Hello everyone! From long time followers to those who we’ve met recently, we hope you have an amazing 2022!
We know the last couple of years have been hard. It has been a daily struggle from our end keeping going as full time artists with shows and events so uncertain for the last year. But we are actually starting to be optimistic, and we hope you are too!
We recently came back from an absolutely amazing first Louisiana Renaissance Faire. (First for us, that is. The event has been around over 20 years.) We made some great new friends, had an awesome batch of neighbors, and were able to introduce ourselves to a whole new batch of customers. We hope this year was just the first of many for us at this event!
Next weekend, we’ll be starting our first run of the Brevard Renaissance Fair in Melbourne, FL. It runs weekends through the first weekend of February, so if you’re in the area, come say hi!
And for those of you who aren’t in the area, we’ve spent the last couple of weeks doing a massive update to our web store. So whether you want to purchase directly from us or over Etsy, we have done what we can to make it easier. If you haven’t already, check out our Letters of Marque, new from 2021. And in the months to come our one of a kind pieces will start appearing more often in our web store, so check it out if you haven’t.
And in case I don’t say it enough, thank you all of you for sticking with us these tough years. Your support has really helped us keep going. May 2022 bring out the best for all of us!
Hey guys! Wow, so… a lot has happened since we last posted in our blog. That was May, and back in May we thought problems due to COVID would be short lived. We had hopes for Summer, or at least possibly fall, might see events happening again.
Obviously, that is not what happened.
After the last crazy weekend of March 13th, we had one additional in-person event in the Fall. A local winery, Stonefield Cellars, threw an awesome tiny event with local vendors who usually work the renaissance faire circuit. Even with the small numbers there, it was awesome to see some familiar faces! It was weird – by October, we discovered we were really out of practice with shows and just about everyone forgot something. We had a good laugh about that, and realized just how much we missed all our awesome vendor friends. Sunday, we vended and loaded out in the mud… just like a real faire. 😉
We participated in two virtual events last year. Dragon Con actually put together an amazing event, and I recommend Eventeny to anyone wanting to run a virtual show. Which it was not near the level of our usual in-person Dragon Con sales, it was enough to make the work more than worth it.
Our other virtual event was put on by awesome Pagan creator friends at Raven’s Own. You may have seen our ridiculous video. It was a great little event of people in the pagan community, who we usually see a lot in September during Pagan Pride events.
Our big online push and the increase in online sales were helpful and a bit overwhelming. While we didn’t hit our usual annual income by far, we did double our annual online sales from 2019. And thus far, as 2021 starts, online buying still appears to be on the rise.
We did receive some wonderful help from our community when things got really hard. Our friends and family pulled through for us in ways that we never expected. When our front window was smashed, you all came together and helped us raise the funds to replace it much quicker than I thought we’d be able. We received matching funds from GoFundMe, and a contribution from our local Boulevard Merchants association to help. We also received a couple of small grants from local artists’ organizations that helped us pay bills at crucial times. We are so thankful for all of it.
The short story is, we’re still here. We haven’t gotten to do much work on our studio building and a fall tropical storm remnant took out part of the roof that we hadn’t replaced yet, but we’re still here. We’re still making, and we’re still working.
We miss all of you. We miss the familiar faces of vendor friends, show organizers, and frequent customers. As things stand right now, we’re still looking for when we can get back to shows this year. Everything is still so uncertain, which makes planning for small businesses like ours extremely hard.
So we’re doing what we can. We’re keeping online sales going and getting ahead as much as possible. We’re using whatever supplies we have to get extra inventory made for the future. We’re working on art and working on dream projects we would not usually have the time and energy to do. We’ve gotten through some really dark and discouraging months, but we’re starting to look forward again.
Thank you for sticking with us to see what we do next!
Hello everyone, and thank you so much for supporting our business! It’s obvious but it’s true – your support means more to us than ever right now. Today, we would have been in the opening weekend of Virginia Renaissance Faire. Instead, I’m home sewing masks. What a strange Spring it has been!
If you follow us on Facebook, this will be a little repetitive, but here is the craziness of our last two months, and what we are looking at going forward:
March 13th, 2020: The day things started to go crazy. We were on the road to Bay Area Renaissance Festival, desperately hoping that it would not be cancelled before we finished our drive to Florida. We watched the breaking news, watched our April shows cancel and postpone, and realized this could well be our last show weekend for a while.
