Firefly Handmade Markets is a seasonal series of juried, handmade artisan markets, in our fourth year of operation, in the Denver/Boulder area. We’re thrilled to have a business that creates opportunities for handmade artisans to bring their goods to the public. We continue to be impressed by the uniquely creative and quality products that artisans offer. It’s a big part of what makes each market and the jurying process exciting for us. Surprisingly, a number of artisans regularly fail to capitalize on the many advantages inherent in selling their products in a physical marketplace, as opposed to an e-commerce site; namely the ability to connect with their customers and give them the opportunity to touch, feel, and experience their handmade goods.
With that in mind, here are our top 4 tips to make your market opportunities more productive.
Sounds simple doesn’t it? Put a smile on your face, show a willingness to engage with those who stop by your booth, and be yourself. We realize that this can be challenging to artisans who are not inherently comfortable with dealing with the public. However, even if you have to step out of your comfort zone, in our experience, positive attitudes beget positive responses and interest from shoppers; translation-a smile is contagious! It’s surprising how some artisans retreat into a corner of their booth and sit seemingly glumly on a chair. If you aren’t excited about your goods, why would a customer be? And don’t underestimate the value of a touch, a handshake, making eye contact. Can’t find that on the Internet.
Engage Customers In Your Creative Process
Whether through in-booth demonstrations, pictures of your awesome creative self in action, or simply a willingness to describe your creative process, give customers an appreciation of the skill and hard work that goes into your goods. If you provide them a reason to be invested in what you create, then your customers will naturally understand the thought and quality that goes into what they could own. And customers do want to own the authenticity and quality of your products.
Create A Storefront
Make no mistake-your market operator is selling you valuable real estate. Between the venue cost, utilities and equipment, marketing/promotion and manpower, your booth space is just not a random spot on a piece of ground. So take advantage of that by creating a welcoming and unique “storefront” for your booth space. It’s your pop-up shop and enhancement of your brand; maybe even an opportunity to imagine what a permanent storefront could be like for your business. Include creative signage and other touches that give someone a reason to wonder what great things are going on inside.
Don’t Scrimp On Your Display
True story-we had an artisan who was selling magnificent, high-quality products – maybe the most expensive price point to be found at our market. Yet, all of that awesomeness was being exhibited on an obviously inexpensive display set-up; the kind with faux velvet plastered over cardboard that was so flimsy it would be airborne if a small breeze kicked up. The disconnect between the quality of the goods and that of the display was obvious. Our market goers are smarter than that and could see through the lack of engagement with the product, and sadly, she sold nothing!
Simply said, how you display, what you display on and a positive attitude should be a reflection of you, your product and your aesthetic. Happy crafting and selling!
Beth Pomerantz - Firefly Handmade Markets
Beth Pomerantz is the owner of Firefly Handmade Markets, as well as an artist. She helped run a private art studio and taught art for five years. Beth has a passion for connecting people, and promoting talent. Prior to Firefly Handmade, she had a 20 year career in marketing, advertising and event planning. If you are an artist interested in showcasing your creations at a Firefly Market please apply here: http://www.fireflyhandmade.com/#!application/c1jat. If you would like to stay up to date on all things Firefly, join our email list here: http://www.fireflyhandmade.com/#!join-our-mailing-list/c4jvShare on Facebook
Hi creatives! If you follow me on Instagram then you know I participated in my first craft fair over the weekend. The event was the 2nd one put on by Pineapple Triangle. The unique part of this event was that 20% of the profits from each artists is donated to a local charity of their choice. It was such a fun and beautiful event! I was very nervous leading up to it but was able to relax and have a good time. I want to share what I learned:
1. Ask Questions Beforehand
Little things kept popping in my head the week leading up to the event. I didn’t want to bug Maggie, the lovely founder of the event, but I knew she would be the best person to ask. I tried to consolidate my questions so I wasn’t emailing her 5 times a day about different things. I am happy to say that she responded quickly and was very helpful. I realized that she wants all of her artists to feel confident going into the show. I was happy that I asked questions and her quick responses made me feel supported and proud to be part of the event.
