
The Pottery: The other day I revealed to my dad that we were committed to setting up for an event and I was really nervous about it. He immediately jumped into an uninterruptible pep talk about how wonderful my pottery is, that there's no reason to feel insecure about it, how I should hold my head up high and proudly show off what I do. Sigh. I'm not worried about the pottery. I'm happy with my current skill level. I'm better than I was last year and if I keep going I'll be better next year. If you really think about it, using your hands to turn a lump of mud into anything useful is kind of amazing. So, yeah. I'm aware of my "place" as a potter. There are beginners and there are masters and somewhere in between is me. I've listened to criticisms of my work and have observed people experiencing my work and I adjust if they're right. No big deal. It's all growth. I'm proud of my work, but you won't catch me boasting about it. Proud, yes, but not boasting.
The Human: Here's the biggest problem. It's me. Some asshole told me that I have resting bitch face. Unapproachable, the asshole said. So in the times that I've been put into situations where people were looking at me I over compensate by never allowing myself to be relaxed and I make a weird, inauthentic smile. Like a crazy person. Now let's add on that I'm NOT a salesperson and I'm uncomfortable in crowds. I'm not shy. I'm just.. the way I explain it is that I'm good with a person but I'm not good with people. I struggle with small talk but I thrive in conversation. If you meet me in passing in the context of my pottery you'll probably sense my discomfort but if you get to know me, you'd probably like me. But I can't get to know everyone. Ain't nobody got time for that. I guess it's called awkward, and my pots deserve better than me, so that's why I sell in stores and online.
This is my biggest worry, that people will be interested in the pots but that I'll scare them off with my weird mannequin smile that hurts my face.
I intend to make a blog post about how it goes after my in person debit June 25th 11-3 at Pop's Pub in Muskego. Stay tuned.