Thursday, May 19, 2016

Community Day on Campus

 Is there any more picturesque campus in the world, than UAS Juneau? 

Community Day on Campus, last Saturday, was my first attempt at selling my homemade fairy wings, magic wands, and baked goods. It was both terrific fun, and terrific market research, which counts as a resounding success in my book. It was a spectacularly beautiful sunny day with temperatures near 80 degrees, and while my Mom may have wished for more direct sunlight, I was deeply grateful to be under a pavilion tent and on the shady side of the plaza. Even then, I wore my sunglasses and gulped copious amounts of water for much of the day.
Mom was amazing as my financial investor (supplies, tent rental, plus that pesky parking ticket she got picking up the tent), co-baker, creator of a series of gorgeous feathered hair clips, and assistant vendor.

 My amazing mom, who will be mortified that I've included this photo.
Too bad, Mom, the rest of us think you're beautiful! <3
Dale, meanwhile, knocked it out of the park by making display tables sturdy, building a stand-alone mirror, and building a wing display post while coming up with the most innovative use for a Christmas tree stand that I have ever seen. He also made set-up and break-down a breeze. There’s no way I would have been able to pull this event off without their help.
 I ADORE this wing display!

Here are the observations that Mom and I made while walking around the event, and manning our stall:
1-      After all this time, we are still introverts, and five hours of vending left us utterly spent…in a good a way.
2-      Folks will cross a parking lot to get to fairy wings, and they will crowd into a stall to get free samples of sweet baked goods.
3-      Teens and adults are NOT the most common admirers of fairy wings. Children, from toddlers on up, were utterly wonder-struck by the wings and were the most frequent people to take us up on trying on a set.
4-      Children don’t tend to have a lot of money and parents aren’t always eager to leap at a $40 price tag, which I quite understand. This was a lesson about target audience. I really think that if we’d had a selection of smaller, lower priced wings, we could have sold a bunch of them.
5-      Little boys seemed equally as entranced as little girls, by the wings, but a few male parents seemed especially quick to reinforce gender expectations about costuming in general and fairies, specifically. This was the only downer about the entire day, and led to some productive brainstorming (see action plan).
6-      We sold an equal, but small number of each type of baked good (Pucker-Up Lemon Bars, Dutch Butter Cake, and Spicy Surprise Brownies), but the brownies were the most frequently sampled. The surprise part of the brownie name intrigued folks and several people were quite hopeful that the surprise might be green and mind-altering. No, I’m not going into the pot business, but I predict that whoever does open up shop here, now that folks can get licenses, is going to make a pretty penny.
7-      Very few people ventured deep into our stall, stopping at the fairy wings at the entrance, and just inside for free samples.
8-      Even though the books were at the back of the stall, and not many folks ventured that far inside, I still sold more books than I did at the same event two years ago when I was selling only books.
So…here’s our action plan.
1-      Plan to vend at the “block party” held each Friday this summer (June 10 through August) at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center and continue to test the market and improve selling techniques.
2-      Consider Vending at the monthly Farmer’s Market
3-      Spend the big bucks to vend at the annual Public Market the weekend after Thanksgiving
4-      Make fairy wings in three price brackets by adding small two-wing sets for $15, small butterfly and small damselfly sets (four wings) for $25, and keep the large butterfly and damselfly sets at $40).
5-      Experiment with making dragon wings, which may seem more masculine, or perhaps more gender neutral, and which may be appealing to folks of any gender because dragons are every bit as cool as fairies, and less fraught with gender stereotypes.
6-      Don’t make lemon bars to sell because they are twice as much work as the other two recipes, and are sticky and messy to get out of the pan and into tiny cellophane bags!
7-      Don’t plan to make a profit from baked goods but continue to have them for sale and use those free samples to lure customers in. Low-down and sneaky, I know.
8-      Put another display of fairy wings, perhaps some of the smaller, less expensive ones, at the back of the stall to draw folks all the way in…and over to my books.
9-      Display Mom’s beautiful hair clips in a visible, nay, eye-catching fashion, instead of in a basket.
Whew! I think those are all the major highlights.
Since Saturday, I re-invested most of our profits and ordered more iridescent cellophane and a whole lotta glittery hot glue sticks in a variety of colors. The cellophane arrived yesterday and it is both thicker/sturdier than the previous kind I’d purchased locally, and also heat bonds under the iron almost instantaneously, which saves me about an hour of ironing for each set of wings!
Here’s the set I made yesterday after the cellophane arrived.
Dale named this set "Amelia" for Amelia Earhart
36"x18" Wing details in gold & silver with a subtle hint of teal
Circular brace wrapped in teal and gold

And here’s the set I’m still working on today. This is my first set of small butterfly wings, and I’m excited with how they’re coming along.
 Still Unamed
Folks have been asking me about whether I’ll set up an Etsy shop. I think it’s likely, but before I put my cart before my horse, I need to raise the horse and build the cart. ;) Even though it’s going to be a while, yet, before I get to the Etsy-shop-stage, if you’d like to special order a set of wings from me, please send me a message or e-mail. I’ve begun researching shipping methods and costs, and even have a line on affordable boxes of the appropriate sizes and shapes. I’m very excited about this new facet of Magic All Around, and I’d love to be able to make it a permanent fixture.
As always, thank you, all of you, for being so supportive. The feedback and responses from so many of you on Facebook, and elsewhere, have been tremendously encouraging, and I hope I can share a bit of magic with all of you.
Happy Friday!