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Blog

Recipes, thoughts and rants from Mallow & Hop.

Summer Updates!

Karen Marshall

Renegade Craft Fair(s)

Well, you win some, you lose some.

The "lose some" comes in the form of spending 2 days in 80 degree heat (which I always thought was fairly temperate until I sat in a mostly breezeless tent for 7 hours trying to sell chocolate) in Downtown LA for Renegade Craft Fair. Direct sunlight, it turns out, is not chocolate's best friend. Those lemon marshmallows in the Lemon Meringue Pie did not live to tell the tale.

In retrospect I should have known that an outdoor event in the middle of July in LA was a dangerous prospect, and a risk not worth taking for a food vendor. My boothmate Art by Manda returned from a trip around the event to tell a horror story of the hot sauce vendor with a booth across from the Porta-Potties trying to hand out samples, so it could have been worse. I think the only people who made out super well were the popsicle vendors. Oh to be a popsicle vendor in summer in SoCal!

But luckily the product was safe and ready to take a road trip up to Renegade San Francisco - my "you win some" of the summer so far. By about noon on Sunday I'd completely sold out of all but 2 marshmallow flavors! Which was awesome, if not a little frustrating - how the heck do you know how well an event will go? It seems so ephemeral!

Side note: I have done 5 events so far. At every single one I have heard vendors discuss with other vendors that it's an unusually slow day. What gives? At some point, isn't it just usual?

Wishlist from other Renegade Crafters!

These beet earrings from Woll Jewelry:

The LadyBoss ring from Snash Jewelry. (Couldn't find a pic or way to order it on the site - noooooo - but here's another great one!)

This bunny hat for babies by Ellie Funday even though I do not have a baby nor am anywhere near being pregnant but I guess I am about to turn 30 so:

Any of the planters by Unurth, a genre of craft I normally find pretty unalluring:

Any of the weird and wonderful art from Stupid Animals:

Pricing

At an event recently a very nice slightly older lady who worked at the venue suggested I might lower my prices. She said that people look interested, pick it up, and then balk when they see the price tag. She only meant well, but she made me very very angry and very very sad.

Because I price my products such that even if I sell every one of them (and I don't get close - at this point about 1/2 -2/3 are used as samples and promotion) I'm not hitting the federal minimum wage for paying myself for labor. I price my products so that if I sell a certain amount, I don't lose money right now doing what I love.

Retail stores generally mark up products  - especially on untested products - 100%. Which means that if my suggested retail price is $6, I can charge $3 for that item wholesale. $3 is the minimum I can sell them for and get away with it.

And selling them personally and directly to you for $6 isn't something I can easily access. I can't ship, so online orders are only to Los Angeles and must be delivered by hand. Large events incur booth / table fees of $300-$700, plus a required Los Angeles County Permit that is $101. So I have to make $400 minimum - sell 67 items - to even begin making up the cost of the packaging and ingredients. And there's the 20 or so hours of load-in, set-up, customer service & load out. So getting paid at all for the time it takes to hand cut every marshmallow and hand coat every bar in chocolate? That's not in the cards.

Please don't tell me to lower my prices.

Amen, Liddabit. Their bars are, for the record, $9. Of course, they have to pay for a commercial kitchen and a full staff which they cannot get away with not paying. Cottage Food Act you are a blessing as well as a curse sometimes!

A FINAL THOUGHT

Guys? It's rough out there. The internet is a wretched hive of scum and villainy where people feel able to harass strangers for no reason at all with no tangible consequences. It's the last point that haunts me: my boyfriend got into a car accident last December in which his wrist was broken. The other driver - 100% at fault - didn't hear his screams when the nerve pinch wore off too early after surgery, didn't watch him go through 4 months of expensive and frustrating physical therapy, doesn't see him ache every day now that he's returned to a workplace (different than his previous job, which he can no longer do) where his wrist is constantly pushed to his limits. They didn't live with the pain they caused. So they have no reason not to try an illegal and unsafe u-turn in the future.

The internet is that. That, but every day, in every tiny interaction.

Be nice to each other.