After I graduated from my herbal medicine course on June 14th I had a minute of relief that all my hard work and medicine making the past eight months had paid off. Then the sickly feeling that my first festival was the next weekend came crashing in along with the long list of things to do.
A big part of what I offer is a festival camper sampler pack, where all the products (deodorant, moisturizer, cuts and scrapes, massage salve, tooth powder, mosquito repellant, and sunscreen) come in tiny 15 ml metal sliders and a cute burlap sac.
At this point on a sunny sunday afternoon in the south of the small island of Salt Spring I had no sample sizes, labels ready, or half my display.
Over the next week I had many late nights fighting with photoshop to make all seven product labels on a micro level and create the PDFs of labels in each size and shape, cursing my need for variety.
The days were spent pulverizing herbs, soaking, double boiling, pressing, and pouring.
They were also spent praying my credit card would approve last minute purchases to expand into my new 10x10 tent, with two more six foot tables, burlap table cloths, lace, baskets, ice packs, plus camping gear- a butane stove, tent, plates and cups.
I had been to Campbell Bay Festival on Mayne Island the year before so I knew what to expect. A small, loving crowd consisting of a lot of friends. The festival is on an ocean side farm property so people wander from the two stages to the beach to the town and back.
My Delica van battery had been acting up lately, and the morning that I was to catch the 7:50am ferry from Fulford, it chose to give out on me.
Since then the battery has given me many chances to work on my hesitation to ask for help, since it takes two to boost an automatic.
I was able to idle long enough (while shrinking down in my seat) so get on the salt spring ferry and not hold up the line to get on the ferry at the change over. I labelled lip balms while on the ferry, still riding off nerves and coffee, and made it to Mayne Island with tons of time to set up.
It felt good to allow each product space in its own basket, and spread out on two six foot tables instead of a four foot one. I hung my new etched wooden sign with pride and took a moment in front of my shabby-chic display of burlap and lace, wicker baskets, mason jars, metal tins and collaged labels. A million little decisions and details presented in one 100 square foot set up.
Satisfied with minor touch ups I headed down to the beach to wait for the music to begin.
The weekend was awesome. Slow at times, but made some money, friends, and listened to new bands. My favourites of the weekend are a band called Dirty Grace, singer songerwriters described as 'beat boxin' heart folk,' and Buckman Coe a wicked Roots and Soul band.
I was located at the main stage but a bit off to the side, where I could hear the music but wasn't quite in it. I was happy to not have to yell over the music, but felt people had to go a bit out of their way to get to me. I also noticed that vending at a festival puts you on the outside looking in. I had a helper so I could see some performances at the forest stage and lounge at the ocean, but I always had the itchy feeling to get back. I couldn't fully relax into the festival vibes with bills to pay and cheques to clear, but tried to put those financial woes at rest.
Both evenings after vending I took a nap at 9:30pm and woke up at 11pm to enjoy a few more hours of performances and a summer solstice ceremony at the beach. It was strange to take a nap so late, and with the gamble of sleeping 'til morning... but I felt I needed some time to decompress after expelling so much energy into promoting my wares.
It was the perfect first festival of the season. Small, not intimidating, lots of support from friends and close to home. I also had the chance to reflect on where I was the year prior, when this business and festival tour was a seedling of a dream.
1. when there's a farmers' market happening during the saturday of the festival, join it.
2. bring ear plugs.
3. make soap that suds up in ocean water.
4. when applying for a line of credit, include a buffer.
5. location matters, be more vocal about where you want your set up to be.
6. make a little plug about your products in between sets. every bit of marketing helps.