Every year, I set up a booth at our local Fall Festival Arts and Crafts show to sell my homemade children's clothing. For the first 2 years, My children nickled and dimed me so much, that in the end, there was not much of a profit for momma. So I devised a pan. My son would be my road crew and help with packing up the trailer, unloading and set up. In exchange, he would get a percentage of sales. Zoey would help with that as well, but she would also make her own stuff to sell. Both children learned to budget their money, knowing that was all they were going to get. They also decided getting all the small trinkets and useless carnival stuff was not a very good investment of the money they were making. But they still wanted to enjoy the carnival!
Usually, my daughter sells doll bedding and bottle cap jewelry she makes, but she wanted something a little different this year. For months, she brainstormed ideas on what she could make and what would make her the most money. One day she was in my fabric closet and asked, "Mom, can I make pillows for children?" I told her that was fine by me as long as she choose fabrics that were scraps or what I did not use regularly.
She measured out and cut her own pattern to use. After the first test pillow, she decided it was too small. Back to the cutting mat she went to make a larger pattern. When she was satisfied with the size she had, she choose fabrics she thought children would enjoy. She did not want to make the pillows the same on both sides, so she mixed and matched the fabrics. She spent a lot of time making sure she cut out her pillow pieces evenly and perfectly. She ironed and pinned the fabrics with out any guidance or help from me at all. I am very proud of the way she just got in there and did her own thing.
My mother had my aunt's sewing machine. (She has recently passed.) Zoey asked her grandmother if she could borrow it to use. (She has her own, but mine needs servicing and I have been using hers. She did not want to share a machine.) My mom was happy to loan it to her. My daughter gathered all of the materials she needed and set up in our living room. After her first pillow, she exclaimed, "Aunt Sissy would be so proud of me!"
This is actually the first time she has used a machine that did not have a speed control on it. It did not take her long to figure out how to control her foot pressure to get to the speed she was comfortable with. She worked long and hard to get them all sewn together. Finally, she was ready to stuff her pillows. I didn't any pictures of the stuffing process. At first, she was stuffing them too tight and it was making the pillows lumpy. Zoey pulled all the stuffing out and started over. Soon she was ready for me to help her close the openings. I pinned them shut and started out the first few stitches, then she carefully and slowly sewed them shut. In the end, she had completed 12 pillows to sell at the arts and crafts festival.
She planned on selling them for $5 each. She sat with her pen and paper and figured out if she sold them all, she would have $60. It was finally Fall Festival Day! She set up her own table near my booth. Stood behind it and waited...
She sold 2 pillows within just 30 minutes of setting up her little selling table. She helped her first customer choose the perfect pillows for her grandchildren. She was so excited to make her first sale!However, she did not sell anymore that day. She had stopped standing by her table, she ran around with her friends that stopped at our booth, or she sat over in the corner and complained she was tired.
That night, she was sad. "But Momma, I only sold 2 pillows..." So we had a little talk. I explained to her about selling things. You can not just let your product sit there and expect people to want to buy it. They will just pass by your booth and look and say, "Oh, how nice." but they will not buy anything. You need to say hello to them, engage them, ask if they would like to buy a pillow. Tell them you made the pillows all by yourself. For my shy daughter, this is a little easier said than done. She was not sure if she could just talk to strangers.
The next day started slow. She would say hello but she would also look away embarrassed. When people turned to see how said hello to them, they wold not see anyone and just walk on by. I encouraged her to look at the people and catch their eye. TALK TO THEM! Not to the ground! It was not until I reminded her, if you do not sell any more pillows, you will not be able to go to the carnival tonight. A whole new child emerged. She said hello, asked if they wanted to buy a pillow, and then explained how she had made them all by herself. Some times people said no, but they would still stop to look at her pillows. But sometimes, people would stop and buy a pillow or 2. They more they stopped, and the more they bought, the more confident Zoey became. Within a few hours, she had sold all of her pillows but one!
She was becoming a bit discouraged she would sell her last pillow. Even having her cute little cousins around was not helping. Suddenly, my daughter had an idea. She took the pillow and called to me, "I'll be back in a minute!" I was in the middle of a sale with my own customer, and before I could ask her where she was going, she had disappeared into the building where there were more arts and crafts booths set up. She was gone for 30 minutes. I started to worry before she came skipping back, $5 in her hand.
"What did you do?" I asked.
"I sold my last pillow!"
"How? To Who?"
She began telling me about walking around inside of the building, looking for someone with a little girl. She saw a lady with a little girl and walked up to her, asking if she wanted to buy a pillow. The lady looked at it while Zoey explained she had made it herself. In the end, the lady bought it from her, telling her what a great job she did. Zoey beamed with pride as she told me the story. Then she said, "And momma, you should have seen the pillows she made! She made an elephant pillow and it was sooooo cute!"
"You sold a pillow to someone that was selling pillows?" I asked.
"Yes!" and she continued to tell me the story.
"Wait, what?" I asked again. She sighed and slowly began again.
"I was walking around inside, looking for a mommy with a little girl, when I saw a lady with a booth kinda like yours. She was selling kids clothes and the cutest little animal shaped pillows. So I walked up to her and asked if she would like to buy a pillow. She looked at me kind of funny until I told her I made it myself. She took the pillow from me, looked at it, and told me I did a good job. Then, she gave me $5 for it."
I was stunned. My shy daughter just actually sold a pillow to another vendor selling pillows. When we told her dad the story he laughed. "She could sell ice to an Eskimo! Way to go, baby!"
My daughter became quite the little business woman this Fall Festival. Unfortunately, all her profits went to the carnival. Next year, I am going to have her use a bit of her savings to buy her materials, keep records of what she is spending and profits made. With the proceeds, she will budget out money to replace what she spent from her savings, add more to savings, and then use the rest to spend at the carnival. After all, that is why she works hard. It's all about that carnival money! (And it is not coming out of my pocket!)