Those of you following me on Instagram or Facebook will have seen pictures of great upheaval in my embroidery studio. Selecting and packing everything for the Leonhardimarkt in Geitau taken place last weekend. Now that the markt is over and my embroidery studio back in order, let me tell you what I have learned from the experience...
Up first, a picture of me explaining the St. Laurence goldwork project to some visitors in the local newspaper. Nice free publicity!
The Leonhardimarkt is organized by Fazination Handwerk (Fascinating Craftmanship) and aims to create a platform for artisans (i.e. not hobby makers) to sell their handmade products and to demonstrate how they make them. They do this by organising two 'up-scale' fairs a year. I had visited a fair before, but this was my first time participating in one. Unfortunately for me, this one was not visited well on two of the three opening days. Not only a pity for me, but for all the participating artisans as sales were way below what they used to be in other years.
On Friday, we had by far the most interested crowd of visitors. People really enjoyed seeing the St. Laurence project and for many it was their first encounter with anything other than embroidered tablecloths :). It was really nice to be able to explain to people what I was doing and why I was doing it a certain way. We drove the 1,5 hours home on a high!
But as always, after the sunshine comes the rain. The crowd on Saturday was bored and unfriendly. It was kind of a blessing that there weren't that many of them... The Sunday saw a much higher volume of visitors, but these were mainly the families who came for the watching rather than the buying. Overall, my finished embroideries did not find a new home. I sold a couple of beaded pendants and a few embroidery kits. Interestingly, my lovely neighbour the Federkielstickerin didn't sell any of her finished embroideries either! It seems that embroidery still has a long way to go when it comes to fair pricing.
Why is that? For a starter, I noted that people do not have a clue how long it takes to stitch. They really think that I spent only a couple of hours on a piece and then sell it for top euros. Educating them that I only want the German legal minimum wage of €8,84 per hour + material costs, opened a few eyes. Secondly, although you can only sell at this particular fair when you are a true artisan and not a hobby maker, many people still thought that embroidery is my hobby and not my way of making a living. It became clear that embroidery is not recognised as a serious art form or a way to pay the bills.
How best to change this? By attending future fairs! Even though I made quite a loss, I might pick up some after trade. The trouble is, I won't know until after a certain time. Unfortunately, I need to make a decision in the next two days if I want to attend their fair in February. And that fair has an even higher attendance fee... What would you do, dear reader?
P.S. you can now pick-up the many new beaded pendants I made for the Leonhardimarkt from my webshop! I have also listed the finished embroideries I have for sale. I need a bit of cash to buy additional storage space for my embroidery studio, so please help me out!
Jessica M. Grimm
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