… SUOMEN KÄDENTAIDOT … and a giveaway!

Finally a moment to share my experience at Suomen Kädentaidot – the biggest craft and design fair in Europe! It certainly was a success in every aspect – 49 331 visitors in total – a new record for this fair! And it certainly was a success for SHALMIAK too!

I was excited to participate but also terrified… Previously I was confident that I would never participate in this kind of events… I would be too nervous… but I guess a mid-life crisis hit me and I decided it was time to break my own boundaries. And I am so happy I did! It was such a great experience – both for SHALMIAK as a brand and for me as a person. The most wonderful thing about the fair was meeting so many wonderful people with so much passion for crafts and design – and even love for my work! I was overwhelmed by the encouragement I got from so many people to continue with my own unique path as a designer and a fabric producer.

My main goal with this fair was to get some answers… what to do next… continue or move forward with something else. The answer I got was to give this one more chance. So I am moving forward… but cautiously. In a couple of weeks the hype of the fair is over and I need to push forward with new plans and ideas to make people remember me. This fair gave me great exposure but now the hard work continues…

My journey to Tampere would not have been possible without a great support net… My husband standing by my side at the fair… my mother-in-law making cartwheels to entertain our two boys there… and other relatives joining the force :).

The only little down side (or not!) was being so busy at my own stand that I didn’t have the chance to visit others… Only during the last day I took a short (or not!) walk through the halls to meet a fellow exhibitor… and I was shocked… This place and event was so much bigger than I thought! Perhaps it was only my luck I didn’t know this from the start when I set up my own little crappy booth… 😉 It would only have shocked me and made me think I had no chance of getting noticed.

When the fair was over it was quite hectic to pack everything for the journey back home… it was raining and everything seemed like a little chaos… but I forced my husband to take this fast pic… I felt so like a winner to made it through!

 

And now it is time to start preparing for Christmas! SHALMIAK is having a little giveaway… sending gifts to three fans! I hope you participate and even share it with your friends!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

… preparing for the fair …

 

 

If someone had told me a few years back that I would be exhibiting at a fair I would have laughed. Not me… I am not a “fair” person ;), not at all! I am not the most social type. I do like people but it is not easy for me to be comfortable in social situations. Why? I seriously don’t know. When I was a child I loved school plays. I loved to act and perform. I loved to be in the spotlight because in general I was quite invisible… I was the shy and quiet girl – always in the background. But already then I had mixed feelings about being on stage – I loved it but I also felt very nervous. And slowly the insecure side of me got the best of me and the love for performance turned into hate.

When I started my business I decided to do everything I can with online marketing but would never attend any fairs. I knew it would decrease my chances of expanding my brand but I didn’t want to sacrifice my own well-being. I had pushed and forced myself for so long – trying to do what I thought I had to do to get respect from others. Finally it was time to do what felt right for me.

But life changes you… I have floundered through so many obstacles… I have pushed and fought… trying to find my own way… This autumn I finally decided to accept the fact that things weren’t moving in the direction I had hoped… it was time to move forward and leave the fabric business behind me. This decision was difficult but on the other hand it gave me freedom to stop forcing things. But just when I had reached this decision something happened… suddenly the interest in my brand increased. I knew it could only be a little upswing leading to another crash but something in me told me it was time to turn the last stone. I wanted to feel confident that even if things crashed again I had at least tried everything.

For the past two weeks I have been planning and preparing for this craft fair in Helsinki – Helsingin Kädentaitomessut – and suddenly I have found a piece of my inner child :). As a kid I loved to plan and arrange all kinds of events – they were small and mainly just for my own family but I loved it! And preparing for this fair has been so much fun! Even though I am scared as hell I am also so excited! I want to be that little girl again who loved to be in the spotlight… or at least can handle of piece of it ;).

Maybe this is an age thing… I am turning forty in a couple of weeks… if I can’t get rid of old ghosts and try something new now I will never get the courage to do this. I know this weekend will be rough – no matter what the result will be – but I want to experience this. What if this “fair” person is within me but I just haven’t given it a chance?! Who knows?!

I hope to see you at the fair! 🙂

Love,

Sari / SHALMIAK

…place to escape…

One tricky thing about being an entrepreneur is that you are never really on vacation. Your business always follows you – no matter where you are. That is something I both love and hate. I love planning and playing with ideas in my head and usually the best ideas come to me when I am not sitting in my office. But when the business is struggling it is also difficult to escape from it all.

This summer I have forced myself to get some distance to my work. When all the hard work is not really paying off you need to take a step back and see where you are and where you really want to go.

One place I escape to is our family cottage located in a small island at Lake Saimaa. Even though the business side of me comes along I can look at it from another perspective. This cottage is very basic – no electricity, no running water, no luxuries – but that is something that also makes it easier to get away. It is so different from the hectic life at home. You don’t need to accomplish anything. You don’t need to be that successful business woman you would like to be – you can only be you.

Well, I haven’t always enjoyed that place so much. We have two boys – born 2006 and 2009 – and you can perhaps imagine what it is like with small kids and water all around you. You have to be constantly on your watch to make sure they are safe. And with small kids a little luxury like lights and running water would be nice too. But now when the kids are older I can sometimes get a moment to myself too. And I have learned to enjoy those little moments – taking a short nap in the swing, sitting in the sauna (yes, we Finnish people love sauna ;)), floating in the lake and hearing only whispers from the environment… Those moments are usually short and life often interfears… but that’s another story… 😉

To our dog this island is a paradise! He can run wild and free. It is pure joy to see him so happy and relaxed. I try to take a piece of that energy with me when I go back home… back to my office… back to all the difficult decisions that must be made… but hopefully all that mess has sorted out a bit in my head and I have more strength to fight forward…