2. Set up your table or booth at home the week before
I knew what I was selling and how I was packaging it but how I was going to present it had alluded me. Of course, I started to think of all the beautiful craft fair booths I had seen in the past and began thinking mine could never look like that. I didn’t know where to start except that I was pretty sure I wanted a white table cloth. I borrowed one from my mom and began to set up my table. I looked at it it and knew it was missing my personality. I began to look around my house to find things to bring the look together. I ended up using:
- a plastic mannequin I found in our alley in Chicago about 10 years ago
- dressed the mannequin in one of my sweaters and berets and used it to display a sample of the mantra necklaces I was selling
- a shower curtain over the white table cloth that had an elephant and pineapples on it (people loved this!)
- two Indian scarves that I wear when teaching yoga to cover my folding chairs
- baskets from around the house
- nail polish to match some of the beads on the necklaces
So, if you are feeling stumped about your table design just get started and then see if you can infuse the design with your personal style by using items you already have! Plus, it will be super easy to set up when you get to the event.
3. Pack up the night before
I had everything finished the night before but it wasn’t until the next morning that I realized I didn’t have anything organized. Like I said, I had my table design done but I just folded things up and placed them on top of the table. In the morning, I realized that I need to put all of these things in suitcases and ziplock bags. I ran around trying to get everything to fit and ended up forgetting to pack a couple of things. Nothing major but it frustrated me a bit when I got to the venue. Next time I will either have it all packed in the car or at least have it all packed up and ready to load up in the morning.
4. Meet your neighbors
Once I was all set up I introduced myself to my neighbors at the craft fair, Little Banditos and Cut and Burn. We discovered it was the first craft fair for all 3 of us. We talked and chatted and are now following each other on Instagram. It was fun to be able to meet people behind a brand. Especially since I am online so much! Later when my friend, Kelly, came to help out I went around and met other artists too. I even traded an eye pillow for two yummy smelling soaps from Strawberry Hedgehog.
5. Don’t Get Discouraged
I will admit that after selling nothing in the first hour and a half that doubt definitely crept in my thoughts. I started thinking “Well, I guess this will be my first and last show” or “Apparently I am the only one who thinks my product is interesting and awesome” or “It will really suck if I sell nothing today.” I knew I was getting negative and had to nip it in the bud. I sell eye pillows and necklaces with positive messages yet I was sending myself negative ones. I decided to choose some of the mantras from my table like “Breathe deeply and enjoy the present moment” and “Relax my shoulders.” I also added some like “I am awesome and amazing for being here and putting my self out here like this” and “My products and pretty and helpful, the right people will be drawn to them.” I put a smile on my face and started chatting up each person who came to my booth. The sales slowly started happening and I made some really neat connections. I also learned a bit about how people interacted with my product and how I can improve my set up and information next time. Also, about an hour after I got home I had an email from the founder of another craft fair coming up in November saying that she stopped by my booth and thought I would be a good fit for her event. I was so excited!
So ultimately I feel like you need to be:
I hope these tips help you with your next craft fair. I feel liked I learned a lot and am looking forward to making changes and having fun at the next one!
Please share in the comments what you have learned from participating in craft fairs. Do you have a lot to say about craft fair experience? I welcome you to submit a post for us to share! Shoot me an email at email@example.com!
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How many times have you heard “Did you make this? It is so cool! I would totally buy this from you!” But you just kinda laugh it off and mumble something about maybe someday. What is really holding you back from starting your dream handmade business? Here are some of the things that held me back and may be what is plaguing you too…
1. If I start selling, this won’t be fun anymore.
Actually selling is really fun because you find the people who REALLY like your style and appreciate your hard work. If someone is willing to buy something from you (who is not your mom, your sister or their friends!), that person likes your handmade item for it’s handmade quality and beauty.
2. No one will buy my stuff…
To tell you the truth, listing something online does sometimes take awhile to find the right buyer. But they will get there eventually. It took about a week for my first owl pillow to sell on Etsy and that was years ago when there were not as many options. I was so happy! Some of my early owls sold within hours of being listed (yippee!), but others, that I thought were really cool, took months.
Selling at a craft show can also be hit or miss. The biggest challenge there is finding the right show for your crafts. My second show, I almost sold out of my handmade goods. It was so exciting! But, my first show, I DID NOT SELL A SINGLE ITEM. In my defense it was pouring down rain outside so the show wasn’t very well attended, but my neighbors sold plenty of their painted snowmen and teddy bear ornaments. I almost quit that day but another vendor encouraged me to find a different audience for my more unique items.
