It’s hard to believe that it’s already been more than a month since the Vancouver One Of A Kind Show. Overall the show was amazing! The experience went beyond my expectations, though it was hard to know what to expect since it was my very first show ever.

I’ve been writing a recap of my OOAK experience and this is Part One: The Booth

I’ve been to a lot of craft shows and I’ve also had the benefit of working at craft shows so I’ve seen and worked at a lot of booths. Leading up to OOAK I had a very clear idea of how I wanted my booth to look and how I wanted it to function. But of course, planning a booth and actually setting one up are two different things.

Having been a Project Manager I know that many plans often don’t go exactly as planned. I knew going into OOAK that I was going to end up learning a lot of lessons the hard way simply because this was my first show. And really, there was no way around that – things happened that I couldn’t have predicted. Like the sign printing company misprinting one of my signs the day before the show, or the minor car accident we got into a couple of hours before we were scheduled to go to the convention centre for set up, or having a bag of tools disappear just as we needed them to finish the booth the night before the show opened.

Everything worked out fine – the sign was reprinted at no extra cost, the car is a little worse for wear but is still running and we found the tools in a garbage bin and finished the booth set up with an hour to spare.

But holy moly – I am so glad those two days of set up are behind me. Especially because now I know that next time will be better.

Here’s what I learned:

  • I need to simplify my booth set up. I thought I had a pretty easy and straight-forward booth, but I can do better.
  • On Day 1 of set up I spent way too much time steaming the wrinkles out of the white curtains that lined the back and side of my booth. Way, way too much time. Next time I will get the curtains pressed beforehand or I’ll order a hard wall.
  • On Day 2 of set up I did something really dumb: I unpacked all of my pottery. I wasn’t thinking about my display when I packed up the pottery for the show, so when It came time to start putting the pottery out I decided to unpack all of it then sort out the display afterward. That was dumb. I spent way, way too much time unpacking everything when I could have just unpacked it as I needed it. Next time I’ll be smarter about how I pack my pottery for a show.

In terms of functionality my booth rocked. Mark and I had found a nice little table top in the Ikea As Is section. It was exactly the right colour – shiny white – and had two wide drawers, perfect for holding all of the odds and ends. After Mark made a few modifications to it, the Ikea As Is Special worked really, really well. I also had with me a set of shelves I use in my studio space, they provided a surface for the display as well as storage for all that pottery I stupidly unpacked.

As for the location of my booth, it was awesome! I had a corner booth, on the centre aisle, right between the Visual Art and Flavours sections, and right beside the day care. Being next to the food section had a few perks of it’s own, for one I did not go hungry at the OOAK Show. In fact every time I went to the bathroom I had to pass through the Flavours section so of course I had a few samples on the way. Plus I was in close proximity to the shortbread guy and I actually snagged some delicious treats before he sold out.

After planning and setting up and seeing my booth at the show I was very, very happy with how it turned out. My booth looked very close to what I had envisioned. To add to that I got a lot of really positive feedback about my booth from customers and other exhibitors. One person said my booth felt like a breath of fresh air, a few people commented on how professional it looked, and lots of people loved my big, orange dragonfly set against the white back drop.

One of my favourite memories from the show was when I took a moment to get out of my booth, I stood across the aisle and examined all the details and felt an enormous amount of pride. A year earlier I had been thinking about how amazing it would be to start a pottery business and be an exhibitor at the Vancouver One Of A Kind Show. And I did it. I really did.The Mena Dragonfly Booth

Thank you Marlis for this photo.

Next Monday I’ll post Part 2 of my OOAK Recap: The People