Monday, May 13, 2013

It's SHOW TIME! :)

Hey peeps!  Yup, it's mid-May and the anxiety is building.  Time to build stock for shows and inevitably I get some AWESOME bulk orders at the same time as I'm preparing for the summer (which is totally fantastic, but of course it all comes at the same time.... eek!). 

Here's my show schedule:

Art in the Park (Windsor, ON) June 1 and 2. 

Artfest (Kingston, ON) June 29, 30, July 1st 

Home County Folk Fest (London, ON) July 19-21st

Brome Fair (Brome, QC) August 31st, Sept.1, 2, 3rd

Ottawa Folk Fest, Sept.5-8

Oh my, I think that's enough.  *insert heart palpitations*  

Shows are great!  I get to meet my customers face to face, see their excitement for my bags, and make a lump sum of money (rather than one bag here, one bag there).  I also get to be on the road, out of my workshop, sleep in hotels (loves this!), collect carnie tales of adventure (oh my, do I have a few!), and come home stinky and tired but usually satisfied and feeling validated (except for a few crap shows over the years.... don't wanna remember those!).  Yup, shows are an experience!  :)

However, there is also a very ominous side to doing shows.  The fact is that the artisan vendor is always at the bottom of the food chain.  We pay upfront months in advance for ever-increasing booths fees (sometimes exorbitant amounts, with randomnly-set premiums for a corner booth) often with ridiculous cancellation policies, not to mention the application process itself which requires a life-story, and CIA screening (well, not really... but it can be an ordeal!).  On top of the booth fees we have to pay travel, hotel (not always, but often for me), and many times parking fees. I also pay to rent a trailer to tow my stuff behind my car.  All the shows I do in the summer are outdoors, so I have to have the right equipment (canopy with walls, etc).  There is usually 'security'..... ahem....  Some people do pack their stuff up at night, but it's really not feasible for most of us.  So I close my tent walls, cross my fingers, and hope for the best.  This is very unsettling when I usually have all my inventory sitting in a public park, separated from the open sky by a thin piece of plastic tarp material.  This is where I take a deep breath and surrender to the universe.  lol  Of course, these shows also require that I carry 2 million dollars liability insurance in case my tent blows over and injures some unsuspecting person.  This translates to almost $1200/year for me.  Yikes!  So, as you can see, just getting to the show and being set up is nothing to scoff at.  And after all this, I have to cross my fingers and hope it doesn't rain.  And the final coup de grace is that I've spent all this money, taken the corresponding risks, and there no guarantee that I will sell anything.  *Over and Out*

So as I was saying, shows are great.  hahahaha!  Obviously I do make money at shows, which is why I do them.  But ya gotta have nerves of steel and be just a little bit foolish, too.  lol

Hopefully I will have the opportunity to meet some of you at my shows this summer.  Come by the booth and say HELLO!  I highly recommend attending all of the above shows, as they're quality events with lots too see.  Yes!

All for now.  Would love feedback from other artisans who do shows, or any show-goers about their experiences.  Feel free to comment below.  :)

HUGS!  All aboard The Hobo Train!

Twitter: @thehobotrain

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Spontaneous Sale!!!

How spontaneous am I?  Just decided to have a little impromptu sale in my Etsy shop.  Use the coupon code HOBOLICIOUS and get 15% off your purchase. Need a fresh new bag for spring???  Now's the time, my little hobo peeps.  Check out the shop.... The Hobo Train .  All aboard!  

I will be posting a bunch of new stock tomorrow assuming it doesn't pour rain.  It rained all day today so I was stuck inside doing paperwork.... the ultimate bummer.  Had some good tunes going, though, and couldn't get enough of James Taylor's Steamroller Blues.  Ya baby!

I've been planning my summer shows and so far I've applied to Windsor's Art in the Park, Guelph's Hillside Festival, and Muskoka's Arts and Crafts Show.  Of course I'd definitely be doing the big bad Brome Fair (hello my local peeps!).  I've already heard that I'm accepted to the Windsor show -- totally awesome.  Fingers crossed for the other two.  Wish me luck!

