Sunday, May 30, 2010

Portabello West Show - May 2010

I have gone to Portabello West (PW) twice - once with my friend Jessica, and once on my own. It is a great market, full of local vendors who are fantastically creative. The type of items at this fair range from jewelery to makeup to clothing and everything is beautiful. I wondered a couple of weeks ago how to get more business for the iBakery, as I love updating my blog and my facebook, but I am just not getting a lot of traffic this way and relying solely on word of mouth via the parties I have been doing is not enough. I emailed the coordinator of PW and attached a few photos of my work, outlining that it can be considered 'edible art.' I chose this angle since the market doesn't really have food vendors so I thought that might be purposeful. I wanted them to know my work was not 'just' baking, that it was more than that. I heard back withing 1/2 hour with an acceptance to the show. I was SO EXCITED! Then I was nervous as I wasn't sure I could pull off something this big. I immediately made a sketch of what I would want my table to look like, emailed Mike, and then figured out where in our schedule would allow a trip to Costco (yuck, I know) as this is the cheapest place for icing sugar and butter...which I used a TON of for the show. The table rental for the show was just over $100. I figured that this was an ok cost as there is a lot of traffic through the show and thus, hopefully, a lot of new business. In preparation, other than Costco, I punched out paper, cut out circles, got change from the bank, bought a tablecloth and fancy dish, bought flowers, and baked my little heart out. Our friends Michael, Jemaica and their daughter Ryleh were in town this past weekend and thank goodness Jemaica loves to bake! The boys took all 3kids out to the park (in the drizzling rain!) so that we could have some concentrated time and we baked, and iced, 200 cupcakes - all before 6pm at night! Halfway through our Agricola game last night I iced the "I am a bunny" cake and then just packed everything up. My good friend Jessica came over at 10am this morning to help me transport all the goods to the show, and then she stayed with me the entire day - what a trooper!! We had to arrive on site by 10:30am, had until 11:30am to set up our table, show was from 12-6pm and you weren't allowed to pack up early, and it didn't take long to pack up our table and head home.

We sold the cupcakes, had cookies wrapped in cellophane bags with ribbon on display, showed pictures of past treats in a beautiful photo album (thanks, Mom!), and had a give-away for a free custom cake. We had a lot of interest at our table.

People loved signing up for the opportunity to win a free cake, enjoyed looking at the photos, loved my little business cards for their unique shape and size, and in general were quite happy about what we were doing. At the end of the day, I had a lot of leftover cupcakes. At 5pm I walked around to the vendors in our section and offered them a free cupcake. I thought everyone needed a little boost to get to the end of the show and I had a lot of cupcakes leftover. This was a great way to chat with some of the vendors who were all quite supportive and friendly.

I ended up with enough profit to cover the cost of the table, and thus only incurred costs of what I brought, and I am super happy about the entire event. I learned a few things to make it better for next time – I think people thought our business name was ‘edible art,’ so I will change that and because we didn’t have a sign in front of the cupcakes showing their cost, people thought they were just display and thus we didn’t sell as many as we might have. Finally, I think some people thought the free custom cake they were entering the draw for was the “I am a bunny” display cake we had on the table. Easy fixes for next time. I sent Jess home with about 100 cupcakes to try and sell at her work tomorrow, so perhaps we will see a bit more money from the event. PW occurs on the last Sunday of every month so I will be back for June for sure. I think I'll change my theme colour to pink just to make it a bit different for everyone. Today was so much fun! I feel so lucky to have friends and family who helped me prepare, both mentally and physically, for the event and I am excited to be a part of a new creative community who understands the work required when doing a business like this on the side.

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