Thursday, December 29, 2011

Post-mortem of 8 days at VivoCity

A big hello to the 61 people who read my last post.

Me hubs bitched grumbled that I did not write my VivoCity post-mortem. So here it is. In detail.

My table display on Day 1. In the beginning, I had more items than I could display. It takes every ounce of discipline not to display everything I own on the counter.

You know how sometimes what works in one market may not work in another? I had used this Ikea display hanger to display my pouches before and it worked plenty. It is also a space saver. But at VivoCity, it bombed big time. I did not sell a single pouch when they were displayed on the hanger.

Then I shifted them to the counter and they started selling.

The craft market was spread over 3 areas. Mine was in the main area where the cashier is. My counter kinda faces Denizen on the left and Winter Time on the right. So if I look to my left, I want to buy tees and jeans. If I look to the right, I think of Korea. (it's the coldest country I've been to in my entire life)

I forgot to count the number of sellers but it was not too cramped. I was really grateful for that. My counter faced these two counters. The first one had two ancients selling model planes and aviation books. (they wrote the book) You're probably thinking who would buy aviation books at a craft market. Well, from my observation, they had pretty good sales. I'm shocked. Maybe they are aviation celebrities? The second counter was manned by another ancient with her daughter. They sell jewellery. The elder lady is pretty feisty. Do not mess with her. In the beginning the old lady just scowled at me. I have no idea what I did but as the days passed, she started smiling at me and occasionally gave me an approving nod. Gosh, I felt like a young girl visiting my grandma all over again.

I made the most sales on the first 3 days. Okay, I confess. 3/4 of my stock was wiped out in those 3 days. I think my sales only started taking off in the late afternoon on Saturday 17th December. So for a few hours, I was worried sick wondering, where's the crowd, where's the crowd. Once the crowd came, there was not a moment to run to the restroom or have a meal. I had to strategise and "saving my pee" was my solution. I also ate during the off-peak hours.

Although I had my 2 elves to help out occasionally, there were long periods when I manned the counter alone. My kids turned into mall kids. They spent money like they owned the mall. My girl surprised me with her ability to navigate the mall. I'm only familiar with a small section of the mall and once I got so lost after going to buy food I almost gave up and went home. VivoCity is a huge place. The signage is pretty bad too. People asked me for direction all day. I usually ask someone else to help them. Later I decided to find out where the popular shops are so I could give directions. People who approach me for directions - they're usually on the verge of tears after wandering around in circles. Oh, wait. That was me.

I was shocked that sales were good on Day 3 which was a Monday. But really, it was no surprise. You see, when I showed up in the morning, there were 2 long queues next to my counter. See these people  had come to redeem their receipts for a stuffed bear or a ipod nano. I think to get the ipod nano, you need to have spent $5,200. We really benefited from these redeemers.

I had average sales for the next 5 days. My stock had dwindled so much that I was worried that it would not hold the interest of any customers.

So I made more. How did I do it? I think I have superhuman will power. Twice me hubs and kids manned the counter in the evening and I went home. Once to sew and once to sleep.

Believe me. All I wanted to do was sleep. It was exhausting. It was so exhausting that sometimes I would black out for a very short while. I don't mean become unconscious. It was more like time stood still and everything became slow motion. During that few seconds, my brain took a tiny teeny nap and then I awaken again to attend to the customers.

You know how when I make my pouches, I would handsew the gaps last? This I did while at the counter and once a customer spotted a pouch I was working on and bought it on the spot. They actually waited for me to sew up the gap. It was nerve wrecking. And I forgot to take pics of the pouch.

But I did take pics of this houses zip pouch which was sewn at the counter and the sewing machine portion was done at home. It was sold within an hour of putting it on the counter.

I don't want you to get the idea that my bags and pouches were that popular. It was just that shoppers were looking to buy presents and maybe they were desperate. But I felt so happy. I felt like I owned VivoCity.

Remember my upside down bag? I wanted to be sure customers understood what they were getting and informed each interested party about the fabric placement. I was really embarrassed to sell it and feared the customer's reaction. I madly imagined them screaming at me:

Are you crazy? You want me to buy an upside down bag?

