Tag Archives: Hang Ups

10 Things We’ve Learned From Our Creative Business

Keeping a sense of humor through the highs and lows didn't make the list but is very important. We think we excel in this area as you can see by this photo.

Keeping a sense of humor through the highs and lows didn’t make the list but is very important. We think we excel in this area as you can see by this photo.

  1. We’ve learned that our time is valuable.  Remember when you started our and thought that you could only sell items if your pricing was dirt cheap?  Over the years we’ve learned that our pricing must include a fair hourly wage for us.  Otherwise we are giving our products away for free which makes what we do a hobby not a business.
  2. We’ve learned that our business cannot afford to give discounts.  We price our merchandise carefully using a very accurate formula.  Our profit margin is not overblown on any item so therefore we cannot give discounts and still make a profit and donate to our non profit partners.  When we hear rude people comment about our pricing or try to buy our merchandise for a discount we politely refuse and remind them that a generous chunk of our proceeds to go our local non-profit partners.
  3. It is very important to find your tribe. These are people in the same boat as you who get your daily questions, struggles and celebrate successes with you.  Creative businesses can often be lonely to run.  Our tribe of link minded creatives is called Handmade in Kansas City.
  4. It’s extremely important to have all of your government paperwork in place if you truly want to have a successful business vs. a hobby.  Register your business, incorporate (or if you are like us form a legal LLP), charge taxes and pay taxes.  It seems daunting but a CPA can help you with all of this.
  5. Attending a maker conference will change everything.  There’s nothing like it to really light your fire.  We’ve tried a few but our absolute favorite hands-down is Craftcation Conference in Ventura California.  We’ve attended 3 times and every time we’ve come back and implemented what we learned and our business grew in leaps and bounds.  This is also a great way to find your tribe.
  6. It’s incredibly important to be open to change.  We make a point of stretching ourselves beyond our comfort zone frequently.  When someone offers you advice about your business don’t blow it off, listen and REALLY consider it even if it sounds outlandish.  Some of our best changes and growth ideas have come from Mike Meyer of Meyer Music.  His ideas usually scare us a little at first but the fact that he has such a strong belief in us and what we do makes a huge difference to us.
  7. Taking a class to upgrade skills is creativity rejuvenating.  This will not only help widen your offerings and expand your business but it’ll keep your creative juices flowing.  It’ll also make you happy.  Happy shows through in your work.  You can often find classes at your local craft store.  If you’d rather take a class online we highly recommend Creative Live.
  8. It’s important to be the face of your business.  This is what Mike Meyer told us last spring.  We aren’t shy about sharing our products but never felt like we were interesting enough to share our faces and story.  Apparently we were wrong.  People want to see your face and know your story.  We will be launching a new website very soon and you will see much more of our faces and story on it.
  9. Customer service will make or break your business.  It doesn’t matter how beautiful your product is, if you don’t provide excellent customer service and back the quality of your product, your business will not flourish.  When you are working a show be welcoming and friendly to people who walk into your booth.  We’ve watched many makers over the years who read or play on their phones instead of standing up and greeting the customer like they are grateful they are there.  Worst customer service we’ve ever seen?  A maker ranting about politics while people came and went from the tent.  Oh and how about the lady who wouldn’t let people stand in her tent during a rainstorm unless they were going to buy something?  Greeting customers by speaking to them and looking them in the eye also reduces theft.  It’s win-win.  Online service is just as important.  Send your product out right away when it is ordered.  If the order is large or wholesale, follow up with the customer afterwards.  If the customer has feedback you do not like do not be defensive.  Believe it or not your packaging and customer service are as important as the product itself.  We send each product our in a branded muslin bag with a business card (not a stack), a handwritten thank you note and a receipt.
  10. It’s important to regularly acknowledge and celebrate how far you’ve come.  Don’t get so caught up in working on the future that you forget to celebrate your past.  We celebrate regularly.  If you know us well then you know that it’s usually with food.  That’s just how we roll.

We hope that what we’ve learned can help you out a little.  If you have any questions please feel free to comment on this blog and we’ll get back to you right away.  We love sharing information and contacts so go ahead and ask away!

