USE THESE 5 STEPS TO MAKE YOUR FIRST CRAFT SHOW A SUCCESS

*Guest post by Tina Martin

**I know a lot of crafters–people who make things, and are actually good at it. In fact one of my friends just rented a space to showcase her handy work. This article will assist you in hosting a successful craft fair and put you on the road to becoming a successful entrepreneur.

Are you a maker or an artisan who is gearing up for your very first market or craft show? Then you should know that making your booth a hit with customers can take some planning and effort, especially if you want to increase your sales. So, before you begin setting up your table, take note of these simple ways that you can attract customers and sales for your new business. 

Streamline Management and Operations 

If you were building a house, you wouldn’t dream of getting started without the proper tools. Before you take your arts and crafts business to the next level, make sure you have the right tools to help build yourself up to success. For instance, getting your operations under control is crucial when you need to focus on setting up at your first craft show, and doing so can be effortless when you have business management tools, such as software to make point-of-sale operations more efficient, in your small business toolbox. Another way to enhance your operations and reduce your stress is to download productivity apps to keep yourself on track. You will need a solid smartphone to use those apps, so be sure to complete the next step. 

Upgrade to a More Powerful Mobile Device

If you don’t have a fast, efficient smartphone, you could be missing out on a lucrative revenue stream: mobile credit card processing. If you need a smartphone to handle all of those swipes as well as other essential business tasks, consider a next generation model. Phones like the iPhone 11 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S10+ can help increase sales and even help promote your business. Contact your wireless provider to see if they offer any trade-in deals where you can swap your older model phone for a discounted new model. 

Create and Post Engaging Social Media Content 

How do you get people excited about your products when you don’t have an actual storefront? By using social media, of course. Start by selecting the best platform to showcase your products and connect with your target audience. Many makers opt for Instagram since photos and videos are at the heart of this popular social media platform. You also need followers to boost your business, so don’t be shy about asking folks to like, share, and follow your account, or even printing business cards featuring your social media info. 

Promote Products with Organized, Attractive Displays 

Now that you have all the right ingredients to get folks to visit your booth or table, you need to make sure they are really “wowed” by what they see. That means taking some time to educate yourself around a few visual merchandising basics. First, find ways to showcase your products, including large-scale photos and clever signage. Next, try to set up your displays so that shoppers can easily browse and even touch your products. Touch can be especially important since people are more likely to buy items when they can touch them first. 

Connect With Customers Through Quality Service 

Your displays and products will entice shoppers to visit your booth or table, but your personality is what will drive people to actually make purchases. So, before you set up at your first market, show, or event, be sure to refresh yourself on some ways to offer excellent customer service. Showing up to your booth with a friendly attitude and a genuine smile can go a long way in helping shoppers connect with your business, so try to get a positive start to each day you will be working your booth so that you can attract loyal customers to help boost your business. 

Your first craft show can be a success so long as you take the time to plan out some key strategies. Planning is always essential for ensuring these events are as stress-free as possible, but know that keeping a positive attitude is crucial as well. So, be mindful of the way you present your products, and always be mindful of the way you present yourself. Good luck!  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

*Tina stays busy as a life coach and works hard to help herself and her clients achieve a healthy work-life balance.

**Check out the crafts of friend to the blog Steffany Villalobos. You can find her creations–Freestylecraft at the Mercantile #313, 7200 Camp Bowie Blvd, Fort Worth, TX 76116.

DOWNTON ABBEY VISITS THE BILTMORE ESTATE

In my third and final installment regarding my visit to the Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina the package I purchased included a special treat from our friends from across the pond.  Just recently I saw the movie “Downton Abbey.”  The film picks up where the PBS series left off and I am a big fan of the show.  

While visiting the magnificent Biltmore during the Christmas holidays to view the incredible decorations, it just so happened that “The Downton Abbey Exhibition” had recently opened at the estate.  There were of course costumes from the series and movie as well as furniture, documents, props and audio visual presentations regarding the life of the British aristocracy in the early 20th century.  I loved the exhibition and the history that went with it.  The “Downton Abbey Exhibition” will be at the Biltmore Estate until April 2020.  If you’re a fan of the show, it’s definitely worth the price of admission.

In my best British accent–remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

Holiday Magic At The Biltmore

Guest blogger CY Cooper

Happy Holidays, one and all.  My family and friends know that yours truly is a history enthusiast.  So, in the spirit of the season I began my celebrating the holidays by traveling to Asheville, North Carolina the first week of December and visiting the magnificent Biltmore Estate.  It’s simply known as the Biltmore or as I like to call it, America’s Downton Abbey. No matter what time of year you go to see this incredible structure, it is breathtaking BUT during Christmas it’s even more amazing.  