On the other hand, I was also very interested to see who this fearless lady would be.

Meet Agnes. (forgive me if I got your name wrong! the chaos, the exhaustion, the black outs...) She is the fearless one and the coolest chick in VivoCity!. She had no qualms carrying an upside down bag and gamely posed for pics too. Plus, she bought a zip pouch which I had secretly been wondering who it would go to.

Yes, my heart with wings zip pouch. I have a thing for heart with wings but I rarely make them as it is hard to sell them. Only a tiny number of women would go for them. Yep, my heart almost burst into song (Abba's mama mia) when Agnes bought it too. Cool.

This was the last bag I sold. It was also a bag that gave me a lot of fun. Take a good look at it. Do you see the skulls? This bag got a lot of attention especially towards the end when I had hardly anything left.

Okay, I'm going to be boastful and say that after 2.5 years of selling since April 2009, I'm a pretty good judge of who would buy the niche bags such as skulls and roses. And I'm basing this simply on the way the customer dresses herself.

Most of the women who came to grope the bag DID NOT see the skulls. They would come very close and admire the roses and wait for it... sure enough, they would jump out of their skin and scream. At first I was a little concerned. I mean, who wants her bag to scare people? But as the days dragged, it became my amusement.

Yes, I'm so evil. Oh, come on. 8 very long days and 12/13 hours daily not including commute time.

Sometimes I would laugh so hard I had to crouch down to hide my face. But I was human too. Once an elderly woman went for the bag and I quickly took it away. I did not want to be responsible for a death.

Speaking of which, on one of the days, a security/police guard shot himself in the head in a toilet on the same floor that I was. I guess Bedok Reservoir was too far. Yep, evil again. I did not hear the shot and we only learnt about it through facebook.

Later alligator.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The train! The train!

In Singapore, you're screwed if the trains break down.

Oh, how rude of me.... A big hello to the 78 people who read my last post.

Now, where was I? Yes, public transportation in Singapore. It is very expensive to own a car in tiny Singapore so public transportation is very important as most people depend on it. To be honest, I've gotten so used to the public transportation running so smoothly for years that the idea of it not running smoothly is beyond my imagination.

On 15th December when many train stations were shut down after a major screw-up, I started to get worried. On 16th December where 4 trains failed again, I got really nervous. See, I needed the trains to be working between 17th December to 24th December for me to get to VivoCity. Not only that, I needed 3 different train lines to work.

17th December was alright for me. I took a taxi. On 18th December, after spending 13 hours at VivoCity the previous night attending to a massive crowd, I forced myself out of bed and left for the train station to VivoCity.

This was what greeted me. The station was shuttered!!! Man, I was soooo pissed. Every bad word I had learnt from the time I was born came to my head.

I went to check the signage and saw that the trains were planned to run only from 10am. Usually it starts I dunno, 6am? But it was 10am. Then I saw that 10am was crossed out and replaced with 11am. Ah.

I was directed to take a shuttle bus to the nearest bus interchange. I walked to the bus stop and it was the most horrific sight. There were people everywhere. I immediately tried to call for a taxi. Haha. I guess everyone else was doing the same thing. I could not even get a tone. The call just got dropped. I silently hated Singtel. But I kept trying.

Eventually, I gave up and queued up for a shuttle bus. Everyone in the queue wasn't really sure if we were in the right queue. It was really annoying. Somehow I was swept along and got into a bus. When it reached a bus interchange (which had another massive crowd of people), I went to check the bus info and was delighted there was a direct bus to VivoCity. I confirmed with a few people just to be sure.

When my direct bus to VivoCity came, I told the driver my destination and if I was on the right bus. He said yes but I had to alight "outside" as he did not enter VivoCity. No problem. I sat down next to a woman and I immediately asked her if she was familiar with the route. I wanted to be sure I did not miss my stop. The woman became concerned when she learnt I was heading for VivoCity. She was very sure the bus would not stop at VivoCity as it was an express bus.

