Three Reasons Why I Enjoy Craft Fairs

Craft Fair Booth Display

This past Saturday I spent the morning drinking coffee, standing near my booth, and chatting with lots of women about signs, potential wedding flowers, and things going on in their lives at home.  Eleven vendors participated in a small craft fair located in Morris, MN.  If you happened to have missed it, don't worry because there will likely be another one coming up December 3rd.  As the date nears and more decisions are made, more details will be posted.  

To recap the overall experience from the day, I decided to outline three reasons why I enjoy craft fairs.  Thinking about my first craft fair that I participated in just over a year ago, I was nervous for a variety of reasons. 

What would people think? 
What should I make? 
What will people like? 
What will people not like? 
What will I say? 

And the questions went on and on.  Fortunately, I just decided to give it a whirl and I am so glad I did because I feel more confident than ever before and I have found more joy in the gifts that God has given me.  So, let me continue and explain the...

Three Reasons Why I Enjoy Craft Fairs

Amanda Holding Eucalyptus
  1. Creative Process

    Thinking about how I would like the overall display to look like is one of the first things that comes to my mind when I consider participating in a craft fair or event.  I am sure other people will begin the process differently (such as how much inventory to bring and logistics), but that is just how my brain works.  Envisioning the overall end result and then working backwards to determine what I need to do to complete the intended look is my design process. 

    For this event, I knew that I wanted to bring in some fresh greens to give me an excuse and reason to practice different arrangements.  So that is what I did, bought some greens and played. The morning of the event I didn't set aside enough time to create the full and lush looking eucalyptus garland that I was hoping for, so I hung what I could and followed up the next day when I had more time to take it apart and try it again.  I am so pleased with how the final garland turned out that I hung it in our dining room.  It smells great and adds a little bit of life to such a big and blank wall.  It will also serve as part of my display later this week at Rooted and possibility into January, depending on how well it dries.  
     
  2. Connecting with People

    Chatting with the customers originally started as a point in the experience that made me a little nervous.   I have always felt like more of a shy/introverted person so this part of the experience did not always come naturally to me.  Although something that I have improved upon while being a teacher for the past five years has been my public speaking and ability to connect with people even if it is just for a short conversation before they move on to the next booth. 

    I was able to meet a new mom that has recently moved to the community and I am looking forward to future play dates with our kids.  I gave out hugs to dear friends that I have not seen in a while.  And after reflecting, it is moments like these that make me feel like the entire day was worth it, regardless of how much income came in or expenses were lost.  Money is just a wash in the end but relationships will last a lifetime and beyond.  

    One more thing to note about connecting was that the day leading up to this craft fair, on a whim I decided to post a picture to my Facebook and IG pages asking for advice as to what to paint on a few mini signs I had available.  To my surprise, I had an overwhelming response!  People were commenting with so many great ideas and it was fun to connect with people in the design process as opposed to the sales process.
     
  3. They Stretch Me

Obviously not physically.  But they make me step outside my comfort zone just enough to feel like I am finding that flow in life.

Creatively, I get the freedom to dream, design and build.  Emotionally, I have to recognize that not everyone shares my aesthetic and there will be many that walk straight past my booth.  And that is totally okay!

 

Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to read my recap on why I enjoy craft fairs.  

Eucalyptus Garland
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Blank Signs
 

Flower Recap: Hartung Wedding

From a young age, I have always had a thing for weddings.  I loved the happiness it brought throughout the day, the special touches created for the couple, and all the beautiful items that make the wedding a cohesive look.

When I was in high school and people would ask what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say a wedding planner.  In college, Hospitality and Tourism was one of the four majors I "tried out" before I finished with a Family and Consumer Science Education degree (my college journey should be another blog post in itself!)  As much as I thought being a wedding planner would fit my skill set, I feared my only option would be to live in a metropolitan city and work evenings and weekends.  Deep down I knew I wanted to one day be a wife and mother so the thought of living that work lifestyle was not sitting well with what I truly wanted in life, a family focus.  For me, I was at peace with the decision to pack up my wedding planning dreams because I had faith that it wasn't meant to be during that season of my life.  

