Wimberly: Texas Markets

This post, as well as a few others like this, profiles one of the many markets in Texas. I attend markets regularly as both vendor and customer, and there’s a reason for that: they are so fun!

 

CANVA Wimberly Market Days

Wimberly, Texas is a Hill Country gem. It’s market is one of the best, no doubt. With 500 vendors, you know you’ll find something. This market has been around since the sixties and continues to shine the first Saturday of the month from March to December.

I went in April, just before my birthday, and what a weekend that ended up being. The weather was so sketchy! That morning of the market wasn’t so bad- it was just cloudy and a little drizzly every now and then. The next day though was… something. Let me just tell you about the craziest day of weather I have experienced so far in my life. I woke up that Sunday morning so that I could attend the 8:15 Mass, instead of the 11. I knew there was a storm coming that morning and didn’t want to get caught. Also, my boyfriend was making the trip to see me for my birthday, which was later that week. Anyway, I’m driving to the church, and everything is calm, but off to the southwest I see the darkness. All morning on the news I saw severe thunderstorm warnings and tornado watches and warnings all in this system coming at me.

I made it to the church and went in with my purse stuffed with every bit of jewelry, money, and important documents (I was ready for my camper to get messed up with the wind). Sure enough, by the time communion was over, the storm hit. It was an angry storm. The wind was blowing so hard that the sheets of rain fell parallel to the ground. The air was green and hazy. The thunder was loud, and the lightning was bright. There was no way I was driving back home, so I went to the Starbucks a few blocks away and got my free birthday drink. I figured Starbucks was sturdier than home anyway. Just in the knick of time, my boyfriend got to my camper as the weather was letting up, but before he made it there, he drove passed a funnel cloud only 200 yards above the ground. That wasn’t even the same one that touched about ten miles from my home. That afternoon, sunny skies, making for a beautiful drive to Llano for some barbecue. Funny how Texas weather works.

 

So anyway, back to the market at Wimberly. It’s like a maze. There are so many paths and twists and turns with so many booths. What I love about the markets around here is that there are so many foods to try!!! Sampling is one of my favorite things to do on this planet. I samples olive oils and vinegars from the company in Dripping Springs. I ended up buying some pomegranate balsamic vinegar that goes great on asparagus and vanilla ice cream. I sampled tons of jellies and honey butters, too. Honey butter is absolutely delicious. Orange cranberry is my favorite flavor hands-down. I also sampled some apple butter, and ended up buying me a jar. It’s so good for you and can be put on toast, in oatmeal, or ice cream. I love ice cream. They have more than just food. There were antiques galore, goat’s milk soap (I got a bar), plants, furniture, cool signs, and the most beautiful bird houses. This man makes the most rugged, outdoors-y looking birdhouses, and none of them are the same. These birdhouses are so beautiful you’d want to keep them inside, like as a table centerpiece or something.

 

The best thing I got was what I went for- Mexican yard art. There’s a Mexican lady that’s there and in Fredericksburg all the time. She and her crew make all of the pieces themselves out of recycled metal- even cars. If you look closely on some of them you can still see the logos. She’s awesome. My family has bought from her before, but this time I wanted something for myself. After looking and looking, I settled on one of my most prized possessions- an armadillo in a cowboy hat. He’s the best.

 

If you do go to Wimberly’s Market Days, plan on doing much, much more than that. Downtown Wimberly has so many great shops and restaurants. Up Ranch Road 12 just a bit is Jacob’s Well- a gorgeous, hidden swimming hole. If you’re into it, there are tons of wineries and distilleries in the area. If you get hungry, I suggest making the drive up to Driftwood and eating at the Salt Lick. You won’t be able to drive home!

 

Hope to see you out there!

 

~Hannah ❤

Who Are We? (Part 2)

I don’t make everything by myself. This post is to introduce my makers and biggest helpers, my mom and dad. Thank y’all for everything!!! I love y’all. ❤

 

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Dad. He’s the biggest help, I must say. He’s got the tools, knowledge, skill, resources, and enthusiasm to make things happen. He does all the welding, cutting, and bending that I need done. He knows where to get materials. He’s full of ideas, too. Most importantly, he is so supportive! I am so excited about this business and have so many goals, and instead of reality-checking me, he gets excited with me.

It’s amazing how close this whole experience has made us. If our venture completely sinks, that’s okay, because nothing can replace the fun times we’ve had.

He does work as an operator half the time, but when he’s home and not helping me out with this stuff, he’s usually working cows or making kick-ass knives out of every material- antlers, rasps… anything. They are beautiful.

