I moved back to Mobile, Alabama in February of this year (2019). I purchased my very first house from a Retired Coast Guard Chief and friend. After purchasing the house and getting settled in, I contacted an accountant so I could turn HJH Designs into a business instead of a hobby and start selling at local events instead of in consignment shops. The first place I went to was the Mobile Flea Market because I remembered it from when I lived here before. The Flea Market is great and I met some really nice people, but it isn’t necessarily the best place for an artist to sell art–at least not in May. Through networking and Facebook I was very fortunate to find the Antique Emporium’s Maker’s Market at Sip & Shop. The Antique Emporium is located downtown Mobile on Emogene St and the second Thursday of every month they put on the Maker’s Market. Local Makers set up outside along the sidewalk and in the parking lot and you can find products from my clocks, signs, and frames, to baked goods, spices and salsa, jewelry, CBD products and more. “Our Sip & Shops always promise a fun night. We have refreshments, give door prizes every 30 minutes, and love to make new friends! Our 60+ indoor vendors like to run nice discounts on their antique/vintage booths for the evening. It’s truly worth the visit!”
My anxiety always acts up before a new event. I get nervous about traffic and parking, setting everything up, what the weather will be, etc. I always try to think about the event I’m at and choose my products that I think will sell the best at that particular event. Since last month (June) was both Pride month and Father’s Day, I tried to make a lot of rainbow and military products. I also brought a small assortment of other things to try to show off my diversity. The Antique Emporium does a good job of advertising on social media and I tried to share their posts as well as my new products.
The afternoon of the event, I showed up and introduced myself. Since I did not have a tent, it was suggested that I set up on the sidewalk under the awning, just in case it rained. I was incredibly fortunate to set up next to Vee Jackson of Vee’s Vintage Sweets. Well, fortunate and unfortunate. Vee is an Air Force Veteran and is extremely kind. We talked and got to know each other and she gave me some business advice. Unfortunately, I had to see/smell/hear about her sweets all night!! I tried her pralines and o.m.g. they are delicious!! I also brought a strawberry cuppie at the very end of the night and that was fantastic, as well.
On the other side of Vee was Mad Dawg’s BBQ Sauce. I actually saw them at another event, but did not have the chance to introduce myself. Mad Dawg’s is owned and operated by two Marine Veterans, Phillip and Cullen. That night they happened to be double booked, so Phillip’s mom was running the booth the first couple of hours. She is a hoot!! Incredibly smart and witty, she charmed everyone into trying the BBQ Sauce and then buying a bottle. She talked to Vee and I about Phillip joining the Marine Corps and his deployments and what it was like for her as a Mother. I could tell that it was hard, but that she was also incredibly proud of her son. Later Phillip arrived and I was introduced to him. He talked about some of his goals for his BBQ Sauce/business and also gave me some new Facebook pages to follow to find out about more events.
I sold a couple of signs, including one to Vee for her man for Father’s Day, but more than the sales, I was so happy to meet some fellow Veteran Vendors and be able to share our experiences with each other. I am incredibly thankful for their advice as I am starting my business; it is truly invaluable. The other vendors were also really nice and I enjoyed meeting them and seeing their products. I had a really hard time not buying anything. I kept telling myself I was there to make money, not spend it. I’m fairly certain, though, that I will be purchasing some wood flowers from the lovely Jacqueline McMillan (Love by JM). Her story is inspiring and her creations are amazing. (Read more here: https://www.al.com/life/2019/02/the-inspiring-story-of-the-woman-who-made-the-flowers-for-alabamas-most-talked-about-wedding.html)
After the event in June, I was positive I wanted to participate in the Maker’s Market Sip & Shop again, but I wasn’t sure about July and August. The summer months are extremely hot and don’t have any significant holidays where one would purchase a gift for someone. I’m not sure how well I will do and I have to weigh the cost of the event against my potential profits. At the same time, I knew Vee was going to be back and Phillip was considering it, and it was a fun night, regardless of sales. My personal desires were fighting against my good business sense until I got an email from Caroline and Nancy from the Antique Emporium saying that they were working on a post for their Veteran Vendors and asked for a short paragraph and photo of me in uniform so they could include me. My heart leaped out of my chest. What a wonderful opportunity to get my name out there! And to be grouped with such amazing other Veteran Vendors. I almost don’t feel worthy. Almost.
Write a short paragraph about yourself. A short paragraph. Oh boy. How do you sum up 12 years of your life? What do I want people to know? What is interesting about me or my time in service? And I don’t want to give too much away because my book should be coming out at the end of the year. I thought about OS A-School graduations and the introductions for the guest speakers. I wrote my paragraph trying to copy those. I had the years I served, where I served, and what I did. Then I talked about my art. When I emailed Caroline and Nancy back, I told them to feel free to edit the paragraph if they needed to. I also paid to participate in July’s Sip & Shop.
The beginning of this month the Antique Emporium posted their Veteran Vendor’s post. I am speechless. This is truly a huge blessing for me and I’m fighting my anxiety and insecurities telling myself I am worthy enough to be included in this–not that it can really be taken back at this point.
For July I have decided to feature most of my clocks with wine corks. The event is a Sip & Shop, so it seems appropriate. I will also have a few signature clocks or signs and maybe a patriotic thing or two. This morning I painted two boards white and I’m typing this as I wait for the paint to dry. My plan is to come up with two more wine designs specifically for this event–although I will say that one design was suggested by a former Sprout’s co-worker a little while ago. I’m very excited to meet more vendors and people at the event in July. I’m excited to see what will come out of their Veteran Vendor post. I fully intend to use the page they made for me to advertise in the future! There really just aren’t enough words to say how thankful I am for everything that this event has offered me so far! I hope to see all of you there!!