Monday, 13 June 2011

Showing Off - Or How to Prep for a Craft Show

Right, you have made the decision to do your very first craft show... it's such a long way away... and really once you've made your choice what else is there to do?  Well here is my tip list for how to make it as successful as possible.

Before you start (stay with me, my parents were Irish) you need to know what you are getting into, don't just rush in and sign up to the first craft show that you see.
  • Go and check out other shows run by the organisers, see how busy it is and what people are buying, which stalls are busiest, do they do refreshments?
  • Now don your industrial spy outfit, you are going to check out the opposition.  Firstly, do you have any competitors or are you the only producing the chandelier earrings for St Bernards with attitude?  How good is the quality of their stock, how do your prices compare, do they have a wide variety of items and how do they entice you into their selling kingdom?  
  • Next is more homework, check out the fair on the internet... can you find it?  If there is no sign of it, then how do they encourage people to attend?  Take a look on facebook, twitter, local newpapapers, do they have a website?
Well you are happy with what you have found out and you are ready for the next steps.  Give yourself plenty of time to get your stock ready... no matter how much you make, you will still think that you do not have enough... the only people who run out of stock at a craft show are the cupcake makers!  You should also take out public liability insurance... sounds melodramatic but it is there for your protection.

About a month before, decide how you  are going to package your stock when people take it away.  You will need bags, are you going to recycle Sainsbugs and Tesco's or are you going to buy your own to brand your goods?  I have two sizes of carrier bags, tissue paper and boxes together with ribbon to tie up the goods. For my next show, I am also going to add tags to the bags to add further branding.  I also have a guillotine and laminator which are brilliant for knocking up price lists, business cards, washing instructions and showing pics of my work.  So why do this so early, because you do not want to be sitting up the night before laminating your lists... it takes forever, believe me, I was that woman!
A few weeks before, be your own Sales and Marketing Director, mention it on your blog, tweet it on Twitter, pop it onto Facebook, send the details through to your local radio for a mention.

A few days before, clear your dining room table and practice how your table will look, think of it like a garden border, you would not put all the bushes at the front and the small plants at the back.  Start low at the front so that people can see... less is more (I never take this piece of advice but maybe one day I might listen), this also works from side to side, make the side closest to the door the lowest side and the side furthest away higher.  You may well change your plans on the day but at least you now have a plan!

Two days before - start to gather all you will need, here is my list, not exhaustive but it covers most things:
  • A flat sheet  - will cover your table and hide all the tat you put under it!
  • Money box or tin, plus a float - I usually take £20 x £1 coins, £10 x 50p, £5 x 20p and £5 x 10p
  • Sellotape, Blue Tack, Map Pins, Scissor, Hammer and Screwdrivers
  • Pen & Notebook, for requests and orders!
  • Your packaging
  • Booking Forms, confirmation notes and insurance details
  • Stock and props
  • Business cards and price lists
    On the morning - I tend to take a flask, sweeties, sarnies and fruit, just in case I cannot get away from the stand or there is no food available.  Also remember your camera, it is good to take pics of how your stand looks and how all your hard work turns out.  Finally take a project with you... so much the better if it is something slightly quirky that will catch the customers attention.  At my last show, I was using really funky wool, although socks on four needles mesmerise children and embroidery also draws in the crowds.

    On the day itself, have a good breakfast, get to the site at least 15 mins before they say they will open. Accept all the help that your chums will give you and make sure you get to walk around and see what everyone else is selling.  When you are sat behind the stall, don't sit there with a book ignoring the crowds, talk to them as they want to know what you do, how you do it and why.  They may not buy on the day but they will go and look at your website and blog, so make sure your cards are on the table.

    And here are a couple of bits I made this week, a black and white scarf for Pierina, a polka dot hair flower, a pair of teeny tiny socks and I received a commission for three rag wreaths for a local cafe, they wanted bright reds, oranges and yellows... I think I might just have covered the brief... and yes, I am working up my winter stock, really!
    So now go and take a look at Handmade Monday, cannot believe that Wendy and the crafters have made it to 20 Mondays... go take a look, you will be impressed!

    And finally, just to show you that the tide is not always in...


    Laura said...

    This was really interesting reading - thanks for posting it! I haven't yet done a show but would love to at some point.

    Ali said...

    Uh Oh - I am Mrs Last Minute when it comes to preparing for a fair. You seem so organised! No matter how much I try, I just always seem to be packaging up until the final hour and getting up to add in that 'maybe it would be a good idea' item in the middle of the night! Good to see how much better I am now I have been doing fairs every weekend for 3 years! (ahem, erm, I'll go now....)

    Ali x

    Kazies Magical Designs said...

    This is a great post with some very good points thank you xx

    Wendy said...

    Excellent post! The only thing I'd add is that I take a second breakfast with me *hangs head in shame* when it's an early start!!
    I have also been "that woman" with the guillotine and laminator!

    adaliza said...

    Sensible advice. I've been doing fairs for some years now and keep a tub for bags, string, scissors, pins etc etc - saves packing them every time. I've found stock is much easier to pack in those huge IKEA bags too - less rigid than plastic boxes - depends what you make though!

    Susie said...

    This is a good one to bookmark. Thank you for all of the info.

    Alison - Belovedly said...

    Great post Ros, love those tiny socks! x

    Mrs A. said...

    I have done church bazaars years and years and years ago. Not sure i'm up to it now. Love those tiny little socks they are mega cute. Hugs Mrs A.

    Caroline Lovis said...

    OOOH I wish I'd seen this about 4 weeks ago! Such a comprehenisve post and all good advice. Also like the sound of those chandelier earrings

    SeniorCrafts said...

    Great post Ros for someone new to craft fairs - good preparation is key...! Liked the idea of working on a project - people love to see things actually being made! Nancy

    Picto said...

    Great post and so much good advice, especially the breakfast. I love the idea of a project. I too have a bag with bits and bobs, pins and cellotape etc but the day after the fair I always repack it and check everything is in order ready for the next event. I once forgot to replace the things I'd used and ended up in a pickle and having to beg & borrow.

    Jan x

    Carolee Crafts said...

    Good advise and funny with it

    Annie and Lyn said...

    I think first-time fair goers will really appreciate this post! The better prepared you are the more you enjoy it - and most important - the more sales you will make!

    Roses & Rue said...

    Seeing that picture of the tide out brings back happy memories of rolling in the mud and walking out to the ray to soak up the sun - and then on the way back stopping for a plate of cockles. Happy days!

    Maria said...

    What a great post, I haven't done a fair for years but I'm hoping to start again soon. I will definitely bookmark this for later.

    AngelsandDiamonds said...

    You gave me some great advice on the craft forum and now ive stumbled across this :) Thanks for sharing these tips.. i know that they are going to come in very very handy for my first stall and for many others too i bet :) xxx

    Bella-Boutique said...

    GReat post full of really useful advice. I'm with you on the food, I'm never without a little snacklet though as a mostly machine sewer (I just cannot hand sew) I struggle on the little projects to take with me so if anyone has any ideas then feel free to pop over to my blog or mail me!

    Butterflyexperience said...

    Fantasic post, great advice and tips. Thank you x