Fast forward 10ish years and I was introduced to the idea of becoming a wedding florist and after looking into it, I felt like it would be something fun to at least try since I have always loved the wedding scene.  I would be able to work with the couple leading up to their big day and execute the vision for their wedding. After all, the flowers are the biggest accessory and in almost all of the pictures that the couple will keep as family heirlooms for years and years to come.

I reached out to a friend from my high school (Ashley) if they found a florist for their August wedding and if not, that they would consider letting me (a complete newbie to the flower community) prepare the flowers for their big day.  The entire afternoon I was patiently waiting to read her response, mostly thinking they had already committed to a florist so it would not work out.  But there was a small part of me that thought she may take me up on the offer.  I am happy to say luck was in my favor that day!

From that day forward, I must have watched countless videos on how to make a bouquet, corsage, boutonniere, and center piece.  Then I had to figure out how to order the flowers, which ones to pick, how many to order, how to process them upon arrival, storage, and delivery.  The learning curve was steep since I never had experience in a flower shop, but I kept reading, watching, and asking questions.  I had the opportunity to shadow a florist in Fargo, Allison from Blue Barn Floral, and attend a workshop at Spruce in the cities.  Both learning opportunities gave me the confidence to keep pushing towards the big day.

The week of their wedding finally arrived and I was so excited to get to work.  All of my self taught knowledge and skills I learned from educators were ready to complete the task I dreamed about 5 months prior.  

The Results?

I had so much fun!  The overall look was very similar to what Ashley and John described of how they wanted their wedding day to look like.  Although I am aware that improvements could have been made when I look back on all the details, I also recognize that a person has to start somewhere.  And for itme (a person that leans towards the perfectionist side of things) I am proud of myself for learning and trying something new.  

What's Next?

I want to explore greenery more and different ways to incorporate it into the home.  In the coming weeks I will be a vendor at two events and I am hoping to bring some fresh greenery items for sale.  In October I will be preparing the flowers for another wedding which I am really looking forward to that experience as well.  

Keep watching for updates!  If you or someone you know of is getting married and looking into a hiring a florist, please send them my way for an initial consultation.  

Amanda Holding Bouquet

Thank YOU to Ashley and John for trusting me with preparing the flowers for the happiest day of your lives.  I hope when the two of you look back on your wedding day pictures for years and years to come that you are still smiling the same smiles you did on 8-26-17.

Mr. and Mrs. Hartung | 8.26.17

One Year in Business: Recap

One year in business for Amanda Nygaard Designs. How did that happen so fast?? I remember typing into Google “how to start a business” like it was yesterday. Looking back on the year, I can recall numerous times where I felt like I had a mountain of knowledge to climb in order to reach that next mark I was dreaming about.  

How do I register with the State of MN as a business?

How to set up a business checking account?

How do I go about mailing packages from my house?

How to set up an event display and what do I bring?

How to keep track of customer communication, sales, and purchases?

How to create an interview series?

How to create a website?

The list goes on and on.  But looking back, it is amazing to see how much I have learned mostly from trial and error but also from friends in the creative community.  Originally, I started Amanda Nygaard Designs as a creative outlet.  A way for me to have that little bit of "me time" to do crafty things which is when I feel most like myself.  At the time, we were living in our house for about two years and over those two years I created several home decor pieces.  My husband and I enjoy DIY projects and since the time we moved in, our 1969 rambler was beginning to feel more reflective of us and the look we were originally intending.

Around that same time, I noticed a few friends beginning small businesses (Junk by Jenny, Rinkles, and Freckled Designs Co.) and I thought, why not me?  

