shopping small at one of a kind holiday show

Did you attend the 20th One of a Kind Holiday Show? If you didn't, you really should next year. The show had 400 artists and makers this year. In non-pandemic times they have about 600 artists. It's was an impressive mix of goods. Seriously. You could easily do all your shopping there. They had everything. I was fortunate to have a couple hours Friday and Sunday mornings to wander the aisles, talk to makers and shop for gifts. And boy did I! Gifts to give and several to keep. It's the largest retail show we've ever been part of. I saw an amazing variety of art, sculpture, home goods, pottery, beauty products, clothing, shoes, purses, jewelry, culinary delights, pens, and all price ranges too. It was impressive and a little overwhelming at first. Below is a roundup of the goodies I invested in. I also had some amazing trades with vendors. I'll do a separate post with those. Be sure to visit the artist page on the One of a Kind Holiday Show.


Left to Right, Top to Bottom
People's Garment Co. - these shirts are beautifully designed and based on forgotten history. I got my Mr. a "made in Chicago" shirt, he's the only person I know actually made in Chicago.
Soap Distillery - the best soaps based off everyone's favorite cocktails. I love taking baths on my day off and got the Tonic Mineral Salt Soak. It smells of woody citrus and relaxes me completely. My skin feels nourished for the entire week. Pure magic and the stuff bath time dreams are made of! You won't wanna leave the tub.
Katherine Anne Confections - I have a thing for caramel. I can't resist the buttery deliciousness. Every time I do an event with Katherine Anne Confections, I get caramels, this time was no different, except I also got truffles, drinking chocolate and cinnamon sugar marshmallows. Merry Christmas to me!
Yellowcake Shop - this dress is so damn flattering and feminine. I got it in black and am sure it will be a staple. It has pockets and I absolutely adore it! Check out their Chicago boutique on Western Avenue. Beautiful, flattering clothing in extended sizes!? Yes, please!

 one of a kind shopping

Left to Right, Top to Bottom
Dave's Coffee Cake - another vendor I can't resist! I buy Dave's triple cinnamon coffee cakes every, single time I see them. Seriously, they're perfect for family gatherings or Sunday brunch.
Six Point Pet - Every year Scooby-Doo gets a new Six Point Pet collar. He just looks so good in them. The Mr. prefers the Chicago flag but this year, I changed it up to a Chicago style hot dog - because he is truly a hot dog.
Transit Tees - I saw these Chicago dog socks and had to get them for my Mr. We visited Superdawg weekly during 2020, it was the only restaurant that works during a pandemic - an actual drive-in. While we cut back on our hot dog consumption this year, we still visit Superdawg monthly for the best dawgs in Chicago. A perfect stocking stuffer for Mr. Favorite.
Old Salt Merchants - I have foodie friends who love grilling. What a perfect gift - a Custom Sampler Gift Set of six delicious salts. I also got a Cocktail Kit Gift Set, which I'm very excited for my personal spirit guide (aka bartender) to make drinks with.

One of a Kind shopping

Left to Right
Bonnie Skincare - as mentioned before, I'm all about relaxing baths on days off. Cloud Bombs by Bonnie Skincare have become a staple. They slowly release the most dreamy scents while dissolving into a soft cloud on top of bath water. My skin feels amazing after and bonus - my tub isn't left slippery. Perfect for our long Midwest winters.
Lila Barn Clothing - this top is so incredibly soft and comfortable. I fell in love with the hand-dyed pattern and magical colors. Truly spellbinding and perfectly named - Witchy. Bergen insisted I try it on, I think she knew I couldn't resist. Once on, I didn't want to take it off! Each item in the Witchy Collection is hand-dyed and one of kind. Better hurry, they sell fast.

I had such a wonderful time shopping One of a Kind and meeting new artists, as well as catching up with old friends. What a great reentry to in-person shows. I got lots of gifts checked off my list and loved being part of the show. The artist page is still online, be sure to check it out for more amazing artists.

how to write a thank you note

The holidays are the perfect time of year to share gratitude. Whether it be for hosting you for dinner, a perfect (or maybe not-so-perfect gift), an errand, an unexpected visit or thoughtful act, a thank you note is always a good idea. Many of us have gotten out of the habit of writing thank you notes and might need a little refresher on the how to's. Below are the simple steps on how to write a thank you note.

First, the greeting.
This can be formal, informal or even friendly, it depends on the relationship with the person. Most likely you wouldn't use the same greeting for Great-Aunt Gladys as you would for your next door neighbor. Same goes for business relationships verses your friend. Examples below:
• Dear Great-Aunt Gladys,
• Dear Smith Family,
• Mr. & Mrs. Johnson,
• Jaime!

