Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The BBB and Me!

Argyle Whale table

Something really neat happened and I can't wait to tell you. But first, I'm going to get sentimental and describe the events leading up to this neat thing so you can get an idea of my level of enthusiasm for the news at the end of this post. Or you read blogs like I read books and will just skip to the last paragraph.

Six or seven years ago, I was pursuing my BFA with a concentration in sculpture and even though I loved the school environment, I kept feeling like my brain was slowly shifting away from gallery oriented work to a more crafty sensibility. My friend suggested I go with her to the Bazaar Bizarre in Boston to the best craft fair for artsy types. Once I saw the handmade goodness at the end of the very long line to enter, I'm fairly certain glitter shot out my ears. Seeing the creative folks peddling their loot, I was sure that I needed to be a part of this group and I made the goal of becoming a vendor.

As I finished up my last year of college, I kept creating sculptures and installations that were probably overly complicated, but was meanwhile indulging in instant gratification crafting that was refreshingly "more do, less think". I ended up creating an absurd brand with Justin called Lazer Beanz where we took clothes from the thrift store and embellished them with colorful applique images of volcanos, fried eggs, bunnies and lightning bolts. We took our silly products very seriously and applied to become vendors at Bazaar Bizarre. We were crestfallen when we received a rejection email but it made us look closer at the business we'd created in a frenzy and see with fresh eyes that our product photos were shameful, I could use a couple sewing lessons, and we were underpricing for the amount of work each item required. We decided Lazer Beanz was much more like a fun project than a real business.

Taking what I learned from Lazer Beanz, I decided to start a new project on a more professional foundation. I started slowly building an online shop full of my illustrations under the name Argyle Whale. My product was more polished. I even had decent packaging and photos and charged prices where I could conceivably make a profit. How novel! I applied to Bazaar Bizarre again and was completely nutso with giddiness when I found out that this time, I was accepted as a vendor! The nerdy photo above is me at my first BBB.

I have been a vendor at Bazaar Bizarre three times now and it is one of my favorite events of the year. This year is going to be very exciting and different because this is a triple fair year and I am the newest organizer! I am flattered to be in the company of such ambitious and talented people. It makes me feel good to look back on the past few years and see how I graduated from wannabe to rejectee to vendor to ORGANIZER! I hope they don't find out how disorganized I am.

PS: The applications for the Summer fair (Union Made) are going to be up any second!


zoetropa said...

Congratulations Elise! BBB is lucky to have you. :) Funny, I had a similar reaction the first time I went to Bazaar Bizarre (as a shopper), I felt like I entered this whole new awesome world I never knew about and it made me a wannabe too!

Kate said...

That looks (and sounds) like so much fun!

Liz Smith said...

I always wondered what happened to Lazer Beanz :) So yeah, this is incredible news!! I know how happy you were just to volunteer there last year so you must be over the moon now, congrats!

I also had a crafty epiphany when I went to my first BBB as a shopper in 2006. I already had a crafty business but it was in hibernation as I languished in 9-5 hell. BBB let me know that the incredible community of indie crafters I was discovering on Etsy existed in the real world too!

I was also rejected my first time, skipped a year out of embarrassment then got in the year after that and was placed right next to you! How delightful :) I could not stop grinning that whole show, it felt like the culmination of a dream planned and achieved. No lie.

So congrats again on taking it to the next level!! I look forward to seeing you guys all bring amazing craft shows to life.

Karissa said...

Big congrats! I am a religious attendee of the BBB, but have never tried to vend--I'm still stuck in the trying-to-figure-out-the-business bit of selling crafty wares. I'm sure the Bazaar will be even better this year with you (and your enthusiasm!) behind it!