Biltmore was the family home of George Vanderbilt, his wife Edith and their daughter Cornelia.  The house, over 175,000 square feet and 250 plus rooms, was under construction for over five (5) years.  On Christmas Eve in 1895, George Vanderbilt officially opened the doors of the grand house to family and friends.  At the time it was constructed Biltmore had all the latest conveniences for a home in the late 1800’s.  

During my visit, I stayed at one of the two hotels located on the grounds of the estate.  The Village Hotel and the The Inn are not far from the main house.  When you stay at either one of the hotels there’s a shuttle that takes you back and forth from the house, to the winery, gardens, conservatory, equestrian center, shopping areas and restaurants.  In fact, you don’t have to leave the estate grounds unless you want to explore Asheville.  There are several tours available pertaining to the estate, including a guided house tour, roof top tour, a tour of what went on through the eyes of the servants’ garden tours and my favorite, legacy of the land tour.  Biltmore is not just a large home with beautiful gardens, it’s a brief but fun and fascinating glimpse into the past of America.  


Thousands of people visit the estate during the holidays to view this spectacular home with its beautiful decorations during the day and also in the evenings where the house is illuminated by candlelight.  There is so much to talk about regarding my visit that I can’t put it all in one post.  Look for upcoming posts regarding reviews of the restaurants on the estate as well as a recap of The Downton Abbey Exhibition currently running at the Biltmore.

My stay at the Biltmore was wonderful, but there is no place like home for the holidays. Have a wonderful holiday season, and remember “thisisyourbestyear”. Merry Christmas!

Conversation, Movie, Museum and More–A Fun Night!

Another one is in the books! We had a great time at our latest outing with a great group of ladies. This time we decided to do a number of things in one outing, and it worked. There was something for everyone. There is no schedule as to when we will do an event, it is just when we think that something may interest some ladies, and we go for it.

When we heard that the Magnolia at the Modern (Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth) would be showing one of the most talked about movies around –The Farewell, we knew this was what we had been looking for.

Then we decided why not tour the Modern before the movie and see the great art work it contains. Entry into the museum on that day was free–that’s a win, win situation.

Touring the museum is always enjoyable. There is wonderful artwork inside and outside. The weather was beautiful so we were able to enjoy both. We even had time to go into the museum store to look around and make a few purchases.

So that we could get to know each other better, we had a reservation at Cafe Modern where we enjoyed cocktails, snacks and great conversation. Having time just to talk was fun and entertaining.

Then it was off to see the movie in the comfort of the theater at Magnolia at the Modern. It may not have all of the amenities that the newer theaters have, but it is cozy, and yes each lady was given snacks because everyone knows that you can’t go to the movies without snacks.

The movie lived up to its billing. I really can’t wait to see it again and see the things I missed. I will tell you though that there are subtitles because much of the movie is in Chinese and even a little Japanese with some English thrown it.

All in all the conversation was good, the museum was fun, the movie was great and the night was a lot of fun. We look forward to our next outing, and hope that you can join us. Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

Tuscany, Florence and Pisa

The trip to Italy was about to leave Rome, and we were headed to Tuscany where the landscape changed. Even while just looking out of the window of the van as the country side zipped by you could see the beauty of Tuscany. Marco pointed out the olive vineyards and grape vineyards–both of them were beautiful. Another thing that we noticed was that cars were getting larger. In Rome it seemed like everyone drove something similar to a Smart Car and/or a scooter. On the way to Tuscany, the cars became larger, and scooters were not seen very much.

I’ve been to beautiful wineries in Texas, Napa and Mendocino, but Tuscany was always on my radar–it lived up to my expectations. From the moment we entered the gates to Tenuta Torciano I was in the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun”. The only thing missing was Diane Ladd.

After being greeted and given the history of the beautiful property, we were off to our wine tasting. The setting let us know that this would not be your run of the mill tasting. First of all it was set outside under a huge tent. The tables were beautifully set with each setting having a plate that had food that you were instructed to match with each wine. I have always been under the impression that if you like it, then you drink it.

The tasting was a lot of fun with everyone picking out their favorite wine. Then we had the honor of eating even more when they bought out what the host called “his mama’s lasagna”. With this dish he served a wine that he called the “Big Boy”.

The wine, food, olive oil and balsamic vinegar were all good, but the host made the experience even better. We even had fun with another group that was from Canada. Good food, excellent wine and great conversation made for an amazing experience.

Our next stop was to the the quaint looking town of San Gimignano. It seemed that each store had some likeness of Pinocchio in their windows or showcase. It was here that I finally purchased items that were needed (my luggage was still somewhere else).

