[00:00:00] Kam: Welcome friends into episode three of the Makerspace podcast. I am so glad that you are able to join us this week, and I just wanted to share a little bit about what I learned from having a food truck over the last couple of summers and how that ties into online business with a craft business.
[00:00:41] Kam: Just a little bit of backstory. In 1958, a company called Block Trailer Co created a trailer and they named it The Forester. And this was an RV that American families had a lot of fun with for about the next 20 some. It went out of business in the eighties. And a funny story is that I, I actually live near where they were, created.
[00:01:13] Kam: The trailers were created. But these foresters, my grandparents actually had one, and I remember my grandmother making fresh apple pies in this thing when we would go camping and she would always wear an apron, and that is actually the biggest reason that I named my craft business, Apples and aprons, was that.
[00:01:38] Kam: Those memories in that rv. So, funny enough, fast forward to today, or at least 2020 today, and we now own a repurposed Forester food truck.
[00:01:55] Kam: In 2020, my oldest was actually fixing up our home and he wanted to go into construction, so we thought that it would be a good idea to let him work on our house while we were all quarantined. And so he got it to a state where we actually put it on the market. We found a farm that we could move everybody to and we adore living on the farm.
[00:02:21] Kam: So his boss at the time, he was also working for the local roller skating rink and also helping to fix it up. And at that point, his boss had been bartered with, I guess you could. A dad had wanted to have a birthday party for his daughter, didn’t have the money to pay him, and so he traded for a birthday party.
[00:02:50] Kam: He traded this trailer, so Tyler turned it into a Shave Dice trailer and. He used it for a little while and then he decided to sell it, and when he approached us about it, it was because we have six children and they all wanted to work for Tyler at the same time, and so he said, You already have the staff, so why don’t you buy the trailer?
[00:03:16] Kam: We chose not to in 2020, but when we moved in 2021, we did end up buying the trailer from him and using it as kind of a good excuse for getting to know people and also for our. Then 14 year old to have something that he could do. We moved to a rather rural area. There’s not a lot for 14 and 15 year olds, and so it was a good opportunity. So anyway, just wanted to share some points that I had discovered with this food trailer and how it coincided with having an online business, which I thought was kinda fun.
[00:04:01] Kam: So first of all, I, Like I said, we used the trailer as a networking tool. We got out into the community and we went to different events and we got to know some of the people. Honestly, even today, having now done this for two summers in a row, there’s a lot of people that know me that I do not. Which I think that’s kind of funny, but I have become more familiar with a lot of faces, so I’ll be out, People might look at me like they know me , or wanna say something, and some people do say something, but they know me because of the trailer.
[00:04:44] Kam: And so that’s just kind of a good springboard. For when you’re online marketing, you’re basically coming into this and you’re in a brand new community, you have no idea where everybody’s at, if they like what your product, what you’re bringing, if you’re gonna make friends or not. And so I would just recommend similar to the food truck basically I just started reaching out to people and I started looking for events and getting out there. There were a couple parking lots that we were invited to come and given free rain.
[00:05:24] Kam: we didn’t do very well, but it got us out there. Got us familiar with, uh, people seeing us and the community. And trust me, this trailer is a color you don’t miss , so you can see it from a couple miles. So when you start getting out there and you have a product that people like, uh, that’s always going to be remembered. So regardless of where you are, virtually, whether, whether you’re somewhere with a lot of people, which, if you’re in a big city, you can always look into a BNI group or a Chamber of Commerce.
[00:06:08] Kam: If you are on an island like my friend Leo, he is shout out to Leo. He is in Scotland. He is the mastermind behind the virtual street market website. That beautiful thing that I get to now call mine, he is actually on an island in the middle of nowhere. So for those situations, I would recommend connecting online more in communities, clubs, look into more circle communities.