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Creative Inspiration for Writers: Interview with Bestselling Author Jennifer Brown

We are excited to introduce you to bestselling author Jennifer Brown.  Jennifer writes women’s fiction and middle grade fiction.  Check out her latest suspense thriller SHADE ME.   For a complete list of Jennifer’s books please visit her website  www.JenniferBrownAuthor.com.

So how do we know an actual real-deal author?  Kristi is friends with Jennifer.  I asked them for a photo and this is what I received.

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As you can see they work out together and are both a little camera shy.  

We are grateful to Jennifer for giving us some insight and advice that keeps with this summers theme of creativity in life.   Do you ever wonder what surroundings a bestselling author works in?  What inspires them?  What other creative talents they have?  If so, read on!

 

1.  What inspires you creatively?

I have always found that enjoying other artistic endeavors (mine or otherwise) tends to inspire me. A great book, a meaningful song, a deep movie, a poem or painting that I connect with — when I see something great that someone else created, it makes me want to create, too.

2.  What kind of surroundings do you like to write in?

I can write in pretty much any kind of surrounding, but don’t love dark and gloomy areas. I tend to keep it to my kitchen table, where I’m surrounded by windows and can see and hear what the kids are up to. I can’t really write to music, unless it either has no words, or has words in a foreign language I can’t understand. My brain just latches onto words too easily, and it gets distracting.

3.  Who inspires you?

In terms of inspiring specific pieces, that could be different on any given day.  But in terms of who generally inspires me to write and makes me want to be better what I do?  Stephen King. He’s a master storyteller and I wish I could spin a yarn the way he does.  Also, Lin-Manuel Miranda, because he packs so much meaning into his work, and I love deep meaning in art. And Marian Keyes, because her work is light and fun and romantic and sexy.

4.  How old were you when you started writing?

Gosh, even before I could write, I was a storyteller. I would draw pictures and tell the story out loud as I turned the pages. I wrote my first short story when I was eight. I wrote a picture book in high school. I’ve just always written for my own entertainment. I started writing with the hope of publication in 2000. I was *mumblemumble* years old.

5. Do you have any other artistic outlets?

Here’s the thing. I can draw and paint pretty well, but it gives me the rage. Like, serious rage. I hate it so much, so I never do it. I do, however, play piano. It was something I wanted to do my whole life, but never had the opportunity until I was an adult. I’m self-taught and try to practice every night (when my cat, who loves nothing more than to walk across the keyboard, will let me).

6. How long does each stage of the writing process take?

Depends on the project, actually. It takes me a lot more time to write a 100,000 word YA or adult novel than it does to write a 40,000 word middle grade novel. Also, my writing availability fluctuates through the year, depending on how much I’m traveling to speak, whether there are holidays, or if I’m just personally busy. But generally, it goes something like this:

Writing the rough draft takes anywhere from 3-6 months. After turning it in, there is a several-month wait for my editor (and others in the publishing house) to read it and write a revision letter, and also suggest revisions on the manuscript itself (the length of time on this really fluctuates, depending on the editor’s other projects and workload). Depending on how heavy the revisions are, that stage can take me anywhere from 4-8 weeks to complete. Then I wait a couple months to either get another revision letter, or (if the editor feels the revisions are complete) to get copyedits. Copyedits are detail edits, and grammar tends to be pretty cut-and-dried, so they take much less time – hardly ever more than a couple weeks. From there, within a month or two, I get what’s called first pass pages, which is where the book is laid out and I can make one final look-through to fix any small errors that have been missed. That takes about a week. During this whole process, the editor (and others) is working with the designer to come up with a cover and any interior design, and not long after first pass pages, I will get ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies). Those tend to come out a few months before the book is released, to give reviewers time to look at and review the book before it comes out. I would say the entire process, from idea to bookshelf, can take around 18-24 months. Patience is a must-have skill for any writer.

7.  What advice do you have for kids & adults who dream of being a published author?

It’s never too early; it’s never too late. Read. Read a ton, actually. And try to absorb what you’re reading in terms of style and craft. Pay attention to what makes a story good and what makes a story bad (in your opinion). Write. Every day. Even if you’re just playing with bits and pieces of stories and techniques. And, finally, believe in yourself. Too many would-be authors give up too easily. You are going to have days, weeks, months, years, where you are certain that you stink and it will never happen for you. You will get rejected. You will get bad reviews or hateful emails or harsh critiques. That’s just part of being in the business. Sometimes the writer who gets published isn’t necessarily the best at writing; she’s just the best at believing in herself and sticking with it the longest.

