2015 was an adventure that kept us busy creating, and selling our soap and silk. And we did a bit of traveling.
An opportunity arose to pitch our products to a major retail grocer who planned to establish a new store in Cleveland. We submitted our proposal, and took a deep breath, said a prayer and waited. An email came, and on first quick read it began just like a “thanks but no thanks” email but i reread it and indeed it was an invitation to pitch our products. We had a firm appointment. So Steve and I began the year writing a proposal, and a powerpoint presentation, included our financials. I took a half day off work, and we went. And our meeting was highly favorable…. so discussion began. We even launched a go fund me campaign to fund the purchase of our upc codes. $1,600 later, upcs purchased, packaging tweeked, the retailer went silent a month before the store opened. And they stopped responding to us. We never knew exactly what happened. We visited the store and found nothing similar to our products on their shelves. So we remain puzzled, a bit sad for the lack of clarity, disappointed for the opportunity gone, but we are a tough set of entrepreneurs. We preferred to dust our feet, and move on. In the shadows of our great disappointment several huge opportunities arose, and quickly we were able to see the benefit of the outcome with the retailer.
We returned to some familiar places like Vermillion in Bloom’s spring garden show, and Great lakes art fair in Novi Michigan. That was our first venture into using Air B N B for lodging and we loved it so much. Our hostess in Michigan was lovely, and her home was gracious… holy cow, we felt like royalty there. And there was Hessler Street Fair with the wild and exotic spirit of the 60s. All we can say is that we love the experience, the people and we will always treasure the drum beats to the chant of “Peace, Love and Lemonade.” And we traveled to Toledo for the prestigious Crosby Festival of the Arts in the Botanical Gardens of Toledo and made wonderful friends with another Air BNB family, when we stayed on the Rosenbloom Farm just outside of Toledo…. Beautiful people that warmly make a place in their home for travelers, and fed us with wonderful food, and great company. Thank you Jeff and Linda!!! And the summer kept on coming with art fairs and farmers markets, and a bee sting for Steve. Thankfully we were steps from a restaurant, able to get some baking soda and water to make a paste to draw out the stinger.
Weather was an adventure…. winter shows were often snowy blizzard conditions that kept people away, and spring had one huge 4 letter word – RAIN! At Crosby we were rained out one of the three days and the gardens shut down the festival for the amount of water, dare i say slight flooding. You knew it was a lot of rain when driving home the corn stalks glistened in fields of water. In May we were at Coe Lake for the Berea Fine Arts Show… and it was wonderful weather until 10 minutes before we tore down… the storms came in fast and furious… and we packed up wet, and in route home we were getting constant texts from a neighbor who was very concerned of damage because there were microbursts that took down lots of branches of the ancient trees of our street. Rightly so, there was a lot of damage around us, but thankfully all was well with our house. We kind of winced when the neighbor took a video with her cell phone of patio furniture flying…. thankfully not our furniture, and thankfully did not damage anything. Another May weekend was spent next door to Corbo’s Bakery in Little Italy… and that was glorious….. a ton of tourists, lots of great sights, food, and we had a blast. We use a 10 ft x 10 ft square tent… and the sidewalk was 11 ft wide…. so we had to build our tent to allow for a walk through on the sidewalk…. such a lovely weekend. (And so dangerous to the diet to sit next to such a fabulous bakery!!).
I had the opportunity to teach a silk painting (Shibori) class to a group of home schoolers, and a few moms and grandmas… such fun, Thank you Mrs Tina, for the opportunity. What great fun to give basic concepts and turn them loose… no two scarves turned out the same, and each was a sweet treasure of creativity, however i must say the hidden surprise was a young man named Balcha, who painted butterflies… gorgeous… I love teaching, and i love to see what comes from students…. often very remarkable work, color choices, details. It fuels my creativity.
And if there was one word for summer it was HOT!!! We sat in our tent wilting and we could only hydrate with gallons of water… but the sunshine recharged our batteries. We loved our week on the lake front at Lakeside, Ohio for the art festival…. brilliant sunshine, great people, leisurely pace, fabulous breakfasts at the Idylwild B&B…. the best in town. And each night our artist pass allowed us to enjoy the entertainment – so we attended the concerts. We were rejuvenated and came home feeling ready for the next leg of the journey. And then there was the Warehouse district street fair – hot, hot, hot…. with our tent pitched on the concrete street… heat radiated from everywhere. The food was amazing, but the heat was stifling.