[00:06:44] Kam: Obviously we have the Maker Space Circle community through virtual street market, which you can be a part of. Absolutely. There’s always Facebook groups. There is, Pinterest groups that you can follow and be a part of. So, and then be involved in those groups and you will be amazed how many connections you’ll make in those groups and how many people will remember you. If you’ve ever heard Pat Flynn’s story, that’s actually kind of how he got into all of his networking is he just connected with people in groups on Facebook and he kind of became known as that guy.
[00:07:25] Kam: So that’s one way to network and get kind of forethought of people’s minds. Also, if you are in a small town, You can connect with their Chamber of Commerce, reach out to local businesses and just kind of look out for any business that could help you. And even the, the businesses that you may not be obvious too. Small businesses like to promote other small businesses, where you are not necessarily competition to them, but you are somebody that you, they can connect with and if you have a product that they can either do a giveaway or a promotion on, or let you set up a table there or they can, there’s, there’s quite a few things that you can do.
[00:08:22] Kam: I would also suggest checking into virtual markets online. There’s always stuff on Facebook events. That’s a good one to check in. That’s actually what I used a lot for the trailer when we were first starting to get going. If you’re in a small town, those small towns usually will have certain days of celebration during the summer to bring in more, business, bring in people. So I would look into those. That was what I would take the, the trailer to were those events. But look for those online. Look, look for those in the virtual, in the Facebook groups or events.
[00:09:10] Kam: Look at Festival Net. That’s another one that will List. And Event Bright is another one that will list virtual events going on. And get connected with them. Obviously the virtual street market. Also, we will be starting doing live shows, starting on. Not Black Friday, but we will be starting on that small business Saturday, so I believe that’s November 26th and we invite you to bring your business over and we will promote it.
[00:09:49] Kam: I’ll have more details in an upcoming episode and also on the website, but definitely get in involved and get these get your shop listed on these different events and these different virtual meetups, networking, that kind of thing. because nobody’s gonna know that you’re there until you get out there, especially virtual. So it doesn’t matter whether you’re trailer is a bright teal green or or your website does, you know, hot pink. Nobody’s gonna know you’re there unless you tell somebody.
[00:10:29] Kam: So the other thing, one of the other things that I learned was preparation time. Is never wasted time. I don’t know exactly who said that, but they were smart. I would try to relieve some of my stress about going to events. By making sure that the ice was full, done that cuz we had to make our own ice, that the syrups were made, that bottles were full, that supplies were purchased, change was made, that the trailer was clean and ready to go. Water was, the water tank was filled, the gray water was empty.
[00:11:16] Kam: All of that, just ready to go garbage empty, which is all stuff that we did when we brought it back, but just double checking. Sometimes you run out of syrup and you don’t realize it, and it’s very frustrating to be out of blue raspberry when that is your most popular flavor. And children of all ages, literally of all ages boys and girls all like blue raspberry, so you can’t be out of blue raspberry.
[00:11:53] Kam: So what I would suggest for preparation for a craft show, or I’m sorry, a craft business, is to first of all, plan what you’re going to make. And that may seem elementary, but if you don’t stop and plan ahead of what you’re going to make, you’re not gonna have that kind of self-accountability, which I think is pretty important.
[00:12:19] Kam: It’s kind of like planning a meal. So you wanna be sure that you have the plan of what you’re going to make, but also the supplies that you need to make everything. And then I would definitely find a date, whether it’s a physical show that you’re taking your product to, or a physical date that you want to launch your new website or update your new shop or update your old shop.
[00:12:48] Kam: Uh, have a date set that you can launch it. And that way too, if you have a launch date, you can also kind of build some excitement and if you have any emails, uh, a list of emails, you can send them out. If you have social media that links to it, you can kind of start promoting that. That will also give you some accountability of having your stuff ready and just being ready to, to have everything done, and it’s just kind of that light at the end of the tunnel.
[00:13:24] Kam: When you’re ready to create your, your products and your crafts, I’m going to be posting some tips and ideas on how to occupy your children and to keep them busy. And suggestions from my son that when I asked him, what he would recommend doing for younger people cuz he’s 15. And he said that they don’t like to read and they wanna play video games.