After a leisurely walk through the town, we were on our way Impruneta which is a few miles outside of Florence. We would stay at the Bellavista Hotel in Impruneta which was situated in a neighborhood that was easy to walk around and see the sights. The Hotel Bellavista had a great rooftop where you could enjoy a glass of wine and look out over the town.

Florence was crowded with people, but not all of them were tourist. As soon as we stepped out of the van, we ran into a protest–it was very organized and seemed more like a parade. Florence is filled with great sculptures many of which are located in Piazza della Signoria. Most people would probably say that the replica of David was their favorite, but I think that my favorite was the one of Neptune. It’s just how he is looking at David–you have to see it to understand it.

Now many people go to Florence to shop for leather and jewelry, and there was no shortage there. ln fact so many people in our group purchased items that they shipped them home. There was so much that it all seemed to go together. The crowds seemed to grow larger because there was construction and preservation work everywhere. One of the highlights to Florence was an amazingly simple salad that we had. It featured watermelon, avocado, red onion, feta cheese and a little something drizzled over it. It doesn’t sound like it should go together, but it did. I’ve even made it since I have been home. We did have a Russell Crowe sighting–I only saw him walking away.

After two nights in the Hotel Bellavista we would be on our way to visit the city of Pisa. Before we were to leave Imprueneta there would be a Farmer’s Market in this huge parking lot in front of the hotel. My cousin and I took a quick look at the Farmer’s Market as they were setting up. There was the most beautiful fruits and vegetables that we had ever seen. The stems were still on the plants. There were food trucks starting to cook their foods. You could purchase clothing, cosmetics, plants and so much more. Our one regret is that we had to leave before they finished setting up.

Our visit to the town of Pisa was just that–a visit. A choo choo train took us to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Cattedrale di Pisa, Piazza dei Miracoli and more. One thing that we discovered was that after we saw the sites, we could just walk through the lovely area around it which had horse drawn carriages, restaurants, shops and more.

We had experienced wine, more wine, food, shopping til we dropped, history and more. It was time to move on to our next stop.

There is a disclaimer that I forgot to mention. All pictures of me are makeup free–it was in my lost luggage. So remember “thisisyourbestyear” you can get a natural glow without cosmetics.

**A special thank you to Ms. Fallon Alford for allowing us to use some of her photos. Fallon is a full time educator in Atlanta, Georgia who freelances as a photographer.

Dior At The Dallas Museum Of Art

Imagine the most beautiful clothing that you have ever seen and then multiply it by 100. This is what it felt like at the Dallas Museum of Art exhibition of Dior: From Paris to the World. As the song says, “I can only imagine”.

The House of Dior was created by Christian Dior in 1947, and this empire still stands today. Since his death there have been six designers including Yves Saint Laurent, and recently the first female was selected to head the house, Maria Grazia Chiuri. Dior’s legacy continues with his wishes “to make women happier and more beautiful”.

If you get a chance to see this wonderful exhibition I suggest that you attend one of the talks and/or movies that are shown before some of the tours of the exhibition. The talk that I attended was “Dior: From the Inside Out” by Anita Becker. It gave a synopsis of what it takes to create a garment for the House of Dior. If you can’t make any of the talks or movies, there are many on YouTube including the highly acclaimed “Dior and I”.

The beautiful exhibition is divided into sections with the culmination being the breathtaking “From Paris to the World” and “Ladies in Dior” room. It will literally take your breath away. Just a hint–when watching Ladies in Dior” turn around and look up. You will understand when you get there.

All seven who have headed the House of Dior are featured with some of their fashions that show how they steered fashion in their own direction.

Even though some of it looks like the clothing worn to the Met Gala, you see how beautiful it is. It’s kind of like a good mystery movie–you need to go back because you know you missed something. You have until September 1, 2019 to see this glorious exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Art.

When it comes to fashion make your own personal fashion statement–remember “thisisyourbestyear”

Join me on Instagram!

We’re on Instagram as @thisisyourbestyear. Install the app to follow my photos and videos. https://instagram.com/download/?r=380485317

You can also follow us on Facebook–thisisyourbestyear, Twitter–@mariciajohns and of course our website–www.thisisyourbestyear.com.

          Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

Cocktails, MUSIC, Dining And Of Course Great ART

The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth has just announced two great dates for the fantastic “First Friday” series. They’ve always been great, and these two will be even better. Mark your calendar for December 2, 2016 and January 6, 2017. The Modern has joined forces with Shipping & Receiving (the Near Southside music and night-life venue) to showcase great local musicians in the grand lobby from 6 to 11 pm on these dates.

modern-4

On these two dates you can explore the outstanding KAWS, WHERE THE END STARTS with extended, late-night hours and also enjoy great music, cocktails and food. You can also enjoy a full menu in Café Modern.

kaws

The price is $10 and does include gallery admission. Modern members and Star-Telegram Press Pass holders will get free admission. These dates will go fast, you can get tickets at Shipping and Receiving.  You can also join the Modern as a member at joining the Modern.

There will also be a 20 minute docent led tour of the galleries at 6:30 pm. The bands playing are:  December 2–The Burning Hotels and January 6–ISHI and Sudie.

modern-3

For more about this event and others at the Modern which includes the schedule of the films of the Magnolia at the Modern films, visit The Modern.

Can’t make it to Fort Worth, Texas–check your local area for programs.  They are out there, and remember “thisisyourbestyear” .  There is even room to dance! 

 

The World In A Box

See, smell and taste the world through food–sounds interesting doesn’t it.  You can do it! Every time I fly I take a look at the airline magazine, and try to do the puzzles.  This time while flying on American Airlines I ran across an article on Try The World and it caught my attention.

One thing that it seems most people can agree on is food.  The world is always interested in trying new and exotic taste.  Home cooks are trying to amp up their standard recipes by using different herbs and spices.  Try The World gives  you that opportunity in a cute box.

The box not only comes with ingredients, it comes with recipes, and a cultural guide to the country that the box features. If you only want snack foods, you can order their snack boxes.  My box is shown below–it came from Thailand.  My sister and I could not wait to taste some of the things that came in it.  Our first try was the Coconut Flower Syrup. She put it in tea and I tried it on toast.  We gave it 2 thumbs up. We’re kind of on a schedule to try the other items.  Each trying it a different way–Soft Dried Jackfruit is next.

You can find out more about this wonderful taste experience by going to Try The World and starting your adventure.  It’s the next best thing to traveling there.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear“.  Try The World in a box.

The Amon Carter Museum’s Norman Lewis Exhibit

Guest post written by Dr. Britine Perkins, PhD.

Dr. Perkins

I was given the opportunity to preview the new Amon Carter Museum’s Norman Lewis exhibit before it opened to the public.  This was indeed a special opportunity as the ACM is only the 2nd museum nationwide to host this breathtaking exhibit. Because Lewis’s work is about movement, the pieces are grouped to showcase how his art evolved from figurative in the 1920’s and 30’s, to completely abstract expressionist by the 1940’s. He is one of a very few African-American artists to pursue this style of painting.

Norman Lewis 6

When one thinks of abstract expressionist artists from the 1930’s to the 1960’s, immediately names like  Jackson Pollock , Picasso, de Kooning, Max Ernst, and one of my personal favorites, Frank Stella, among many others will come to mind. Unfortunately, what does not come to mind are African-American abstract expressionist artists, which was usually considered a rare departure for an African American artist (at one meeting in Italy that featured the likes of Polluck and de Kooning, Lewis was the only African American in the room, much like this preview where I was only one of two minorities in the room).  For Norman Lewis, who was born in 1909 in Harlem, expressing the energy of the Renaissance unfolding around him profoundly influenced his work. Early on in his career, he realized that he wanted to paint the Black experience, just not in the figurative way that was expected on African American artists of that time. By the 1940’s, he had rejected painting figurative works, and painting what he wanted to paint. Because he was African American he was not truly accepted by the white abstract expressionist artists, nor was he accepted by African American artists who felt the only way to express Black life was through figurative art.

Although considered a successful artist (his work was exhibited in over 130 exhibitions in his lifetime) he did not receive the true recognition as an abstract expressionist artist till after his death, something he has always predicted.  Regardless, he continued to paint the way he wanted:  American life is diverse and so should the art that depicts it, a struggle that Norman Lewis is definitely winning, even if posthumously.  Today many of his pieces are being sold for between $250,000 and $350,000, while during his lifetime, most sold for less than $20,000 as noted in a recent March 2016 CBS Sunday Morning clip (Reappraising the art of Normal Lewis) about his long overdue rightful recognition as an abstract expressionist artist.

After viewing just some of his extraordinary works, one leaves with an overwhelming admiration for a man who fought racism on both sides and yet continued to do what he wanted to do.  Although he was overlooked in his lifetime, I for one am very glad to see him finally get his due as not just an African-American artist, but one of this nation’s greatest abstract expressionist artists.

The Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis will be om diplay until August 21, 2016. To find out more about this wonderful exhibition and all of the other things click Amon Carter American Museum of Art.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”, enjoy great works of art.