Jumping Over My Own Shadow: My First Indie Market


In German, we have an expression that translates to "jumping over one's own shadow" and means to do something that doesn't come natural to you and is unsettling, even scary to you. It's usually something that is not scary or even a big deal to others - but just outside of your personal comfort zone or natural behavior.

A few weeks ago, I took that leap and went on the (to me) daring adventure of setting up art, wares, and hopes... for the public to come and take a look and judge... maybe make a connection, maybe make a purchase, or maybe just pass on by. I participated in my first indie market. Actually, Scott and I were there together. But I don't think it required any shadow-jumping on his part.

Organized by the Tampa Bay Area Indie Flea, the arts, crafts, indie-makers and food market took place in Gainesville, Florida, on a December weekend. So it was perfectly timed for some holiday shopping and ideal outdoor market weather.

It felt like the right (yet still intimidating) opportunity to try something I had been contemplating for years: offering pieces of my photography for sale + and introducing the ideas and products of Happier Place to people "in real life" (vs. just online as we had been doing for the last two years).



 
Before the market:

In the short window between getting selected for the market and the actual event and in the middle of prep for Opt Outside Friday and Cyber Monday, Scott and I decided to design and order two new Happier Place products - and I took the plunge and ordered metal prints of over two dozen photos.

For this event, I went mostly for more smaller prints instead of less larger prints. And I opted for all ready-to-hang UV-protected metal prints. Might discuss that and other options with you in another post.

It was SO exciting when those prints finally arrived. What would they look like?

Shiny, vivid and almost 3D-looking: a few of my nature photos as metal prints getting stickered and ready for test-hanging.

The luxury of living in Florida: enough space (and extra Florida Room) to build a 10x10 "sandbox" to play around with the set-up of our future "pop-up store".





At the market:

The day arrived with the previous day's horrendous rain gone and us ready to set up, display, meet, inspire and get inspired, sell and buy, and learn through trial and error and success. It was such a rush to set everything up in time and then to keep up with people coming into our tent, engaging and giving me reason to struggle with the "paypal card reader + iPad + woocommerce" logistics - that I never got a chance to get nervous.

Scott in our humble "pop-up store" - between an herbalist and a t-shirt designer (and street artist!) 

During the short hours of the market, we had so many visitors I didn't have much time to take photos and just barely managed to get one Instagram Story out.

Digital photos of analog metal prints doesn't really do them justice. But it shows what was there and how the pieces were displayed.

It would definitely be cool to have more larger prints. But the price point is so at this high quality that this time I opted for pieces that would be affordable for customers and me.

Behind-the-scenes: The method we came up with to hang the metal prints at the craft market - here seen from our backyard during testing phase. It works. But is there maybe a better way? Would be great to at least use shorter s-hooks so they wouldn't show in the front. After all, you wouldn't see the the nails if you hung the photographs on a real wall.

Best by-product of the market: Creating these display albums of all the postcards and folded greeting cards - divided into their respective sets. A great way to see an array of my nature photos - and choose individual cards and full sets for purchase. 

Arrived just in time: new business cards featuring mini nature photos and Happier Place slogans.

Popular and free to anyone walking by: Happier Place slogan stickers.

Inside-the-scenes: one of our views from inside the tent. I can't express how cool it was to design the display together with Scott and to finally see our Happier Place products together like this.

In-person experience makes all the difference - especially with products like our super sustainable notebooks (recycled, plant-based ink!, B-Corp-made), multiple-choice postcards, and metal prints.

And then suddenly the four hours of the market were over and it was time to break down and meet  local friends at the Cypress and Grove brewery across the street. Wow, what a whirlwind!

And the results?

Spending weeks envisioning, researching, planning, learning, shopping for, designing, arranging, testing, packing, transporting, and setting up... an entire (out-of-town) store that was only open for four hours was still so rewarding that we're excited to attend many more markets very soon.

And next time we already have a tent and I know how to use that credit card swiper. Also, we learned so many things we'd like to try out at future events.

Fortunately, we managed to recoup our direct expenses during this market. Even more rewarding: the thought that some of my photos and some of our products are being used and appreciated by other people.  And the very best part might have been simply to connect with other people and talk about the outdoors, creativity and doing things that make us happier... and doing something to make the world a happier place

So yeah, jumping over my own shadow was totally worth it and I can't wait to do it again! 

Our friend Hollie with a complimentary (market-exclusive) Happier Place shoulder bag holding her new photography pieces.

I'd like to thank everyone who came out to see us at the market, to Rachel for hosting us and Whiskey Dog, and to all those who inspired me to give it a try, including patrons Miriam Blaich and Margaret Baker, and Google+ Create friends Mark Hurn and Maire Thompson. THANK YOU!


Way after the market:

As a bonus on the way out of town the next morning, I finally got to see and photograph wild Sandhill cranes, which were taking over a cow field on the UF campus!

Sandhill cranes and a cow

Another bonus: the photography pieces I didn't sell, now grace our walls - until the next market...

Honeymoon Island (Florida)
St. Vrain State Park (Colorado)
Ft. Collins (Colorado)

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