Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sakura Con Artist Alley Experience

There has been quite a bit of chatter on the Mom's Basement Team about selling in an artist alley!  So I thought I'd write a more in-depth entry about my experience vending at Sakura Con's AA, along with some hints and tips.  The tips are highlighted in yellow so you don't have have to read through EVERYTHING.  There is also a list at the bottom of this post.

This was my first artist alley experience, so granted, I'm no expert!  However, I have sold at a few cons in the dealer's/exhibitors area and at 50+ craft fairs, and I've found that there are a number of similarities.

Thursday, April 5 - Set Up Day

The first challenge of the AA process is figuring out where to unload your vehicle!   The Washington State Convention Center was kind enough to lend out their large dollies.  You don't get that kind of service everywhere, so it's a good idea to be prepared with your own pushcart, folding dolly, or army of people willing to do manual labor.  If you have more than one load, make sure you bring a friend to watch your goods while you return to your car to get the rest of your stuff.  I've found that while the other vendors are generally very honest people, there will be convention center staff, A/V crews, decorators, etc, roaming around the hall. 

Sakura Con was very organized and we were able to pick up our badges easily.  We found our table and uh oh . . . it was tiny. A 8' table is not much room, and I was shocked by how little we were able to fit on it.  I tried to upgrade to a 10' x 10' booth, but they were sold out.   Do a mock-up of your display at home so you know how much room you have. I am still kicking myself for not taking my own advice!  After about an hour of decorating, this is what we ended up with:

Bit of Sugar booth at Sakura Con Artist Alley
See those two girls?  They, too, were vendors, and vendors are likely to be your best customers because they are there all 3-4 days and they are making money so they will be spending money!  If you do cons regularly, you will even start to recognize the same people as there are a number of pros who travel around the country from con to con.  These vendors are some of the nicest, friendliest people I have met, and they have given me great advice. 

At this point, Brad was getting HANGRY (so hungry he was angry) and needed to be fed, so we just did a quick lap around the room to see who else was vending, aka make my shopping list!

Here are some miscellaneous set-up day tips:

1.  As you go through the setup process, you will realize that you've forgotten to do or bring a number of items.  Make a list of things to bring the next day.  Write it down - if you forgot it the first time, you might forget it the second time. Can you see what we forgot to bring?  Our banner - BIG mistake!  There's not much you can do when you're 2,500 miles from home,  so we improvised with a small framed sign.

2.  Wear comfortable shoes. 

3.  Bring food and water - the concessions are usually not open.  Hotel and convention center vending machines charge exorbitant prices!

4.  If it's cold, layer!  If it's hot, be as nekkid as you're comfortable with.  Heating and A/C units are usually off on setup day - boo!  Even if they are on, most convention and exhibition halls have large walls/doors that are left open during move in so any heat/cool air escapes anyway.

5.  Bring plastic tablecloths to cover your table at the end of the day.   It deters theft - if they can't see it, they can't want it, so they won't steal it.  It also prevents people from browsing after hours . . . browsing and accidentally spilling their soda all over your table :( 

6.  Allow yourself the whole day to set up.  It always seems to take twice as long as you think it will. 

7.  Test the cellular reception.  Whether you are using Propay, Square, a traditional terminal, etc., you will need to get a line out to gain credit card authorizations.  If you are using a traditional terminal and your signal is weak, make sure your terminal has software to do a store and forward.  This is a HUGE advantage over Square/Propay type swipers, and I can't tell you how many times it has come in handy at larger conventions/shows.  If you are using a Square/Propay type of system, the best advice I can give is to bring a backup phone, backup battery, or power pack.  Signal searching sucks the life out of your phone so quickly. 

In the next post, I'll continue this series on AA tips.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Arpakasso Jewelry

It was Arpakasso love at first sight . . . *sigh*  Since they are nearly impossible to buy in the US, I can't hop on the plane to Japan, and I can't steal one from a little kid (kidding), I've decided to create my own Arpakasso items.  Here's my first piece, a kawaii Arpakasso necklace for $9.50:

Arpakasso necklace

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Arpakasso family has landed at Honolulu International Airport!

Arpakassos disembarking the airplane with their kawaii luggage. 

I should be working right now, but I'm so excited to get my hands on my Arpakassos I can't concentrate!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Arpakasso Love!

As the creative director of Bit of Sugar, it's only natural that I have a predetermined, genetic tendency to gravitate towards all things cute.  So when I saw a pic of an Arpakasso on tumblr, I got hit HARD with a kawaii anxiety attack.  What is that, you ask?  It's an irrational, oh-my-god, scrunching my nose and shoulders while squirming with happiness, have to hug myself, my tummy is tickly, I HAVE TO HAVE IT NOW OR I AM GOING TO DIE feeling that turns my body to jelly.  

