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Best Customers Ever

Anodyne Design at the Market

I spent a lovely day at the RiverFront Market on Saturday. It was hot, and humid, and that part really wasn’t so great. But the people at the market make it so worth it.

To the customer who came to buy a new wallet for her husband, and showed me his very well-worn one she bought from me before, thank you. I love seeing something I’ve made put to such use that it’s literally falling apart. And to know that it was so well loved that when it did fall apart you came back to get another one just like it is so wonderful.

To the customer who came by to tell me she bought a Little Hootie Owl mobile from me awhile ago and that she and her little one love it, thank you.

To the customer who bought a wallet from me two weeks ago and came back to request a custom order, thank you. I am so glad the first wallet was such a hit!

To the customer who looked familiar, because I’ve seen you so many times before, because you’ve bought from me on many occasions, thank you.

Little Hootie Owls at the Market

I can’t think of a better testament to my work than the fact that you came back to tell me you still love what you bought and to buy more. I truly have the best customers ever. Thank you for the wonderful day at the market.

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Happy Earth Day

Today was Earth Day. Over the weekend, Anodyne Design participated in the Earth Day Festival at Forest Park Nature Center. After the recent heavy rains and extensive flooding, and the unseasonably cool weather, I was worried that the event would be a bust. The day was cold, but bright and calm, and people came to the festival in spite of the temperature.

More than once, someone came by my booth to tell me they still had and used something they purchased from me years ago. Someone showed me the wallet her daughter still uses, which I sold to her 4 years ago. Someone else told me that she has several of my bags, each of which serves a specific purpose, and then bought a new one to add to her collection. She mentioned that when she first bought from me, she thought my prices were a little high, but now that she’s seen how well my bags last, she understands.

And it’s true– buying from a small, local business is going to cost you more up front. I can’t compete with an economy of scale, so my materials cost more. But my materials are also of better quality, or come with story behind them (like my wallets made from recycled pants). I make everything myself, which takes time, but it also means that you know who made your wallet, or bag, or owl, and I think that naturally leads to a higher quality of work, because I’m personally invested in each and every piece. And of course, there’s the thing that people mentioned over and over again this weekend– my items last. Buy a coin purse from me and use it every day, and it will still be in good shape in a few years. Buy one from a big store, and chances are, it will start to fall apart before you are ready to buy a new one.

Thanks to everyone who came to the Earth Day Festival, whether you bought something from me or not. It was wonderful to see how many people care about our planet and want to do their best by it.

Here’s a fun Earth Day fact about Anodyne Design: all my Little Hootie Owls are made with felt that’s made from post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. No sheep involved, and a few less plastic bottles to find their way into the giant ocean garbage vortex. Yay!

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An Owl Wedding

A couple of dear friends of mine got married last October, and they asked me to make their wedding favors, a massive parliament of Little Hootie Owls.

Each guest received a box upon arriving at the reception. The box was labelled with their table number and contained a Little Hootie Owl. We also decided it would be a good idea to make Big Hoot owls for the bride and groom.

They sort of served as off-the-cake cake toppers, or maybe, a guard of honor for the cake? I love to think that the Big Hoots and the Little Hooties made a sweet little memento that people will actually keep. Something worth holding on to, that serves as a warm reminder of a lovely day. Not that little bags of jordan almonds aren’t totally awesome or anything.

Thanks, friends, for letting me be a part of your wedding.

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Some New Things…

A couple of new things I had at the market this weekend:

Pouches made with osnaburg fabric and appliqued with bunting, trees, or owls.

Little Hootie Owl Mobiles!

This week I plan on making some more card wallets and maybe some new bags. I seem to have a hard time getting started on projects when I come home from a long day of work, so we’ll see how that actually goes.

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Rain, Rain, Go Away

Yesterday turned into a gray, rainy day at Rhapsody in Bloom. I was afraid there would be more of that today, but the forecast looks like it will be sunny and pleasant all afternoon. Hooray!

Come see Anodyne Design, and about 50 other artists, at Rhapsody in Bloom today in the Luthy Botanical Garden from noon – 5pm. The garden and the art are both worth it.

