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 firstname.lastname@example.org!
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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
As I was brainstorming what I would write this month for Handmade Success, I thought about my blog topic sampler post, 27 Blog Topics You Can’t Wait to Write About (& Your Readers Can’t Wait to Read!). I’m working through all 27 myself to show how much fun they are, and I’m currently on #8: The worst advice I ever heard.
As we are all in creative business, an industry where advice and seller tips abound, I thought this would be the perfect topic to discuss with you! Thinking back on the building of my creative business, I think the worst advice I’ve ever received is the most common advice around! I’m super excited for the chance to dispute these myths here today.
3 Examples of the Worst Advice Ever:
1. Use the maker’s story as copywriting.
In the handmade industry, we’ve been sold on the idea that you should put yourself front and center; that customers will be interested in buying because they love the story behind your products.
Here’s why that’s bad advice:
Let’s understand that humans are narcissistic creatures, and we are almost always thinking of ourselves. Please keep that in mind when you think of your customers. Reflect on the way that you shop AS a customer. When you make a purchase, you want to be pleased, proud, and comfortable with the product you bring home.
Please realize that it’s quite natural for small business owners to approach business thinking only of themselves and their needs. However, successful sellers know that this thinking needs to be rearranged.
You must have a clear picture of what you’re offering the customer, how she can benefit, and what her end-result will be. In fact, successful marketing involves thinking from the end: you see the satisfied customer with your product in hand. What is she feeling? What is she thinking? How does your product improve her day?
Listen to this advice from Scientific Advertising written by Claude Hopkins in the 1920’s:
“Remember the people you address are selfish, as we all are. They care nothing about your interests or your profit. They seek service for themselves. Ignoring this fact is a common mistake and a costly mistake in advertising. Ads say in effect, ‘Buy my brand. Give me the trade you give to others. Let me have the money.’ This is not a popular appeal.”
Therefore, practice putting the customer’s needs first, and switch the focus of your shop onto them.
2. List as many items as possible in your online storefront.
There are many reasons we’re advised to do this: because it will help you get found in search, because it give your customers more options, because Etsy collects listing fees for your 16 pages of items (cha-ching!) … oh wait, they never mention that part.
In coaching, I often run into clients who are spending their days doing something that’s not working, yet they keep doing more of it. If you’re still making and listing hundreds of items and getting only a few sales, you’re doing a lot of what’s not working.
Here’s why that’s bad advice:
First of all, I’ve never had more than two pages of inventory in my Etsy shop, and I average 1,000 sales per year. I spend about 20% of my time making and shipping, 40% of my time blogging, and 40% of my time planning and marketing.
Sure, you’re getting found more often in search when you list hundreds of items, but how much time are you investing in doing so? And what’s the actual return on your investment? My guess is, it’s not worth it.
Moreover, your Etsy storefront (especially) isn’t set up to organize hundreds of products. You only have ten categories to work with! I always use Old Navy as an online storefront that knows how to organize and handle a large inventory – you can easily navigate it and see everything that’s available. However, you’re more likely to overwhelm your customer rather than entice them when you offer them so much on Etsy’s format.
3. Tag your products as handmade.
The last piece of advice I think we’ve been pushed a little too often is to “show off your handmade;” I think it feeds into the branding of our store hosts (i.e. “Etsy has handmade sellers”), but I’m not sure it belongs in our shop announcements and copywriting.
I love handmade. I am handmade. However, it’s not a keyword for my business.
Here’s why that’s bad advice:
What are you trying to build here? A handmade Etsy business? Or your own creative business as a recognized brand in the industry?
If you’re happy to call yourself “an Etsy business” forever, then go ahead and keep marketing yourself as handmade. If you’re out to become an independent creative professional with a respectable business model, call yourself what you are: an entrepreneur; or a jewelry designer; or owner of [insert your business name here].
What is the worst advice you’ve ever received? And what did you do instead?
Lisa Jacobs — Marketing Creativity
Lisa Jacobs writes Marketing Creativity for fellow creative spirits who aim to build a career with their own two hands. She leads group webinar programs and offers one-on-one coaching designed to help you get paid to be … you.Share on Facebook