I don't know what kind of express bus it was, but it was very slow. After 30 minutes, the driver stopped at a bus-stop and yelled and gestured at me to alight. I got off the bus. It was raining heavily and I looked around to orientate myself. To my horror, I realised I was opposite IMM building which is in the west. I had travelled for 30 minutes from north-west to west and nowhere near VivoCity which is in the south. The rain started to pelt down heavily - like man-size fist kind of rain drops. I had no umbrella and I felt like bursting into tears. I started calling for a taxi when I saw a green light approaching. I waved at it and the taxi stopped! How rare is that?

The taxi was a limousine so it was very comfortable. The driver made the mistake of asking me if the trains were running and I poured out all my transportation problems to him. Everything from start to end in detail. The poor guy. I think he was just expecting a yes or no.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Hi Honey, I'm home!

Hello friends,

I've been away. Yes, I miss me too. See, I moved into a mall - VivoCity for 8 days to sell my bags and stuff. Yesterday was the last day.

I often read fb/twitter/blog updates of how this person or that person "had a blast". And I may possibly have claimed to have "had a blast" in the past. But my friends, I never really knew what "had a blast" meant till 8 days @VivoCity. For the first time since I started selling in 2009, I can truly say:

I had a blast!

I had such a blast that......
♫ I blacked out a few times. (no worries, it was just for a few nanoseconds)
♫ I went totally deaf a few times. (no worries, it was just for a few nanoseconds)
♫ I lost 2kg!!!
♫ Once I was walking and suddenly I forgot if I was going to VivoCity or going home (it turned out i was just heading for the restroom)

Every fantasy I've ever had as a seller came true. You know the one where your stock flies off the table? And you fear you don't have enough stock? And you try your best to make more and the minute you place it on the table for sale it gets sold immediately? And so you make more and bam! bam! bam! they all get sold?

Yep. All that happened. It was beautiful. It was magical. I will never forget it. I'll always have 8days @VivoCity!

This is what's left of my stock.

I wish all my readers:
♥♥♥ Happy Holidays.♥♥♥

I'll write my post-mortems in a while. Ta ta for now.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The winner of my awesome fabric/pattern giveaway

Hello dear friends,

It's Sunday in Singapore. I've just returned from a very successful Saturday craft market at VivoCity. It ended at 11pm. It took another half hour to get a taxi.....

Alright, alright, I know you want to know who the winner of my awesome fabric/pattern giveaway is.

A total of 415 entries were received. Thank you all. Most of you were game enough and looked out your window for me. It was awesome reading what you saw. Some strange and some very interesting views. I enjoyed every single entry.

And Mr Random.Org chose....

Lucky number 132.

This was 132's entry.

Are you Mary? Congrats. And sorry about your sick tree. I've emailed you. If you don't respond by Tuesday 20th Dec 8am Singapore time, I'll have to generate another number.

See you guys soon. Another 7 more days of VivoCity to go. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

All I want for the next 8 days....

Dear Santa,

All I want for the next 8 days at VivoCity Craft Market:

I don't fall sick.
Good sales.
No run-in with any crazy bitches.

p.s. if it's not too much trouble, get the Abercrombie & Fitch boys to visit VivoCity (level one, facing Denizen) anytime from 11am to 10pm (Saturday 17th to next Saturday 24th)

Done salivating? 

This week's been hectic. I made it a point to do the price tagging, packing, finishing mid-week. And I got the kids to help. Yes, nerves were frayed (mostly mine) as always when I get the kids involved. But I was dead tired. So glad I have 2 kids. Today is Friday and I'm relaxed as there's no need to rush like usual. 

Speaking of frayed nerves, in Singapore yesterday, the MRT (like subway) suffered a major breakdown. Passengers had to be evacuated (walk thru' dark tunnels), windows were smashed by over-anxious passengers to let in AIR and thousands had to find alternative ways to go home. My kids and hubs were on the train when they heard the announcement that the trains are delayed. I think they got lucky they managed to get the last few running trains. During those moments when they were wondering what was going on, I went to twitter to see what's happening but it was just confusion and questions. That is always the biggest problem. Lack of timely information. When the train reached the stop where we live, me hubs said the carriage sounded like it was breaking apart. I'm just glad everyone got home safe and sound. I hope the transport minister will fix our "world-class" transport system soon. Either that or strike out "world-class". Btw, the breakdown was caused by failure in the 3rd rail. Never heard of the 3rd rail? Neither have I. It's the rail that supplies electricity to the trains.

