Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Program Notes

Well, that's assuming I actually DO have a program going on over here. Mostly it's been a mix of slacking and revving up for fall.

The slacking part came after the Anacortes show at the beginning of the month. It was the best ever, and I needed some time after that to just recuperate from it all. A weekend off to go camping. A few days of just taking it easy, doing the bare minimum to keep the balls in the air.

Now is the revving up part. The fall newsletter and introduction of all the fall stuff. The Puyallup Fair in September. The beginning of all the fall shows, which immediately become winter holiday hoopla etc. It's all just about to pop.

So that's what today's blog is about - the stuff about to pop. If you're thinking it's just about time for another newsletter, you're right. I'm going to send it off next Tuesday - a week from today. Nobody is really thinking about fall too much until after Labor Day weekend is out of the way. So next week will be the newsletter in the mailbox and the email inbox and also here on the blog.

The website will be updated accordingly next week, with a little different look - new colors and photos of the seasonal stuff.

And Friday of next week is the first day of the Puyallup Fair. It runs Sept 9 - 25 and I'll be back in the Artists in Action area under the grandstand. I'll do a separate post with all the details on that show next week. But this is just a heads up. Click the link above for advance info, early tickets etc. The first day is free admission from 10am to noon if you bring a donation to their food drive to the gate. Insider tip: a lot of folks rush the gates early, get their re-entry stamp and then head off to their day, coming back later in the afternoon or evening to actually do the first day of the fair. It's a huge rush, though, so you have to like crowds.

Gosh, I just can't believe it's all happening already and that summer is over and September is here. The tomatoes are still green. But the leaves are already falling off the trees and most of the garden has keeled over dead. I guess that means it's just another crap tomato year.

Well, Tally ho. Enjoy the last few days of it. Meet me back here Tuesday.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Anacortes Arts Festival - Last Summer Fair

OMG - It's time once again for the Anacortes Arts Festival. It's happening this weekend, Friday through Sunday, and it's a humdinger. It's the 50th anniversary of this annual festival and it should be a blast.

On August 5, 6 and 7, 2011, The downtown streets will be filled with 250 outstanding juried Booth Artisans, music on multiple stages, Culinary Art and beer garden featuring ethnic and regional tastes, and a creative Youth Area.

The north end of the Festival features Arts at the Port fine art exhibition showcasing work by artists spanning 50 years of the Festival's Permanent Collection. Experience Art with demonstrating artists and a new Gorilla/Guerrilla Open Art area round out the north Commercial Festival events.

The info:

Dates: Friday through Sunday, Aug 5 - 7
Hours: Fri and Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 10am-5pm

Soapworks booth location - NEW THIS YEAR! I'm an invitee this year, which means I must have had a pretty good show last year, despite the rain on Saturday. So I picked a new spot. I'm one block south of my old space. I'm in the 500 block, meaning half-way inbetween 5th and 6th Street. That's the Gere-A-Deli block, so about half a block south, right near that alley, and I"m in the center of the street with all my sides open, so you can see me better. It's space #512C if you've got a map (map located HERE).

This is my last outdoor summer show this year - I don't have any more scheduled for August. So I'm hoping for a bonanza. And if you wanted to try any of the summer seasonal scents, this will probably be it. In just a few short weeks the fall newsletter goes out, the Puyallup Fair starts, and it's going to be Autumn over here at the studio, no matter that we still have warm weather outside. Come and get it while the getting's good!

Monday, August 01, 2011

Change Ain't Always Good

The biggest thorn in my side in this business is packaging. Or changes in the containers and doo-dabs that I use to package my products. Just when you think you've got it all figured out and stream-lined, something goes belly up.

This week it's those dang slidey lip balm tins. Something on the manufacturer's side changed, and the new batch of tins I got last week was different. I noticed it was a little harder to slide the top on while I was making up a bunch of new flavors for the Bellevue show (on Thursday afternoon just before I headed out the door to set up for the show). So I knew something was afoot, but I had to take them out on the road anyway.

Almost everyone who tried to slide them open to get a sniff of the flavor had trouble with them. It was awkward. And not fun. Because most of my flavors are the older style tin and are so easy - they just glide and snap like a breeze. But the new ones don't "pinch and pull" the same way. They have to lift and slide. I've opened like a hundred now and even I still can't quite get it open easily. Imagine it in the hands of the little girls who want to try the Raspberry Soda or Root Beer. Lids are on the pavement. Little fingers are in the balm. And I'm standing there trying to explain it all, feeling foolish. Bleh.

So now what? It's the same old question. Do I spend a lot of time trying to find new ones just like it that work better? Do I change the container altogether? I've had those things for years and years. Customers won't recognize a tube-like thing. And I've got all those darn labels made up already. Changing them means throwing out money on the labels. And there's no guarantee that another supplier will have something better. They probably all come from the same place.

It happens constantly. The (fill in the blank - ribbon, bottle, label size) suddenly isn't available any more. Or out of stock for months at a time, during the whole busy summer season, because a container from China is lost, stuck in customs or whatever. The manufacturer went out of business. The supplier discontinued carrying them, and nobody else has them. It's all the same. A headache.

I'm taking them out to Anacortes this weekend because I have to. People expect them. They come to stock up. They recognize them instantly - I've had those same tins for a dozen years now. And if it's like last weekend and they struggle with the lid, ultimately tossing it back instead of deciding to buy it because it's just too darn hard to open? then they are toast, people.

I added the lip balms to my line mostly so that all the young girls who come to sniff the soap, but don't have enough allowance money for soap bars, will still have an affordable little something to buy from me. Girls just lurve them some lip goop too. They can never have enough. So it's been all good. But it's a lot of work to make all those flavors and not a lot of profit in it.

I'll just have to think about it another day. My brain hurts right now, going around and around. It's MONDAY. This kind of stuff is too much for a Monday after a long 3-day show weekend.