 

Then there’s my beautiful mama. She crochets things- like the scrubbies we always sell. She is the skeptic, as well. When we set a price, she gives her perspective “as a customer” and reality-checks me when Dad and I get too excited. It’s annoying at first, but in the end, I’m grateful. She has likely kept me from making a couple mistakes. She also lets me use the art supplies from her classroom (she’s an art teacher) when I need a little something.

As I said, she’s a teacher, so besides Christmas or Summer, she’s spends her days at work or chasing after my sister, who is in high school. She plays almost every sport and is in several clubs. She’s a hoot. When mom does have time to herself, she crochets, watches her Texans play ball, or hangs with our dogs, Ginger and Maggie, and the cat, Jo.

 

Both of them had made this journey so fun. So, so fun! The help they’ve given me has meant so much and made so many things possible. I love them so much, and I’m beyond thankful for everything they have done for me my entire life.

 

~Hannah ❤

 

Going Forth

This post is a continuation of last week’s “How We Got Started” post. This time, I’m going to talk more about marketing and upkeep.

 

Blog:

If you’re reading this, then obviously you know I started a blog. I want to take a minute to talk about how I started it.

To have a blog, you have to have words. So I wrote things. In just a few months I wrote almost a year’s worth of content, so that I could guarantee myself that I’d have something to post. Not just something to post, but something to post consistently. I used Google Drive to write and sort out every single draft and idea.

Next I just started taking pictures. People don’t read this days, really. They like pictures, even though, to be quite honest here, I don’t even have that many pictures. This has basically just become a way for me let ideas out of my head.

Anyway, I’m no photographer, but I do have a point-and-shoot camera and an iPhone (which has a damn good camera- good job Apple). My mom also is the Yearbook teacher, so I have access to Photoshop, should I want to use it. I edited my pictures to make them look as “pleasing to the eye” as I could. There’s also this website called Canva that has great content-creation tools that I use to make the images for Pinterest.

While I was writing things, I created (and am still always tweaking) a free website on WordPress.com. I’m cheap, so I left “wordpress” in the domain at the start, but with some budgeting can be gone.

The next thing I did feels almost (almost, but not completely) ridiculous: I made an editorial calendar.

I can’t even believe I just said editorial calendar. I try to make this blog as jargon-free is possible (even the word “jargon” is just jargon for “bullshit”) but sometimes you’ve just got to use the fancy words. It can be fun sometimes.

An editorial calendar is basically a chart or a schedule of content: what the content is, when it’s supposed to be published, etc. There are all kinds of programs out there that will do this, but I just used Excel. I have columns for “week number,” “date,” “title,” and “category.” Then I scheduled it in WordPress and set an alarm on my phone to make sure I remembered to share the post after it was published.

 

Email list:

Like every other blogger these days, I wanted an email list. As cliche as they are, I believe they can be effective if you do it right.

First thing I did was make a sign-up sheet. I sell my stuff in person at markets and such things, so the easiest way to get emails was to ask people to write them on a piece of paper.

Next I somewhat planned a schedule for these emails. By “plan a schedule” I mean I just thought about what day/time and how frequently I’d email.

Lastly, and most importantly, I planned a layout of the email. For one, I like to plan and structure things, and two, I wanted to establish some sort of backbone for the sake of consistency. Then, I just wrote out some drafts and ideas for what to say.

 

Created a Pinterest account

I wanted a Pinterest account so badly. I feel like a lot of business forget about Pinterest as a marketing platform. Given the nature of my posts (like how to print recipes on fabric), I felt like Pinterest was a great way to spread the blog around.

I just went on Pinterest, created a new business account (I wasn’t about to convert my personal one with its thousands and thousands of random-ass pins), and started Pinterest-ing. I made all kinds of boards before I even had pins.

If you aren’t already, go follow me on Pinterest!!!

 

Developed a digital marketing strategy:

Marketing is so important. You can’t have a business or project or anything without doing some kind of marketing. Maybe that’s my inner advertising student coming out, but I do think it’s true. If you want buyers/clients/readers, they have to know you exist in the first place.

So I developed a “strategy.” I tried to figure out a way that the business, the blog, and the Pinterest account could all work together and be as one. What it comes down to is they all share similar components, but they also needed to be able to stand on their own. One sells things, one tells people things, and the other shows people things.

Lastly, I had to balance them all, as far as time goes. I couldn’t post, email, and pin all at once. That’s stupid and annoying, so I made a “schedule” for when I’d do what.

 

 

As for the business itself:

The business is all I seem to think about. Sometimes I think way too much about it, and it stresses me out, which is not good. This business is fun. It’s giving me the chance to do something I love (make things) with the people I love (my family). That said, that’s all the upkeep there really is to it: just keep on making things.