The Beginning:

August of 2016 we had a 2 year old, a 4 month old baby, and I was gearing up to begin working full time since maternity leave.  But I felt in my heart it was time to put my creative projects out into the world and start a small business, one that I have wanted from a very young age.  You see, in high school when people asked what I wanted to be when I got older, I would respond with either saying a wedding planner (anyone watch Jennifer Lopez in The Wedding Planner??) or that I wanted to own a business.  I never knew what that business would be up until recently.  

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The month prior in July of 2016, I got my feet wet while participating in a local craft vendor event.  The process of preparing for the event was exciting and the best part was actually creating the ideas I had in my head.  August was when I started to get the ball rolling in obtaining a business name, getting a tax id number, signing up for a checking account, etc.  It is always encouraged for small businesses to have some sort of business plan in place before opening shop.  I didn't.  It was just a hobby.  But after such a long time of pondering the idea of starting a small business, I decided to just get started and let it evolve as life evolves.  This quote by Walt Disney best represents why I started Amanda Nygaard Designs:

"The way to get started is to avoid talking and begin doing."

-Walt Disney

Along the Way:

Over this past year, I started selling hand painted signs with my own designs.  It has since evolved into almost 100% custom work.  After a lot of trial and error, I have come up with several sign dimensions that I feel or “top sellers”.  Then customers contact me with a sign request and since I have a variety of signs pre-made, I have a shorter turnaround time with preparing a draft and creating their sign.  

There were many late nights building signs in the dark and cold garage and also a lot of evenings spent sitting at our dining room table hand painting and packaging orders while drinking a glass of wine. With two kids and a husband, I have always tried to be mindful of the time I put into the business, being sure that it does not carve away time from them.  Often times I would wait to work on projects until after the kids went to bed or save it for weekend nap times.  

Looking back, I am so glad I participated in the following events because it provided an excellent opportunity to network and surround myself with other people in the creative industry.

  • December - Brooten Craft Fair

I was on the fence to sign up for this event, but I knew a family member would have a booth next to me so I saw it as a bonding opportunity.  The event was a good experience in terms of gauging audience interest and the mechanics for setting up a booth.  At this event I met Mandy Brower, who had a Mary Kay booth and was also in the midst of planning the first Lakes Area Wedding Expo.  We connected and she encouraged me to try to market my products towards the wedding industry.  Again, I was on the fence but I decided… what’s to lose?

I have to admit, I was n-e-r-v-o-u-s driving to this event.  This was something that I had never done before and I was going to be next to a lot of established businesses in the wedding industry.  Fortunately, this was another event that I gained a lot of knowledge about paying attention to audience interest, how to market my products, booth set-up, and what my follow-up communication would look like if someone was interested in purchasing a custom sign.  My mom attended this event with me and it was fun to have a super fan by my side all day. At this event I met more people in the wedding industry such as Tessa from Gathered Oaks which lead to another event in July.

My sister and brother-in-law opened a taproom in Fargo and we collaborated with our cousin, Stephanie, to have a combined LuLaRoe party and Amanda Nygaard Designs display in their mezzanine.  I stretched myself leading up to this event in trying new designs such as macrame, weaving, and painting on canvas.  It was a great learning opportunity for me to try new skills.  The best part of this event?  Family.  My parents, siblings, and a few cousins were able to attend and have fun into the night.  

When I find interesting businesses or people online, the first thing I look at is their About page.  I want to know more about them and the story of how their business took shape.  So I decided to try my hand at planning and organizing a local interview series that highlights local makers in the creative scene.  It was very well received and brought so much joy to the highlighted individuals and joy to me as well.

  • July - Gathered Oaks Open House

Gathered Oaks is a new event venue in Alexandria, MN that recently opened.  I was asked to be a vendor at their Open House.  At this time, school was out and the weather had been beautiful which made late evenings preparing for the show highly enjoyable.  The atmosphere of the event was very relaxing and so many people attended the event in good spirits and low stress.  This provided a nice opportunity to talk to a lot of people in the Alex area as well as the surrounding communities.  A few former classmates from my high school, Bertha-Hewitt, even stopped in which was such a fun surprise to see them in that setting.

