Saturday, May 16, 2009

Kirkwood update

So I woke up this morning at 6am with the forecast looking the exact same as when I went to bed. I talked to my friend who was going to be in the booth next to me - she had done a risk vs reward assessment and decided not to go. I turned on the weather channel and mulled it over for about an hour. I called another friend who was already there and said there were a lot of vendors setting up. I decided that I would be uptight all day if I didn't go and at least give it a shot, so I got in my car and headed over. The morning was nice, albeit humid, so I was feeling hopeful. I was next to some friends who were keeping up with the forecast throughout the morning, and got the news that storms were rolling in around 1 and were supposed to last all afternoon. They started to break down around noon. Still uncertain, I took a few extraneous things to my car and kept up the mental debate. Around 1:30 the dark clouds rolled in, the skies opened up, and within 10 minutes I had a 3 foot wide river running through the back of my booth, which was jammed full of people trying to wait out the downpour. My gut said to cut my losses and go, so I started making very wet trips to my car. I got soaked, but my products did not, which was what was important to me. It had lightened up a bit as I took the last load, but was still drizzling when I got home. I again looked at the forecast, which had 80 to 100% chance of thunderstorms throughout the rest day. It stopped drizzling around 3 and... IT DIDN'T RAIN ANOTHER DROP ALL DAY. It actually cooled off, and the afternoon turned out to be a lovely one with the sun occasionally peeking out. I heard a lot of people showed up at the festival. I keep telling myself that I made the best decision I could with the information I had, but I'm still feeling a little remorseful. I actually had a pretty good morning sales-wise, even though there weren't that many people out. It was indicative that if it had been a nice day, I probably would have had a really good day. And if I had I stuck it out, it may have been a good day after all. Sigh.

I realize that I'm not a great candidate for festivals. I don't like the unpredictability, and the extreme weather wreaks havoc on my products. I didn't intend for festivals and markets to become the mainstay of my business plan, but they are the low hanging fruit so to speak, so I've crammed my calendar full of them for this year. I thought that I would be able to focus on promoting the retail store and making wholesale contacts in between, (as well as keeping my site updated and sending more marketing emails, blogging more, sending out press releases, etc etc.) but I am a one person shop and I've found that getting ready for festivals is taking up the majority of my long hours. That being said, I've noticed a considerable jump in foot traffic at the store since Inman Park, and I've made some wholesale contacts as well. Most of the festivals and markets I've participated in this year have been wonderfully profitable, but I have had a couple of bad weather days where I came home determined to about-face to a business model that mandates I conduct all of my business in a controlled climate. Immediately. But I made the decision to bootstrap my business for the time being, so I'm doing exactly what I need to be doing. Except for today.

I'm not one for regret, so I'm trying to look at this as a learning experience. This whole thing has gotten me thinking about my process and business in general. I'm usually pretty decisive, and I usually make good decisions. So when I don't, I have the tendency to beat myself up. I need to work on this, because all we have is our intuition and our knowledge of past events, and there's no way to accurately predict the outcome of something. This is the ultimate truth for running a business in general. Most people who do festivals for a living have a "you win some, you lose some" mentality, and I can't say after 6 years of doing this that I've ever been able to get my head around that. And the more I've thought about it, I realized I don't really have that attitude in regards to my business in general either. Not to say making a wrong move should be taken casually, but I know small business owners who accept their mistakes or bad judgment calls with humility and without a lot of mental anguish, and they seem to have happier lives as small business owners. That being said, I have to remind myself that I'm transitioning out of an industry that wasn't very forgiving about bad judgment calls, so I made it a point not to make them. I am realizing now that this was an awfully rigid way to live and doesn't give you much of an opportunity for personal growth. So I'm having some growing pains, but at least I finally feel that I'm going in the right direction. I'm screwing up all over the place, and I'm weathering the storm.


June Shin said...

Hey, I came by to see you after the rain stopped, but noticed that you were gone. My friend and I were wondering if we should pack up, but we decided to stick it out. Anyway, I plan on stopping by ICE, so I'll stop by!

Emilie said...

The packing up was a last minute decision that I wish I hadn't made! I've been meaning to email you b/c I still want to trade. Please do come see me at ICE!