We so appreciate Jennifer taking the time to share herself with us.  We’d like to congratulate her on her nomination for the 2016-17 Gateway Award for Torn Away!


Don’t go yet!  We have exciting news!

Jennifer is hosting a give-away on her Facebook page.  You could win a signed book by Jennifer Brown and this fabulous necklace from our Literacy Kansas City Collection.

Hang Ups Live Love Read Necklace

Hang Ups Live Love Read Necklace

Here’s how you enter:

  • Visit Jennifer Brown’s Facebook page and find the post announcing this contest.  Don’t forget to “like” her page to keep up with news and announcements.
  • Post a comment and link on her contest post telling her which of our Hang Ups products you absolutely love.  You can find us at www.hangupsinkc.com.
  • The contest runs from August 9th through August 26th, 2016.  It is open to US Residents only.
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Belt Bracelet DIY

A great way to nurture creativity is to try something new.  This belt bracelet DIY is a low-cost, fun way to expand your horizons and make something fun that you can show off to your friends.

Leather bracelets are trendy, earthy and so versatile. Leave the leather unadorned or attach a button, an old broach or an item that has special meaning to you to add your own personal touch.  You may even have a belt in your closet that you can use for this project.

Let’s get started!

Materials:

  • Narrow belt (approximately 1/2 inch wide)
  • 2 – 1/2 Inch Ribbon Crimps
  • 7-10 Split Rings
  • Lobster Clasp
  • Headpin
  • Decorative Beads

Tools:

  • Scissors • X-Acto Knife
  • 2 Pairs of Round Nose Pliers
  • Split Ring Pliers
  • Wire Cutters

1. Use your ruler to determine a straight line across the belt, near the belt buckle. Use your X-Acto knife or sharp scissors to make a straight cut to remove the belt buckle.

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2. Loosely wrap the belt around your wrist 3 times to measure length needed. Hold your finger to mark where the end of your belt meets on the third wrap. Lay the belt flat on your cutting mat making sure to keep your finger at the spot where the to ends met. Subtract 1.5 inches from this length to allow for your ribbon crimps and closure and cut belt to length with x-acto knife or scissors. Wrap the belt around your wrist again to make sure you have cut off enough to leave a 1.5 inch space between the two ends on third wrap.

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3. Attach ribbon crimps to each end of the belt. To do this simply slide your belt into the opening and squeeze the entire length of the crimp with pliers tightly.

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4. Connect 2 split rings using the split ring pliers.

5. Attach the lobster clasp to one end of the split rings.

Split Rings on Lobster Clasp

 

6. Attach the other end of the split rings to the ribbon crimp.

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7. Make a chain by attaching at least 5-7 split rings.

Split Rings

8. Attach split ring chain to the other ribbon clasp.

Split Rings to Crimp

 

9. Thread beads onto the headpin.

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10. Form a loop at the top of your beads by wrapping the wire around the nose of your round nose pliers.

Beads

11. Thread the open loop onto the end of your split ring chain. To close the loop simply hold your loop with one set of round nose pliers and use the other set of round nose pliers to grasp the end of the wire and wrap it around the base next to the bead. Once you have done this snip the wire close to the wrap and bend in the end so that it doesn’t catch.

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12. Try on your fabulous new earth friendly triple wrap belt bracelet!

Triple Wrap Belt Cuff

We hope you enjoyed this DIY project.  If you would like to see more of our bracelet designs click here.

We hope you are having a happy and creative summer!

Meet Our Friends Rebecca & Norman: Robot Maker and Presidential Hopeful

Say what? Norman, a current top-runner in the presidential race, and I would like to give you an exclusive, never-before-granted tour of Remnants by RJ: Where the Robot Magic Happens.

For those of you who don’t know, Remnants by RJ is just that—a collection of society’s cast off “remnants” that I (Rebecca Jackson) transform into fun, quirky pieces of art. I tend to see what something could be, instead of what it just is.

