As many of you know, I vend at several fiber festivals throughout the year. I love going to them to showcase my work, meet with customers and see my fellow small business owners. I go to bathe in the atmosphere of craftiness and yarn love. It’s an experience. A happening. A thing of joy and hard work. It’s an adventure every time. My friends and family help me drive to them. We sing while we put up the booth. We share AirBnB’s and knit in our jammies every night while we complain how tired we are. It’s that tired happiness only hard work, sore muscles, and time with loved ones can bring.
My production methods are tedious and some of my incoming materials can take up to a year to be produced and shipped to me. I have to carefully monitor stock levels to a point where I can forecast that far in advance. Not only do I need to have the acumen to manage things at this level, I need to have the money socked away to make sure I pay for this shipment that will take up to a year to get to me. Each show I attend is a financial spring board for the next. You may have heard some dyers joke that it’s a conundrum to go to shows because…flush with sales…we turn around and just buy more yarn. It’s a cycle that I know and love.
Revving up for shows is a rush. Since I start planning for a show easily a year ahead of time I am constantly in motion that entire year thinking, planning, dyeing, color picking, analyzing buying trends, advertising…and everything in between. It’s a mental precipice. You only jump off the cliff when you’ve set your booth up and the people start rolling in.
It’s an understatement but the pandemic has killed this lovely dance. It’s as if my waltz has been replaced with death metal. Shows are cancelling less than a month in advance. By that time, I’ve already invested emotionally and financially. At that point, I’ve made the uphill climb only to find out there is no cliff to jump off of, no base-jumping rush to be had at the end of the journey. Just more climbing. It goes beyond frustration. It’s devastation on an emotional scale I’ve never felt before. My ability to be creative hinges on my mental state being able to flow. My flow is staunched and my creativism is a precious thing to me. I must adapt and change to this situation if I’m going to continue being inspired by color and by yarn.
All of these reasons and more are why I’ve decided to preemptively cancel all my future attended events. I recognize that I cannot emotionally and financially survive this whiplash. I cannot plan over and over again for events that are cancelled, only to be crestfallen and fat with inventory while I wait months for a refund…if it ever comes at all. I need a permanent solution to this pandemic in order to feel that I am safe and that my customers are safe. As a business owner I would be completely devastated if I find out I made someone sick with COVID by attending a show. For me, there’s no coming back business-wise from that.
To be clear, this doesn’t mean I’m going out of business. It just means I’m not going to be signing up or attending any shows until there is a proven treatment or vaccine for COVID-19. I will be doing more blog posts like this one and starting more online ventures so people can reach me that way. I hope people take this post in the vein that it was intended. I want to do my absolute best to ensure my customers are safe and healthy…and have my beautiful yarn in their hands! I am trying to save my creativity and change and adapt.
I hope to see you again at an event in the future when we can laugh and crack some crass joke about the spiky virus that made us all hermits. Until then, the show must (not?) go on!