6 tips for hosting a fabulous rustic sign fundraiser

Here you are…you need to raise money for something. You need people to “buy “ into your reasoning and want to help you. Sure, it would be easy to start a crowd funding page and hope that people will donate to it…but what if you made a night out of it? You know, socialized with people? Gave them something to want to spend their money on?

Actual physical fundraisers are an amazing concept and can help you to raise some money for a cause that you are passionate about, and/or need cash for.  Maybe you are running in some sort of charity marathon, or you are starting a small business and need some capital.  Maybe you are running away to live alone in a foreign country with none of your belongings and are hoping that some people are going to help you out a little bit financially.  Maybe you want a nose job.  I don’t know. 

What I DO know is that you are hoping to raise some money for something important to you.  We can definitely help with this- why don’t you have a rustic sign workshop fundraiser? Here’s a few things to know before you decide to go ahead with any sort of fundraising event:

1.       You’re going to have to do some work and put some thought into it. You will have to have a great cause to get people to want to help you.  You’ll need to be raising money for something that is worthy enough that your friends, family, co-workers, neighbors,… basically everyone you know who is willing to support you…or at least likes you enough to support whatever you are planning to raise money for. You’ll want them to “buy in” in order to get the turnout you need to make all of your hard work worth it.

2.      People need notice!  Don’t plan a fundraiser in a week and expect everyone you know to be able to drop everything to attend.  Sure, they love you, but people have lives, you know. 

3.      HUSTLE: Your guest list isn’t going to make itself!  At Riverstone Rustic Sign workshops, we are more than happy to create an event for you with all your information.  We’ll make some special designs if you want, or we’ll offer different options of projects, like porch signs, farmhouse framed signs, round signs…we have it all…but YOU will need to make sure that you do everything you can to advertise and get butts in seats.  That’s how you make the money for your cause.   

4.      Pick a location that is appropriate for your event.  Whether it’s at your home, or a pub, or a community hall. You’ll want to consider lighting (it needs to be bright), space, and tables that accommodate however many guests to plan to have.  (Our minimum number for a fundraiser is 10 because we are giving away quite a bit of our profit to you, and it takes a LOT of time to work with each of your guests and accommodate requests, as well as prepare your boards and stencils.)

5.      Know what YOU get out of all your hard work with invites and following up with everyone to come to your event.  We give 15% of our profit back to you within 24 hours of your event.  This is about $6/sign donated back to your cause.  We are happy to allow you to raise the price for your rustic sign workshop fundraiser as well.  For example, the $6 is based on the standard sign at $55/person.  If you chose to charge $65 per person instead, you will get 100% of that additional $10, plus the 15% from us- so now you are making $16/sign.  If you have 15 people, your fundraising profit will be $240.  If you have 20 people, you’ll get $320.  Easy money for your cause, and everyone leaves with something they love. 

6.      Snacks.  Always provide snacks. At the very least, the promise of snacks will absolutely get people in the door. 

If you want more info or would like to book a rustic sign workshop fundraiser with us, please contact us for summer of fall date availability at inquiries@riverstonesignworkshops.com.

The (small business) struggle is real.

Starting a business is hard.  I mean really, REALLY hard.  My husband started his business around the time we had our first baby and I remember feeling like he was under an enormous amount of pressure from all directions.  He was busting his ass day in-and-day-out for seemingly very little money at the time.  I was on mat leave, and it was ROUGH.  We risked literally everything we had to get his business started and every aspect of our lives were affected.  He was passionate about making a difference in his industry and even though it was incredibly scary to take the leap, there is no reward without risk, so who was I to stand in his way?  Thankfully his (and his business partner’s) hard work and sacrifices have been worth it, and they have built a respected and ethical business from scratch, but there were definitely some pretty trying times for us both financially and emotionally over the past 8 years.  I find it similar to having a baby: no one really remembers how tough those first years were until they are back there again.