[00:14:00] Kam: And I said, Well, that’s probably not what I’m going to suggest, but I will nonetheless put it on the list and I will post that in the website . So if you want to not give your children books, but just let them play video games, he said that that would work. And then once you do have, and I should say also, when you are creating and you’re trying to create inventory, do try to give yourself some grace.
[00:14:32] Kam: Be sure that you’re resting. Do it either when the kids are occupied, when, dad’s home, when somebody else can come and maybe trade. They can watch your kids for a little bit and give you a chance, and then you can watch their kids. That’s always a great idea. Or when they’re sleeping, if you need to kind of concentrate and make sure they don’t get into scissors or glue or anything like that, you can plan when they’re napping or when they’re sleeping.
[00:15:07] Kam: But do give yourself grace. Don’t try to overwhelm yourself. Do as much as you can with what you have. And if that’s not a lot, that’s okay. You’re a virtual store, so if you start with three products, that’s okay. Just I would just say be sure that you’re doing the best that you can and take pictures, take good pictures of what you have, and our phones are amazing.
[00:15:39] Kam: And I think I talked about this in episode one, use the abilities of your phone and take light background pictures. make sure that you’re using good light for your, your items and that they, that you get good pictures to put on your shop so that people can tell the colors, the, or the sizes or the details, whatever you want to focus on. That’s the biggest thing.
[00:16:07] Kam: I would also say when you go to either fix up your shop or create a new one, also give yourself some grace and if you need to ask for help, that’s okay. And that’s what Virtual Street is for either our community or we can help you create a website if you need, we can kind of help walk you through and we will be increasing our education videos. So hopefully those will help. But if you do have a suggestion or a question or something, a video that you would like to see coming, please let me know and I will get that on there on, on our YouTube channel and when you are ready to start creating, be sure that you’re making a quality product.
[00:17:02] Kam: I say that with experience from the food truck. When Tyler started the Shaved ice, he chose Tropical Snow and a lot of people know Tropical Snow and will literally where I live, drive for a long time, like I wouldn’t say hours, but then again, I have heard of people driving like over an hour just to get to a tropical snow dealer because of the brand and because they know the quality of the brand.
[00:17:36] Kam: and it is a good brand, and I didn’t know how good until I ran out of, Peach and which is a very popular flavor where I am. And so in order to get it quickly for an upcoming event, I ordered from a vendor that was cheaper and I thought, Well, I’ll give him a try because I, It’s not the same shipping. It was cheaper shipping.
[00:18:00] Kam: It was going to be here faster and I did, I’m, I’m embarrassed to say I went to another, another syrup dealer and the syrup came and I made it and we took it and the, the first order that we had was a large peach and it was a Navy veteran that came up and ordered it. And we made it and we served it and we got a whole line of people that wanted, and nobody else had ordered peach after that. And we got a break a little bit later.
[00:18:38] Kam: I actually tried the peach after, uh, we finally got a break. I went and found him. And I told him that he could come back and bring his wife and get whatever replacement he wanted because that was terrible and I would be dumping out the rest of the peach. I was embarrassed. It was terrible. He thought, Well, he said, he says, Well, I was eating beef jerky and I thought maybe that was throwing off the taste. I said, No. I said, It was not the brand I normally purchase and I am so sorry. Please come back. I knew I felt bad because first of all, here’s this poor navy vet that I just, yeah, it was not good.
[00:19:23] Kam: So please use quality product. And I’ve also gone to craft shows with a friend, that one in particular that I remember, and I love this scale to pieces. She’s just a doll of a lady. But she had made some. Sh she had made a product and it, they were cute, but they weren’t quite the same standard as another crafter who had made the same product and she couldn’t quite understand why hers weren’t selling.
[00:19:59] Kam: And it wasn’t just that they were a lower standard, but they were also covered in dog hair. And they did smell like pets and don’t get me. I love my dog. I love my cat, but when I open up my craft supplies and they smell like my animals, that is very off putting for me. And I love my animals. I have ducks, I have yeas, I have cats.