Next, your gratitude.
It's best to get straight to the point. Let the recipient know your thankful for the gift, kind words, thoughtful gesture, friendship or whatever. Be sure to mention exactly what it is your thankful for.
• Your gift of my favorite homemade cookies with recipe was perfect.
• Thank you for checking my mail while I was out of town.
• I appreciate you inviting us over for dinner.
• Thank you for listening to me go on and on about work.

Followed by, specifics.
While saying thank you is great, it's even better when you let them know how it affects you. Get into the specifics of why you're thankful. Perhaps you've been wanting that recipe for years. There's a reason you're appreciative for the gift, act or time spent, share that.
• I've enjoyed your holiday cookies since I was a kid and am thankful you shared the recipe so I can enjoy them with my family and friends too.
• I completely forgot to put my mail on hold while I was gone. I appreciate you taking the time to gather it for me.
• I appreciate getting to know you better and enjoyed the delicious food and drink.
• You are amazing and I love that I can always count on you. Your perspective has a way of helping me process.

Again, your gratitude.
Tie up the note with another thank you. It can be simple or flowery but state it again.
• I appreciate you sharing your recipe with me, thank you.
• Thank you, you put my mind at ease while away.
• Thank you.
• I appreciate you so much. Thank you.

End with a sign off.
Again, it can be formal, informal or friendly.
• With Love,
• Best,
• Many Thanks,
• xoxo,

It's best to send your thank you within a month. If it's later that's okay, still send it and consider adding a simple apology to start, "time has gotten away from me but..." or "I've been meaning to...".

Something else to consider, stationery. A card can make or break a message. My friend shared with me she was hired after she chose individual thank you cards for each person she spoke with at the firm. When they got together the following week to discuss candidates, her thank you notes were mentioned and everyone went back to their offices to get their cards to show. It became a thank you note show-and-tell! She obviously made an impression and got the job.

Basically, choose appropriate stationery for both the situation and recipient. Our f@$%ing amazing card may be perfect for your friend but not Great-Aunt Gladys.

Spend time crafting your message and even practice on scratch paper to make sure your spelling and wording are correct.

The best thank you notes are handwritten, to the point with your own wording and sentiment. That's it, simple and to the point. Now, stop procrastinating. Start writing!

warmest holiday wishes to you!

a. with best hidden gem award

friends, family, customers & collaborators,
as we wrap up the holiday season, i want to thank you so much for supporting my letterpress dream this year! i’m thankful for each and every purchase, kind word, like and share. you are the reason i can keep creating and selling my letterpress goods. this year has been a roller coaster but you stepped up to let me know, you too believe in the magic of snail mail.

thank you, my heart is full.

i hope you have some time to reflect on this year and take pride in how you showed up for all the small businesses and your community. we’re here because of you, every purchase you make is a vote for what businesses you want in your neighborhood, city and state. thanks for keeping us around.

warmest holiday wishes to you all! i hope you have a very healthy and happy 2022, here's hoping this is the year we all get it right.

-xo, a.

p.s. please note the brick & mortar will be closed friday, december 24th 2021 thru january 6th 2022. see you after the 6th!

what goes into an in-person show

one of a kind showFor the first time in two years, we decided to do an in-person show. We participated in the 20th One of a Kind Holiday Show. It was a big decision, as the cost is much more and it's twice as long as most. I usually only participate in a couple shows a year, Revolution Craft Fair and Show of Hands. I knew pretty early on SOH wouldn't be an in person show and while visiting Revolution Brewing we learned they weren't hosting any vendor events this year. Knowing this, I decided to look for other show options. I've considered OOAK for a couple years, and during that one magical month this summer, when COVID rates were dropping and mask mandates disappeared, I reached out to them. They weren't accepting applications at the time but said they'd reach out if any vendors chose not to show. Not too long after, I got an email inviting me to apply. I talked it over with my voice of reason, (aka Mr. Favorite), who asked me not to do the show. His reasoning was I didn't have enough help, have a shop to run too, and based on my past, I'd likely run myself ragged and get sick. I of course, don't know why he'd think that, and my gut was telling me to do it. I had heard only good things from fellow makers so I decided to take the leap and make the investment.

Once I received the acceptance email, I began reaching out to friends, former employees and interns for help. As it turns out, a lot has happened in the last year and many people have completely changed jobs, schedules and locations. I started thinking Mr. Favorite might be right. Thankfully an amazing

former intern stepped up, as well as a customer who expressed interest in working with me years ago. Hooray! Next up, booth design.

booth design

I spent most of my down time August thru end of October designing and planning my booth. When the booth assignments came out, I had an unexpected pole in my booth, which meant back to the drawing board. If I remember correctly, I went through four different designs of the booth. My focus was to use displays and elements I already had. Although, I did invest in more acrylic card shelves, like the ones in the shop, which I'm hoping to repurpose in the shop when I expand our card wall later this year.