And so it was. That weekend, we thought we were about to be entering 10 straight weekends of fairs and festivals. Now, everything has cancelled or postponed up until September. And with everything uncertain, we have no idea if those shows will happen either, or what the attendance will look like if they do.
April 20th, 2020: Someone smashed in two of the front windows of our studio building. Because that’s totally an expense we need right now. You can read all about it (and help if you are able) in our GoFundMe campaign to replace them.
What’s Now, and What’s Next?
We are trying everything we can to get through this and use this as an opportunity rather than a set back. Here’s what we’re up to:
Nathaniel has been working hard inside our building for the last two months, fixing up more and more usable space.
I’ve put my sewing machine and my geeky fabric stash to making cloth masks. These are available in our Etsy store, and will be available in our shop and our festival booths in the future.
We’re also working on building a better, independent web store. Watch for that coming soon!
We’re planning and working towards opening the front of our shop, harder than ever. Whether or not events come back in the fall, we will be ready with unique items for your Halloween!
Whatever happens next, we’re working on weathering the storm. Thank you everyone for your support these last few months, and we look forward to seeing you when we can gather once again!
Being a small business, a creative person, an artist, a self-employed person… there are so many things that can go wrong, and usually no one but yourself to fix it. You can’t keep going if you don’t adapt.
With as many shows as we have done, it is to be expected that occasionally something has been left behind. Packing for events is never not stressful, no matter how many times we have done it, and it often happens at the end of very long weeks trying to make as many things as we possibly can.
Sometimes, it is specialty displays that get left. We left our mask displays behind once, before we learned how to show them on gridwall. Last minute solution? Skinny pillows from Goodwill that matched our booth colors. We still use the pillows to add some interest to our displays.
Inventory that gets left behind is probably the most annoying. That’s things that might have sold that customers never see. Fortunately, all of our inventory doesn’t fit in just one box, so we’ve never left behind all of our inventory. It does mean putting out pretty much everything else we have made to make up for it.
Most recently, we forgot a bag of stakes that goes to our large, medieval pavilion for a one weekend event. It uses both large stakes for tension and small stakes to pin the 16 poles. Replacing all of those at a moment’s notice was next to impossible and would have been painfully expensive. In that case, it was a cost decision – buying a new backup tent at Walmart was more cost effective than buying all new stakes. So creative use of Walmart canopys it was!
For one show, we even had our entire tent not ship on time! And that’s why one of our backup tents is a 10 x 20 carport.
Rain, and Wind Oh My!
If you do outdoor shows, you have to contend with weather.
Actually, amend that. Sometimes, you have to contend with weather even with an indoor show. Shows on snow days where no one can make it to your indoor show are a not good you can’t do anything about.
And then there was that one time there was a pipe leak above our booth and we had to move tables to avoid stinky water. Thank goodness none of our products were directly under it!
But rain and wind… they will happen, and you have to adapt.
Wind is our least favorite. Several seasons ago, we lost three pop up tents in the course of a year. One was twisted beyond any hope of salvaging by a hurricane remnant. That was the year that made us buy our medieval pavilion!
Sometimes, it just means no sleeping in the tent at night, like we usually do at renaissance faires. High winds or thunderstorms tearing through a camp site can send us to sleeping in the car – which at this point we are well prepared for with foam mats and car blankets. It used to send us to a hotel.
And then there’s rain. Rain is easier for a tent set up than wind, but not good on leather products or on foot traffic. Product we can shift, and what is where will rotate when the rain get bad. Leather goes to where it is most protected, wood gets a little wet. But rain also means mud. We were “the dock” at last year’s Virginia Renaissance Faire because the hill became a river that parted around our makeshift wooden platform. Not setting up for an extended time without a platform again!
But if it’s only a one weekend event, we have to rely on organizers for things like straw. Our poor neighbors once had a river through their tent!
But whatever the problem, if there is a show we have paid for, we will be there! Maybe sometimes a little late. Maybe sick or sleep deprived. But we’ll be there!
What show disasters have you had to deal with? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments!
