For those who have been following me and my author journey, you know that I’ve been posting pics and videos of things I’ve been gathering to prepare for my first vendor event as an author, which just so happens to be for a Juneteenth Soul Festival. I have shared the highlights of getting my stickers, to table décor, to bookmarks, to my recent beautiful wooden character cutout display. Well, the week of the event, I reached out to the event coordinator to inquire about the specific details on the location of the event and if I need to bring anything additional for setup. Apparently, I may have missed or been left off of one of the communications that was forwarded that mentioned bringing a tent. Hmm…Being a part of a children’s author Facebook group, I had seen a few authors use tents but others not so much, so I did a little research on finding the perfect tent. Bingo, I found one! Only available online from the sporting goods store and it’s purple, I think it’s a winner. So I posted on my fellow authors’ FB group page to see if this was a good one. Most people replied that it was a nice color but if looking for something long-term, it may be beneficial to get a while one as some events require that color. A white one? Not as fun as purple but ok. By the time I made a decision, it was already Friday evening. I figured it was now last minute and I still had some other things to finish up in prep for the early morning setup. I said to myself “I’ll be alright without a tent. It’s only like 6 hours. I’ve been in the sun longer than that in STL & Mississippi”. I load everything I need into my vehicle this evening so that I have no chance of forgetting anything.
Saturday morning, I wake Mariah (10 year old daughter) up as we head to the event for setup. I took her along for two reasons: (1) It’s always good to have an extra hand to assist with events, whether it’s décor or helping the little kids color and put their paper hats on, etc. (2) She has this grand idea of having her own little business at the present age, so I want o allow her the experience of seeing how sales go at vendor events and interactions with customers. She has done very well as cookie booths previously with being a Girl Scout, but the more experience, the better. The vendors are supposed to begin setting up around 10 but we arrive closer to 9:30 to ensure we have a dedicated place to park and get familiar with where we need to setup. Plus, the area that we were in was a little, what the kids call today, ‘sus’, so wanted to scope out the surroundings and also begin to interact to network and meet other vendors. I park rather close to my table so if I need to run back and forth, I’m only a few feet away from the car. By 10:30, we are all setup and sitting in our chairs. My table is decked out (see pics below) with my books, little coloring hats that read “Happy Juneteenth” for kids to color and wear, crayons, hand sanitizer, character cutout in the front, and my retractable banner that reads “Meet the Author”. Typical kid-fashion, Mariah says “can I get something to drink? When are we going to eat?” I’m thinking, “Girl, we haven’t even started getting customers in yet and you’re already making requests?” But I am a considerate mom and her dad packed us a nice cooler of beverages and snacks in the car so I tell her that she can feel free to grab some water, snacks, and chill out with the air on in the car for a bit. The event is open to the public around 12pm so at this point we have an hour remaining. I begin to keep busy by finding ways to prevent my banner from blowing down with the wind, re-stacking my books, putting stickers on my bags, and straightening items on the table. As I adjust my little coloring hats and crayons, I notice that my table cloth and the hats looked soiled. By golly, these crayons have melted. OMG! First lesson learned, be sure to store your crayons away from direct sunlight lol. As I look around, everyone has a tent, except me. I’m ok though and keep telling myself “girl you’re an OG triple OG from St. Louis”. This heat is nothing. Plus, I was loving the sun on my back and made myself laugh thinking of remixing the Soul Glo song with Melanin Glo.
It’s finally noon and folks are starting to arrive. I’m excited and nervous at the same time. My heart felt proud to be amongst so many African-American entrepreneurs and the true atmosphere of soul, from the music playing to the soul food/authentic cuisine food trucks. My booth is sandwiched between vendors on my left selling bath bombs/beauty butters and vendors on my right selling sunglasses and hot girl summer clothing. They were making a nice amt of sales and I was just standing there waving thinking “come on now, we have to get this book into the community for these kids. Support African-American authors!” And then, I made my first sale! Throw the confetti. It went very smoothly and felt so good to give them a bag with my autographed book inside. Unfortunately, while I was processing their payment, I started seeing black spots and stomach started hurting from IBS flare-up. So I quickly sat down once I was done with the customer. I can recall one of my fellow authors expressing how important it was to look presentable and stand up as if you’re interested in them but I think I was taking that a little too much to heart. Mariah went and grabbed herself a large slush. I drank a few mini bottles of water, ran to the car for a 5 minute “cool-off”, then returned to ask Mariah to get me a slush as well. By that time, it was about 2pm. Sales were really picking up. Surprisingly, I had a lot of dads and granddads that bought the book for their little ones. So word to the wise, don’t forget about the fellas. One grandfather really w