Looking back and forwards January 05 2010, 0 Comments

As I look back on the past year, even though I have many “woulda, coulda, shouldas”, I’m so
grateful to have been able to launch 12 Small Things and am thankful to those who helped me
accomplish my retail artisan concept after three years in the making. Last month I brought
12 Small Things around to my San Francisco community and while the events weren’t always
financially lucrative, I found I received more than I hoped for.Thanks to the 
Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center‘s Business planning class I took the first half of last year,
I had invitations to participate in two holiday sales, one in the financial district at the First Bank
and one at the Opera House in the Bayview district.
Renaissance Center's First Bank Holiday Sale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The event in the financial district was in the penthouse of the First Bank and I felt very swanky with my former classmates, selling our wares on antique tables and plush carpet to the tunes of holiday music and clinking wine glasses. The guy selling chocolate truffles cleaned up while my sales were sporadic. But I did get a chance to see my friend Susan Toland from my Gap days, who now works for the Academy of Art University. True to her word, she introduced 12 Small Things to some of her friends who turned out to be great customers for me during the holidays. So many of my friends have generously forwarded my website to their email list of friends, which has been some of the best help and publicity I have had during these early first three months of business.

 The holiday marketplace and tree lighting at the Bayview Opera House, also sponsored by the Renaissance Center, was similarly rewarding. While most of the pre-Christmas crowd was busy receiving gifts from Santa on center stage, I was meeting some of my fellow vendors who were from the neighborhood and who brought their own personal vision to their goods, whether they be handmade jewelry, original paintings or hand-embroidered children’s clothing. The organizer of the event, Kenneth Bazille, was my very first customer at the Renaissance Center’s annual fundraiser event at Bimbo’s 365 Club in North Beach last October. Kenneth was helping me haul my tubs of product into the club and saw the fleur-des-lis cufflinks I had for sale from New Orleans. Kenneth is originally from New Orleans and he couldn’t believe I had just what he needed as he showed me his shirt cuffs turned inside his sleeves for lack of a pair of cufflinks. Bingo, my first sale. Kenneth has been very supportive of my concept and I wanted to return the favor by participating in his first community sales event in the Bayview. Besides meeting some very nice vendors I had a few good customers, one of whom called me the next day and came to my holiday house party where he bought a number of items for his girlfriend and mom. He had a glass of wine as I introduced him to some of my friends and I really felt the benefit of getting to know your neighbors.

Mission Casbah

 

A third event I participated in was the Mission Casbah, a weekly Saturday marketplace at Mission and 18th, featuring fair trade products as well as used books, records and clothing and a great snack and drinks bar. The day I signed up for was popular for holiday events at other locations, so I was one of the few vendors participating. While I wasn’t sure I would make a lot of sales, I had fun talking with the young hipsters who were there and greeting those who passed by, curious, but not shopping. The organizer of the event, Barbara Renaud is great and has a vision to turn the unused nightclub space during the day, into a thriving market scene for people to sell their products, hangout and meet friends. She and her husband bought a few of my products for Christmas gifts and were very enthusiastic about my concept. The guys making most of the sales that day offered t-shirts at a very good price, designed by local artists, perfect for the Mission. Trying to make the bast of my Mission debut, I asked two young women if they’d like one of my postcards and we talked for a few minutes about my concept and fair trade practices for artisans around the world. One of the women, Adelle, asked if she could take a few pictures and even though I was trying to hide a winter cold, I was happy to have the attention. An unexpected holiday gift, she wrote about 12 Small Things in her blog, the Fashionista Lab, San Francisco edition. Her post, along with Tom Abate’s from the San Francisco Chronicle’s business column, “Get to Work” on SF Gate, plus my good friend and merchandise consultant Karen Gibb’s column in Hand/Eye Magazine’swebsite, made for one very appreciative entrepreneur. Add all the support from family and friends and even though I have lots of work ahead of me, the journey is a lot richer for the experience. May it be a happy and healthy new year for us all and may we remember to enjoy the ride ahead.