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Vendor Lessons From a Custom Pet Portrait Artist

Updated: Jun 15, 2023

The time has finally come when I will write about my wild journey as a crafter, maker, and vendor. Each of those terms means slightly different things, but we will save that for another time. Last weekend, I attended Fido Fest with the City of San Diego. I drove down the night before and stayed locally. One less thing on my "to-do" list for the day of the event. However, if you know me, I am disorganized and I was not as prepared as I thought. Rewind to the weekend prior, my 10x10 canopy broke. But, my boyfriend had a quick fix, so I assumed we were good.

Now the fun part. We get to the event about 45 minutes before it starts. The first mistake, as we are setting up the canopy, we realize that we forgot duck tape, which was critical to the quick fix to our canopy. Okay, no big. I have twine. We will string it together and make it work! My second mistake, I left my cell phone in the car, which is what I need to use to make my payments. That doesn't seem like such a big mistake, except that the car was a good 10-minute walk back, which meant I just lost 20 minutes of time. Remember time=$$. At this point, I was feeling overwhelmed, but everything was finished, and I could now relax. Oh, Tiffany, you spoke too soon and forgot to mention the biggest mistake. Ahhh, the third, and biggest mistake. I tell my boyfriend he can leave and come back once the event is over and that I will manage the tent and our tiny dog, Finn.

If you want to see what my original setup looked like vs what my current setup is watch this! The glow-up is real!!


Thirty-five minutes into me holding down the fort, a huge gust of wind comes, and I am literally now holding up the canopy with one hand and Finn in the other. Let me paint the picture. Me, 4'11 holding up a 6ft collapsing tent with one hand and a 15 lb dog in the other. Looking back, I sound like superwoman but at that moment I was defeated. I thought "why am I doing this" "if I don't make one sale, I think I am going to cry". It is moments like these that can be really testing. But then, that moment fleets and a better moment comes where a customer comes along and shares with you that their dog just passed and how they would love to get a piece of artwork to remember their beloved friend. In those moments, I remind myself, this is why you do it. So the next time you see a vendor, crafter, or maker, you choose to buy from them. You are supporting their dreams, hopes, and passions. There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to get the display to end up looking spectacular!

10 Tips from a Dog Artist that will help any new vendor:

Now for the tips, so that you do not make the same mistakes.

  1. Make sure your setup is weatherproof! Buy a canopy that is commercial grade where you can add weights. Be sure to add the weights on the feet of the canopy, do not hang weights from the frame of your canopy as this can compromise it. Buy outdoor retractable banners, canopy walls or signage that is windproof. Mesh material allows the wind to go through where vinyl/solid walls act like a sail.

  2. Arrive the night prior, if possible, if the destination is far. This way you don't have the stress of getting to the location or sitting in traffic.

  3. Give yourself plenty of time to set up. Unexpected things happen, but the event always goes on, and you don't want to be setting up while potential customers are walking by.

  4. Double-check the car before you unpack to make sure you gathered everything.

  5. Bring someone to help you. Setting up is hard enough. Having someone with you helps so much.

  6. Wear layers if it's cold, typically in the early morning in CA during winter/spring it is chilly but by the mid-morning it can get hot, so wearing layers helps.

  7. Take pictures/ videos of your set-up and tag the event host. Typically, they will end up reposting your tag, which means more exposure for you.

  8. Make friends with other vendors. Most likely, you will see them again and it's always nice to have a familiar face, plus you can always ask to share a space at the next event to help with the event costs, if you hit it off!

  9. Offer a special for your customers for the day of the event. One deal I do is a free giveaway, if they enter my raffle.

  10. Remember to thank the event host. Just as much work goes into setting up the events and for that, I am always so grateful to be invited!

Please share this blog, if you enjoyed reading about my journey or found my tips helpful. Any exposure that I get is BEYOND appreciated!!



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