Primarily, I make recycled robots. I take discarded bits of life—those things lurking in attic boxes or collecting dust on thrift store shelves—and allow them to find their way to a new reality through trial and error assimilations. Each robot is a transformation of the ordinary into something magical with a name, a story, and a personality.

Just like Norman. As soon as the clock knob came to rest on his little film canister head, I knew I’d found my robot counterpart.

Norman is the odd-bot-out in most situations. He has the innate social skills of an ostrich/warthog hybrid and often feels a bit insecure. You might say, Norman is—and always will be—an underdog. But who doesn’t enjoy rooting for an underdog? Despite his insecurities, he accepts himself as he is and enjoys sharing his journey with the world.

Today, that journey takes you inside The Workshop.

Norman 1 Norman 2

Finished robots, photo shoots, and packing materials reside in the outer sanctum of the workshop…as does the all-important Drill Press of Awesomeness. (If the house were on fire, I would save the drill press first, then maybe the kids. But seriously, they have legs, they should be able to get out on their own.)

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The inner sanctum is a small square room, located in close proximity to the drill press, that houses the workbench on one side and the robot part shelves on the other. Despite its cluttered, slightly haphazard appearance, the shelves are mostly organized and bins are labeled as necessary: arms, eyes, legs, small feet, etc.

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When a robot begins the reassembly process, it’s a matter of trial-and-error. I usually have the glimmer of an idea and begin looking for potential bodies and heads. Then it’s a matter of trying them out.

Norman is currently overseeing the reassembly of a very special robot for Carolyn. (Since neither of us want to ruin the surprise, this is only a sneak peek. You’ll have to wait for the final reveal.)

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I often try to add something personal or unexpected. It is very important to me that each robot is one-of-a-kind. Despite traditional robots being streamlined, replicated machines, I don’t ever want to mass-produce anything. I love the way my recycled robots find their way to a new life all their own.

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Equally important is my commitment to recycling. As a society, we are often obsessed with the next bigger, better thing. That leaves a whole lot of consumer waste in landfills or sitting on shelves in a thrift store. Incorporating those old-fashioned or outdated materials into my work is not only a commentary on the never-ending race to the future, but it is also a challenge to rethink the familiar, giving it new life as an eco-friendly, sustainable piece of art.

Of course, that’s a natural segue into a concluding paragraph with a good dose of campaign propaganda. Norman is currently running for President of the United States on a platform of “Recycling Materials, Not Ideas.”  Among other things, Norman believes that humans, like recycled robots, are endowed with certain unalienable rights, like Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Appendages.

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Together, Norman and I are ready to start infecting the world with imagination and kindness. Won’t you join us? I bet, with your help, we can change the world.

Thank you to Rebecca & Norman for guest-blogging for us in our summer creativity series!  If you’d like to see more of Rebecca’s creations or follow Norman’s Presidential Campaign here’s where you can find them: remnantsbyrj.com, on Etsy, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and via email at remnantsbyrj@gmail.com.

 

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How Hang Ups Celebrates Earth Day

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About four years ago we signed up for an eco-art fair called Zeleny, organized by repurposing Queen, Alexis from X37 Adventures.  Zeleny  (the Czech word for Green) focused on celebrating the repurposing movement and giving back to the community.  That is when we were bit by the repurposing bug.  We love the personality that antique, vintage and “found” items have.  Currently almost 100% of our creations feature repurposed items that may have ended up in a landfill, such as silverware, rusted out typewriters, leather belts & purses, keys, key holes and broken down instruments.  That answers the question of how we celebrate Earth Day – every day is Earth Day at Hang Ups!

This is a small sampling of our jewelry made from repurposed materials.  You can find any of these pieces of jewelry on our website by clicking on the photo of the piece that you like.   Giving back to the community that we live in is very important to us – most of the items on site give back to Literacy Kansas City or Band of Angels KC.

Do you love stuff made from repurposed materials?  If so, we’d love to see your favorite item. Please share in the comments section!  Happy Earth Day!

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A Behind the Scenes Peek at Kristi’s Creative Space

Two weeks ago we gave you a behind the scenes peek of our process of making.  We showed you the kinds of tools we use when we cut and shape a retired drum cymbal into a pair of earrings.  If you missed it you can find it here.