We kept a young tradition alive and in mid august we drove to York, Pennsylvania, just south of Harrisburg for the York Art Festival…. it was our second year there, and a great reason to go was to visit our precious Aunt Alice who lives about an hour away from the festival. We enjoyed our time with her, and the festival was decent enough. We were pitched under some huge trees along the walking trail which runs through the historic district (Colonial era) and the Codorus River. Scenic, fun, and a long drive! We had one additional passenger – Daisy was sick, and could not be left for the dog sitter, so she traveled with us, and stayed at Aunt Alice’s house. She was a wonderful traveler!!!! And she got well quickly,
As the heat of summer faded into early fall we moved on to some favorite events – Made in Ohio festival, held at Hale Farm was glorious and well attended… and we had a few feathered guests with the flock of resident chickens visiting the artist tents for shade and in my case, fresh watermelon, and pita chips. Who knew chickens love such things? Made in Ohio marked the transition to final outdoor events, with Tremont Art and Culture festival two weeks later something we turned our attention to.
Tremont had all the promise of a wonderful event, but had traditionally had one day of rain… and right at the onset of the festival we saw rain, which dampened the turn out. This festival has such sentimental value because we have been a part of this event since it began. The first years we were the muscle – helping set up, lay out, meet the artists and help them get organized. Six years ago i was invited to be an emerging artist and show my silk and back then plarn bags…. and i sold well. Since then we apply annually to be artists in the art village. The park is layed out like a wheel with the gazebo as the hub at the center, and each path leads to the outer sidewalk. Live music, live entertainment and chalk drawing artists… food, and wow, people. Its classic.
We ended our outside season with a small festival at Lakeside, known as the Lakeside Lighthouse festival… we were perched in front of the bed and breakfast we stayed at, and that was wonderful! When we signed up we were told that we are not permitted a tent… so we prayed hard. And the weather was glorious sun, with not a hint of rain that weekend.
October also brought my high water mark in fiber – the Textile Art Alliance Boutique at landerhaven… and wow was it wonderful. Well attended, and such a great variety of wonderful and talented artists. I exceeded the hopes for the event, and as i headed home that evening there was a deep sense of joy, of being a part of the community of the creative, accepted, and my work sought out by fans.
We also participated in the MOCA show, and that was an interesting venue. Between October and November we filled in a few shows at synagogues, and field houses… all good, not always super busy, but opportunity to visit with and make new friends.
But with the end of November someone turned on a switch and our sales spiked beyond our capabilities to fully keep up. We loved the opportunty to be part of the Prosperity Studio Sale and almost sold out, needing to recover quickly because we had a two day show at Lakeland Community College the very next days, and Art Craft Holiday Sale the following weekend. The pace picked up, and kept up right to the end of the year. And it was a banner year.
We made a few big business decisions in 2015 :
- Completion of the eCommerce piece allowed us to move our online sales to our own website. I felt particularly happy because I was able to complete the task with minimal crazyness, and after testing found the site to be secured and so far safe from unwanted hacking.
- Finding, and moving our studio to dedicated space outside of our home. We were blessed to be able to move into the Art Craft Building, 6th floor. Its a great group of artists and our space is more than ample. As of the time of writing this post we are working hard on putting together a studio warming party for February 13th. More to come on that, so stay tuned.
And we expanded into a few more shops around town. Our good friend Diane Seskes opened River Light Gallery on Rte 303 in Peninsula in one of the oldest buildings… but the building was lovingly rescued from the ravages of time, to create a stunning modern art gallery set in a vintage 1820s-1830s store front.
We were picked up by Randy at Green Roots Collections, two lovely shops (Hudson and Cleveland Clinic Main Campus); Mary at Bright Green Shop in downtown Cleveland, and Karen at Artful Living Shop in the Gordon Square/Detroit Shoreway neighborhood. And we were picked up by Prosperity Jewelry located in the classic and beautiful Old Arcade in downtown Cleveland. Thank you Kat and Laura!
2015 was a wild ride, but such a great set of memories, a lovely group of new friends, and you, our faithful customers. Thank you…. here are a few photos of the year.