Monday, March 17, 2014

Why I Started a Craft Show and What I Learned

Now that I've hit the pause button on Alliday, I've been able to look at it with fresh eyes.  Not only did I learn loads about how to organize and produce a large-scale event, I learned even more about myself and what people are capable of if they put their minds to it.

Back in 2010, I decided to create my own craft show.  There was nothing special about me.  I wasn't hugely submersed in the art world.  I didn't have tons of money to launch something like this.  I was just highly driven.  I've always been the type of person that decides to do something and does it.  Ask Brent.  One day I'll decide that something needs to be changed at home and within 24 hours, I'm figuring out a way to make it happen.
So it was a few years after our wedding and I was jonesing for something to organize.  I was doing craft shows almost every single weekend, some good, some ok, and many more just plain bad.  After a while, I started to piece together what the good shows had in common and what made the bad shows bad.  In a nutshell, any show that included resellers (you know what I'm talking about!) was a guaranteed bad show for me.  One day, while sitting at a particularly bad show, my business partner at the time and I started dreaming up how we would run our own show.  For her, it was more daydreaming but for me, I was already planning how to make it happen.  The following week I was scoping out locations, studying the calendar and ordering books on craft fair planning (which there desperately needs to be new material on!).  I was bound and determined. 

I initially chose a time of year with few craft shows, June.  I secured a building at the Fair Grounds with a bit of hesitation from my partner.  She was more interested in starting small and growing but I felt it was important to begin with a bang.  Start out where I wanted to end up.  So June at the Fairgrounds it was!  I talked to anyone who would listen.  We charged pennies for booth fees and accepted pretty much any handmade artist who applied...and ended up with some gems!  I did our 'graphics' which were embarrassingly crude and a friend of ours in Public Relations took the reigns of publicity.  It was a modest first show but man, oh man, were we proud of how it turned out.  I quickly learned how hungry Tulsa was for more curated, handmade shows.
It didn't take much to convince me to put together another show.  For the second year, I decided to move it to the time of year that always proved to be most lucrative for me as an artist, the holidays!  At that point, I was on my own for planning and producing the show.  Moving the show to the holiday season proved to be the right move and it always remained during that time of year.

For the four years that Alliday ran, I was constantly amazed by the talent that our state had to offer.  You guys are some wicked artists and crafters!  It was humbling that these small businesses that I respected so wanted to be involved in my little show.  I will forever be grateful to those that took a chance on Alliday and shared their creations with us.  Seriously.
I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I learned tons.  Two lessons really stand out to me:

1.  Ask for help.  I can't do it all.  I'm totally a micro-manager.  I have a REALLY hard time passing things along to others and am usually looking over their shoulder to make sure it's being done to my standards.  Yeah, total backseat driver.  Running the show taught me to loosen up with that.  That first became clear to me with the graphics for the show.  Hopefully no one remembers the first year's graphics because they were BAD and fully a product of me thinking I could do it all.  Once I let go of that and let Ross go crazy with the imagery, I quickly realized that I couldn't and SHOULDN'T do it all.  I learned to not be afraid to ask others for help, in so many areas.  Life, man, requires help from each other. 

2.  If you have a dream, go for it.  Sure, (lots of) people told me that I was a little crazy for wanting to start up a large scale craft show and I may have very well been but that didn't stop me.  NO ONE IS STOPPING YOU EXCEPT FOR YOURSELF.  If you have a dream, break it down so it's not so overwhelming.  Determine if it's even feasible.  Ask for help (see lesson number one) and start taking the steps to make it happen. 
I'm not sad that the show is over.  I'm ridiculously proud of Alliday.  I had a dream and made it a reality.  And it was fun.  I met some of the most amazing people through the show; lifelong friends.  I now know that I can do whatever I put my mind to.  I did it.  I can do it.  I will do whatever I can imagine.  And you can, too.


  1. Hoping you'll decide to do it again someday...We loved it and would definitely do it again and again!

  2. That is so amazing that you were able to create your own dream craft show! I admire the guts and the vision. I know you will go forth to bigger and better projects, cant wait to see what you come up with in the future!~!~!


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