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May 07, 2018

When I started to do craft fairs after my son was born I was pleasantly surprised to notice other moms with their carriers as well setting up and doing the mom thing at craft fairs. For me, doing craft fairs that year was needed because I had done little to no wholesale outreach, so my income for that year was mainly from craft fairs. That said, the timing was right. My son was born in February giving me time to figure out (do we ever have it figured out?) the whole mom thing before diving into craft fairs.

I cancelled one craft fair that was in May. That sucked, I hate signing up for something and then flaking. I just wasn’t ready 3 months out despite the whole “maternity leave in the US is 3 months”. I never got into the show again, which is a bummer. I explained it was because I had misjudged how much time I needed after the baby came, but I never got any response from them. I guess I got on their shit list, which is a bummer.

 

My first show was in June. I don’t recommend it. The baby was 4 months old. It’s hot and for me summer shows don’t perform as well as holiday/fall shows. I was ducking out taking a walk with the baby and feeding him while my husband helped me man the booth. At the end I didn’t think it was worth the effort and money made.

By September (baby being 7 months) it was better. Maybe it was because I was better, lol, at the whole mom thing. That said, it was hard to make someone (be it my husband or mom or sister who was visiting) to bring the baby to me in the middle of the show. Basically I’d take the car filled with all my craft fair stuff and they’d go on the metro and come to me. It would take them about 45 min. To an hour. Not fun. They were troopers. We were troopers. It really made me feel like I shouldn’t be breastfeeding if I want to do these craft fairs. I should just formula feed, which I was doing at nights for the night time routine, but during the day I could breastfeed, so I wanted to. It led to tears I must admit, but I decided to inconvenience my family and they supported me, which was so nice.

Here are 5 tips to help you breastfeed if you’re a maker and don’t want breastfeeding hold you back from doing shows that are profitable (key word profitable!):

  1. Have someone bring the baby after you’ve set up

This depends on your set up and how bulky things are. I’ve seen others come with their carriers and set up their table with no problem. For me though I had card spinners, pipes as fixtures and my hands were so dirty in the end. I needed time to myself to set up.

  1. Don’t feel guilty - remember, it’s not forever

It’s not forever (repeat this saying). Once that baby can eat and drink cow’s milk, even if you’re still breastfeeding they don’t HAVE to be within a radius of 1 mile from you at any given moment (yeah, for real). As mentioned above, each show was a weekend date that my whole family (husband, baby and I) had to be a part of. So, it wasn’t like my husband could have fun (eh, sometimes not so fun) library or park time while I worked. That said, breastfeeding was something I fought for and got to be able to do, so I wasn’t about to give it up because I wanted to keep my business afloat.

  1. Be Selective on Your Shows

It sucks to do a show (or multiple shows in my case) where I didn’t feel like I made enough to justify the three of us being so inconvenienced. Pre-baby I could test a show and break even or make a few hundred bucks and be like “ok, I tried”, but post-baby it sucked. Waste of time. Ask other makers if a show is worth it, walk it before hand (if you can… I never could, I mean, I have a baby now), research about it online to see how well attended it looked.

  1. Eat

You need to eat so that your baby can eat. I’ve had pre-baby shows where I snacked, maybe drank water, but not enough.

  1. Hire out if you can

For me I had not set myself up for this. At year two I had the foresight to hire out, but year one was me and my husband. It’s not easty to find someone you trust with money and also selling. It’s hard not to think that you’re the best at selling your own stuff, but this feeling needs to be let go when you have competing priorities. I can write about that if you’d like… let me know.


There you have it. Craft fair season when you breastfeed your baby. I could never find anything online of anyone recounting their experience. Maybe noone does it, but I bet they do… I see mamas with kids in carriers all the time. When you’re looking we’re everywhere.

FYI, I've started a group called Makers Making Babies that brings together creatives running a business with a small baby. It's a FB group for now and I hope to make it much much more.
Bye for now,
Mariko

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