A Two-Headed Business

I'm new to the forum.

Mrs. M's Handmade is the business; and it's the brainchild of my wife and daughter-in-law, who make lotions, balms, sprays & scrubs. People that use them, love them ... and that's what started this craft fair thing for us. Our first event was March 2014.

I've been a woodworker for 40 years, and have only this year begun to make things to sell. Currently, I'm making wooden cutting boards and serving pieces. I'm getting a lot of "wows" at the events we show at, and the lady's create quite a buzz as well, so we're off to a solid start.

Even though we are firmly connected to each other - family! - the lotion business and the woodworking business don't have much to do with each other in the booth. People sometimes ask, and they certainly get that it's family, but the products are not connected in any other way.

Our last, and so far, best event, was Santa's Art Shop in Ridgecrest, CA. We had a 10x10 booth, and I really felt crowded with two neighbor's side walls up on either side of our open booth.

Do you have any experience with such a two-headed business? Any problems with "sharing" a booth? We have done some double booths to give both of us more room, and that is great when the budget allows ... but we're still sharing space, money and theme. What do you think?

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  • Eventually you will have to jury separately to grow ... and then take two booths, which you can request be next to each other.  I know a lot of husband and wife "teams" that do different work, have different booths but are next to each other so they can help each other sell.  Some shows will only be appropriate for one or the other anyway

    • You may want to go for the higher end shows. Just because you are starting out doesn't mean you must waste your time and money figuring out the business side of things. Figure it out at the best shows you can get into. Iron sharpens iron.

      I also suggest you do not ever try to share a booth. Too many products crammed into one booth, too many people, too many conversations going on about different topics side by side.

      Think of your wife as competition and obliterate her. She should think of you as the same. Have a battle and see who does better and laugh about it. Winner buys dinner.

      Each of you will have more fun and receive more attention than what you are currently doing. I would bet your bottom dollar would go up too.
    • That may well be the future for us, Amy. We haven't done any of the more expensive shows at this point ... and the craft shows that we've done double booths at have been successful. Doing more single booth shows may add to my claustrophobia, though!

  • If you start to apply to most of the juried art and fine craft shows that are geared toward national recognition and high-end buyers, you won't be able to get in with 2 different artists or products in your booth. The definitions for most of having a partner is that you both work on every piece, otherwise you are 2 different artists. Some will let you apply twice in 2 different media, but you need to be accepted in both to display both in your booth. It's even this way in top CA shows--there just aren't that many of them! You have to read the rules for each show--they ususally make it really clear.

    That being said, you seem to be off to a great start at the craft shows you are in--and I think there are a lot of harvest festivals and street festival through out CA that except a broad array of handcrafted gifts and products without the strict requirements of an art fair. Unfortunately, the booth size is almost always 10 X 10, particularly at indoor shows which many of these type are. There can be more spread-out room at outdoor shows in parks for example...but a lot of street shows are in-line also and will be 10 x 10. So--it's a double booth, or you have to get super creative with display--like building up? Air- space is free!

    • I'm actually playing with some ideas for vertical displays ... or, perhaps more accurately, displays with more verticality than we're using currently. That will never solve the ultimate problem, though. With 5 people in the booth looking at 3 tables and many different options on each table, it's just too crowded to get anything done!

      The ultimate solution is more space, of course, and that's a double booth ... meaning more infrastructure, more product, and more expectations for results. Is that a good thing? That's our current discussion.

  • Many of the  shows have the booths next to each other and 10'x10' is the standard size. Using your tent sides will keep it from seeming as busy from seeing your neighbors tent and merchandise.

    What type of show was it? I can't imagine a juried show allowing a combination of your woodwork and your wife's lotions and related products.

    Most artists and crafts people usually need the full 100 square feet of booth space

    • My experience in SoCal is that "juried shows" are not that strict. In any event, Mrs M's Handmade, by definition, is my wife & daughter-in-law's lotion products and my wooden products. They have appeared together in every show we've done.

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