Thursday, December 31, 2015

Best of NC : Craft Show Etiquette: Buyers Edition

This week, we're running the best posts from this past year.  Enjoy!

 photo by Treefort Naturals

Summer is the start of the market season, where artisans, makers, farmers, and food vendors make their way out into public spaces to share their goods.  Visiting markets is a great way to spend a day out: the food is good, the sights are different, and there is usually a great community vibe.

However, there are market visitors that can drag the experience down for those who are vending at these events.  Customers' actions and dialogue can be hurtful to a vendor's experience.  Our Nutmeg Collective members and friends have come up with a list of their biggest pet peeves while at events.  (And yes, all of these things really did happen.)

1. Please do not smoke in a vendor's space.  You may unwittingly do damage to the products, plus no one appreciates the smell.

2. Don't make comments about the price.  Keep in mind that the goods you are looking at are likely made or grown by one person or a very small group of people.  There is value in the small, the local, the handmade.  You are not shopping a big box store so don't expect the prices of one.

3. Do not utter the words, "Oh, I can make that."  Maybe you can, but don't insult the person who is standing there that did make that.  It may actually be harder than you think.

4. Don't block a booth while catching up with your long lost friend/neighbor/former teacher.  While it's great that we get to see people we know out in the community, by blocking a display you are stopping potential buyers from buying things.  Step into an aisleway for your conversation.

5. Please watch food and drinks while in a vendor's booth.  One small spill to you may be expensive damage to a vendor's products or display.

6. Repeating the words, "This is so cute!" multiple times then walking out of the booth with nothing.  Consider buying one of the cute items.

7. Touching everything you see is a no-no.  Pick up an item if you'd like to inspect it further or if you plan to purchase it, but otherwise, there is no reason to put your hands on every item on a table.

8. Please keep an eye on your children.  While they don't mean to, children are often the cause of a dropped, dirty product or a busted display.  Also, please keep them from touching everything.

9. Grilling the vendor for information on how they make their product or where they buy their supplies is frowned upon.  This probably has taken them much time and research and they do not want to share it with you.

10. You are not at a tag sale- please do not try to make a deal or ask if you get a discount if you buy more than one.  You would not walk into Macy's and ask them for a discount.  Similarly, the prices will not be reduced at the end of the day; that merchandise is going on to the next show.

11. Please do not photograph items without asking permission.  Many vendors have had people text photos of their products- like greeting cards- to friends in lieu of actually purchasing them.

12. Put things back the way you found them, or at least as best as you can.  It takes a long time for a vendor to set up a nice display.

13. Don't put your shopping bag/pocketbook/food on top of products out for display while you are looking and/or paying.

14. Just because you are outside does not mean you can spit in someone's booth.

Overall, vendors want you to have fun, be courteous, and enjoy their products.  It makes for a more satisfying day for all involved.  Stay tuned for our upcoming etiquette tips for vendors.

What other craft show pet peeves would you like to share?  Tell us in the comments!

Kristen Skelton of Milo and Molly is a self-taught sewist, Kristen who runs her business while staying at home with her two small children.  Fueled by an endless supply of tea, she sews late into the night when the house is quiet, most often accompanied by her faithful poodle, Casey.  Stop by and see her collection of bold modern accessories and home goods.
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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Best of NC : A Day In West Hartford

This week, we're running the best posts from this past year.  Enjoy!

Welcome to the next installment in our series, A Day In, where one of our Nutmeg Collective members takes us on a tour of their hometown and gives us the scoop on some of the must-see local spots. Today we're visiting West Hartford, home of Trish Nelson of Melley Nelson Designs.

Photo source

Westmoor, is a park that is used constantly. It has barns with the regular farm animals like horses, cows, pigs and barn kitties. It also has meadows, gardens, woods and a stream to see all sorts of wildlife animals. There is Plant a Row for the Hungry which is all about farming, volunteering, and donating food. Every school has field trips to the park and there are 'fests' for every season, including the Polar Bear Fest in the dead of winter, with games, demonstrations, music and hay rides.