This week we want to share a behind the scenes peek at Kristi’s workspace.  We have separate workshops/ studios in our respective homes.  Both of our workshops have cool tools and generally a big mess of metal & wood shavings but Kristi’s workspace is definitely the prettiest of the two.

Welcome to Kristi's studio!

Welcome to Kristi’s studio!

There are a LOT of supplies involved in making jewelry from beads to metal findings and last but not least the focal pieces which for us are musical instruments or antiques.  If you look at the bottom left hand corner of this photo you will see Kristi’s custom stamping bench that she uses when adding quotes or words to antique silverware.  On the middle left side, several boxes of beads.  Center, hanging beads. Want to know a secret about Kristi?  She’s a button and bead hoarder.  Those beads you see in this photo?  They are just the tip of the iceberg.

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Kristi likes sparkly beads and has a talent for mixing colors.

 

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Can you see the sign that says “Of course I talk to myself! Sometimes I need expert advice.”?

Another secret about Kristi?  She talks to herself.  A lot.  One of side effects of working alone most of the time.  We all do it.  Right?  If you look in the top right hand corner of the photo above you’ll see a framed book page featuring an image from one of Kristi’s hand-carved stamps.  You can see more evidence of Kristi’s talent at hand-carving rubber stamps on the note cards displayed down the right hand side of the photo.  Kristi’s work space is full of fun and beautiful items, collected over the years, that inspire her.  We both love to fill our work areas with handmade items that we love.  Hey look, there are more beads on the top right-hand corner of her work bench!

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Can you guess what each of these tools is used for?

One of my favorite things about Kristi’s workspace is that it’s filled with customized organization solutions like the magnetic strip she uses to keep her pliers, screw drivers and other tools organized.

If you’d like to see our creations please visit us at hangupsinkc.com.

Thanks for joining us for this behind the scenes peek at Kristi’s studio.  We would love to see your work area, pretty or not.  Post a picture in the comments section and we can share tips on functionality and organization.

Have a great week!

 

 

What Pulls at our Heartstrings here at Hang Ups in KC

Instead of showing you our love-themed jewelry for Valentines Day we decided to tell you about a cause that we love instead.

If you follow us on social media you hear us talk a lot about Band of Angels a lot.  Who are Band of Angels?  Band of Angels is an amazing Kansas City based non-profit organization who collects used music instruments from those who no longer want them and helps make them available to kids in need who couldn’t otherwise afford them. Donated instruments are refurbished and restored to playing condition before given to a student. Cash donations are accepted also, which are used to purchase instruments. With these instruments, students can join their school’s band and orchestra programs. Also, funds raised help send students to summer music camp with full scholarships.  To learn more or donate please visit them at www.bandofangelskc.org.   Hang Ups in KC partnered with Band of Angels about two years ago.  We take instruments that cannot be repaired and make jewelry from them.  A generous portion of the sale of every piece of our musical instrument jewelry goes directly back to Band of Angels.  If you would like to check out our Band of Angels Collection on our website click here.  Here’s a small sampling of what we can do with retired instruments:

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Clarinet Key Necklace                                             Drum Cymbal Earrings

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Saxophone Key Cuff Links                                     Trumpet Valve Cap Necklace

Band of Angels has two major fundraisers a year:  Heartstrings in February and Art that Blows in June.  Last Saturday was the most successful Heartstrings Gala yet.  There were approximately 400 attendees who showed up to support this amazing cause.  George Shelby was the special guest performer.  During his 35 year career he has played saxophone with Beyoncé, Michael McDonald, Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind & Fire, Toto, Bruce Springsteen, Hilary Duff, Bono, Sting, Elton John, Natalie Cole, Chaka Khan, Johnny Mathis, and many others.  Joining him on stage were Band of Angels beneficiaries and wonderful spokespeople Morgan & Connor Cravens.

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Carolyn & Kristi hanging out with George Shelby

Just click on this link for a peek at Band of Angels Gala 2016 featuring George Shelby and Morgan and Connor Cravens performing.

Here’s a few more photos of this fun event.  If you live in the Kansas City area please join us next year.  Keep an eye on the Band of Angels website for details.  Tickets sell out fast!

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Happy Valentines Day!

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Kristi & Carolyn with Valentines Matt & Dwayne

 

 

Hang Ups in KC Small Business Saturday & Cyber Monday Sale

Help us celebrate Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday!

