I was really spoiled by my first couple of events this craft season. They were big geek events and as I posted previously, there is a reason I get along with the geeks. We understand each other. And being around them so much helped me forget just how weird I think the rest of the world can be.
I make molded chocolate. Specialized molded chocolate – lots of geeky designs but also lots of traditional holiday stuff. This past weekend I had a mixture of both. Knowing the audience would be looking more for snowmen and Santa Claus, I made sure to have plenty on hand, as well as best-selling designs from Star Wars and Dr. Who. Many of these are hand painted in some way. I work with a product called luster dust to add sparkle and shimmer to most of my products. It brushes on easily, doesn’t detract from the taste of chocolate, and is really pretty.
I don’t mind answering the question of why my chocolate is shiny and whether it’s edible. Unless you watch a lot of Food Network – and specifically shows on cake design and the like – there’s no reason for most people to be familiar with luster dust. I certainly wasn’t before I started working with it.
I even understand the people who don’t realize that what I’m selling is chocolate right away. Hell, most of it doesn’t actually look like chocolate and if I hadn’t made it, I would likely ask that question too.
But then there are the others. The others who look at my Christmas lights on a stick and ask, “Is that a sucker?” Inside voice is incredulous and asks, “Did the stick give it away?” Outside voice smiles and says, “Yes, yes it is.”
There are the countless number of people who declare, “It’s too pretty to eat!” I’ve decided this is code for “I’m not buying any but felt the need to say something.” To be fair, I get this at geek cons too – but they’re less likely to let that stop them from buying. I’ve given up answering these people. This past weekend, I mostly just nodded and laughed along sympathetically.
But I don’t mind that nearly as much as the people who seem to think they’re complimentary when they’re faces reveal something else. These people say something to the effect of, “Oh that’s so…different/interesting/artistic.” But these comments are accompanied by a sneer, a looking down of the nose, as if to say, “I’ve never seen anything like this and I don’t quite understand it so I’m going to dismiss it as too weird for me.”
I heard the artistic comment more than once this past weekend, and didn’t think much of it until I went to visit a cookie maker across from me and heard someone make the same comment there (she does beautiful, intricate work and I’ve bought from her two years in a row). Now, I realize we were vending in a rural area, but the feeling I got from these people was that our work was somehow too complicated for them. We were surrounded by vendors with dip mixes, bread, and other bakery. Delicious, but nothing fancy. And I wondered if what these people with the “artistic” comments were really saying was, “Why can’t you be content with simple cookies and chocolate? You know, it would be better if you just made buckeyes, or slapped a few sprinkles on there. We don’t go in for that hoity toity stuff around here.”
My point is not to demean people who live in the country. I am most definitely a City Chick through and through but I don’t actually believe that makes me better than those who grew up on or around farms. It’s a different lifestyle, not better or worse than my own. My problem is with people who take that we’re-just-simple-old-fashioned-country-folk attitude and act as if nothing should ever change ever.
And then I wonder if there isn’t a little jealousy in there too. There were people who came by who had clearly made molded chocolate themselves and looked at me almost disappointedly as they said, “Oh I never thought of that.” One woman actually bordered on angry as she asked about my process and where I got my supplies. I answered her openly and honestly and yet she was incredibly suspicious, sure I was going to keep some well-guarded trade secret from her. I wish I could have told her how often I tell people where I get my molds. Really, most are from a popular geek site online. I let people know that several times a day – at geeky events, many people actually recognize the designs themselves and simply look to me for confirmation.
I feel like I’m reading too much into this, trying too hard to analyze why more people don’t buy my stuff. Some of the reason really is my fault – I own the fact that I’m not a great people person. I am frustrated quickly by the number of people who won’t even say hello to me or talk about me as if I’m not sitting right there. I put on my best friendly face but it’s often faked and I’m sure that comes through.
I’ve already cut way back on the number of non-geeky events I do. The past couple of years, I was in a lot of churches and small meeting centers. This year my focus was on fewer but larger events and it’s paid off. I’ve found my niche and know where I belong. I’m confident in what I do and that I can succeed at these places. Next year, I plan to renew my focus on geeky cons. I’m going to look outside my immediate area and go where my people are. The fairgrounds? Well, I may have to leave them behind.