I mean, it isn’t that simple. I guess I just like to make things complicated because I spend so much time looking at the nitty gritty details: how many price tags we have, did I update the books, did I update the inventory (why do I even keep track of it?), what are people buying… so many little things that at the end of the day, don’t matter that much but still, on some level, matter.

Then of course I take it to the next level by trying to figure out what color table cloths to use because as humans, we are sensitive to color. We make 80-90% of our first judgements based on color, so what message do I want to send to new customers? Do I go blue or red? Or should it be more like a dusty blue with soft pink? Or should those accent an off-white color? What about burlap table cloths?

What kind of music should I play at the booth? Is music really necessary? I like music, so we’ll go with music. Let’s play classic country, like Conway Twitty. That’ll help with the whole nostalgia of some of the things we sell.

 

This is the shit I think about, but if you want to really nail something, you’ve got to do everything you know how to do.

Plus, I’m in advertising, so it’s natural.

Then the last thing… taxes. But no one wants to talk about taxes.

 

So yeah, that’s mostly what’s going into the business now that it’s up and running. Of course, things are always changing, but for now, that’s what we’re doing.

 

Thank you for your eyes!

 

~Hannah ❤

How We Got Started

Just the behind-the-scenes on how we got started.

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  • It all started with an idea…

 

I started a business. It’s crazy to say now, but it’s true. I can’t believe it sometimes. It’s something that I had wanted to do for a long time now, and the fact that it’s real is just so unreal.

So why did I want to do this in the first place?

To make money, of course.

Just kidding. Mostly. Sure, I did want to make money. That’s why anybody monetizes anything, but there were bigger motivations at hand.

First of all, it just looked like fun! Running my own show looked like the best gig ever.

Secondly, I am a control freak. I like to plan, plan when I’m going to plan, and micromanage every detail, including where my money comes from and what I do with my time and energy. This leads me to next motivator.

I couldn’t find a job. Sure, as a college kid, it isn’t a huge deal, but to me it was. I needed a way to make money over the summer or year-round here and there, but after getting rejected by about 20 employers, I decided I wasn’t going to rely on other people so heavily. (The reasons I didn’t get hired were either because the places I asked weren’t hiring or they couldn’t work with my summer class schedule.)

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it was a creative outlet. I am such a crafty person, but I can only have so many crafts of my own. Eventually it just becomes clutter.

As for what kind of business, I threw around a lot of ideas. A first, I did scrapbooks. I’m a huge scrapbooker- I love it. After a friend of mine paid me to assemble one for her 18 month-old daughter, I decided to put myself out there, and I’d say it was a rather successful operation.

I got to thinking… maybe I could grow this. Soon I was jotting down notes about wedding invitations, designing stationery, designing and selling craft paper and supplies, and more.  Then that felt too narrow and not as profitable, so then I started sewing decorative tea towels. I had seen a woman do it before; she had her husband’s aunt’s coconut cream pie recipe printed on fabric and use it to make some beautiful tea towels as gifts for her in-law’s. That got me thinking… I could do linens! Towels, napkins, throw pillows, blankets… but once again, so narrow.

Then it hit me… just do home decor in general.

The angels freaking sang.

 It all really started over Christmas break of my freshman year of college. I was working at the quilt shop in my hometown as a way to make money for the spring semester, and I loved it. I was sad when 5 o’clock rolled around, and I was just absolutely devastated when I had to go back to school in January. I just loved going to work in the morning and creating beautiful things all day.

I got paid to do Pinterest shit, basically, and I wanted more of that. Even better than that is that I get to spend time with my family. I try to remember these things when business gets too business-y.

 

  • I had the ideas. Now I had to actually make the things

 

Sewing took the longest. I sewed all summer long, making sure I had plenty of towels of various styles.

Knitting took almost as long. I knit so many cozies this summer that I watched all seven seasons of Game of Thrones in about two weeks (because who knits in silence?).

Finally the bigger, more fun projects came. Getting the materials for those things was so fun. My dad, boyfriend, and I loaded up in the truck to go cut barbed wire, dig through junked tin (praying we don’t see a black widow), pick up some horseshoes from a friend, a take a crowbar to torn down houses and barns.

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Then we got to work making things. Sawing, measuring, painting, nailing (nail guns are the bees knees), and whatever else goes into it.

 

 

  • We had things. Next step- sell the things.

 

Initially, this was going to be an Etsy thing. I thought Etsy was so cool, and it’s already set up for ameteur craftsman like myself; however, it just didn’t feel right.  

Mostly (and I don’t mean to bash Etsy, but I totally am going to anyway) it’s too damn expensive. Etsy charges so many fees that would cause me problems. Either I didn’t make money because they took it all or I had to have expensive products so that I could make money after they took their cut.