The Future:

I am so excited for what the future holds for Amanda Nygaard Designs.  Almost everyday I run ideas past my husband, some WAY out there and some minor and easily attainable.  My confidence has grown and I appreciate the quirks about me more than ever before.  I am creatively free and that is a great feeling.  If I have an idea of what I want to make, a new interview series, or a new way of marketing my products, I have the confidence and tools to go about researching and trying something new.  I hope to keep creating as long as my heart is telling me to keep putting one step in front of the other.

Growth Ideas:

Branding - I would love to fine tune my web presence and have a mission statement and core values.  

Providing creative jobs - This may be years down the road but if I were to be blessed with having the opportunity to create a job that encourages creativity, that would fill me up with all sorts of good feels.

Flowers - As many of you can see on my social media pages, I have enjoyed playing with flowers lately and have been thinking about offering services in the future.  Stay tuned!

Home Design - I will be going back to school online this fall for Architectural Technology in hopes of getting into the residential drafting scene in the future.  Stay tuned!!!

Thank you, thank you to all those that have followed along in my journey and have supported my small business.  I believe that God has a plan for everyone and my advice to you is to listen to His signs.  Listen and look for the sometimes very subtle and sometimes very clear directions He is trying to point you in for your next chapter or season in life.  

 

Peg - Rinkles

Blog Series: Morris Makers

Maker/Owner: Peg Rinkenberger

Business Name: Rinkles 

Peg is the kind of person that will bend over backwards and go out of her way to make people feel comfortable and welcomed.  As a colleague of hers in the high school, I feel inspired by the rapport she has with her students, how she is always up for trying something new in the classroom, and to put it simply... her drive.  

Peg does amazing work with reclaimed wood and always has an upbeat spirit about the design process. I enjoy hearing about what she is currently working on or a new tool that she picked up and cannot wait to try out over the weekend.  Beyond that, she is one of the kindest people to be around and I feel so lucky to have her in my life not only has an inspiration, but as a friend.

Everyone, meet Peg!

"What a joy it is to be considered a “Morris Maker”!  Amanda Nygaard is one of the kindest and thoughtful women I have ever known.  This quality woman is so talented.  She is a genuine person with a generous spirit.  Thank you, Amanda, for inviting me to share in this experience!"  -Peg

1. Provide us with a little background about yourself.

My dad and my grandpa both played with saws, drills, hammers, and wood.  Grandpa regularly was out in the garage (pronounced like “gare ridge”) making something.  My dad must have spent time with Grandpa as he was also handy with tools.  As a little girl, I remember watching Dad while he was at the workbench in the garage on Saturdays.  Both of those influential men have passed now.  Now it is my turn.  It is sad to me that I found my love of working with tools after they had gone but it feels good when family members speak how my dad would be thrilled that I have found my own way to work with wood and create items for my home.  There are times that it feels as though my dad is outside working with me.

2. Tell us about what it is you make or the services you offer.

Most of the items I have made are signs, home décor, and headboards.  I have enjoyed doing custom work and try hard to make the item “special” in some aspect.  However, working on custom work can be a bit stressful as it is important to me that the customer is completely satisfied.  Everything I do is hand created and therefore there are small imperfections as I use reclaimed wood to create my crafts.  My customers typically embrace the “one of a kind” item that I am able to create.

3. At what point did you decide to take your entrepreneurial leap of faith?

A couple of years ago some friends and I were having coffee at the Common Cup in Morris.  We decided to go to a friend’s shop and play with pallets.  My first item I made for myself was a 42” pallet clock.  When I began showing my work, other friends responded favorably.  I continued to make items to give away.  Friends convinced me to try to sell some of my creations.  The final push came from my colleague and friend, Jenny Maras, proprietor of Junk by Jenny.  She was having a sale and invited me and several others to join her.  The sale was successful!  It was at that point I decided to take the “leap of faith”.