Photo Source
Elizabeth, which is home to the oldest public rose garden in the country. It is just lovely. There is the rose garden itself but there are also other gardens of different flowers: tulip, perennial, annual, shade and more. Gorgeous trees, greenhouses, a pond, bridges and paths. In addition, there are tennis courts, a baseball field and a lawn bowling club. On summer Wednesdays, there is a regular concert series where a ton of people come with dinner to listen to different music.

Photo Source

Playhouse on Park,, is in its sixth season of plays, musicals, comedy nights, improv, children's shows and dance. It's pretty amazing that this little theater can put on Tony Award winning plays like Proof and Angels in America and still have a ton of acting classes for adults and kids. And it's right next door to AC Petersens, a long time restaurant on Park Road with some pretty amazing ice cream.

Photo Source

It's a toss up between the Noah Webster, and the Children's Museum, The NWHouse is great because it gives you a sense of the history of West Hartford. They have fun programs for kids and adults to experience the colonial times, including hearth cooking and tavern nights. 

The Children's Museum has a planetarium, which is a 40ft. dome that shows you the sky and also different science-based movies. There are rotating exhibits that keep children learning, playing, and discovering. Also there are wildlife animals and Conny the Whale, a 60 ft long sperm whale replica that you can climb all around.

Photo Source
There are two Reservoirs, also know as The Res, where there are large bodies of water that are surrounded by lots and lots of trails, paved and not. Really, it is a long series of connected reservoirs and they are all loaded with walkers, runners and mountain bikers, pretty much anytime the sun is shining and even when it's not. It's wonderful all year round, but it is particularly beautiful in the fall. A nice surprising escape that, for the locals, is right down the street.

Photo Source

Trish Nelson, of Melley Nelson Design, is an architect, artist and mother. Drawing house portraits gives her the opportunity to combine all three. The drawings are done of homes that are loved and have, or are about to have, many happy stories of the families that live in them.
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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Best of NC : Product Photography: Tips for Vintage Sellers

This week, we're running the best posts from this past year.  Enjoy!

As with any item listed online, pictures can either make or break a sale. The images you post need to evoke the feeling for the seller that the item is right in front of them, within reach. Something they feel they can reach out and touch, something that they can picture sitting in their own home, wearing on their wrist, or holding it in their hands. For vintage sellers, the task can sometimes be much harder. Every item we sell rouses a unique sense of the past, where the item originated, and the shape it is in today. When selling vintage, it is important to show the item in it's best light, but to also make sure the item is correctly portrayed - every nick, flaw or sign of age.

As a seller of vintage goods online on Etsy for over three years, I have struggled with these exact facts- what is the best way to show my item? How can I make prospective buyers see all the fabulous assets of my item, especially what I like to call, those items that are in vintage condition and show their age. I have come up with several tips on how to show your vintage item in the best way possible to online shoppers:

1. Background matters:
I struggled and struggled and struggled with backgrounds and never could make my photos look like they were "professional" so to speak. I envied the top selling shops and their amazing photography skills. Low and behold, with some constant admiring of my favorite shops and some online snooping, I found out how to utilize materials I had lying around my house to create my own little studio using a simple white poster board as a background. The key, I found, was the simpler the better. Avoid busy backgrounds that can draw away from your item- your item should be the main focus of the picture. While I personally prefer a white background, I am also drawn to wood backgrounds and simple textured backgrounds, like linen. Take a few shots to see what works best - try showing the item in front of a white poster board, lying on burlap, on your studio table, etc.

2. Show your item's flaws in the photograph:
Unless the vintage item is deadstock and still new in the package, it will surely have some flaws. Do not try to take a picture where the scratch is hard to see or the ding is on the other side. Many customers love the vintage items for their wear and tear appeal and seek out the rusty and dinged. I refer to these items in my own shop as having "vintage character" Make sure your photos include the good and the not so good-you never want to mislead a buyer. Show it up-close.

3. Close-Up:
Speaking of showing your items up-close, don't forget a close-up photo in your listings. A close-up allows your potential buyer to envision the item's texture.

4. Natural light is your friend:
When possible, I prefer shooting outdoors out of direct sunlight or indoors in an area with lot of natural light flowing in, but not flowing directly where you will be photographing.
Jigsaw Puzzle- Springbok Circular Puzzle - Garden Flowers - Vintage 1960s -  Maynard Reece - Floral Puzzle - Flowers - Gifts For Her
5. Take many, many, many photos:
When photographing, I sometimes take up to 20 photos of each item with many different angles. When I load them onto my computer, I narrow them down to the five that Etsy allows per listing. Seeing all the images one the one screen allows me to pick the five that best represent my item, getting many different angles.

