Last week saw my first big convention with Liverpool Comic Con. This involved weeks of stress, and a lot of planning as I would be on my own. So with a very large suitcase packed and a holdall slung over my shoulder I was on my way making a 4 and a half hour train journey, which would take me through London and navigate some precarious escalators.
But by the time I had reached Euston I was pretty good at it and I made my next train on time. Now the nerves were starting. I was actually doing this!
I arrived in Liverpool and couldn't get an Uber like I planned so I decided (rather unwisely) to walk the mile and a bit to the exhibition centre to set up. Talk about exhausted, I must have looked a right state turning up to the loading bay.
It was time to set up and this is where I began panicking. The lay out wasn't how I planned it at home, so I had to completely change my idea for a set up and as I looked around at these big stalls with their overflowing merch it hit me. I didn't belong here. How could I have been so stupid to give up my 20 year career to travel around the UK with a suitcase full of chainmaille. One very scared phone call to Mr Maille later and I carried on with the set up.
Friday came and I put on a smile as I walked in and acted like I knew what I was doing, after all bullshit baffles brains doesn't it? I met a couple of the other traders who all made me feel welcome and also spoke about how different my stall was and I started to feel a bit better. I could do this!
People started arriving and I smiled and greeted away. There wasn't much money flowing and I was getting worried, I had bills to pay and I'm not one for dealing with failure, I was convinced I had messed up. There were tears and more phone calls. But, I'm not one for giving up on anything I choose to do, so the next day I went in fighting. I rearranged my stall taking on board what I had seen from people on the Friday and it worked!
Obviously the footfall is very different on a Saturday compared to the Friday and this helped massively. The people queuing outside snaked around the barriers and the excitement in the air was palpable. This change in atmosphere helps as a trader because you feed off it almost. I was having fun and I knew I had made the right decision. Sunday followed the same theme, except it was busier which is strange in the convention world. People flocked to my stall to play with the dragon tails and ask about commissions and I beamed with pride as I heard how I was "talented", my pieces were "so cool" and they'd never seen anything like it before. And the best part for me was meeting one of my female heroes - Lori Petty! I had loved her ever since I had watched Tank Girl.
I went back to the AirBnB exhausted but on a high. I had done it, I had survived my first big convention and I did it by myself (I never do things by half - why walk when you can run?). I'd made some new trader friends, got some tips and was brimming with ideas for my next convention - Brighton Comic Con and Gaming Festival just in case you wanted to know. But I was definitely also ready for home and seeing Mini Maille.
But I came home to increased worries over the coronavirus. It had stepped up massively and over the next few days more and more big events were postponing or cancelling. Is my new career over before it's even started? As it stands at the moment as I write this, none of the events I'm booked on to have been effected, however that could all change at a moments notice. In the meantime I'm making sure that all my stock is on the website so you can still order and I have lowered free shipping to £30 instead of £50 so those who can't get out to see me can still get some WraithMaille in their lives.
It's going to be a tough time for small businesses and the future is not as certain as it was last week. But this isn't a time for panic or bulk buying as this can cause more problems on an already overburdened society. Take care of yourselves, check in on others especially those more vulnerable - do their shopping so they don't need to risk the supermarket, but most importantly - WASH YOUR HANDS!!!!!