4. Where do you gather your inspiration?

Inspiration can come from absolutely anywhere.  Most recently, I took a trip with a friend to Waco, Texas where we visited Magnolia Market and the Findery.  Both had fun items and ways of displaying them.  I was definitely inspired by Chip and Joanna Gaines!  Other HGTV shows provide inspiration as does Pinterest.  Honestly, this morning’s sunrise and early morning rainbow got me thinking as I was driving.  Sometimes that thinking time allows for insight into solving problems that have come up while creating items.

5. What has been a highlight since beginning your business?

Of course, I love the creative process and the learning that comes with all of the work but I think the highlight of my business is the time that my husband and I spend together.  We go dumpster diving for wood.  I should say that he dives and I haul the wood to the truck.  Taking pallets apart is much more fun with the two of us. Those of you who have dismantled pallets you know they can be buggers!!!  Last year, my hubby and I worked together to raise enough money to take our family on a vacation over the Christmas holiday.  We’d never done that before.  This business endeavor has been a “win-win” in so many ways!

6. Tell us about a challenge you faced and how you went about overcoming it.

Working in my little garage and on my front yard can be challenging.  I do not have a shop.  Every time I work, I have to take my tools out and when I am done, I have to put things away.  It is important for me to be cognizant that there are children in the neighborhood and so it is important that I unplug, lock, and use any other method of securing the tools when I run into the house for a short while.  My neighbors are awesome!  I appreciate that I am not the only one who likes to play with saws.  One retiree said he would call an ambulance and collect my limb if I have an accident and the other told me he would teach me how to change my saw blade on a table saw that another neighbor gave to me!  I have embraced my challenge and enjoyed the fresh and sometimes brisk air I share with my wonderful neighbors!

7. What do you see in the future for your business?

This business is more of a hobby.  It is relaxing and it soothes my soul.  I do not foresee it growing into a larger business.  My husband and I have recently purchased a Harley trike with the purpose of spending time together and getting out on the road.  My business really is a way to enhance my life rather than rule it.  Therefore, I can see that it will ebb and flow as time allows.

8. What advice do you have to share with someone thinking about the entrepreneurial route?

The process of becoming a business is rather easy.  I would say, “Go for it!”  There is something rewarding about learning how to start a business.  It was good for my brain!  I have also enjoyed getting to know other creative people in our community as a number of us get together to have sales.  This fall will be our third sale.  We are currently looking to set a sale up for September.  If you want to create a business, remember to let it work for and reflect you.  If it does that, it will enhance your life which will guarantee its success!

9. How can people purchase your products or services?

Honestly, if you have an idea, contact me.  I might be able to make it come true.  However, I might not.  I will tell you if it is beyond my abilities.  If my work does not meet your expectations, I will not hold you to purchasing the item.  I prefer local customers as I have not yet tackled the world of shipping.  You can also come to one of our sales!  Watch my Facebook page for notification of any upcoming sales events!

10. Where can people find you online to follow your creative journey?

You can see some of my work by checking out my facebook page at  https://www.facebook.com/rinklespallets/

Thanks for giving me your time! 

A big thank you to Peg for participating in this blog series, Morris Makers, which highlights crafters/entrepreneurs in the Morris, MN area that have at one point played a role in inspiring me to begin my creative journey with Amanda Nygaard Design.  The hope of this blog series is to shed light on the person behind the scenes and to encourage others to pursue the dreams on their minds as well.  

This interview marks the end of the six interview Morris Makers blog series.  If you missed one of the previous interviews, check them out here: Carrie, Lexi, Cate, Jenny, and Amy.  And don't be afraid to show your support by "liking" their Facebook or Instagram pages or by saying hello.  

Thank you so much for following along!