6. Props props props!
Showing other items with the items being listed helps customers to envision the item displayed in their home next to their things. If the item is something that would look great on a bookshelf in the living room, add some books next to it. If you're selling a basket, fill it with something! Also gives the customer a better idea of the size of the items (because we are all guilty of thinking something will be much bigger or vice versa until we actually see it in person. *When using props, always remember to use a disclaimer stating exactly what the listing is for, "ie: books used in the listing images are for display purposes only and not included in the listing. If you don't add this disclaimer, customers may be wondering why their new item doesn't come with the lovely pine cone featured next to it.
*HINT: use items from your current inventory as props, too. This way you can say "Like the book collection I have featured in the photograph? View the listing here!"

If at first you don't succeed, try try again! Trial and error is the best way to see what personally works for your shop and your items, there is no "one-size fits all" way that your listings can be photographed. Enjoy the process!

Jessica Labowski of Start Talking Vintage: Jessica is a 23-year old recent college graduate who has developed a passion for all things vintage and the rich history they carry. She enjoys treasure hunting for historic beauties at estate sales, crafting, sewing and DIY projects (especially those that upcycle vintage items and give then new, modern appeal!) Stop by to take a look at her curated vintage treasures and handmade, vintage-inspired goods.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Best of NC : Craft Show 101: Choosing an Event That Is Right For You

This week, we're running the best posts from this past year.  Enjoy!

The fall and holiday craft fair season is upon us.  With all of the events out there, how do you know which ones are right for you? Here are some suggestions and considerations to hopefully make the selection process a bit easier.

1. Who is coordinating it and how is it being promoted? 
Check with other vendor friends. There are some promoters to be avoided at all costs and others that are top notch.

2. How long has the show been in existence? 
Not always, but often, first time or very new events lack the visibility and promotional reach of more established events, while established shows have a following of loyal visitors.

3. What are the fees? 
While it is difficult to predict what you will make, fees should be 10 percent or less of what your gross sales are for the show. (Don’t forget to include your travel expenses, all of the coffee purchased along the way, lodging costs, time, etc.)

4. How many days is the event?
If more than one, are the premises secure for you to leave your booth set up? Do you have the required set-up materials?  Will you have enough inventory, packaging, business cards, etc.? It is stressful having to come home after a long day and try to crank out more product, so make sure you have enough stock going in.

5. Location, location, location. 
Where is it? Is the venue visible and accessible? What is the commute like? If it is a two day show, will you have to find lodgings? If so, factor this fee into your show cost. Don’t rule out a great show because you’ll have to stay over; see if you can find another vendor friend who will split hotel costs.

6. Is the show indoors or outdoors? 
Are fees refundable if the weather is poor? Is electricity available? Is there adequate lighting? If you will be vending alone, are booth sitters available? If you are at an indoor event, always be prepared by bringing lighting (unless you have seen the venue). You may not need it, but if you are stuck in a dark corner, lighting will help you shine (sorry! I couldn’t resist) and improve your visibility to customers.

7. Did a promoter stalk you and beg you to do the show because they love your items and “others who have sold products like yours have done well”?
Proceed with caution. Remember that another’s definition of “well” may be different than yours. Ask questions, get numbers. The crafter who occasionally sells products may have a different expectation than a maker who crafts for a living.  Plus, promoters often embellish their events just a little.

8. Visit and observe the show in person and on line. 
There is no substitution for firsthand experience. Are the vendors all handcrafters? Are the items high quality? Are the displays professional? Is there ample parking? Is there a variety of vendors and categories? Are there many customers and are they buying/carrying bags with purchases? Talk with vendors for a realistic perspective. Check out the show’s website and social media links if they are available.

9. Is the show juried?  (Meaning, do they choose from applicants, or is everyone allowed in)
How are artists selected? Are there multiple jury dates? A carefully curated show is worth the time spent gathering pictures and writing an artist statement. Juried shows usually (but not always!) mean better quality items, and customers who are serious about buying handmade. However, this does not mean that shows that are small or not juried are without merit.

