Today was day three of a five day show. It was also the longest day of the show at 12 hours. Saturday we close at 7 pm. Sunday we close at 5, but then follows pack up and out. We will be lucky to be back in the hotel by 9 pm.
Every year the shows get harder and harder. I have been producing and selling my work, both wholesale and retail for a very long time. I'm what you might call a 'veteran'.
Since my goal from the very first day was to earn an income from producing textiles I realized very early that some shows attracted customers more willing, or able, to pay a premium for artisan designed and made goods. The shows that did attract enough buyers generally had different standards for environment, provided more services, and always cost more. But it became apparent very quickly that a show that provided all that was a much better use of my time and money than doing the other shows.
But whichever type of show a crafts person does, there is no getting around the fact that it is hard. It is hard mentally, especially if you are an introvert. It is also very hard physically. And getting harder, the older we get.
One of the difficult things is understanding the customer. Some of them simply cannot afford my prices. Some of them want to justify my prices by finding out how much time it takes to make an item. The question "How long did it take to make that scarf" is not going to get a definitive answer. Not that I couldn't tell them within five minutes exactly how long it took, but because it really isn't any of their business. The factors that go into pricing go way beyond how long it took.
So now I explain that I work in batches and a batch of scarves takes days. I also point out that I have been weaving for 40 years and my skill at making textiles is a culmination of those 40 years.
At this show I was approached by an earnest duo who were trying to convince me to let them help bring my textiles to a retail market. If I were 30 or even 20 years younger, I might have explored the concept further. But I've done wholesale, I've done consignment, I've done with working that hard. So I declined that opportunity. I hedged on a special commission. For that I will wait and see if I'm contacted. But that might get the no word, too.
In terms of my career, my life, I'm over the hump. Now I need to think hard about what I want to do with what is left of it.
RIP Leonard Cohen, joining the ranks of talented musicians and friends who have gone on to whatever there is after this...
Currently reading The Sheperds Crown by Terry Pratchett