Amy - Made-N-Press

Blog Series: Morris Makers

Maker/Owner: Amy Zimmel

Business Name: Made-N-Press 

A couple of summers ago my family was sitting on the curb watching the Prairie Pioneer Days Parade and I remember seeing Amy and her family walking in the parade throwing out t-shirts to promote her new screen printing business.  As with most crowd situations when free items are being thrown out, I secretly hope to be lucky enough to have an item tossed my way but never stress over it when it does not happen.  Well in this case, I was really hoping for it to be our lucky day.  And it was!  When I first heard Amy was starting a screen printing business, I was excited to hear and see more.  So having that freebie of hers to wear in the early stages of her business was always fun to wear with the Made-N-Press name on the back.  

Amy is the kind of person that always has a smile on her face and is kind to everyone.  I have seen her work with students demonstrating patience and warmth.  With all of the wonderful reviews I hear of Amy's work from around town, I always look forward to seeing what she comes out with next.  

Everyone, meet Amy!

1. Provide us with a little background about yourself.

Hi! My name is Amy Zimmel. I grew up in Herman, MN. My husband, Brad and I moved to Morris almost 15 years ago. I was a daycare provider for the first 12 years of living in Morris. I then decided to try something new. I have 3 daughters and 1 little boy. If I am not working in my back garage I am usually running after one of my kids.

2. Tell us about what it is you make or the services you offer.

If you can put a logo, picture, or saying on it I can help you out. I enjoy creating my own ideas but also do a lot of logo work for shirts, can coolers, and bags. I am always looking for new ideas and love when customers share their ideas! So keep sending them!

3. At what point did you decide to take your entrepreneurial leap of faith?

About 3 years ago I found myself buying a ton of tiger apparel for my own kids and for birthday gifts. That is when I said, “Brad I have a great idea” he dreads hearing those words out of my mouth. That following spring we went to a show with heat presses and screen printing equipment. That day we purchased what I needed and my journey began.

4. Where do you gather your inspiration?

My inspiration to try something I really enjoy comes from my husband. I was envious of his love for his job. He goes to work excited almost every day, I wanted that! And now I have it! My inspiration for designs come from my customers, Pinterest, and my own crazy ideas. I love when a customer tells you about what they want and you get to design it.

5. What has been a highlight since beginning your business?

My highlight has been when I come up with an idea, throw it out there and it takes off like crazy. I love making things other people enjoy. I also like walking into a sporting event and seeing many of the items I made on the fans.

6. Tell us about a challenge you faced and how you went about overcoming it.

Ship times. It can be a huge challenge! I have to make sure I allow enough time for people to order but also enough time for the articles to get here and get them done on time. There have been a few times I have cut it closer then I should have. But for now, everything has worked out!

7. What do you see in the future for your business?

I hope to grow. I hope to reach more communities. I would like to sell at more craft fair events.  But for now being a full time mom with this as my hobby, I am doing what works for me.

8. What advice do you have to share with someone thinking about the entrepreneurial route?

Advice......If there is something you love to do you will make it work. It may take some time and failed attempts, just have faith.

9. How can people purchase your products or services?

If you would like to place an order you can find me on Facebook, or you can email me.

10. Where can people find you online to follow your creative journey?

If you would like follow me on Facebook- Made-N-Press Email-a.zimmel@hotmail.com

 

A big thank you to Amy for participating in this blog series, Morris Makers, which highlights crafters/entrepreneurs in the Morris, MN area that have at one point played a role in inspiring me to begin my creative journey with Amanda Nygaard Design.  The hope of this blog series is to shed light on the person behind the scenes and to encourage others to pursue the dreams on their minds as well.  

Please check back Thursday, June 29th for the LAST interview in this series.  

INSIDER INFO: I am in the works of creating a second interview series that will hopefully launch later this summer.  Keep checking in for announcements!

Thank you for reading!  Compiling the interviews was just as much fun for me as it was for you reading them.  And thank you again for supporting small businesses all around you.