15 December 2014

Learning the hard way.... and searching for a silver lining

Back towards the beginning of the year, some mutual creative friends and I started meeting once a month to talk about all things creative. We didn't have a specific cause or plan at the outset, just a mutual love of our own craft and a willingness to share our ideas and encourage each other.

Fast forward a few months, and we started discussing the possibility of sharing a stall at a fair together, coming up with the idea of the Thorndon Fair as the best option to showcase our crafts. The Thorndon Fair is on from 10-3pm on the first Sunday in December and it's one of the marquee fairs around the region, with up to 20,000 people getting along on the day.

In the meantime, I was getting out practicing my craft at every opportunity. On freezing, cold winter mornings wrapped up in puffer jacket, hat and gloves. Actually who am I kidding? Most times I go out like that in Wellington, whether it's winter or not!

It was good having the goal of the fair to work towards and a deadline meant I was spurred into action - to build an online presence where I could also showcase my photos online in one place. I managed to build and launch Meghan Maloney Photography on the same week of the fair - not 100% complete but complete enough that behind the scenes I can carry on tweaking it in the future.

And then came the weekend of the fair. The day beforehand (Saturday) we met at lunchtime at Sherein's work and spent an hour or so setting up the table to see how it would look. Sherein and I ended up being there all afternoon making up some kitset beer crates to assist with the table display and putting up the gazebo in the garage to make sure we knew what we were doing on the day. The weather forecast was not looking that great but we kept praying anyway. After five hours on our feet for the day doing preparation I was knackered and the red wine waiting at home for me was very appealing.

I'd also made the decision to shrink wrap the canvases just in case the weather was dodgy - this turned out to be one of the better pre-emptive things I did in preparation for fair day!

On the morning of the fair, I could hear the wind blowing the minute I woke up, and looking out the window saw low cloud as well and I said a prayer that by the time I arrived at 8am to our stall spot it would have eased. Unfortunately it only got stronger and once we got the gazebo up and weighted into buckets of wet sand I had brought along (it was handy having an unused sandpit at home for the occasion!), we also put up a tarpaulin to try and protect the table from the wind and then rain which started. The spot we had was particularly exposed and the gusts of wind coming through were only getting stronger. It required one of us to be standing full-time against the tarpaulin to try and keep it from blowing right into the stall. Right before the 10am start, a particularly large gust of wind caught everything and one of the gazebo poles bowed badly as a result.

I spotted an empty space across the road (which looked decidedly more sheltered being right by a large building) so after checking with one of the organisers we made a last minute switch across the road. It was way more sheltered but even we made the decision not to put the tarpaulin back up - opting for one of us standing there with an umbrella to protect one end of the table from the rain.

Unfortunately the weather had a big impact on the turnout of the day and the people who were there seemed very focused on getting through the fair and back to the shelter of their cars rather than stopping and leisurely looking around. It wasn't a complete failure but it was still disappointing to only sell 3 calendars on the day (one to the lovely Leanne from Paper Moon Blog - thank you so much for your support and for coming down in such miserable weather!) and my lovely friend Marie (It's Marie Made) who makes beautiful knitted and crochet baby wear and blankets sold 3 hat and bootie sets, while our other two ladies didn't have any sales at all. The weather meant I also couldn't showcase all my canvases as I just wasn't willing to get out the large A1 and panoramic canvas as they would have gone flying down the road without being properly weighted down.

At about 1.30pm, the rain which had been on and off really started to bucket down relentlessly and despite the fair still being on till 3pm, we followed the lead of most of the other stall holders around us and packed up for the day - extremely cold and wet and pretty disappointed.

When you put your all into something, you plan for it for months, you spend hours getting a product range ready, you check it all once twice and then again.  You think of every single little thing you could possibly need to pull off a successful launch and fair day. You make lists, and cross them off. You feel that you can't possibly be more ready. And then the one thing you cannot control at an fair like this is - the weather.

I like to think that I'm reasonably optimistic - although probably also a bit too realistic at times. I tried not to feel too disappointed by the outcome but being so wet and cold and miserable it was hard not to wallow for a while, and I might have shed some tears while warming up with a hot shower when I got home. It felt like even more of a punch in the gut when the very next day blue skies and sunshine taunted me from my office window all day.

So I had to search for a silver lining and it was this... without the prospect of the fair I doubt I would have had the Meghan Maloney Photography site and business up and running by now. Sometimes a deadline is exactly what is required to galvanise one into a course of action. So for this I am grateful.

And I have to remember to trust that the Creator - the very one who has given me an ability to capture his Creation looking through a big hunk of metal and glass in my hands and share it with you all - has it all in hand. Perspective I think they call it.

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