Hi guys! Thanks so much for sticking with us through a crazy year. As promised on our recent Facebook/Instagram post, here’s a quick run down on our past year! And I’ll go more in depth with pictures and other awesomeness soon.
Let’s start with The Good, shall we?
We’re still working on our awesome old building – which we are now the proud owners of!
We have two “sibling” businesses that we opened in support of our main business: Cynthia is running the Crooked Treehouse, a gift shop featuring our pagan/new age work, the work of other local artists, as well as crystals, candles, and other pretties. Nathaniel is launching The Olde Post Office Theater & Game Parlor, a black box theater, game space, space for classes, and general space to come and hang out.
We’re getting involved with our business neighborhood, The Boulevard, and we can tell the efforts are starting to be noticed.
We ran our first ever haunted house this past Halloween! Each night got progressively better, it brought in new friends and contacts, and helped more people know we’ve got things going on around here.
We made some absolutely amazing things! Our first ever major mascot cosplay commission, leather armor collaborations… We made stuff we are defintely proud of this year.
Lots of new contacts, new friends, new opportunities – some of which we can’t talk about yet, but I will definitely be better about sharing them when we can.
Now, The Bad…
This was not a good year for our show circuit. Starting off the year with what happened with JME/Steampunk World’s Faire putting one show at low attendance followed by a show not happening and being out that money… then being out other shows, parts of shows, or attendance due to weather, luck was not with us.
Oh god, the weather! Our rainiest Virginia Renaissance Faire ever (actually led to one day closing completely – check out our video of the river!), two hurricanes through North Carolina…
… And speaking of that, we still have not gotten our roof fixed. We’ve gotten quotes for it, but still working on that whole fundraising thing. The rain and wind were not kind to it, so we’re currently working out of about half of the building.
…And because of that, we have not yet been able to open the building to the public yet. Sorry guys!
Okay, the WTF is not nearly as specific, but it’s been an interesting year of good and bad working together in really strange ways.
For example, fighting with our roof and trying to figure out ways to get it fixed was part of how we ended up buying the building, which opens up all new opportunities for the next year.
Going to a tiny show that we did mostly as a filler to try and make up for ones we lost due to weather didn’t net a lot of sales… but it did open us up to a whole new potential part of our business that is now in development.
Not being able to open the gallery yet is part of what drove us to open the other related storefronts… which are starting to feed each other in a nice communal way.
So long story short, thank you everyone for their patience this year! We are hoping we’re about to be past a bad year hump, and we have some great plans coming for the next year!
On to March in my review catchups! We enjoyed doing Madicon at James Madison University again this year. It was the first show for our new logo design tags and redone displays, and we were really happy with the new look.
Another year is upon us, and another cold February show to kick it off! At least this year did not have snow, but the wind during set up was bitter. But that’s why winter shows are indoors.
It was an odd show this year. Most of the dealers we spoke to were not happy with the turn out. But looking at the numbers at the end, it’s funny to see we would have been happy with our sales several years ago. But as business gets bigger, it’s time to look for bigger things.
I did outfit the front desk in cloaks to keep them warm though. So yay for winter on that!
When we were first led to where we would be setting up at this show, I had to laugh. “We should tell people to look for us in the cemetery. This is a first.”
A lot of Hunt Club Farm made me grin. This was their second year holding a Renaissance Faire, but the farm itself has been there quite a while. We started off a tad lost – the farm was easy to find, but where we were setting up wasn’t. I accidentally wandered through the petting zoo, waking up llamas and pigs, before we found someone to lead us to where our spot was.
So, into the Halloween Maze we went, through the old mine shaft and into the graveyard…
It was certainly an unusual space, but made for a fun one. It might not have had as much traffic as some areas, but it had plenty. Especially Saturday, which was an absolutely gorgeous day. Plus we got to visit again with some of our favorite booth neighbors from shows past.
Sunday… well, was not so nice a day. The rain rolled in over night and we spent Sunday cold and wet. Fortunately, cold and wet does not keep “die-hard” rennies away, even at a weekend faire.
Rain does add some complications to any show. Not all inventory does well with the wet, so some items weren’t on display the second day. Plus we had forgotten one canopy top – oops. So we made an emergency run for a tarp to make inside the tents slightly dry. At least not actively being rained on.
All and all, even with the dreary ending, this was a fun faire that I heartily recommend for the future.