My main goals for the booth were:
-stand out from the crowd
-welcoming and open environment
-easy to shop
-on brand with my storefront
-single cards to be the feature
-accessible but invisible back stock in the booth
-table or shelves to display packs, pencils, coasters, etc.
-a checkout area that hid bags, change, snack, tools, etc.

booth set up

It was a 10x10 space with three walls to work with. I debated whether to paint my walls or cover them with graphics. Thankfully, Sarah from Bonnie Skincare mentioned that I could pay the show to cover my walls with any colored paper I wanted. The additional cost was worth it! My booth definitely stood-out in a sea of white booths. I even heard customers say, "here's the blue booth we wanted to come back to." First goal, achieved!


Next up, make it easy to shop. The acrylic card shelves made it easy for customers to see our designs at a quick glance. Plus, the cards really stood out against the blue paper I chose for wall covering. In addition, I also had a lot of holiday card packs and gift items to display, with no room to fit them on the wall. I wanted to build or create tables with space underneath to hide our back stock too. After much consideration, I decided to purchase an 8' x 12" board to run across the side wall and a 6" x 24" shelf for the back wall. 12" is slender enough customers could move in and around the booth easily and the 24" shelf on the back wall could hold more items and perfect for holiday card packs. I reused some old type cases to create a facade in front of the shelving, making them look like actual furniture. However, they were hinged together so I could easily move the type cases, with access back stock without disturbing the shelf display. Win-Win! This simple but smart idea helped me achieve standing out in the crowd, creating a welcoming environment, ease of shopping, on brand with my store, accessible to back stock in the booth while hiding it and having areas to display packs, pencils, coasters, etc.

card wall

The final goal was to have a checkout area to hold all the bags, snacks, tools and randomness that goes along with doing a four day show. I have an giant old steamer trunk that was given to me bay a circus clown, (true story, ask me about it sometime), that I use in the shop on as a low table. I decided it would make a perfect checkout. It has four drawers on the right side with an open area on the left. It worked perfectly and fit right in with my vintage aesthetic. Plus, I didn't have to buy anything new. I also repurposed some old cloth bins I purchased years ago when Paperboy, (the amazing stationery store) closed. These were the perfect shape and height for holding gift wrap. Another win!

DIY sign

Once I had my booth designed, I got to work staining boards, hinging type cases and making my sign. It was a true DIY sign created with a quilt hoop, logo decal, frosted shower curtain, paper, spray paint and LED light strand. It turned out great! I'm guessing the next sign I make will be a little more refined but for the time and budget I had, I was very resourceful and made it work.

holiday product

The next hurdle, making sure we had enough product. This is where my helpers shined! I had several people coming in one to days a week just to focus on show product. Folding, scoring, packaging and quality control fell on their shoulders while I printed my days away. I spent my evenings packaging pencils, stationery and coasters. Several makers shared stories of selling out of items after the second day in previous years and I wanted to make sure that didn't happen. I may have over-compensated, especially for a pandemic in-person show but the peace of mind was worth it. Plus, I have a storefront location that always needs restocking. We sold out of a couple items but I doubt anyone even noticed. The majority of the customers were new to me. Another win in my book.


The show was a great success! I loaded in with ease. Set up went well despite the fact my blue walls weren't set up when we arrived. Move-out is always a long process and a lesson in patience but it was also smooth. The best part of the show was seeing maker friends and chatting with customers. I missed you all so much, it's truly amazing how full my heart feels. The maker community are really the finest humans there are. Danielle from Soap Distillery stopped by the first day for a hug, realized it was my first OOAK show and checked in throughout the show to see if I needed a water or restroom break. So. Frickin. Thoughtful. Another HUGE bonus of doing in-person shows - trades with fellow vendors. I got to trade goods with several vendors, including Sophia Reyes for the most amazing sweatshirt. I discovered some new makers and made some really exciting gift purchases. I also made some new friends, it was amazing. The entire weekend filled me with warm fuzzies.

set up

Thanks to all who shopped with us, signed up for our emails and followed us on socials. Thanks to all my maker friends, you guys make me feel like I belong. Thanks to OOAK for creating a show during a pandemic where I felt safe and people showed up ready to buy and creating a show where makers are valued. And a HUGE thanks to Sarah, Tom and Susy. You guys show up for me again and again and there's no possible way I could've done it without you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. We'll see you all next year!