“Can I touch the harp? How do I play the strings?” Those were questions I heard repeatedly last weekend. Marking myself as Tara Harp & Art, I participated in my first event as a vendor for the Winter Wonderland Festival at Wise Acres Farm. I did not become rich, but I did meet incredible people and made invaluable connections.
The people I met were truly priceless, and made the weekend more than worthwhile. I spoke with other vendors who carry the same heart I do—to create, and to share that creativity with the world. I gained advice from a long-term vendor who has done numerous shows. I learned to always provide a low priced product that “anyone can afford,” and also gleaned helpful tax advice. I met party/event organizers and discussed hopefully working with them on future events. I met a woman who quit her corporate job this summer too, mainly because she wanted to be able to be home for her kids. Producing a product out of your home allows you to do that. And hey, maybe your kids will even end up learning about entrepreneurship and aspects of the business.
Designing the perfect booth was fun, but took far more time than I originally anticipated. Thinking about the best type of display for a small area, and within my budget, was not easy. I borrowed my table and tablecloths. I wanted a way to display as much artwork as possible. So I purchased a standing clothes rack for $10 and strung it with wire. I found a file organizer at Goodwill for $2, and used it to organize my photography prints.
Knowing the event was geared toward families with children, I also wanted to provide a craft for kids. I wanted something I could make fairly cheaply, that would tie into music and art, and also allow the children to be artistic. So I decided to make salt dough cookie ornaments in the shape of music notes. They turned out quite beautifully (if I do say so myself) and the children enjoying using metallic and glitter markers to decorate them. Find my full recipe here.
I enjoyed the atmosphere of the event—very family oriented, and the farm owners were extremely hospitable. They have a heart for people and a positive attitude about life. It was a pleasure being a vendor for their event. I hope to be able to play at more events on the farm in the future.
My photography display provided the perfect platform to speak with people about my travels. I also explained my love for music, where it started and where I hope to go. I also enjoyed hearing others' interests and stories.
My favorite moments from the weekend included letting children experience the joy of the harp. While I had fun with my stage performance both days, the highlight for me was the one-on-one interactions with children. Quite a few of them asked to touch the strings (and some of the younger ones just came up and did it). It filled my heart with happiness to see their awe and excitement upon just one touch of the harp strings.
I talked with a martial arts studio while perusing the other vendors around the farm, and they asked what hours I typically work (not knowing yet that I was also a vendor there). I almost responded with “8:30-5.” But stopped myself, smiled, and said, “I actually don’t work usual hours anymore. I’m a harpist and artist and I make my own schedule.” It gave me joy to say those words. It still doesn’t feel real. But it is my life now.
I read something earlier in the week on Instagram- it was supposed to be an inspirational quote- about how if you’re doing what you love, you will never work a day in your life. I completely disagree. I have worked more hours than I could have imagined over the last few months. Marketing on a low budget takes a lot of work. Learning SEO is time consuming. Figuring out how to establish myself as a business requires research. And when I do not make the money I need with art or through harp events, I walk dogs and I do transcriptions for a media company. While I would say doing what you love is worth it, it certainly requires work. The difference is that with doing what you love, you know that work is taking you to the place you want to be.
I believe a hugely important aspect of doing what I do is networking. It’s important to meet people and to support local artists. Why would I ask people to support me and buy locally if I do not do the same for others? I highly recommend you check out the below businesses and contact them if any of their services meet your needs. Feel free (as always) to contact me with any questions or comments!
Bee’s Knees Crochet- Some of the cutest crocheted items I’ve ever seen, Erin crochets out of her home. She makes a variety of unique items, and is happy to customize any item for you.
Pure Stella Skin Care- Pure Stella’s product is unique, handmade skin care products ranging from lotions to cleansing oils. Stacey has vendor experience and is great to talk to. Her family is adorable as well.
Ruby Tree- Composed of two women with many talents, Ruby Tree specializes in mason jar gifts and event decor. They had the most impressive vendor set up in my opinion, with a rustic chandelier they had made, hanging from the center of their tent. Very friendly and excited to work with people, I highly recommend them for your upcoming event!
Smax Flatbread (food truck)- They filled my stomach with one of the most delicious lamb gyros I’ve ever had (might even beat out the Greek festival). Definitely check them out when you can!