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It’s our best sale of the year! Save 30% off purchases made Saturday, November 29 – Monday, December 1, 2014. Visit www.hangupsinkc.com and start shopping now. We have unique pieces that make great gifts for eveyone on your holiday list. Check out our Literacy Kansas City Collection to find gifts for the teachers and book lovers on your list. Check out our Band of Angels Kansas City Collection to find gifts for the musicians and music lovers on your lists. These two collections of jewelry help us to share our joy of reading and music, and allow us to give back to our community. See our website for more information on both of these great organizations. Just use the code HUTHANKSU when you are checking out to take advantage of this great offer.

We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for supporting our small business!

Kristi & Carolyn

Online Sale at Select Handmade in KC Shops November 1 – 7th!

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Have you had a chance to check out the talented artisans from the group Handmade in KC (www.handmadeinkc.com)?  This is a cooperative of local artisans who offer quality handmade products.  We are very proud to be a part of this amazing group of local artists!

Several of us from Handmade in KC wanted to help you kick off your holiday shopping with a 20% off coupon code to our shops!

The coupon code will be effective November 1 at midnight and end November 7 at 11:59pm Central Time.
All you need to do is find the products that you’d like from the shops listed below.  You will need to check out from each shop individually (not a collective), and enter the code: HANDMADEKC to receive 20% off of your purchase at that shop!  And then do it again for another shop listed below!  Happy shopping!
Beadery Destash
Creations by M & J
The Costume Wrangler
Handmade by Lolo Z
Hang Ups in KC
Hey Paul Studios
Ni-Chern Designs
Nuggets of Goodness
Only Little Wing
Remnants by RJ
Simply Classic Jewelry
Stik A Pin In It
Thyme2Dream
The Tulle Box
Vintage Wedding Gems
Violet’s Buds

It’s Festival Season at Hang Ups in KC

It’s that time of year again and that means that we need to move from our summer family fun schedule back into serious work mode.  This is what we’ve got booked for the fall so far:

  • September 20th: Hillsboro Arts & Craft Fair, Hillsoboro, Kansas.   9am-4pm.   Visit www.hillsboroartsandcraftsfair.org for more information.
  • September 27th: Overland Park Fall Festival, Overland Park, Kansas. 9am-5pm.  Visit www.opkansas.org/things-to-see-and-do/arts-and-music/overland-park-fall-festival for more information.
  • October 11 & 12th:  Sugar Mound Arts & Crafts Festival, Mound City, Kansas.  Saturday 9am-6pm Sunday 9am-5pm.  Visit www.sugarmoundartscrafts.com for more information.

If you come out to any of these shows please drop by to say HI!

This past weekend we officially kicked off festival season with Festival of the Little Hills in beautiful historic St. Charles, Missouri.  This festival is huge – with over 300 vendors lining the gorgeous Main Street and Frontier Park, on the shores of the Missouri River.   We thought it would be fun to share our photos with you.

Pre-Show Street View  Street View

On the left, Main Street prior to opening.  On the right, our sidewalk view from the back of our booth.  Check out those gorgeous historic buildings and the cobblestone street.

Weather  Crowds

How was the weather?  Well it started raining on Friday at about 5pm and it stopped on Sunday around 3pm.  That didn’t stop the shoppers who wait for this festival all year, though.  Although they may not have reached their expected 200,000 shoppers there were A LOT of people there!

Booth Booth RHS

Here are a couple of shots of our booth.  We had some fun collecting and refinishing props such as tables, a handmade metal sign (top of the back of the booth) and new stands.  We also welcomed a new member of our team – Grace! …that’s her in the front of the booth with the jewelry hanging from her.

Grace Night Booth

This is a better photo of Grace.  We love how vintage-looking she is and the fact that she didn’t complain about the rain at all.  Another issue that we had to deal with this year was lighting since this festival goes to 10pm every night.  With the help of Kristi’s husband Matt and our friends at Handmade in KC (www.handmadeinkc.com) we found some lighting solutions that were very effective as well as pretty.

Despite the weather we had a blast and fell in love with this historic town on the edge of St. Louis.  Next up – Hillsboro Arts & Craft Fair. Hopefully we’ll see you there!

Thank you all for letting us share our adventure with you!