craft fair

The Secret of Having the Best Market for Your Investment

fireflyFirefly 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.

Be Approachable

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's headshot

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/c4jv

5 Things I Learned From My First Craft Fair

craftfair

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:
– prepared
– innovative
– organized
– positive
– friendly

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 kerry@handmadesuccess.com!

 

How to be an Awesome Vendor

craft_fair2012-3 I’ve participated in craft shows for years; first as a shopper (and a supporter of my crafty friends) and then later as a vendor. Last year I took on a craft show from a completely different perspective: as the organizer. I agreed to run and coordinate all aspects of our elementary school’s successful Art & Craft Fair.

I had a good sense of what I was getting into. I’ve organized events before, I’m connected to the crafty community in Portland, I’ve been watching my friends run craft fairs (sometimes lending a helping hand, sometimes just going out for a celebratory drink when they were done), and I had sold at shows. But organizing a craft sale with 50+ vendors is a pretty big undertaking. I didn’t want to run it by committee in my first year because I wanted to make sure that I had a good handle on all aspects of the sale before I started bringing new people in. So my super-awesome husband and I did just about everything. We coordinated the marketing and the volunteers and the space and the logistics and the vendors. So many things went smoothly but one of my biggest complaints (and the thing that wasted most of my time) were flakey or difficult vendors*.

*Before I go any further, I want to emphasize that the vendors at our show were generally very, very awesome and I would welcome almost all of them back next year. Many of the anecdotes below occurred with vendors that did not end up selling at our show and stories I’ve collected from other craft fair organizers. 

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Whether you are applying to your first craft show this Spring or you are a seasoned veteran, here are some tips on how to make your overworked show organizer’s life easier (and increase the chances of being invited back for another year).

Read and follow all application instructions carefully.

If the show you are applying to has put out an open call for vendors, your organizers may be sifting through hundreds of applications. Make their job easier (and increase your chances of acceptance) by reading the application thoroughly and following all directions. If you are asked to return three signed pieces of paper, return all of them at the time you apply. If you are asked to provide photos of your work, do not say in your application “see my website for samples of my items.” Your organizer does not have the time to chase down missing items or photos. Take the extra 10 or 15 minutes to make sure your application has everything that is required. Your show organizers will appreciate it and your application won’t be set aside because something is missing.

Include great photos. 

Providing images of your products is the best way to catch an organizer’s eye, especially if they aren’t familiar with your work. Include the number of photos requested and make sure they are representative of your product line. If the images are sent digitally, make sure they are high enough resolution that they don’t appear pixelated when viewing, but not so large that they crash an email server (I personally think 1200×1200 and 72 dpi is plenty big). The images need to be crisp (not blurry), well-lit (not dark and shadowy), and clearly show your products (if it’s a photo of one of your necklaces, make sure it isn’t covered up by a sweater). And finally, if you intend to sell your line of small ceramic bowls, don’t send pictures of your paintings.

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Limit the number of “special requests.”

If you have a legitimate need that must be accommodated (say, for example, you require a back wall in your booth for your display), by all means, list that in your application and make it clear that it is a necessity. But requesting two specific booth neighbors, a scent-free environment, lots of natural light, an electrical outlet, and at least 10-booth lengths away from any jewelry vendor is nothing short of impossible for your organizer to accommodate. Try to limit the number of requests to those that are absolutely necessary.

Help promote the event! 

Your show organizers have a marketing plan and are hustling to make the event successful. You can do your part by helping to spread the word. If there are postcards, posters, or other marketing materials available to vendors, take as many as you can and canvas your neighborhood, favorite coffee shop, and local boutiques. Talk up the show on social media and your website and use any logos or other digital materials that the organizers make available. Only you can reach your targeted customers to tell them about the event. Everyone at the sale benefits from more exposure!

Be nice to your organizers and fellow vendors.

This seems like one of those tips that shouldn’t have to be shared, but we all know that some people struggle with manners. There is nothing worse for a show organizer than spending hundreds of hours prepping for an event only to get yelled at by a vendor for something they either have no control over or for a misunderstanding. If you have a beef with another vendor, save it until after the show. If you don’t like where your booth is located, let your organizer know later (not during cleanup) why that space didn’t work for you. And try to provide positive comments as well. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here. Just remember to be understanding, respectful and professional. And don’t forget to say thank you!

Participating in a craft show is exhausting and stressful, for the vendors and the organizers. Just remember that we are all in this together! A successful event is successful for everyone.  Do you have sage advice for other vendors? Feel free to share tips from your experiences below.

bettiebiowashi

Bettie Newell — Little Paper Cities

Bettie is a business lawyer and lifestyle photographer living in Portland, Oregon. An avid thrift shopper since she was 15 years old, Bettie loves all things vintage, red and polka dotted. She has two beautiful, sassy daughters, two tiny, ridiculous dogs, and one incredibly patient and supportive husband. With one half of her professional life, Bettie counsels businesses ranging from solo creative ventures to large corporations on all issues from start-up to dissolution. She spends the balance of her work time shooting portrait sessions (and the occasional wedding) with an emphasis on real moments and unique stories. You can visit her at littlepapercities.com

Your Opinion Wanted: Choosing a Craft Fair

Happy Friday! Coming at you today with a another reader question that I am hoping you will help me answer. Jan from Briar Hill Studio wrote:

I have just begun to do art/craft fairs.  I’m a jewelry designer, work in copper and gemstones and each little part of my jewelry is lovingly handcrafted by me-even the chains.  My first fair was a true success, and my second a real dud.  The dud was because what I had to offer was not a good fit for the event.

This leads me to wonder if you would consider exploring the question, of “how to find art/ craft fairs that fit what you create and make”  or something to that effect.  I feel like I am swimming in the dark a bit  on this, and to spend the $ for an event that does not fit, is an expensive way to learn.

I know a lot of you have experience with craft fairs and I would love you to help Jan out. Also, please feel free to share any resources regarding the subject too. Thank you!

Five Things to Consider When Choosing a Craft Show

Hello Handmade Success readers! I’m Marlo M. and it’s lovely to meet you! In the coming months I’ll be sharing some of things I’ve learned over the last 20+ years of being in the crafts industry – both behind the counter and as an artist selling my own line of hand-fabricated sterling silver jewelry to over 200 shops, galleries and catalogs all over the world. If you ever have any questions or comments for me feel free to contact me via my website: http://CreativeArtsConsulting.comI’d love to hear from you!

Lousy craft show screenprinted t-shirt for toddlers by heatherjeany

Here in Seattle, springtime marks the official start of craft show season. The tricky part is finding the right craft shows for your product. Here are 5 things to consider when choosing a craft show:

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