I talk about this because I don’t think I ever really, FULLY understood the amount of work that went into creating and maintaining a real business until this very time when I am now endeavoring to start my own little rustic sign workshop company.  This world of small business is frustrating and heartbreaking, but also extremely gratifying and rewarding in so many ways as well.  I am still growing and certainly no expert, but here are some of the hard lessons I’ve learned so far:

1. Not everyone is going to support you.  This a tough one.  I feel like I’ve always done my part to support my friends and family in their businesses, buying their products, attending their workshops, using their services, reading their blogs, “liking” their Facebook and Instagram accounts, commenting on their posts…the list goes on.  I believe in supporting my friends and family, and I would expect that they would do the same for me.  This is not always the case.  There’s always going to be people who, for whatever reason, can’t bring themselves to support you.  I’ve learned this the hard way through creating my rustic sign business.  It’s somewhat obvious from the get-go who is going to be supporting you, and as heartbreaking (and humbling) as it is, you gotta just let the rest of them go.  Unfortunately, not everyone wants you to be successful, and if that’s the case, move on from them and don’t look back. 

2. Don’t give away the proverbial farm.  Oh man, I’ve made this mistake time and time again.  Someone asks for something and promises that they will make sure that their network knows it was you that provided it, and then…. crickets.  Whether you are a maker, or you provide a service, unless its for a charity or a cause that you are passionate about as a business owner, or you’re truly willing to just give it away with zero credit, don’t do it.  There are always good intentions, but people get busy and sometimes their promises slip their minds.  It probably has nothing to do with you, but if it takes a ton of your time, or costs you a lot of money, make sure it’s a worthwhile cause and don’t expect anything in return for it. 

3. Social media is a full-time job, SEO takes a lot of time and effort, and you can’t let it get you down.  It’s NO joke.  I probably spend 3-4 hours each day on social media: Liking, commenting, interacting with both followers and non-followers, and posting new content.  It’s a fine line between being relevant and present and being annoying and spammy.  (Truthfully, I am still quite lost.)  I’ve watched a whole bunch of videos and read blogs, and spent countless hours trying to figure out the google algorithms and how the bots crawl…and whatever else they do.  It’s extremely confusing to me, and even though I’m often frustrated and unclear about how it all works, I continue to persevere because I am realizing that the power and influence of social media and google are invaluable when it comes to small business. 

4. Have faith in yourself.  Believe in your product.  Don’t cut corners or sell yourself short. You started this business because you have a service or product that you are proud of and passionate about.  Don’t let the world tell you that it’s not worth it.  I’ve had moments of heartbreak where I just don’t understand why someone that I know unfollowed my business on Instagram or won’t follow my business accounts at all. Be careful when using follower apps that tell you who unfollows you. Even though the intention is to help you understand your followers, it’s going to sting a little when you see someone you know unfollow you.  I’ve also learned that some people just don’t want to see you being successful.  You know your worth, and those people are jerks.  End of story. 

These are purely just MY lessons and observations so far, coming on the one year anniversary of Riverstone Rustic Sign Workshops.  I’m extremely proud of how far I’ve come.  I’m thrilled with having two AMAZING instructors that can literally just read my mind and know what I need at all times, and I’m so extremely and whole-heartedly grateful for those friends and family and clients who have hosted workshops, recommended my business, and supported me in this crazy idea to start this little wood sign business of mine.  I hope that some of my heartbreak and hard lessons can help someone else to move forward in a business that they love and are passionate about too.

FOUR types of Rustic Sign Workshops you need to book ASAP

You’ve heard of the infamous sign night concept before. You know, the ones where you buy a ticket and head to a pub and paint to your hearts’ content?   They are amazing and you can go to a pub and make a cool sign to take home and spend some awesome quality time with your friends while you’re at it. Super fun, right?  Yes.  But we do things a little differently at Riverstone Rustic Sign Workshops.   What sets us apart from the rest is that we are MOBILE and totally CUSTOM.  We work with your guests to create a design that they love before the event, and then we bring EVERYTHING you’ll need to create your rustic signs the day of the event.  We pride ourselves on the relationships that we have and getting to know each of our clients before each workshop.  By designing individual stencils, we can get a little “taste” of each guest’s personality- and that’s one of the really cool parts of being us.  We care A LOT about every guest leaving their workshop with something they truly love, are proud of, and has personal meaning to them in their lives. 

OK- shameless plug on how great we are has ended.  (Email us, and we’ll tell you more though 😉).

What are some reasons to host a rustic sign workshop in your home? 

1- GIRLS NIGHT! You are in your home, and super comfy.  You could literally have a pajama party with your girlfriends and paint signs and drink wine and eat delicious food and laugh and laugh.  We’re not sure if there’s anything better than that in life.  Let us know if you come up with anything.

