And I’m not talking about the kind of Goose Egg I got from my dog last week when he knocked me down with his tied up self and I smacked my head against the disassembled racks laying on the pavement….no, I’m talking about the goose egg that occurs when you make no sales, the kind of goose egg that has happened to me exactly twice in twenty six years in business, once in 1986, and once, *sigh*, Saturday.
Goose Egg. No money, zero, zilch, a waste of time and energy and money paid for booth fees, and a waste of my talent, and friggen hard to deal with.
Of course, to be fair, the few customers that attended The Big Bear Brew Fest were not my people, but, being as how there was alcohol involved (BREW-fest, after all!) had there been more than twelve paying customers, I’m sure MY people might have made an appearance.
Alas, it was not so.
Goose Egg. As much of a pain as the goose egg my dog gave me, but this time in my ass, and my pocketbook, instead of on my forehead. Not as visible, but disheartening all the same!
Met some nice people, though…and also, unfortunately, a libertarian-esque couple, fellow vendors, who think it’s Obama’s fault that we’re in the mess we’re in, and that “Poor people are poor because they choose to be.” Really? Really??? This despite the fact that they too had a goose egg day…Ah, but wait, they have Social Security to pay their bills, and don’t have to rely on their rather badly done painted glassware to make a living. (but, I must add, that the very small crowd that did show up, was just the sort of crowd that might like this sort of craft-less craft, silly chotckes to go on their tables when they have barbeques and want to wear their “Kiss the Chef” aprons…wine glasses that have “Trophy Wife” written on them, dog bowls with bones painted on them, that sort of low brow crap. Goes very well with their Ayn Rand inspired bullshit about the poor “choosing” to be poor…tacky is as tacky does, to paraphrase Forrest Gumps mother.)
Now, as a skilled artisan that USED to be middle class, when there still WAS a middle class, but who is now terribly poor, and that NOT of my own choosing, I would like to point out some bits of of irony and error in this couples logic/viewpoint/judgment:
a.) they didn’t know who Ayn Rand was, despite parroting back to me all of her freaking talking points. (I, to the contrary, do know who she was, having read a couple of her books back in my twenties. I thought she was a selfish, unfeeling bitch back then, and I still do now! I think those who parrot her views, whether they actually know that they are her views or not, are selfish, unfeeling bitches as well!)
b.)Again, these bozos are on that most “socialist” of experiments, Social Security.
c.)They think UNIONS are the cause of our failing economy, and can’t see how Corporations outsourcing/downsizing, and deregulation, and banks selling us out have anything to do with the shape we’re in…it’s the Unions fault, they tell me, ALL the unions fault! (Idiots!) I’m not a huge (personal) fan of Unions, mostly because of my mom having to go on strike every couple of years when I was a kid, and, also due to not being able to get in the stage hands union back when I worked in the film industry (because it was too damned expensive to join!)…but I can certainly see the good unions have done, both for our country and the world. (I keep thinking about a line from a song by one of my favorite Irish rock bands, Black 47, that goes “And protect the proletariat from the bosses and their screws.”) Hell, would these morons even have their precious Social Security without the unions? I don’t think so.
d.) they STILL want to vote for Ron Paul. Really? Hows that gonna work? Oh wait, I have an idea, why don’t you two, and all your’ selfish, unfeeling bitch friends, write in Ron Paul on your’ ballot? After all, you can’t vote for “the MORMON”, now can you? That would be cool, this write in vote: then we would get to see what Obama might accomplish when he wasn’t worried about re-election…though the fact that a presidents first four years can be thrown away to insure re-election really disturbs me. What the fuck is the matter with our system that this should be the case?
That was a rhetorical question, btw!
Anyway, I walked away from these two douche-bags before I resorted to reaching out and throttling their sorry asses…though I did dearly WISH to do some throttling, I went back to talking to NICE people instead!
Before I get into writing about the nice people, I must say that spending years at The Renaissance Faire has pretty much ruined regular “crafts fairs” for me. I’m so used to high quality crafts/craftsmanship that the crapola that people sell at these events just doesn’t fly.
Here’s what I was selling, all designed and made by me, of course:
Here’s what “they” were selling:
(okay, so these are pics I got of the internet, but they’re a good representation of the things for sale!)
No comparison, right? So, do I choose to vend at the Chili Cook Off net week, which has over 2000 pre-sold tickets and an old west theme (so the corsetry might actually sell)(or it might not…), or do I NOT vend and hope that somehow the money I need just shows up on the side of the road somewhere? I gotta tell you, I just can’t take another goose egg day, nor paying $75 in vendor fees to have one. (What I really wish is that I were in the Bay Area, because there’s a “Prepare for the Playa” event next weekend, and I KNOW I would make money there, but I don’t have the gas money to drive my guzzler up there with all my stock. Double-sigh!)
So, as to the nice people. The couple across the way were really sweet! The guy, Billy, informed me they were NOT a couple, though they had been some thirty odd years ago, and now and forever they were good friends. Billy was a tall, thin, rather elegant looking black man with perfect teeth who played all manner of drums. He played, and sold Cd’s, some that he was the drummer on, and some recorded by the record company he worked for. Billy was approaching seventy, though he looked all of forty-five. (“Good Levis” my brother would’ve said) Very nice man, Billy was, and we talked about how these were not our people, our customers, our demographics, and how we needed to figure out what venues worked for us. I suggested music festivals, but then we commiserated about how inordinate the fees are for said music festivals. I mean one thousand dollars for your’ average festival, with SXSW going for five- grand! His friend, Maria, mid-sixties, and, sadly, not as well preserved but very, very sweet, was a hippie lady. She made necklaces and bracelets out of large and gorgeous beads cut from semi-precious stones, jade, moonstone and the like. They were really quite lovely, but she hadn’t sold a one either this day, or in the previous 3 days (I considered myself lucky that I hadn’t been there the previous days…what a tremendous waste of time and money that would’ve been!) She was, however, a bit of a psychic, and had given a few readings each day, and was selling packs of angel cards as well. Her readings were cheap, $10, and I couldn’t figure out why until we traded for one: Three cards, and she still had to read from the book, as she hadn’t learned the meanings by heart yet. She must’ve been pretty psychic though, because those three cards were incredibly accurate. First card was “career change” (well, DUH!!! I might’ve said!) followed by “trust” and “practice”.
