You guys, this last Saturday was The Makers Festival in Manahawkin, NJ. It's my favorite show for many reasons: it's held right in my hometown, it's run by the amazing The Makeshift Union, and it's filled with a vibrant, amazing community of makers. Last year was my first Makers Fest (I missed the first one) and I remember packing up feeling so much creative inspiration and excitement to get home and keep on making. This year was even better!
It was also my first year as a momma to our little guy (who is officially 2 months old today)! Back when I signed up for The Makers Festival, it didn't seem to be a very far-fetched idea to do it with a baby in tow. I'd have an abundance of time to prepare. Right?!
Well, let's just say those bags under my eyes are a bit bigger when the makeup comes off. And that giant two month old baby is happy because he knows I traded in art time for baby snuggles, leaving me to scramble in the days leading up to the festival.
All of this means I unpacked the morning of the festival with very low expectations. So it's with an overflowing heart that I say thank you to the friends, family, other makers, and members of this community for the support. Your presence—in person and in spirit—means the world to me!
After the show, I got some messages from a few new moms and mom-to-be makers about working once their little ones are born, so I wanted to share a few things I learned:
Have a good support system
It goes without saying, but your support system is everything. In the lead up to the show, Brad came home from work, took care of dinner, and took over caring for Lincoln while I prepared signs and prints (and sometimes just napped). He ran to the hardware store for last minute supplies. And the day of the show he carted everything from our car to our space while I showed up with Lincoln and watched him (and did the same during pack out). It would have been impossible on my own. I'm sure I'm forgetting a million other things he did - so I'll just say a big THANK YOU!
Take two cars
Luckily, The Makers Festival is less than 10 minutes from our house, so we loaded up two cars and drove separately the morning of. Brad's car was loaded with all of our supplies and goods (which I wouldn't have wanted to cram next to the car seat, even if it would have all fit) and my car had Lincoln and the supplies we needed for him. It was also good to have a second car in case Lincoln couldn't hang or there was a change in weather and we needed to take him home. Thankfully, though, this didn't happen.
Be over prepared
This goes without saying, since it's always better to be over prepared, but I really mean it in terms of baby supplies. We had four outfits, about 15 diapers, a cooler of snacks and water (for us) and a few ready to drink bottles of formula (for Link), extra clothes for Brad and I (we've had some diaper blowout fun recently!), his carrier, and the stroller. He doesn't need much, but we made sure to bring extra supplies - which meant that on the day of we didn't use most of it.
Have understanding vendors around you
Ok, so you can't really do anything about this one, but it definitely helps! If you didn't know: babies cry. Of course we tried to minimize the disturbance, but we hoped we'd be surrounded by vendors who would be ok with a few tears being shed around them. So when the lovely vendors to our right commented on how good of a baby Lincoln was, it felt like we hit the jackpot.
But with this, have a plan for when the inevitable crankiness happens. When Lincoln was nearing nap time (which for us is about an hour and 15 minutes after he wakes up from the previous one) one of us would take him for a walk in the stroller. It let us visit other booths, scope out the goods we were going to buy, and also helped to coax him to sleep.
Always! We do these shows and I pursue this craft because we truly love it. We knew it was going to be crazy bringing a two month old, that it might be a disaster, but we were willing to give it a try. We joked with customers that their purchases were for Lincoln's college fund (but really, they were!), I wasn't afraid to look ridiculous as I tried to feed him underneath a cover (he and I are so bad at it!), and we just found ways to spend the day laughing and smiling. I'd like to think our good moods and carefree attitudes are what helped Link to be so relaxed and chill all day.
I'm sure there's so much more I can share, and will in the upcoming days and weeks. Hopefully this little recap will help another new mom out there to take the chance, eschew the critics, and find that the hustle is worth it. (And if you have any questions, of course reach out!)
From one mother hustler to another.. you got this!