So I did this myself.

I started by making sure I had everything together. I have four Excel sheets that keep track of debt (to my mom for buying supplies), inventory, breakdown of pricing, and the book. Once I priced everything, I logged it into Excel. Then I had to make price tags. This was actually a difficult process because I wanted to make sure my tags had the right information (price, where materials came from, told a story, etc.), were the right color, and used the right font. Those little details help contribute to the personality of your business, and that will help niche down your products, customers, and other decisions. When you know who you are, you know what you can do. That includes making the right decision between Garamond and Bradley Hand ITC.

I had the prices, but to sell them “legally,” I had to get a sales tax permit, which was a breeze. In Texas, all you have to do is go to the comptroller’s website and fill out a form. In two weeks or less, you have your permit and can start charging tax (and begin paying taxes). You also get a lot of phone calls, so you will quickly learn how to use the “block caller” button.

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So let’s do business! We decided a great place to start would be Facebook. We could make a little bit of money to buy supplies for more projects and things, get our names out there, and maybe see what sells. It was a good free way to start, just to get our feet wet.

Next came the market. Our local farmers market was definitely on our to-do list, so as soon as I had the money, I contacted the folks in charge and mailed them a form. We were in.

 

And now we’re rolling

This part was the most exhausting. The week before the market was spent making sure everything was in tip-top shape. I spent hours typing, printing, cutting, hole-punching, and tying on price tags.

Then came the marketing part. I was on Facebook almost everyday trying to boost market awareness so that people would come check us out and hopefully buy some things.

Next came the baking. That sounds really out of place, but hear me out.

In my eyes, the people that buy things from us are more than a dollar bill. They are giving me a chance to live out a dream. They are giving me and my dad the opportunity to hang out and make things without turning into hoarders. They are so much more than their money, and I want them to know that. To show how much I appreciate them, I bake for them. For every person that makes a purchase, they can pick out a baked good for free. I like to keep it seasonal, too, because that just makes the experience so much better. For example, in September I made mini pumpkin muffins and mini pecan pies.

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Next came figuring out the booth itself. I got pretty creative. I bought a 50 cent poster board and painted a sign to put at the front table. Then I took some shoe boxes, covered them in scrapbook paper, and haphazardly painted them to look shabby chic. The rest of it (tables and such) just came from around the house.

Before we knew it, it was market day. It was so hectic, too. The fam was trying to balance my sister’s volleyball game and homecoming, baking the thank-you desserts, loading the stuff, and setting up. We did it though, and were rolling before 9 a.m.

I’ll admit, it was kind of slow. Of course, the market itself was kind of slow. Still, we made sales!!! People saw our stuff, some bought them, and we go plenty of compliments. Most importantly, I had a blast!!

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At the end of the day, there was still plenty of work left to do.

 

  1. AT THE END OF THE DAY

We took everything down and loaded up to head home. Now, we had to figure out what we had left, evaluate the prices, what sold and what didn’t, and look at the money money money. It was an all-day deal honestly! Then there’s looking at what we learned and how we can do better.

Oh yeah, and taxes.

 

  1. LOOKING AHEAD

There’s so much to think about beyond this point. Short-term things include, first and foremost, next month’s market. What to sell? Do we go seasonal? Where is it even at? Have we paid for that booth spot? What should I bake? Do I need to make more tags? Do we need to ditch a product?

I’ve also got this blog going. I’m hoping it and the real business stay super close companions. I also have an email list in the works, as well as social media. It’s all a matter of managing it and perfecting it (if that’s even possible).

Long terms goals are much more hazy, but they do exist. One of these days I think a brick-and-mortar home decor and gift shop would be neat, I’d maybe even sell other made-in-Texas products, like Circle E Candles or something.

Even more ambitious are my ideas to implement a craft lounge and develop a craft bot. The first one, the craft lounge, would basically be an open studio for creatives of all kinds. There would be sewing machines, woodworking tables, big tables for scrapbooking or laying out patterns, and lounge chairs for knitting. It just seems like such a fun way to build a community and cultivate creativity.

The last one, the craft bot, is less likely to happen, but I still think it’s a neat idea (it’s totally original, as far as I know, so don’t steal it). The craft bot would be an online, two-way resource for craft/DIY tutorials, specifically if you have a question. For example, “I dropped a stitch in this knitting pattern. How do I fix it?” and it would intelligently respond to you specifically. You could have a conversation as if a knitting expert were there with you. YouTube tutorials can get you far, but it’s a one-way street- you get no feedback. This bot would give you helpful feedback.

But alas, these are just ideas mostly. Then again, anything is possible these days!

 

Thanks again for your eyes, and God bless y’all!

~Hannah ❤