My question, of course, had to do with leaving behind my 26 year long career, the one I went to school for, to pursue this “writing thing”. So many of my friends don’t get it, even some that love my writing and follow this blog “You’re a great designer!” they say “You’re so good at what you do!” And it’s true, I am, no need for false modesty. I make beautiful garments that make people feel gorgeous while wearing them. But what they don’t get is how soul-searing it is to not be able to make a living anymore at something I’m so good at. How frustratingly painful it is it is to hear someone who’s looking at one of my beautiful, well made corsets say “Oh! A hundred and fifty?” (which is SO cheap for a well made corset!) “I was thinking maybe forty bucks!” ( and this I can blame on the aforementioned outsourcing: when people are used to spending five-ninety-five on a t-shirt at Walmart, they can’t imagine why a piece of clothing should cost one-hundred and fifty dollars. Well…I live here, for one thing, not in India or China, so it costs me MORE to produce clothing. I have to pay myself more than a-buck-fifty a day!)(oh, did I mention that Billy and Maria were right next door to the “Fountainhead Thumpers”?)
Anyway, I just can’t make a living at this anymore…and despite what the powers that be tell us, the economy is getting worse for us artisans, NOT better. I can’t afford fees for my shows, I’ve already lost my house, I’m about to lose all my things in storage unless I get some money soon, I’m on a two-buck a day phone plan, and my phone goes “off-line” at least once a week. I often have to choose between dog food and people food and gas for the car…
I’m trying my damnedest to stay upbeat about about all this, and my life, and the state of the world (stoicism is an awesome philosophy!) but, when you’re constantly hearing “Your’ clothes are the most beautiful things for sale here…but I don’t wanna look closer, because money’s tight and I can’t afford them.” you get tired, and, yes, disheartened. I heard this over and over last weekend, at Pier Daze, the Long Beach Pirate Festival…in 2009 I made four grand there, in 2011, I made three grand. Last weekend I made seven-hundred dollars! Triple sigh!) I think it’s time for me to pass the mantle on to some younger designers, those that still have the juice for this life, who are still excited by it. I could even give them a few tips along the way…
Writing, however, has stolen my heart! I get the juice from it that I haven’t gotten from my business for a long time. I get to be creative when I write, and express myself. There are times when I write that the world around me disappears and the only thing that exists are the thoughts and feelings and words that flow from my mind to my fingers, to the computer screen. It’s a great feeling, and one I used to get from designing…okay, I still DO get it from designing once in a while, but, since I’ve ended up being a production sewer over the years, I don’t get to design enough to keep me in that zone. It’s a shame, really.
Another thing (and this is a delight!) writing doesn’t cost me anything to do! There are no hundreds, nay, thousands of dollars to spend on material, thus, there is no gamble as to whether it is cost effective. The only cost is time. The only gamble is time. I do, however, HAVE time, where as I do NOT have the hundreds or thousands of dollars for materials, booth fees, gas, etc.
Of course, I’m also not making any MONEY from writing as of yet, so, I gotta stick to my costume/clothing business, at least for the time being, until I can figure out a way to make the equation “words+readers=$$$” work for me. Hence the “trust” card. (see, I told you those cards were right on the money!)(Oh, I said money, lol…purely subconscious of me, I assure you!)
Then of course, there was the practice card, which I’m doing right now…I got in a rut for a bit, you see, when I felt guilty for not sewing because I was writing, then guilty for not writing because I was sewing, then just guilty, guilty, guilty, at which point I gave up and played spider solitaire on the computer. Ah, Baptist Guilt is a terrible thing, at least as bad as Catholic Guilt, or Jewish Guilt, and fully ingrained in me from my childhood…
But, it’s time to leave the guilt behind and just write, everyday, faithfully…okay, I’ll probably still feel guilty, but, WTF, I’ll feel guilty no matter what I do or don’t do, so, I might as well do the thing that gives me pleasure, and gets my creative juices flowing, and puts me in the zone.
And the thing that might just give me a comfortable life sometime in the future, I hope, I hope I hope! (“trust”, Darla, remember!)
The last reading I got, before this three-card, ten-dollar reading was from a woman I know well, a woman who has been reading the Tarot for forty some odd years. She was actually the first reader to ever grace the grounds of The Renaissance Pleasure Faire. She knows her cards well, and that too was a very accurate reading. One of the cards that was prominent was ‘The Hanged Man’ which she said represented equilibrium. (we all know that I’ve lost some of my balance over the last few months!) she told me I needed to remember to do the things that keep me balanced, like eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep, and perhaps even meditation. She’s absolutely correct in this, so I’m going to stop “practicing” my craft right now and take the gorgeous dog out for a walk by the lake! This is the life I want, where I get to travel, and explore, and meet new people, see new things, rediscover some old, half-forgotten things, and then share them in the most delightful way I can, so you can be sure I’ll be back soon!
Oh, and, I WILL get to giving out the Versatile blogger awards as soon as I possibly can…I don’t have internet at the moment, so I have to drive to Starbucks to go on line, and I haven’t had several hours yet to sit and figure out who exactly I want to award it to…it’ll happen, I promise!