You Win Some, You Lose Some
In a sea of bright colors, I tend to ignore the evils, as many optimistic people do. I've been quite lucky over the last few years that I have been able to attend festivals all over the Northeast to showcase my jewelry. It is rare that I don't make at least one friend at these shows. The crowds are always happy and receptive to my work, as well as meeting me and talking about my story.
It has also been rare to meet the rude, negative people in these crowds. I find that my bright white booth filled with flowers and gems attracts the sweet, joyful customers. I love connecting with these people, exchanging business cards, and watching them leave with a smile or a new product.
But finally, the inevitable happened right under my nose at a festival in Falmouth, MA on Cape Cod: I was stolen from. In the grand scheme of life, it was $100 worth of products that I could have gifted to someone and lost the money just the same. But it was wildly disheartening, at this time of my life in particular, and I'll tell you why.
This show was the first big one of the summer for me. And this festival season was my first working entirely for myself, with no buffer of a full time job to fall back on. Needless to say, there was nothing but stress surrounding me to do very well at each of my summer shows. Hours of work go into creating new inventory, perfecting my displays, planning a trip to The Cape, and even the booth set up. Saturday was bright and sunny and busy. When I finally had a free moment to walk around and clean up the jewelry, I find this board with 2 holes where I had push pins and a pair of $38 earrings.
I was confused, at first, as I looked around wondering how they could have fallen out, as the pins are very difficult to remove. I knew I had not sold those earrings. I soon found another bracelet missing, which was normally $52. I felt like I had been punched in the gut. I didn't sell those earrings, and I never pull the pins out until the end of the festival. I didn't sell that friendship bracelet, I've had it in stock for months.
I wanted to cry; who would do this, to a local artist? Who would walk by, look at my booth and think "oh, they can afford to lose a couple pieces, I'll just take them." Little did they know that I just recently taken the plunge into full time entrepreneurship, and I really couldn't afford it: financially or emotionally. But what artist can? And looking around at the other booths, these were artists who were in the same boat as me. Struggling along, doing what they love, but crossing their fingers that the right customer will come along, and help them make a living. Some of them were probably parents, with children to care for and a mortgage to pay. What would they do when hours of their time and effort went to waste with a stolen $100 piece? Cry? Close up shop?
No. All I could do was hold it together. There were still 3 hours left until the end of the day. I kept my head high, made some more sales, and had a nice big margarita at dinner.
I will say, it was a tough day. My first stolen items really broke my heart. But I came out tougher on the other end. Luckily, I had a great crew to come to my rescue at the end of the day, including the lovely Steph Larsen, (pictrured here!) who took the awesome photo of me with a margarita.
She also arrived with these amazing fellas: my boyfriend/backbone, Bobby, and Steph's boyfriend/the biggest sweetheart, James. I don't know what I would have done that day without these amazing people!
Now, I watch my back constantly. Maybe shows aren't as "fun" that way, because it's stressful nerve-wracking. But someone has to keep an eye out for whichever punks think it's cool to steal from small businesses. I hope they learn their lesson someday, even if it's not from me. Until then, I'll keep on smiling in my booth, as I always do.