I have a few bags to show you. First, 3 crossbody bags. I made the straps adjustable.

Houses anyone?

More houses?

I've used the ricco-ricco fabric before. And yes, I've a thing for houses. 

This cross-body bag is in linen-cotton.

Ricco-ricco houses in its magnificence.

Okay, some people like the beige/brown/minimalist look.

And some odds and ends.

The next 8 days are going to be gruelling. I have to be at VivoCity for 12hours every day. If it doesn't kill me, it will make me stronger. See you on Sunday when I announce the winner of my awesome fabric/pattern giveaway. Have you entered?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Enter my awesome fabric/patterns giveaway

Giveaway is closed. The winner is Mary. See this post.


Today is December 12, and Sew Mama Sew is organizing a Giveaway day. Click here if you want the list of other blogs which are participating. (it starts 6am PST Dec 12)

What I have up for grabs are:
1 yard of my favourite fabric by Kokka
a bunch of Japanese FQ
4 of my PDF bag sewing patterns

Winner takes all.

An aerial view of the fabric.

View from the front.

One more look from the top.

These are my 4 PDF bag sewing patterns. understand you have to make the bags yourself? And if you win, you need not use the fabric you've won to make these bags. So no worries!

Love what you see?

Here's how:
♥ Leave a comment. 1 comment per person, please. If you can't think of what to write, look out your window and tell me what you see! Duplicates will be deleted.
♥ If your email is not tied to your profile, please leave your email address in your comment.
♥ Open worldwide. (You must have a valid shipping address - no P.O. boxes please.)
♥ Ends December 16 5pm PST
♥ One winner will be decided by Mr Random.Org and announced on December 18, Sunday.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Come to my boudoir

You know the romance has gone out of your marriage when you leave a note for your hubs which says:
Come to my boudoir and I will make you very happy.
Hubs comes home from work late at night, reads the note and IMMEDIATELY guesses correctly that the Black Friday items he had ordered has arrived and they are on the bed.

As it turned out, the packages were items he had ordered for me so he was totally crushed.

Yes, life in this household is ever so exciting....

Ever since I casually mentioned to hubs that I might accessorize myself in something Christmasy when I sell at VivoCity next weekend (for 8 days), hubs has gone nuts trying to find something for me. He totally loves shopping so it's almost like my gift to him.

I don't know how long he hunted but he managed to find this very light scarf at a shop in Singapore. I like it. It's really soft.

Would you believe hubs bought this Handmade scarf from a folksy shop? Yes, I couldn't believe it myself too. It's so cute. I think I will rock this scarf.

The santa's hat is for my girl. She has been practising looking emo in it. I think we're all set for Christmas. Oh, oh, if I can get the twirly sparkly thingy, I will hang them on my counter too.

Today I decided to take a short break from sewing as I feel my muscle ache creeping up. I've been really sewing my head off and it's getting a bit tiring. Let me show you what I've made. It's all stripes and checks. If stripes and checks don't sell, I'm dead.

The return of the poufy pouch. I tried to stay away. I did. But I couldn't help myself.

Zip pouches to pay the rent.

I'm starting to like these gift pouches.

I thought some sexy zippy wristlets in checks and stripes won't hurt.

And lunchtime pouches in these stripes and checks are so sweet! Love, love them. But man, I'm really tired. Time to zzzzzzzz.

Come back Monday for my awesome fabric/pattern giveaway, you hear? Have a fab weekend.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Can anyone tell me what's wrong with this fab fabric?

The minute I saw this piece of fabric I knew I had a winner. It's a Alexander Henry anime print of a dragon princess. Pretty cartoon girl, with black and gold orange/red. Plus Chinese characters. (or maybe Japanese characters?) All the right elements.

I was so wrong. I have made a total of 4 items from this fabric and I've only sold a grand total of ONE. Can anyone tell me what's wrong with this fabric? It's my money losing fabric. My worst performing fabric. My white elephant. I have the desire to make the rest of it into scarves.