3. I don’t have enough experience.
It’s true that you can’t sell sloppy stuff and you don’t want to build that kind of relationship with your customers either. But, there is something that even a beginner can master pretty quickly and then suddenly POOF! You are not longer a beginner. Find something you love to make and master it. That will be worthy of a sale that you can feel proud of and your customer will be happy with the quality.
4. I don’t have time!
If you want to have a handmade business, you will need to punch the clock and go to work just like every other job. It doesn’t have to be 40 hours a week but a few hours a couple times a week to work on your craft is crucial. Talk to your family and help them understand that this is something important to you. A few years ago, when I finally asked my husband to drive my kids to preschool so that I had 3 solid hours of work 3 days a week, it made a huge difference in my business. I committed myself to work and it was a huge boost to my morale and my sales. The same thing can happen in the evenings – tell your family you work on Tuesday nights from 7 to 11 and then go to work without excuses.
5. I can’t use the computer and I don’t have a good camera…
Yes, you can! The computer can be a challenge, but things have gotten so much easier. For an Etsy shop (or any online marketplace like Goodsmiths, Artfire, Dawanda, and Bigcartel) you can easily purchase ready made banners and set up like this so you can just get started. Or, you can also enlist the help of a tech savvy teenager like I did! Also, an iphone or a simple point and shoot camera can take product phones with good natural light and a little help from free photo editing software (like http://www.picmonkey.com). Think of ALL the people who have done this before you and know that you can do it too!
The point is to begin. Begin and be gentle with yourself. It can’t be perfect right from the start. Being a perfectionist at the beginning of starting a business can seriously slow you down! You will make mistakes but people interested in handmade goods are inherently kind and forgiving. They know you are not Saks Fifth Avenue and they are not looking for that kind of shopping experience. Take those first hard steps and then the next steps will be so much easier. Before you know it, you will working that job you always dreamed of!
Virginia Lindsay — Gingercake Patterns and Design
Virginia Lindsay designs sewing patterns for Gingercake Patterns and Design. She loves the to sew practical, fun, and stylish things! Several of her patterns have been published by Simplcity and she has also written 2 books. Sewing to Sell ( to be released in Nov 2014 ) and Fabric Stash Cuties: Pretty Little Birds (to be released January 2015).Share on Facebook
Happy Wednesday! I am so excited to share my new shop with all of you! I make eye pillows, necklaces and printables. The eye pillows and necklaces all have a positive mantra/affirmation associated with them to either help you relax at the end of the day or to keep you inspired throughout your day. Like I mentioned in this previous post, it has been hard to get over my fear and share this with the world. Having said that though I am feeling kind of giddy now that I am actually sharing my work with you here
I will be choosing 3 people to win their favorite item in my new Etsy shop which you can check out by clicking my logo below.
In order to be entered into the giveaway you must visit my shop, pick a favorite item and then comment here in this post which one is your favorite and why. You can also get an extra entry into the giveaway by liking my Facebook page too: https://www.facebook.com/KerryBurki. The giveaway starts today and ends next Monday at midnight. I will announce the winners on this post and also email them.
You will use the Rafflecopter app below to enter. This is my first time using this method for a giveaway so please let me know if you have any issues.
Thank you so much for being here and I look forward to your comments! XOXO!Share on Facebook
Hey! Are you easily distracted when trying to get work done on your computer? I know I am and that is why I was excited to have discovered this new app called “Momentum.” Basically, every time you go to open a new tab (in Google Chrome) a special page pops ups that has your daily todo that you entered, the current weather plus an inspirational quote. You can also enter your todo list in the bottom right corner and that will pop up too. This new tab is supposed to help keep you on track and keep you from continuously opening social media or email. I think it is just brilliant! I started using it yesterday and it kept me on track for writing this post. This is a free app and you can check it out here: Momentum.
I have so many new ideas that I am working on and trying to bring into fruition and this is exactly what I need. I know you are all the same way so I hope you find it helpful too. One of the things I am working on is a giveaway in my new Etsy shop for you next week. You can have a sneak peek of my shop here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/KerryBurki.
Now go find your momentum!
KerryShare on Facebook