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Then and Now: What I’ve Learned About Setting Up A Craft Fair Booth

I was working on this post when my computer crashed. And I forgot it never got officially published. So here it is, a week and a half later…

Another day, another booth photo. While I was at Sommerfest today, some friends reminded me of how much my booth has changed since I first started doing markets and craft shows. So I thought I’d look back at what my very first booth set-ups looked like, and I was surprised. I didn’t realize how much my set up had changed in the last two years. Check out this photo of my first craft show booth:

Two little tables, with room for everything I had for sale. No display pieces, no fitted table covers. When I first found this image, I was sure it had to be from at least 3 years ago. But really, I’ve only been doing craft shows for just over 2 years now.

Some things I’ve learned in the last two years about setting up a booth:

  1. Have multiples. People are attracted to groups of like items. They don’t pay much attention to single items that don’t seem to fit into a group… it’s much harder to sell that last one of something.
  2. Group similar items together. I’ve noticed that when I have similar items scattered throughout my display, people don’t always realize they have more options. They don’t naturally look over the rest of your display to see if that style of coin purse they like is in a pattern they like somewhere else.
  3. Make prices easy to see. If people can’t quickly find a price for an item, they’re likely to set it down and move on rather than ask for a price. Consider putting a price on every single item, because sometimes people will miss even the most obviously placed signs.
  4. Use height. I tend to be attracted to booths that make a good use of vertical space as well as the flat space on top of tables. It draws my eye, and gives the appearance that there’s a lot to see at this booth.

Wind-proofing your booth is probably important, too, but that’s not a thing I’ve mastered yet.

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Another Market Day

I don’t normally share photos of my entire booth at the RiverFront Market, because I always feel that everything going on in the background sort of takes away from the aesthetic quality of the picture. But here’s a picture of my booth at the market today anyway. It was about 20 degrees cooler today, and so much better than last week! I worked on more Little Hootie Owls all day, and most of them are ready for stuffing. I expect to finish a lot of them while I’m at Sommerfest tomorrow. And once I finish this batch of owls, I’ll have them in enough colors to start putting together some owly mobiles.

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Market Season Begins

Today was the first RiverFront Market of the season. The sky was blue and the weather was warm, and it was nice to see familiar faces again. After making what felt like a million little hootie owls for a friend’s wedding last fall, I took a bit of a break from owls and had almost none left. I finally sat down this past week and made a whole mess of them. A few have already gone to new homes, but there are still plenty waiting for that special someone. Soon, I’ll be putting some of these little guys into mobiles. A whole parliament of owls is always better than one, right?

Thanks to everyone who stopped by and said hello at the market today! I hope to see even more familiar faces (and new ones) next week. I saw sugar snap peas, and lettuce, and tomatoes, and fresh herbs this week. Even if you don’t need a little hootie owl, a trip to the market is worth it.

I’ll be down on the riverfront again next Saturday, from 8am until noon. And Sunday, I’ll be out at Sommerfest in Hickory Grove Park from noon – 5pm. Sommerfest is an annual event held by the Peoria German American Society, and is a fun way to get out and enjoy some German food, music, and beer. And arts and crafts. And air rifles. How could you miss that? See you next weekend!

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Underground Fine Art Spring Fling

My first show of the season, the Underground Fine Art Spring Fling, is this Sunday. I’m a little surprised by how much I’m looking forward to it. Sometimes I forget how much like interacting with artists and buyers in person. It’s nice to be surrounded by real people who enjoy handmade as much as I do.

I’ve been doing the typical last minute creative rush. But this time, I’ve focused on working with all the scraps of fabric I’ve been hoarding for awhile, so many of my new items are made from fabric that would have been otherwise discarded. I’m especially in love with a couple of wristlets I made with little bits of patchwork trimmed from quilts I’ve finished for myself and loved ones. Somehow, that seems more special than just a wristlet made with fresh fabric. These wristlets have a personal story attached to them that makes me happy.

If you are in the area, I’d love for you to drop by, even just to say hello! I’ll be there with over 40 other vendors, plus a great local restaurant, Pepper’s Cafe, will be selling food there. You could make a whole afternoon of it! Here’s the info:

Underground Fine Art Spring Fling
Sunday, March 27, 2011
10 am – 4 pm

Cornerstone Building
321 NE Madison Ave
Peoria, IL
Happy Weekend, everyone! I’m back to last minute sewing!