Framed Escapes is my new creative venture, sparked by an email from a friend and a love for California beaches and sea glass, and an inspired thought while driving to work on day. Add in a bit of good timing and a name from a friend a continent away, and, voila! Framed Escapes was born.
The email: My friend, Paris, sent me an invite to participate in a holiday gift sale that we both enjoyed shopping at last year. I don’t know what made her think I should exhibit since I never mentioned wanting to, but the email got me thinking.
The love: Since I moved back to California in 2000, I have lived a short walk from the beaches along Monterey Bay and have spent hours picking up sea glass and taking photographs of the beaches and water in daylight, storms, sunrise, and sunset. Over the last year, I started posting my photos to Facebook and got a lot of encouraging comments about them. Of course, it does help that I live in one of the most beautiful places on earth for a beach lover (and California’s coastal access is a decades-long success at protecting access to beaches for everyone).
The inspired thought: I work 45 miles away from the beach, so commuting 3x a week gives me a lot of time to think. After reading the email about the gift sale, I started thinking how to market some of my beach photographs, and maybe some of the pelican shots, too. The idea just popped into my head: photos, glass, tiny shells, and shadow boxes. Tiny beaches that share the magic of surf and sea glass in a very small and convenient way! Hmm… More thinking, a quick trip to the crafts store and create a few prototypes. Google it: nothing like it comes up, not even on etsy.com. Maybe I do have a unique idea. Send off an application to the gift sale, along with two photos of my prototypes, and posted the photos to Facebook, too.
The good timing: I was the final entry accepted to the gift sale! The organizers said no one had anything like my offerings. Hmm… that could be really good or really bad. Send in the check to confirm my entry and start going through photos for likely candidates.
The name: My friend, Robin, commented on my Facebook posting, saying that the shadow boxes looked liked Framed Escapes, and she could imagine them in cubicles, on dashboards, giving people a mini-vacation from their crisis du jour (see, she was born to write!).
So now I have two lines: Tiny Beaches (sand, surf, sun, clouds) and the Coastal Collection (sunsets, cliffs, pelicans, and pretty much anything that doesn’t feature a beach).
My first showing was at the Holiday Gift Sale in Santa Cruz, where Paris and I waited nervously the first hour as people were mostly lookie-loos and not buyers. When we sold the first Tiny Beach, we waited till the lovely buyer walked out of sight and then we high-fived! Framed Escapes had its first customer! By the end of the day, I had sold more than half of my stock and learned a lot:
My original price point was too high. The lower price sold, but my margin is razor thin right now. I need to lower the cost of materials, for starters. And the recession is still here, folks, because people are looking for bargains not big spends.
People want beaches they know: Pleasure Point, the west side beaches, Capitola, Rio. I gotta get some more local photos!
People loved the concept! Several people asked where they could buy my stuff at local galleries. Wow, never thought of that, and it makes me kind of nervous to think seriously about it. But… One woman, another vendor at the sale, insisted I should show at the annual Sea Glass convention, and she’s going to tell the organizer about me (those business cards I made were a great investment!).
So now I’ve had some great first-show feedback and it’s time to fine-tune things, improve my photo collections, and think about where I want to go next with Framed Escapes. Stay tuned.
And visit my little online storefront at framedescapes.etsy.com!