[00:20:28] Kam: I have a dog. So it’s not because I don’t like the animals, but when I am. Wanting to sell something to somebody who may have an allergy, who may just have a very sensitive sniffer than, and even more than I do. I have one friend that she wouldn’t be able to purchase the the items from this friend of mine because they would’ve driven her crazy. So just be mindful of that. If you are a smoker, if you have pets, make sure that all of your stuff is clean, that it doesn’t smell like either one, that people don’t even know if you smoke or have pets.
[00:21:11] Kam: One way to find out maybe you’re not selling as many things as you thought. And maybe that’s because, it, it might, it might be your product that might not. if you ask for feedback, be sure that you are accepting of feedback. I also knew of a gal on a Facebook group that I’m in that asked the question, Why am I not selling any product?
[00:21:39] Kam: And when I went into her items and her, Social media, all of her, the website, all of it. I really could not understand what she was trying to sell to be perfectly honest. There were a lot of things talking to me. and when I gave her that feedback, I tried to come at it at a very, constructive view, but she was rather unwilling to listen to what I had to say.
[00:22:08] Kam: She wasn’t rude or anything like that, just kind of defensive. So if you ask for feedback, be sure that you’re willing to accept whatever comes at you or ask for feedback from, like I said in episode two. I’m sorry, in episode one, People that you trust, that you are confident that you can rely on, that you can share people, you know, things with, that they’re not going to hurt you, that they actually care about how you feel about things.
[00:22:42] Kam: So there are some people that would really like to give you, uh, feedback, but it might not be in the most constructive way. So kind of be mindful on who you ask. Also, I know, uh, br Brendan. Brenda Borchard is his name. He is a Tony Robbins type of speaker, and he has perfected the art of speaking in front of groups of like thousands of people, and he still comes off the stage asking, What could I have done better?
[00:23:19] Kam: What could I do differently? What could I have done better? And I really like that example. I am not always one to take constructive criticism. Depends on my mood and it depends on who I asked. But usually if I ask somebody to give me criticism or feedback, it is because I trust them and I’m in a good mood, so, So being self aware of that also is a good idea.
[00:24:19] Kam: So another thing that I learned when we were working in the food truck this summer and last summer was that it feeds a part of my personality that is talking to people and meeting people. I’m not great at remembering names, I will admit, but I do love to hear people’s story. And so being in the trailer, With a shaved ice kind of gives people a little bit of freedom be themselves kind of share who they are with me.
[00:24:46] Kam: And so that was a lot of fun and I do that online as well. I’d love to meet people virtually on, Facebook groups or. If I take a bootcamp and we’re in a private group for that or whatever, I like to get to know people, and the same can be applied for a craft business. When you engage with people and you talk to them and you ask them questions about themselves, you answer questions that they have for you about your business or your craft, even if it’s to show them how you do something.
[00:25:24] Kam: Those reels are so popular right now on Instagram and to, and just showing the process along with the product. There’s so many people that just eat that up. And we as humans just kind of enjoy seeing the process. So I would highly suggest, and that was one thing in the food truck, actually, the kids loved to see the ice and how we shave it because they’re all made per order.
[00:25:54] Kam: And if I could do the trailer myself, if I could rearrange it, and redo it completely, I would put the shaver right by the window just so that the kids can see it and see how it works. And so I would suggest doing that, showing who you are, engage with your, your audience, get out there, be in front of them.
[00:26:20] Kam: Showing the process is a great way that you don’t always have to show your face. It’s a good way for people to get to know you, to develop that relationship with you. You can show your hands making something, sewing something, knitting, crocheting, gluing. I know there’s one gal on Instagram that is a lot of fun to watch. She creates scrapbook page. And she is pretty popular. She’s got thousands of views, and all she does is show the process. She shows her hands cutting everything out, pasting, gluing, sticking, choosing.
[00:26:59] Kam: she explains, you know, through action why she chose what she did and how to make it. So I highly suggest that. And when you engage with your audience, it just makes you more personable. It makes your, it makes them involved in your process.
