My last (and first) post was simply an introduction with a basic history, now I start the real blog.
This past weekend, Atlanta was having their Quilt Shop Hop, and I got a wonderful opportunity from the Red Hen Fabrics quilt shop to set up all my barn quilts and share the foot traffic. I went in with high hopes of interest and exposure. Interest and exposure are certainly things I got out of my weekend experience, but not to the level my bright-eyed-bushy-tailed self was hoping for. And part of me really did know this before committing. Nonetheless, I told myself that this opportunity would be the start to something serious and I am choosing to set aside some of my cycling focus to “invest in myself.” As I am doing this all on my own, I know I needed to prepare and only sort of knew how.
I would like to start with what I learned from this weekend, as it is the most important, then go into everything else.
What I took away from the weekend:
- Surprisingly, not a lot of the Shop Hop foot-traffic knew about barn quilts. The majority who did, mentioned seeing them all over Kentucky or other parts of the Midwest. This told me a couple things:
- There is hope for me to bring exposure of this art-form to Georgia and other parts of the southeast.
- I need to take a hold of this opportunity and promote, promote, promote and do things right
- Keep searching
- There is still a lot of work to be done on the website.
- Step 1: complete the website; add good content (pics, information…) but keep it simple.
- Step 2: create a blog, link it to website.
- Step 3: make it easy for customers–create more templates
- Step 4: get feedback, and revise.
- Step 5: post website public when up to par
- Enter as many Atlanta opportunities for shows or markets. Also, research what shows and markets are in Atlanta.
- Next time, create an email list.
- Do something new. I have a few ideas up my sleeve.
- Be confident, believe in myself, invest in the time.
Okay, time for everything else, and what I did this weekend.
So I sort of prepared:
- I designed and made some hand-out postcards
- Made up some order forms
- Began to draw up some “templates” in Illustrator for inspiration
- Updated my website Barn Quilts by Heather (still a work in progress)
- Took better pictures for the website
- Knew that I would do live-painting of a barn quilt for Red Hen Fabrics
- Knew I would have to blast my social media accounts (Instagram & Facebook)
- Mentally & emotionally tried to console myself in the fact that I should give up bike racing this weekend to truly invest in myself–this was the hardest preparation
- Mentally prepared to know that I was not prepared
In a quick moment I whipped up a hand-out postcard, hoping the design was fetching, and the content was decent. Knowing I have no real graphic design skills, and often I am at a loss for words, I was worried it wouldn’t turn out well on a couple levels. Knowing I will improve on design and content for future hand-outs, I was happy with my $71 investment in (100) quality printed postcards.
DAY 1: MARCH 10, 2016
I was lucky enough to be given absolutely gorgeous weather and a great place to set up outside, right at the entrance of the shop.
Most of my first day was spent setting up and prepping the 4′ x 4′ barn quilt that I would be painting for Red Hen Fabrics.
The prep for making the barn quilt included:
- Buying marine plywood (outdoor, pressure-treated wood that will last longest in the outdoor elements) which I purchased at Home Depot
- Making sure I had all the correct colors of paints requested. I use BEHR Marquee exterior paint & primer. I use this paint because of its qualities:
- Exceptional Resistance to Dirt & Fading
for longer lasting color
- Excellent Hide in Fewer Coats
- Antimicrobial – Mildew Resistant Finish
- Exceptional Resistance to Dirt & Fading
- Sanding down all the edges of the wood, as well as the surface I would be painting on. (I used 3M 120-Grit sandpaper) and just did by hand. TIPS: if you are doing this by hand be careful of getting splinters! Always sand WITH the grain.
I used my handy pre-made order form to make sure I did the math right and that the colors look good.
In doing so, I used my USA Cycling Officials clip board to hold the form. This was bitter-sweet. SIDE BAR | I had decided this year to not re-new my USA Cycling Officials License because I currently live in Savannah, and Savannah is just too far out of the way for me to be called on to help out with races. Using this clip board reminded me that (1) I am where I was 2 years ago-stuck in Savannah where I don’t want to be (2) I would not be racing this weekend nor getting to see my boyfriend race (3) doing something to invest in myself all while giving up a part of myself to potentially get me to where I want to be for many reasons |
DAY 2: MARCH 11, 2016
I picked up where I left off, and began taping off and painting the design for Red Hen. I was lucky enough to get to spend the greater part of the morning with my wonderful boyfriend, Kevin, and he helped me out with taping and getting me some action shots to blast my Instagram with.
Kevin left to go do his thing, and I eventually finished up the barn quilt. Soon after, I called it a day seeing that the foot-traffic was dwindling and knowing that I have been handing out the postcards I made and that the website was not up to par and that I needed to work on it.
DAY 3: MARCH 12, 2016
Again, I set up outside, it was a beautiful day. This day was a bit tricky for I did not entirely know what to do. The night prior, I spent a lot of time updating and re-designing the website, trying to add all the right content, but was only maybe half-way done. I had intentions of having a bunch of templates made, but only had a few. I decided that I would work on drawing out a new design; first on the computer in Adobe Illustrator, then by hand on graph paper with the actual paint so that people could see my process.
…and take artsy photos for my Instagram and future process book.
The foot traffic was quite slow, and I was beginning to doubt myself and question what the heck I was doing. I was missing a great day to be out riding and racing my bike, and cheering on my boyfriend doing the exact same thing. That is what I love about us. And that is something rare that we get to do since I live in Savannah and he lives in Atlanta. I tried to remind myself that this was another reason why I was sitting outside that quilt shop–gain interest, promote myself, get orders, hopefully business takes off–>money to move–>pride growing my own independent career. And then the wind blew and knocked one of my barn quilts onto my head. Literally. I thought it was a sure sign. Silently I got very upset and tried to not touch the egg growing on the back of my head too much. I continued on and told myself I would not give up and leave.
This is as far as I got before I ran out of tape and decided to pack up for the day.
My spirits were somewhat broken due to a few things:
- My investment literally hit me on the head
- I received not a single order
- The best opportunities for exposure are in Atlanta and I still live in Savannah..
- I still live in Savannah
- I knew I had a lot of work to do on the website
- I knew that I wasn’t going to give up and that this was going to take up a lot of my time and I was going to have to set cycling aside.
- I didn’t want to set cycling aside
The next day, I decided that skipping 3 days of riding my bike this past week, missing a local race where I knew I could do well, and missing racing and being with my boyfriend while I am actually in the same city as him, was all too much. So I signed up to race. And I am damn glad I did for a few reasons.
Me and #1 had an awesome breakaway from the start of the crit race. We worked together the whole race up until 4 laps to go where I knew I was working much harder that I was physically prepared to and couldn’t keep up anymore. Still, we had about a half lap on the field and it guaranteed me a 2nd place finish. This was great because I felt a little like I made up for not training this past week and it also served as punishment (working so hard to keep the gap) for not training this past week. I also got to see Kevin race hard in a pro 1/2 & 3 race. He placed 2nd in the category 3 race. I am very proud of my boyfriend and all the hard work he puts in. It is inspiring and also makes setting cycling aside that much harder. BUT, the next great thing that happened was that over this weekend I met with a couple established creatives, both of whom gave me great advice. One creative, I met at the races. Without attending the races, I may have not started out this blog…