It is said that The Year of the Dragon will bring immense luck, happiness and success to those that are driven, passionate, and willing to take risks. And here at Small Gunns (er, meaning Michelle and I), we're definitely driven, passionate and willing to take risks.
Take last year for example.
In March of 2011, we quit our jobs to pursue a dream. (Consequently, quitting said job resulted in the forfeit of a steady income, which led to certain husbands issuing a cease and desist on a well-known shoe addiction inherited from our mother. Talk about taking a risk! But back to the subject at hand…)
We decided to start a business. And because we are goal-oriented and super driven, we set out to achieve two goals.
Goal # 1: Like, seriously start a business (hello!)
A few months later, June 14, 2011 to be exact, we introduced Small Gunns to the world by launching our website with our first line of products, kids tees featuring “Doodles”. The reception was great, our family and friends were super supportive, and we even got featured on a few cool kids blogs.
Goal # 1. CHECK!
On to Goal #2: Get a booth at Renegade
The Renegade Craft Fair is a semi-annual marketplace in urban creative epicenters, including Brooklyn, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin and London. It features hundred of artists selling independently designed jewelry, clothing, paper goods, home accessories and original artwork. Walking through previous shows, we knew that this would be an important milestone for our business.
We applied for the show in September and received the news that we had been accepted a week later. Our reaction was a little like this: "Hooray! OMG! We're soooo excited! We're totally awesome!” to “Holy !@%$, we got into Renegade. What if no one thinks we're awesome?"
But, putting our nerves aside, we spent the next few months making stuff. And I mean, making lots of stuff. We had to consider, evaluate and make choices for every little step of the product development process. For example, making dinners napkins involved designing, sourcing fabric, creating labels, interviewing and selecting sewing contractors, interviewing and selecting fabric printers, designing packaging, sourcing packaging materials, etc. And then there were the handmade scented candles which involves testing and blending scents, testing and blending waxes, testing wicks, sourcing jars, melting wax, stirring, pouring, designing packaging, sourcing packaging materials. And so on, and so on, and so on. For not only dinner napkins and scented candles, but for tee shirts, tote bags, and jewelry. Boy, were we driven.
The Renegade Craft Fair was soon upon us and we had enough product to fill a department store. During the application process, we opted to share a 10’x10’ booth, but later realized that 5’x10’ didn’t leave us a lot of space. But luckily we scored a corner booth, which allowed us to split the booth diagonally rather than the traditional 5’x10’. We set up our table and clothing rack and waited for the doors to open.
By the end of the weekend, over 15,000 people came through the doors. And it felt like we talked to about 10,000 of them. It was an amazing experience for us: To stand literally behind our products, talking to people about the items we created. We felt the show was a huge success for Small Gunns in terms of sales, as well as getting our products out there. Our only regret was not having enough time to check out all of the other amazing designers that were there. But, we were super impressed by the few that we did: Chewing the Cud, Linea Carta, Rae Dunn Clay, and Pretty Little Thieves.
Looking back at 2011, I’m pretty impressed.
And if it's any indication, 2012, The Year of the Dragon, is sure to rock!
First Photo: Awesome print "The Dragon Dancers" by Mab Graves. Available on Etsy.
Photos 1, 2, 6: Josh Locker
Photos 3, 4, 5: Stu Maschwitz