10. Are all of the items handcrafted? 
Does the show require that the artisan who made the item be present? Shows where new, direct sales items are permitted (think Tupperware, Lia Sophia, 31 Bags) tend to be less profitable for crafters/artists. Check the show’s definition of handcrafted; must all items be made by the vendor? (For example, if you make glass beads and the show permits others who purchase and string cheaper, imported glass beads, it may be difficult to compete. Don’t rely on the customer to know the difference.)

11. Is your craft a good fit for the show?
What is the price range of the items? Are your items and your price points a match for the show? Your items may not sell if you have the high-ticket item in a lower price point show. Likewise, if you are not a fine artist, you may be bypassed at shows dedicated to fine art.

12. Are there limits in each category?
Ask the promoter how many vendors in each category they will accept. While competition is a good thing, it is to no one’s advantage if there are too many vendors in one (your) particular category.

Hopefully this is a helpful guide to those of you looking into new craft shows.  Stay tuned for Part 2: How to apply to a Craft Show (so you will get in).

No stranger to dirt and getting dirty, Nancy Butler is a farmer, mother of three, and a Master Gardener. The owner of Lyric Hill Farm, Nancy creates all natural, eco-friendly luxuries for bath, body and home which are designed to pamper and clean. Her goat milk soaps and detergents are made from her own fresh, raw goat milk (from her herd of French Alpine dairy goats) and organically grown herbs and botanicals, and a carefully curated blend of 100 % natural, sustainably grown, fair trade ingredients. When she is not chasing escaped livestock or doing farm chores, you'll often find her knitting linen washcloths to go with her soap. Her farm and farm store are open year round to visitors.
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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Nutmeg Collective 2015 Gift Swap

While we were working so hard this holiday season preparing and sending gifts for others, the members of the Nutmeg Collective have also been treating each other.  Our second annual Holiday Secret Santa started mid-December!  Our members work so hard on their businesses and families that it's fun to receive a surprise treat in the mail.  Check out what's been gifted:

from Get Baked

We are so lucky to have such talented members!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Local Love: Connecticut Spirits

There are so many options cropping up in Connecticut to imbibe with local spirits and mixers this holiday season and beyond.  Check our list (you can check it twice!) of local and delicious choices for creating the perfect cocktail.

Onyx Moonshine creates varieties of moonshine and Connecticut's first whiskey with a speakeasy for tastings.   64 Oakland Ave, East Hartford

Hartford Flavor Company has six flavors in its Wild Moon line of liqueurs and a tasting room open on weekends in Hartford.   30 Arbor St Suites 107-108, Hartford


Litchfield Distillery crafts gin and two varieties of bourbon whiskey. Tours and tastings are available on weekends and check their Events Page frequently for local tastings in your area.  569 Bantam Road, Litchfield

Westford Hill Distillers create eau-de-vie, a variant of brandy, from the fruit of local orchards.   196 Chatey Road, Ashford

Elm City Distillery offers handcrafted Velocipede Vodka or Nine Square Rye. Check for local tastings and tours here.   53 Capital Drive, Wallingford

RIPE Craft Bar Juice is the nation's first cold-pressed, fresh juice bar mixer that is never heated or frozen.   26 Kendall Street, New Haven

Waypoint Spirits creates Labrador Noon Vodka and Wintonbury Gin with distillery visits open on Fridays and Saturdays.   410 Woodland Ave, Bloomfield

Peel Liqueur makes fine Italian Liqueurs, Limoncello, Bananacello and Cremoncello, handmade in small batches.   Ashford


The Farmer's Cow Egg Nog is made with cream, milk, egg yolks, cane sugar and just the right amount of nutmeg from six local Connecticut farms.  You can find this limited edition holiday beverage here or visit The Farmer's Cow Calfe at 86 Storrs Road, Mansfield.


Cyn Thomas is the illustrator, designer and pattern maker of RiverDog Prints. Her paper goods and gifts are guided by earth, animals, function, food and cocktails. You can also find Cyn canning in her kitchen, walking her dog, being outnumbered by her boys and husband or reading herself to sleep.
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410 Woodland Ave.
410 Woodland Ave.
410 Woodland Ave.