Today we finished our first public event as Stone House Lavender. To our humbling surprise it was a great success….but we must admit it did not happen by luck. We have been planning our approach to this event for almost a month. We picked the minds of others, visualized the essence of our display, made tons of product and set realistic expectations. We were open to ideas from family, friends and complete strangers. Having said that, some of the best advice we gathered was from complete strangers, those that had nothing to gain or any obligation to help us. This makes us truly believe there is more goodness out there than we often hear about daily.
In our preparations, we reached out to our lavender partners in the United States Lavender Growers Association for advice. Now most people would think that many of them would be hesitant to share their secrets and successes because we are considered “competition”. However, that is the farthest thing from the truth. They have a closed “members only” facebook page were members can talk to other lavender growers and help each other. That is just what they did!!! We posted a request for advice on how to prepare and the feedback was phenomenal. All-in-all, there were over 75 comments, pictures and support on our post for advice. It’s pretty awesome to have a great support group of folks that have been down this path before and willing to share their lessons learned. As a result, it made a difference for us….and for that we are Thankful!
We also had the chance to meet a lot of wonderful people this weekend. They may or may not have made a purchase, but they did share their stories with us. As a result of talking and listening to these folks, we feel that we learned much more about the path we want to travel with our lavender farm. We had one customer that was looking for gift sets for Christmas gifts….and guess what we were prepared with the “extras” to do just that for her. By the time she left, her products were packaged wrapped and ready for sharing. We enjoyed talking with her to put just the right package together…which we will continue to offer online very soon for our other customers.
One of the greatest compliments we had was when one of our customers came to visit us from Harper’s Ferry about 2 hours away. She’s also a new lavender farmer that found us online. She said she found out that we were going to be at the Christmas Spectacular this weekend and drove over to see us. WOW… how awesome is that? Some of my old college students and some of their parents came to visit. We also met some great new artisans that offered some wonderful feedback. It was really neat to see the number of people from our current careers, friends and family that were excited to stop and see us.
So, here are our first five lessons learned from this show for future successes. We will share more very soon.
Have a sample station. This was advised to us ahead of time by another lavender farm, but we were concerned we would not have the space. For the future, we will make the space.
Our internet was fantastic this weekend, making credit card processing very easy. So make sure to always have good internet service and make sure you accept credit cards. Over 50% of our sales were credit cards. Trust us…it’s worth it!
Spend the time setting up. We had many compliments on the set up and visual display of our products. That sends a strong message to your customer that you are invested in doing things the right way. That also means that you are making your products with the same quality you present them.
Placement of the products is very critical. We had our basket of bath melts on a bottom shelf the first day. We did not sell a single bath melt. We moved the basket to the table level on the second day and sold 2/3 of our stock the rest of the event.
There is a tight balance between being an informative sales person and being a pushy sales person. Throughout the weekend, we were able to quickly recognize the folks that did not want to be bothered while shopping. We completely respect that...let’s face it who hasn’t been that kind of shopper at one time or another. So, be sure you respect the customers and don’t be too assertive or overbearing. However, it is important to engage them in case they want to ask questions. This gives them a comfort level to ask those curious questions.
All in all, it has been a fantastic weekend. Our primary goal was to market our branding name. However, with great products, great displays, great social media presence and great support from family and friends….It well surpassed our expectations. We are excited to see that the future brings.
-Stone House Lavender Crew