This "Get up and go go" sling bag I gifted to myself. I use it at craft markets. And I've received many "where did you get this"?

And I have another similar bag for sale but no one would buy it. They would get attracted to the fabric but buy it? No. Customers have told me the fabric is too childish for a woman and not suitable for a kid. Me hubs has told me the similar bag I gifted to myself is too kiddy for me.

I'm finally sewing like a maniac. I have a total of 5 "Get Up And Go Go" sling bags. I hope I've chosen winning fabric this time around. Btw, heads up. My photos are all shaky today. I was just in time to catch the dying sun and it was thundering and lightning like crazy. And lightning makes me nervous even though I'm in my balcony. Still I don't want to take chances. Getting killed by lightning in Singapore is a very real risk.

Usually I do not sell the bags which I use for my ePatterns. My plan is to house them in a small glass cabinet and stare at them in my retirement. But I have a lot of the pseudo patchwork fabric so I made one more. Incidentally, this is a winning fabric. :)

This fabric called out to me for its colour. Yellow-green. I feel faint when I see yellow-green fabric. Another two colours that take my breath away are teal and turquoise.

Stripes always work for other bags but this is the first time I've made a "Get Up And Go Go" sling bag with this fabric. Sometimes you just can't tell.

Mama mia. This checked fabric really rocks this sling bag. If no one buys it, I'll gift it to myself. Ah yes, the occupational hazard of a bag-maker.

I thought the linen-cotton would look so good on this bag. Am I right? I've just received this fabric so it's still too early to tell if customers will like this fabric. You know, I've been wrong so many times before. But my bet is this is going to be a small winner. Let's face it. Linen-cotton is very niche. You know, once the Christmas craft markets are over, I'm going to make myself a large linen-cotton bag. Man, I wish I make clothes as well.


Oh, hey. Thanks guys for all your suggestions about what to do with my upside-down bag. Your ideas are all nutty so I totally LOVE them.


Remember me hubs had 2 out of 3 moles surgically removed? Here's a photo of his new look. Yep, he exchanged his moles for scars. Also, interestingly, since he removed his first mole, he has had a serious bout of hives, tripped and fallen badly while crossing the road and discovered a lump at the back of his head. I hope nothing else serious happens.

Lastly, I'm having a fabric giveaway on Monday!!!!!!!!!  See you in a couple of days. 10 sewing days left till my craft market at VivoCity.

Monday, December 5, 2011

I'm crying on the outside and crying on the inside

Dear family, friends and people I've never met,

How are you? Yes, Monday, the beginning of a new week. A fresh start. Not for me. Do you know what it's like to sit in a pile of poo? Me neither. But close.

I had been struggling to get into the sewing groove and finally I got on a roll. I made a bag other than a zip pouch and drawstringy thing. An actual bag with zippers and handles and pockets. Here it is.

See anything wrong with it?

Now look at the back. Yep, I did the stupidest thing. I cut the fabric upside down for the front. So my cats and houses and ferris-wheels are upside-down. For some reason, I thought the fabric is non-directional. Sidebar: isn't the fabric gorgeous? It's yellow-green which is my weakness. Don't show me any yellow-green fabric because I will buy a bolt of it. The houses are the bonus. It's also a linen-cotton blend. Clearly a winner.

I slaved over this bag. See the front zip pocket? These pockets are a bitch to make. It had an inside patched pocket too. And I experimented. I used bindings to hide the raw edges inside and it worked. I used tiny pleats at the bottom to create some playfulness. Oh god, I want to kick myself in the face.

My plan is to sell it at Vivocity at a big discount with a buyer's beware note. Hope it works. Because I can't look at it anymore.

When my heaving and sobbing finally subsided, (a bag of chips did the trick) I made another crescent bag to make myself feel better. This time I wanted to be 100% sure the fabric is non-directional. I made sure by actually looking at the fabric.

Isn't it gorgeous? It's made of linen-cotton - what else? The print is something abstract by a Japanese artist. The texture of the fabric is rough - but a good kind of rough. You know, luxurious rough.

Linking up to a few parties:
Young and crafty
Family ever after
504 Main
Skip to my lou
Ninth Street Notions
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