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patchwork oakland fall 2013

The night before I threw my first party I hardly slept. I was eighteen. I’d just moved to San Francisco and into my very own apartment. It was an 80s themed party and I’d planned every single detail including the perfect mix cd’s, mood lighting (cue the red light bulb in the bathroom and a ton of cheap candles from the dollar store), as much beer and booze as we could convince the non-ID checking liquor store clerk on our corner to sell us and of course the perfect outfits (stir-up pants, off-the-shoulder fluorescent sweatshirts and the requisite side-ponytails topped with bows). Despite my OCD level of scheming, I tossed and turned in between nightmares about my roommates and I sitting alone in our living room with a bathtub full of beer and no one to drink it. Not only did people show up, but it was packed. As I cleaned up what seemed like a thousand empty beer cans and tortilla chips ground into the living room carpet in the morning, I couldn’t help but think ‘be careful what you wish for’.

The night before a Patchwork Show the old feeling of putting on party and fearing that no one will come returns. The Saturday night before our events I completely forget that Delilah and I have done this before. Not only have we done this before but we’ve done it 30+ times.

Last weekend, the night before Patchwork Oakland I calmed my nerves with a drink at Heinold’s (one of the raddest and oldest {built in 1880} bars I’ve ever been to) with my dear friend, mentor and veteran Patchwork vendor Debra of Rebe, my assistant/friend Lindsey and Tyson and Klara of Maiden Voyage Clothing who’ve been Patchwork vendors for many years. We sipped beers and chatted about the trials and tribulations of running a business. It’s rare and amazing to have a chance to sit down with friends/vendors and actually talk and not be running around and working the show.

Then, we saw a dog. A Corgi just inside the door tied to a bar stool.

“Look at that adorable Corgi,” I said.
“That means patchwork is gonna be good tomorrow,” Tyson said. He explained that Nedda and Aaron of Enchanted Leaves said it’s good luck to see a Corgi the night before a show. I thought Tyson was joking but he assured me this was good luck and I should stop worrying.
Itook this sign to heart and tried to let my anxious thoughts go.

The next day, Sunday morning at 11:00am when the show opened a line formed at our entrance to Patchwork Oakland. I’d just walked around the venue at Jack London Square and my mind was blown by the awesomeness and diversity of our vendors. I know first hand what goes into vending at shows. It’s very hard work and I’m grateful for all of our vendors putting their time, energy and talent into their businesses and into showing at Patchwork. Patchwork Oakland ended up being our most well attended Oakland event yet! Our volunteers were absolutely awesome. My assistant Lindsey did an incredible job. Jana of Just Sew Jana was steadfast helping with pr. Our sponsors did a great job embodying the DIY ethos with craft projects and their generosity.

Patchwork was born out of both my desire to create a show where the producers know what it’s like to be a vendor as well as Delilah’s passion for bringing events to cities where there’s a need to showcase creativity, talent and local shopping. It’s important to us to not charge guests to come to the show as well as keep our vendor booth prices affordable for vendors who are just starting out. That means that our shows truly embody the DIY spirit. We have a small production budget, rely on venues that don’t cost much and the help of volunteers. We make all of our signs by hand and encourage our vendors to actively help promote the shows since our advertising budget is slim. The blood, sweat and tears that go into making a Patchwork happen are all worth it when I look around the show and see shoppers buying items made locally by our vendors. Hearing a vendor tell me that Patchwork helped launch their business and eventually quit their day job is the best feeling. We all spend most of our waking hours at work. Shouldn’t we be doing something we love? Being a part of helping people do that is what fuels me.

During my decade as a vendor I didn’t really think about the production side of those shows. I remember being at a show and multiplying the number of vendors by the cost of each booth and thinking, man these show producers are making a killing! I had no idea what kind of costs go into producing a large scale event, until I produced one. Suffice to say, Delilah and I don’t live in the lap in of luxury. I also rarely sent a thank you note to the producers… even if the show was amazing and i never shared feedback on how I thought the show could improve. I really wish I would have. I feel lucky that lots of our vendors take the time to thank us for a good show. Sometimes I get that other kind of email. The one about how the show could be better. These are always difficult for me to read. I realize I can’t please everyone but I still want to. Remember my post on how I’m trying to better at accepting criticism.

As hard as those emails are to read, I’m grateful for them as well. Just as emails of gratitude encourage us to keep going, feedback emails are what help us improve Patchwork. Patchwork is not perfect. It’s an evolving event that’s growing rapidly and Delilah and I are working our pants off trying to keep up with this growth. So thank you to all of our vendors, sponsors, volunteers and guests for the support, feedback and encouragement over the past seven years.

Next Saturday night before the last of our fall events Patchwork Santa Ana, I’ll remind myself of how many people came to that first party I threw and hopefully I’ll see a Corgi too!

Hope you enjoy these photos from Patchwork Oakland. If you want to see more check out our photo gallery.

-nicole s.

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  1. says

    Hi Nicole!

    It was great to meet you in Oakland and I am just thrilled with my experience being a vendor for this show. I started doing shows this year to help grow my business and get my name in front of more people, and Patchwork has been my most successful show so far. Everything was seamless, or at least appeared to be! My booth neighbor and I were giddy talking about the turnout also. Anyhow! You guys did a fantastic job! Thank you for letting me be a part of it :)

    Casey

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