[00:27:16] Kam: And when people post comments and appreciation on your social media, be sure to like those, appreciate those in return. When you have a purchase made through whichever platform you are using. I also recommend doing a short, you don’t have to do a very long one just do a quick thank you video. And there’s some other platforms you can use for that, just to show them just that personalized touch that you took the time to make this video.
[00:27:49] Kam: Shout it out to them through email and just say thank you, even if it’s with their receipt or not. Just be sure to put that extra personal touch on it.
[00:28:01] Kam: Also, when you do put yourself out there, Just be aware that there will be trolls and there’ll be negative comments. That’s common. It’s normal. We can’t get around it. It, it is what it is, but don’t let that ruin your day, your business. Just ignore them, delete them. Try to guard against them, don’t engage with them, and move on.
[00:28:30] Kam: And that’s more than likely once you develop fans of your work, they will defend you anyway, So I wouldn’t even put the energy towards ’em. And same with shaved dice. There’s always gonna be somebody, It’s rare because most people don’t come up to get a shaved dice or like an ice cream cone or a balloon or something like that, and then leave complaining. If they do, that’s probably not the shaved ice’s fault. So it’s just they’re having a rough day. Just ignore the tools.
[00:29:02] Kam: Now, if at any point of your crafting business online business, any business. If you can work out of a 1958 Forester, I highly recommend it. I would probably repurpose it though and and bring it up to date, but they’re still stinking cute. You could even make your office out there and a craft, craft trailer. There we go. We need more craft trailers in the world.
[00:29:30] Kam: I will say though, even as much as I love my trailer, it’s not perfect. It’s not. Ideal. It has dings. It has scratches, it has graffiti on the back, which in our defense we put it there, but it’s not this perfect shiny food truck that is at all of the big events. Will admit that taking it to the bigger events I get imposter syndrome. I don’t feel like I fit in there. I don’t really enjoy going to the big events for that purpose. So I tend to go to the events where I do feel comfortable and I feel more like those are my people and less like I’m gonna be judged on the appearance of my trailer.
[00:30:21] Kam: Don’t get me wrong, it’s a clean trailer. I pass all of my health inspections, no problem, but it’s probably not in the condition that I really want it to be, but that just, it takes time. It takes money, and it is not something that my husband and I are skilled in. And so the poor thing waits and it waits for us to get the opportunity to fix it up, but that also kind of taught me online, one with my website and my podcast that just, and I’ve said it before, but at least do something. Get out there and start selling your product.
[00:31:02] Kam: Like put something together. Get a shop created, get a website created. Get social media created. Get out there, get your voice heard, get your product known, and start getting it in front of people, in the grand scheme of things, you can fix it as it evolves and as you gain confidence, every sale will increase that, that confidence. But you have to get out there first. Like I said in the first episode, nobody’s gonna know that I sell shaved dice unless I get out there and promote the truck, and nobody is going to know about your wonderful product and your talent and your skills unless you put it out there.
[00:31:49] Kam: One thing I realized too, as I’m kind of tying this all up, was I knew nothing about Trailers, RVs pulling a trailer. That terrified me. I was so nervous, but I was grateful for the opportunity to kind of get thrown into it. I now know what gray water is. I now know how to attach a water pump into the trailer and why you need one? I now know how to attach pipes and PVC pipes and install hinges. None of this stuff I knew how to do before.
[00:32:30] Kam: So the same is true with building online business. A lot of times you kind of just have to go into the deep end, learn it as you go and make it work, and it’ll come out great.
[00:32:42] Kam: Believe in yourself that you can do it. You’re gonna get dirty more than likely, even online stuff. So that’s okay. There’s gonna be, You’re not gonna get it all right, but just getting out there and letting people see it is what’s important. So if you need any help at all, let me know. Reach out to us at VSM and let us know if there are any podcasts coming up that you would like to hear. Any episodes that you would like us to do and I will do my best to get those covered for you and to help you out.
[00:33:20] Kam: I hope you have a great week. Thank you for joining me on the Maker Space, and we’ll see you next week.