Brad got me a little family of 8, and their plane will be arriving on Monday.  I was lucky enough to have received a pic of the plushies, and couldn't help but do cute things to them.  Introducing the Bit of Sugar Arpakasso family . . .

Introducing Bit of Sugar's Arpakassos

Arpakassos love France!

Arpakassos dining in France.

Arpakassos frolicking in a field.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pike Place Market

A trip to Seattle just wouldn't be complete without a few delicacies from Pike Place Market!  We had an extra day after Sakura Con and stopped by the market to look for some fresh inspiration for Bit of Sugar's 2012 holiday line.


Lunch at the Athenian Inn (featured in Sleepless in Seattle).  

Beecher's cheese - the humbolt fog is my favorite stinky cheese.

In addition to food stalls, there are flower vendors, crafters, and artists lining the halls of the market.

My favorite donuts from the Daily Dozen.  

On the side of Pike Place Market, down a tiny thorough fair called Post Alley, there is the infamous gum wall.  As gross as it sounds, it smells even worse.  Think thousands of pieces of juicy fruit + saliva + sugar.  Delicious?  I think not.  Still, we feel compelled to leave a contribution everytime we visit Pike's.

Pike Place Gum Wall Windowsill

I <3 you!

I suppose this is more permanent than writing our initials in the sand . . . 

Sakura Con 2012

I'm finally done sorting through the thousands (yes, THOUSANDS) of pics that Brad and I took at Sakura Con 2012, so it's time to do a blog post!

This was our first mainland show and I was unbelievably worried - were the props protected from damage, would TSA go through my jewelry bins, were our products out of touch with a mainland market?  Thankfully, our artist alley table was a success and we'll definitely be back in 2013 with a full-blown exhibitors booth.

Here are a few pics of our table:

Bit of Sugar Sakura Con 2012 Artist Alley Table

Bit of Sugar Miniature Potion Bottle Necklaces

We met some wonderful artists and vendors:

Kim and friends at GetaStudios - Seattle-based artists with Hawaii ties. We hope to see them at Kawaii Kon next year!

Our super-awesome neighbors Atomic Laundry - Brad got so many compliments on his fluorescent green leg warmers :)

And we were so happy to see Arda Wigs, the BEST wig company EVER!  They sell at Kawaii Kon, so Hawaii cosplay fans, you can find the perfect wig here!  

I fart rainbows.  Yes I do.  In my 30+ years, there are only two drawings that have ever spoke to me, and one is from Enfu/I fart rainbows.

Almost everyone had a spiffy costume on, and we couldn't help but click away.  The following are a few of our favorite shots:

Rainbow Dash wearing our Nyan Cat scarf - LOVE IT!

I was a huge Sailor Moon fan growing up and so happy that it's made a comeback!  Unfortunately, that probably means I'm showing my age.  

Monday, March 5, 2012

Honolulu Festival

Thank you to everyone who stopped by our booth at Honolulu Festival this past weekend!  The festival celebrates the cultures of the Pacific.  Groups from Japan, Alaska, Australia, and more gather to perform native dances, cook up yummy delicacies, and sell handcrafted goods.  Bit of Sugar featured our Handmade in Hawaii shave ice and message in a bottle necklaces.

Bit of Sugar Shave Ice Necklaces and Keychains

Kawaii miniature food earrings.

Bit of Sugar Craft Fair Booth

One of the most colorful areas of the room was the Ennichi Corner, featuring carnival games, cotton candy, and of course, PRIZES!!!

Fishing for new friends!

An amezaiku artist was there handcrafting rabbits, flowers, dolphins, and all kinds of cute animals.  She starts with a molten mass of sugar and uses fans and scissors to shape and mold the candy.  

Takoyaki is a popular Japanese street food.  To the uninitiated, it may seem disgusting - little bits of octopus grilled in a pancake-like batter and topped with what can only be described as "special sauce."  However, when it's served right off the grill, it's a delicious little ball of happiness!

Takoyaki - yum!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

First Craft Fair of Spring 2012 Season

Last Saturday was the first craft fair of the spring 2012 season.  The fair was at Waialae Elementary, a tiny charter school perched on a hillside overlooking the ocean.

There was a cute little country fair tent filled with fresh cafe, baked goods including local favorites like butter mochi, and rows and rows of potted plants.

My favorite was the fresh lemonade stall selling REAL, FRESH lemonade . . . not the stuff from concentrate! I'm not too sure who tried to charge their $1 cup of lemonade, but as the sign says, it was cash only . . . and they meant it!  So cute!

As usual, our faux cupcake photo holders were one of our best sellers that day.  I'm getting a bit tired of placing them on cake tiers, so I tried laying them out on this gorgeous white ceramic platter I picked up at Goodwill for $1 - love it!

Here's a shot of our full length cafeteria table setup.  I rely so heavily on our Christmas tree displays during the holiday season that it's hard to adjust to the spring set up.  We've got a half dozen shows to go, so our display is a work in progress at this point.