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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Festivals

Henna Caravan has been working at festivals since we started business. Our first festival was a small arts show. Jessica took a chair, some patterns, and a canopy, and just tried to see what she could do. Last summer, Henna Caravan was at two major events, with 3 private appointments to top it off in one weekend.  Santa Barbara Summer Solstice and the Camarillo Greek Festival took half our team, while a hen night, sweet 16, and destination wedding took the rest. This means 2 canopies, 2 full set ups, 2 bins of decorations, 2 full festival crews, and 2 opportunities to hang out with our wonderfully loyal customers. And everybody running around with cones of fresh henna, slinging this way or that. While the Santa Barbara crew had lines 30 people long almost all day, the usually smaller Greek festival was busier than its ever been! Customers came up to us all day long, requesting their "annual" henna. They come back every year to get Henna Caravan designs, and we are so enormously grateful for this. Jessica and I were in Mexico for a private event and we are just so thankful we could leave our team and know everything would be OK. And now, its got me thinking, in the 15 years since that first tiny festival, how is it that we got to this point?

The answer is as simple as they come. Hard Work. We've had over a decade of hard work, trial and error, great days, bad days, big mistakes and big ideas. In the end, we seem to have ended up somewhere successful, and with something that works. Committing to festivals requires a lot of financial output up front. You have to get your canopy, your books, your booth set up AND you have to pay several hundred dollars in booth fees months before the event, without knowing whether or not you'll make any money when the big weekend finally rolls around. Sometimes, its a complete bust. Sometimes, you have to call in extra hands.

This week we've turned in our first set of applications for Spring Festivals. If you're a henna artist looking to branch out into the festival world, I suggest you start looking now. Find festivals with high attendance numbers (police estimates, if available) and a good demographic breakdown. Kids aren't drawn to henna the same way women are- from high school through to great grannies! Why not try some first-year events that look interesting to you? They may not be as financially successful this year, but as they grow, you'll grow with them, and your henna will become a feature of the event itself. People will be looking for YOU every year at that little fest. Always ask if they allow multiple vendors, and try to secure an exclusive agreement. Henna can be a hard sell in new communities and more than one vendor means nobody goes home happy.

We are so excited for new opportunities this year. From festivals, to private events, corporate promotion, restaurant openings and some extra special events in March, I'm sure we'll have lots to share and talk about!

Enjoy your Henna Journey!

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