Still working on launching my second Etsy shop.  As soon as I get some better weather I will be outside photographing the stock for what will soon be the Train Wreck Clothing store -- specializing in upcycled mayhem.  :)

Much love!


Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Hello my fellow hobos!!!!  Did you know that the word 'hobo' reportedly originated from the expression 'HOmeward BOund'?  Hobos were the original adventurers.  They were people who would ride the trains traveling around the country and finding room and board in exchange for work.  It is indeed the rare soul that would try this today, with all our rules and regulations and fears.  The original hobos were not considered outcasts or vagrants.  They were simply travelers.  Everyone is familiar with the stereotypical picture of a hobo with a sack tied to a stick over his shoulder....

The sack was called a bindle and the hobo himself was also called a bindlestiff.  Love that old-style lingo!  That was the original HOBO BAG!!!  lol  Now the bags that I make are a far stretch from the bindle of yesteryear, BUT I do have to say that one large improvement is the 'hands free' aspect.  In olden times the hobo would have to occupy one of his hands with the job of holding the stick.  With the more modern crossbody hobo bags, those of us with hobo spirits can be comfortable wandering throughout the land 'hands free'.  lol  

For all you music lovers, here's a hobo tune by Charlie Winston.

Okay, so the big news is that I'm opening a new Etsy shop soon.  It will feature upcycled clothing and accessories.  LOVE the upcycled movement!  I'm 100% in love with the idea of making glorious new things out of already-existing resources.  No need to use more of the earth's precious resources.  There is so much that is awesome about upcycling.  Everything is so special and one-of-a-kind.  It's very personalized that way.  I like to believe that each piece finds its way to its rightful home.  Anyway, as soon as we get a break in the weather, I will be taking pics of the new products and opening the shop for business.  I will keep you posted!  

In an earlier post I mentioned a GIVEAWAY.  It is coming up soon.  I will post details here as soon as I know them.  lol

Big love!

Renee xxoo

Friday, February 1, 2013


I've been feeling pretty reflective lately and am counting my lucky stars!  This time last year I was in a bit of a rough spot.  2012 started off looking dismal.  Winter is usually a slow season for me after Christmas and I hold my breath until spring when  my craft shows start up again.  But as luck would have it last year I didn't have any money, with high rent and bills to pay.  Not a good combination.  Several things had contributed to this unfortunate mess and it was pretty yucky.  Long story short I decided that I would do as much as I could to get my Etsy shop rolling.  I studied other shops, educated myself about SEO (search engine optimization), scrambled my brain with trying to take good pics, and re-writing the descriptions for my listings many times, not to mention promoting and just plain hoping to hell that it would work.  I feel very fortunate to be able to say that it did.  Now I'm about to hit 400 sales on Etsy and I'm having a CELEBRATION!!!!  You in?  Who's bringing the Baby Duck?  <3

I'm having a GIVEAWAY, which will actually be hosted by a different blog.  I will post more details soon.  I will be giving away this skull bag:

Also to celebrate, the person who purchases the 400th item will receive FREE SHIPPING (refunded via Paypal after the purchase).  It's a small gesture, but I'm hoping that it will make someone's day nonetheless.  <3

In other news, it's DAMN cold here near Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  I take all my bag pics outside and the expression 'suffering for your art' comes to mind when I'm out there in a wind chill of -24C.  That's cold.  Actually now that I think of it, I do have something a LOT more exciting to mention than the weather.  Are you ready?  Read on...

I'm gearing up to open a NEW Etsy shop.  If one shop is AWESOME, does that mean that two shops would be AWESOMER?  Twice as awesome for sure!  The new shop is going to be called Train Wreck Clothing... I see a train theme here.  lol  It will offer clothing and accessories that I make using recycled materials only.  I will be launching it this month sometime and of course I will announce it here.  I'm really excited about it because I LOVE recycled products.  That's enough for now.... just enough to whet your whistle.  I'm such a tease!  ;)

Signing off!

Renee <3 (Etsy shop)  

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