2- FUNDRAISER! Maybe you need to raise some money for something near and dear to your heart, and you don’t want to sell cookies or make a go-fund-me page or sell your organs.  I mean, do what you wanna do… but we donate back 15% of the profit to your cause and also 100% of your standard ticket price increase over $55 (if you decide to add one).  And everyone leaves with a custom cool sign.  So there’s that. 

3- OFFICE WORKSHOP! Do you work at an office or have a business with some staff that REALLY need to spend some quality time together and NOT talk about work?  We can help with this.  Sometimes you just need to spend some time with people in a different environment to be able to truly appreciate them…or at least build a tolerance.  In all seriousness though, it’s really fun to get together with co-workers at someone’s place, or in a boardroom in your office and do something fun together.  We think they call it team building. 

4- COUPLES’ NIGHT! Do you and your friends try and do something together as couples that is fun and different and always end up at dinner somewhere by default?  We love a good dinner out, but you could also eat dinner (Take-out, Skip the dishes, appies, pot-luck) AND paint rustic signs for your house!  Maybe you want something romantic – like the lyrics from your wedding song for above your bed, or you have been thinking about a cute little witty sign for your bathroom or laundry room (“Don’t worry laundry, nobody’s doing me either”).  You can get TWO signs done, AND have dinner with your friends, AND you could also wear your pajamas if you want.  Just saying. 

Doesn’t this sound AWESOME?!  It is. We promise. 

How does it work, you ask?  Well, we use the Facebook platform to create a private event for you.  We include all of the information that you and your guests need and a special password to the secret stencil vault to see all of the previous designs we’ve made.  Your guests can choose from those, or they tell us something they’d like, and we will work with them to create something amazing that they will love.  We add you as a co-host so that you can invite your guests, and everyone can communicate like one big happy family.

What if someone cancels last minute?  We want your guests to be happy…so if we know they aren’t coming earlier in the day of your event, we’ll make a little “take-and-make” kit for them to complete later at no extra cost. It's like the doggie bag of sign workshops. Yes. We are THAT awesome.  (Since everything is custom, all guests pay the workshop fee whether they show up or not, so the least we can do is make a kit for them if something unexpected comes up.)

Ready to book?  Take a tour around our website or Facebook or Instagram pages, then email us and we can help you pick an available date.*

*Custom Rustic sign workshops are for groups of six or more, Fundraisers are for groups of 15 or more.  If you are feeling anti-social, we can make you a take-and-make kit to do all by yourself.

Email inquiries@riverstonesignworkshops.com for date availability. 

How did I get here?

So here I am…almost 35 years old, working on my little rustic sign workshop business, and realizing what LITTLE I actually know about social media, social marketing, and everything interweb related. It’s kind of sad, because I’ve always thought of myself as being pretty savvy when it comes to figuring this out. But I am L-O-S-T. I know my product, and I know my business inside and out…BUT I’m ready to take the next step into the massive entity that is the World Wide Web. So I guess I’ll add a blog to my website.

I started this little company after dabbling in furniture restoration (which I LOVED), and making wood signs for friends and family. I was on a hiatus from teaching elementary school, and I wanted to be home with my kids. But I needed something for me, you know? I took a last name sign workshop at one of these really amazing little decorating and paint companies in Calgary and absolutely ADORED the whole process. I thought to myself that maybe teaching some classes for sign making would be awesome. It would marry my teaching skills with my developing art skills, and everything would be perfect in the world. How could it NOT be?

Oh man- starting a business is TOUGH! There is so much to learn and think about financially, logistically, emotionally…the list goes on…and on…and on….and SO many people to convince that I’m not crazy (including myself a lot of times). Lucky for me, I am surrounded by amazing friends and family who saw the value in what I was trying to do. They saw my passion and love for the design and follow through with these little workshops. They supported me and made me feel like I was strong enough and valuable enough to make this happen.

And guess what? It’s been pretty successful so far. I’ve done tons of workshops, and I’ve hired a few instructors, and we are definitely moving forward with lots of new ideas and ways to make our customers happy. I love that we are different in that we are custom, and that gives people the freedom to have whatever they’d like in a stencil. The possibilities are virtually endless for these little rustic signs.

Soooo….. here I am….MY WHOLE HEART IN….ready to make this little baby of mine grow….if only I could figure this social media stuff out…and I will. Maybe just not today.

Lots and Lots of Love,

Tori

If you have any questions, or you want to book a workshop, feel free to contact me at inquiries@riverstonesignworkshops.com