Behind the scenes with Bison Booties: craft shows
Bison Booties participates in a few artisan art/craft shows each year—one in the summer and one in the winter and one or two in between. All our events are in Bismarck, ND, and carefully selected based on their location, ease for families to attend, and the event's vendor requirements. It is very important to me that the events we sell at support locally handcrafted products and the makers that work hard to create them. And who am I kidding, the event absolutely must have good food (kettle corn, a must).
As any vendor can tell you, it takes hours and hours of teamwork (on top of actually
creating the products) to prepare for an event. The Bison Booties booth is only possible because of the support from my husband, family, friends, and Bison Booties makers and fans. Chatter about our next craft show starts long before the registration form arrives in the mail. Calendars are synched, family events are strategically scheduled, helpers are confirmed, and then the real work begins.
While I am incredibly thankful for my family's help and unwavering support, I can't take credit for their training or experience. I guess you could say they operate on autopilot, because craft shows are in our blood. It's one of our quirky family traditions that dates back to before I was born.
Let me fill you in ...
On July 4, 1982, in the heat of summer, just three days before I was born, my pregnant and overdue mother was selling her wood-burned Alaskan artwork at Art-in-the-Park in Mandan, ND. This Bismarck Tribune newspaper photo of my beautiful mom was taken at the same event one year later, in 1983.
Fast forward a few years to August 1995, at the Capital A'Fair, in Bismarck, ND; that's me on the right and my aunt Ronda on the left. My mom let me put a table in her dried flower booth to sell my handmade bracelets and earrings. I think I made enough money to buy myself a pink Kaboodle (remember those?). Please ignore my awkward frizzy haired teen phase, it was the 90s, after all!
After that, my family had a craft show vendor hiatus for about 15 years.
Then, my daughter was born and nothing stayed on her kicky little newborn feet. I'd been sewing for several years as a hobby, and an idea hit me: why not make something for her that would? My creative hands set to work and the first pair of Bison Booties was born a few months later, in November, 2010. Naturally, it seemed logical to take my business to the street—the street fair, that is.
That's me on the right with my daughter, Kya, at the first Bison Booties craft show: the 2011 Capital A'Fair, in Bismarck, ND. At this show, a neighboring vendor welcomed me to the "street people club." It was really a full circle moment for my family, one that I am happy to continue.
Shop Bison Booties at these events in 2017:
Capital A'Fair, Aug. 5-6, State Capitol, Bismarck, ND
Bismarck Baby Expo, Oct. 6-7, Bismarck Event Center, Bismarck, ND
Pride of Dakota Holiday Showcase, Dec. 1-3, Bismarck Event Center, Bismarck, ND
To have the best assortment of sizes and styles for a craft fair event, I start stockpiling Bison Booties about six months in advance.
My best friend and sister Caitlyn (R) and me (L) at the 2012 Capital A'Fair in Bismarck, ND. My sister is the unofficial project manager for Bison Booties events; she knows Bison Booties organization better than I do, and she keeps me on task. And, we always treat ourselves to doughnuts and coffee the morning of events.
Oh the sweet babies! Since Bison Booties is a primarily online business, I rarely have the chance to meet Bison Booties fans face-to-face, and see the sweet feet that wear them. But at events, these special moments walk right into our booth and I treasure each one. I get hear about how a little boy wore his Dinosaur pair when taking his first steps, and how a darling newborn baby girl wore her Daydream Bison Booties home from the hospital.
One of the funniest such stories was when a local mail carrier came into our booth and said, "Oh, so these are Bison Booties! I deliver many packages with this brand on it, and I've always wondered what was inside."
Another was from a 20-something man who said, "I don't have kids of my own yet, but I work in a daycare in the infant room. We love it when babies wear Bison Booties because they stay on, so we don't have to search for lost socks and shoes."
I love meeting Bison Booties fans and hearing your stories, so please find us at the next event, introduce yourself, and say hello!
My grandma and daughter Kya preparing Bison Booties for the 2013 Pride of Dakota Holiday Showcase. That chilly winter afternoon, we had four generations of family bundled in my basement studio, working together and making memories. Moments like this are the real reason I love craft fairs.
Boxes, boxes, so many boxes! Before an event, each pair of Bison Booties is carefully packaged in one of our signature Bison Booties boxes. Since the boxes arrive flattened, without stickers, it's takes many hands to sticker and assemble all the boxes before ever placing Bison Booties inside them. Inevitably, at least once in the process, our box tower topples over...and to my kids, this it's the funniest thing in the whole world.
2013 Capital A'Fair, me (L) and my mom, ReNay (R). Keeping our family tradition going strong, I delivered my baby boy, Gavin, just five days later.
At the three-day 2013 Pride of Dakota Holiday Showcase, my son Gavin was only a few months old (and exclusively nursing). We set up a mini nursery behind our booth so he could be with us, in the booth, for the entire show.
Our live Bison Booties model at the 2013 Pride of Dakota Holiday Showcase. The behind-the-booth mini-nursery included a rock-n-play sleeper, a baby carrier, a small stroller, a diaper changing pad, and a little strategically-placed nook nestled between the display and the blue booth divider where I discreetly fed and changed him. While doable, having a baby at the booth was only feasible with the help (and extra sets of arms) of my mom and sister.
We have the cutest coworkers on the planet. My son Gavin (L) and nephew, Mason (R), helping us prepare for the 2014 Capital A'Fair.
In 2014, the Bison Booties booth was awarded Best of Show at the Capital A'Fair. It was such an honor to receive this award!
Bison Booties booth at the 2014 Capital A'Fair.
This is one of my favorite behind-the-scenes photos. After I got the kids to bed, my mom and grandma arrived at my home-studio wearing big smiles and matching red aprons (my cheerful elves) to help with very last-minute Bison Booties packaging. We took this silly three-generation sleep-deprived photo at about 1 am; we were having so much fun we didn't even notice it was so late.
Show selfie! From left to right, me, my sister, and my mom at the 2014 Pride of Dakota Holiday Showcase in Bismarck.
Do you have any questions about Bison Booties or selling at shows? Ask away in the comments section below!