Are you sick of winter yet? We certainly are! It’s been long, cold, and entirely unproductive (we’re kicking ourselves too, but not too hard). Even though not a lot of stuff was made (as in… we didn’t make anything…), we have been discussing the future of Dancer’s Dream Boutique, and where we want to take it this coming year.

We had our taxes done last month, and we’re happy (and very grateful) to say we turned a small profit! It’s nothing big, but we’re excited because that means we have those of you out there who are willing to support us, and it keeps us on track to retaining a business status and not falling back into hobbyists. So long as we can always make sure that two out of five years show profit, we’re in the clear. So thank you so much for helping us to make that possible! We definitely cannot do it without those of you who believe in us, and support us. ♥

This past year also showed us that by putting in just a bit more effort to get to craft fairs, and diversifying our product, we doubled our sales and business. DOUBLED. Yes, we were thrilled to find that out too! We’d like to continue to double our business every year, as we work steadily to make this even more viable income for both of us (and ultimately allow us to be self-employed). Goals like this though do not come easily, and it typically takes five years to really get a business up off the ground (paperwork speaking, we’re heading into year two). It’s going to be a lot of hard work, and for that we need solid planning.

Just doing planning for the future wasn’t really our goal for this winter… we actually wanted to get working on the clothing side of the business that we’ve been neglecting for the jewelry and flowers. Life, however, doesn’t always cooperate and Gwen is currently acting as caretaker for her ailing father-in-law and that takes up the majority of her time. The sewing side of things really does go faster (and is a lot more fun) when we’re together, so it is still on hold. Things like this cannot be helped, but Gwen is doing what she needs to right now and we have no regrets about it. We’re never handed anything that we can’t handle, and there’s a reason for everything.

So, with life getting in the way of sewing, we switched to uber-planning-mode instead.

Over the last year we did a lot of various craft fairs. Some were crafters only, and some allowed direct sales companies to be involved. We learned several things because of this:

1. Crafters really struggle to compete when direct sales companies are at the same venue. It’s hard for us to match pricing and sales with people whose product can be made with cheaper labor and/or supplies. And in this economy, price-point is a big thing. No hard feelings to those who are in direct sales, but as a crafter we cannot do as well at those shows, and so we’ve learned to stay away from those.

2. Advertising matters more than ever. If it’s not an established craft fair, then spending a lot on the booth really isn’t worth it typically. Just like we have to learn how to market and sell our products, the people running the craft fair also have to learn how to get people to not only come, but shop. So at the newer shows, the crowds just aren’t there as much and a high booth fee usually results in no profits for the day, or just breaking even if lucky. So for those, we try not to spend more than $35 on the booth fee.

3. Organization matters. We’ve definitely been to a few craft fairs that we did very well at because the organizer had a great floor plan and everyone was able to be seen and easily accessed. We’ve also been to some where it’s too spread out, and the crowd just follows the heard and doesn’t end up making it to all the vendors (if they even know some sections are there), and that’s no good. With this in mind, we’ve learned to look for moderate-size craft fairs that don’t ask for a preferred location; unless of course it’s a festival and people know to wander.

4. Our niche. This might be the most important thing we’ve learned all year. We market all our items to anyone, because right now anyone can wear them. But as you might guess from the name, we’re really looking to target dancers. In specific, we’re looking to target belly dancers because that’s the dance we know and can best accessorize for. Our stuff certainly can branch out beyond that, but that’s our true target audience. With this in mind, just attending craft fairs won’t cut it.

So, where does that leave us you might ask?

Not to worry, it doesn’t mean we won’t be doing local craft fairs anymore. We definitely do have success at them, but in order to grow our business we know we need to hit our target market. This being the case, we’re planning on scoping out some local, smaller Renaissance Faires, and we’re also planning on going downstate to a Faerie Festival that we think might be a good area for us. These sorts of specialized events tend to draw the crowds who are more likely to purchase our items, but before we dive right in (because they’re also more expensive to attend as a business), we want to make sure that the crowds are there. We want to scope things out, and talk to other, more established vendors/crafters to see what they think of the events. Going in blind is not in our well-laid plans.

Ultimately, we’d also like to get to some belly dance specific events. There are events that go on all around the country, but the trouble is that none of them are an easy trip for us. So we’re not quite ready to do that intense of a commitment just yet. Soon though, soon. Possibly next year. About the only event close to us would be the Dance Flurry in Saratoga, but even that would be difficult because of how long it goes on. It’s a goal though that we’re working to achieve. Likely, we’ll be able to do the Dance Flurry next year as well, and it should be the start to a beautiful thing.

So that’s where we’re at right now. As the snow melts and it doesn’t hurt to go outside because the air is so cold, we’re also getting more active in what we’re doing. More silk is going to be ordered for dying, as we are getting low (Etsy has been very good to us ♥), and beading classes are starting up again. So we’ll have new designs, more colors, and a lot more stuff to show off for sale soon too. We hope you’re looking forward to this second year of growth and color as much as we are! ☺