Part of what made the OOAK Show so amazing was the people. From the show organizers, to my fellow exhibitors, to the friends and family who came to see me, and finally to the customers, everyone seemed to be just oozing positivity and it was delightfully contagious.
The Show Organizers
Dealing with the OOAK Team – Sarah, Ally & Leonie – was always such a pleasure. They were quick to answer all my inquiries and it was wonderful to meet them in person at the show. They are what they say they are – passionate about giving artisans an opportunity to share their craft. I found Sarah, Ally & Leonie not only helpful but really supportive. During my booth set up and throughout the show they often stopped by to check in and make sure everything was going smoothly and I really appreciated that.
My Fellow Exhibitors
I was very lucky to have a few seasoned professionals in the booths near mine. Beside me was Valerie Gobert and directly across from me were Tony and Russell at the Legend Design booth. Hearing Valerie’s French accent all day long was like listening to a beautiful song and whenever there was a lull in the day Tony and Russell would stop by, check in on me, and would often make me laugh. All three were so great and gave me lots of advice, tips and encouragement.
The show also gave me the opportunity to meet a few artists I had previously connected with on Twitter. Like Kate and Susan from This Charming Candy, they had blogged about my Dots! Mini Bowls and I was so excited to meet them in person and get some of my own Charming Candies.
And then there was Corrine.
Corrine crosses the Fellow Exhibitor & Friend categories. I’ve known Corrine for a few years now and in 2009 she came from Toronto to sell her jewelry at the Vancouver OOAK show. She’s been an exhibitor at the Toronto OOAK show for a long time now, so she knows all about these things. Corrine is one of a hand full of people of were the first to know about my pottery business plans and she has been one of my biggest supporters. It was such a comfort to know that she was at the show too, and she helped keep me calm during those two crazy days of set up.
Friends and Family
Of course I invited everyone I know to OOAK. I saw the show as my big debut and I wanted everyone I know and love to be there. I sent emails, I made phone calls, I even sent invitations the old fashioned way through the mail. And it paid off, because every time I saw one of my peeps come up the aisle towards me I lit up. Even writing about it now I’m getting goose bumps thinking about how many people came to the show just to see me in my booth. I was reminded again and again how blessed I am to have such truly wonderful people in my life.
Leading up to the show, one of the things I was really looking forward to was the opportunity to meet and talk with my Mena Dragonfly customers. In general I’m kind of a quiet person, a little on the shy side, but all that faded away at OOAK. I love talking about my pottery and showing it off to people, so for me being at a trade show where I get to do that all day long is fantastic.
Whenever anyone came to my booth I told them all about me and my pots. I told everyone that it was my very first show ever, that I had turned my hobby into my business and I asked people point blank what they thought of my work. I told them I was taking suggestions, I was open to feedback, I wanted to know what they wanted and the response was amazing.
The people told me what they thought and perhaps they were all just being polite, but I didn’t get one negative comment on my pottery.
I took colour requests and wrote down suggestions for new pieces and colour combinations. Lots of people also suggested stores in Vancouver that would be well suited to selling my pots.
Overall the OOAK customers were friendly, delightful and they spent their hard earned dollars supporting my new business – so really, they ROCK!
One of the highlights of the show happened on the evening of the first day when I had a Full Circle Moment. My friend Charmian came to the show and when she saw my booth I got a little emotional. Charmian was once my pottery instructor and she is the person who taught me how to centre clay on the wheel I often think that if it wasn’t for her, I’d probably still be working at a computer desk all day long. I give Charmian a lot of credit for helping me get to where I am today it was so very wonderful to have her part of my OOAK experience.
As I’ve written before, this was my first show and I didn’t know what to expect but everything – and everyone – went way beyond my expectations. All of the people at the show gave it a positive, supportive and fun atmosphere and I’m already excited to think about all of the amazing people I’m going to cross paths with at next year’s OOAK show.
Next Monday I’ll post Part 3 of my OOAK Recap: The Show.