As the Holiday Craft Season moves along, I've been seeing and hearing a lot of new crafters going through "growing pains" I remember going through 20 years ago. Although now we have Social networking and online shops to add to the mix, the Craft Show Scene really hasn't changed since I started. If you are not a crafter yourself, feel free to ignore this entry. But if you are a NEW crafter, I hope you will find some of these ramblings helpful. Returning to the world of local Craft Shows after 10 years away, I'm finding that I need to remind MYSELF of a few tidbits I had learned along the way ...
"BE UNIQUE"- NOBODY benefits when there are too many crafters selling the same type of item!
Why would I buy from YOU, rather than the third booth down? Don't COPY! Don't make what you see on Pinterest! Don't make things from a pattern you bought at the store and expect to make bank! Be creative, be yourself, be inspired. And if you really, really, have to make something similar to something that is available elsewhere, it better have a TWIST!
"BE PATIENT-First Paid is NOT first served!" Just because you applied to a show doesn't mean you are in! Turn in your application- being sure to include ALL information, links, and a nice set of photos to represent your merchandise & display is a plus. Then WAIT! Politely & patiently. If a show is a "GOOD" Show, they will carefully review your merchandise to make sure that your things are of high quality, they mesh well with the style of merchandise at the show, and that their show has a wide variety of items available. Some shows MAY actively seek you out in the future, or they may wait list you. And don't take it personally if you are not invited to participate this time...not everyone can get into every show. You don't know why they didn't invite you. And if they actually tell you "No Thank You", politely accept it and move on. This is not the show you are looking for.
"BE PROFESSIONAL"- Treat your crafts as a BUSINESS! Hobbies do NOT make money. The way you behave in person and online reflects on your merchandise... think 6 degrees of separation, because it will all come back around at some point, whether it is good, bad, or indifferent, so keep reminding yourself to behave in a professional manner. Reputation cannot be bought, it must be earned. And make sure you are tracking your sales and purchases, as well as having the proper Seller's Permits, etc.
"BE FRIENDLY"-A kind word and a smile can go a loooooooong way! Watch what you say in front of customers, online, and elsewhere. In this day and age, everything spreads like wildfire (more of the "6 degrees" & Karma too!) Be kind to the customers, the other crafters, the promoters...you never know who might be watching!
"BE NEAT"- After working retail as a Merchandiser for many, many years, there are more thing ingrained in my brain as far as display psychology goes than I can ever share (color coordination, themes, outfits, etc.). But I can tell you NOBODY wants to walk into a booth that is a mess! Hide your boxes under the table, tuck your purse and jacket and lunch where the customer can't see them! Keep your display organized and coordinated, but keep the eye travelling with a few places to "rest", be sure there are many "levels", and don't put decorative pieces out that don't serve a purpose...they only confuse the customers. Yes, there WILL be someone wanting to dig through your boxes as you are packing up, but that's not because of the mess...that's because they are hoping for a last-minute bargain!
"QUALITY COUNTS!!!"- Don't take shortcuts to quality! SEW rather than glue, PAINT rather than transfer, finish those seams, make it heavy-duty, whatever you have to do to make it a product the customer will love so much they will use it for years. Nothing will hurt your reputation (and your sales!) faster than shoddy workmanship.
"SALE does NOT equal SALES!!!"- Resist the temptation to mark things down for the sake of a quick sale. Okay, we've all made too many of something and wanted to get rid of them, but beware the dreaded markdown! If the item didn't sell in the first place, how can you RE-make it to make it more desirable? Was it overpriced to begin with? Or perhaps you are just trying to make more $$$...what does that say about you and your merchandise? SALE means CHEAP. So do you want the customer to think you make cheap junk? Think about it!
I invite you to comment...I hope we can gather a collection of tips to help each other out as fellow crafters!
12/4/2013 04:12:45 am
Thank you so very much for this. I have been "chosen" for my first craft fair and I am so excited yet anxious at the same time. Your tips are very helpful for a newby like me :)
12/5/2013 05:32:26 am
Congratulations on your first show, Rita! There is so much that goes into the business of crafts, that I couldn't possibly fit it all in (nor would I want to scare you by doing so!), but I left out one really important thing...FUN! Handcrafted merchandise SHOWS whether or not you love it! So be sure to add a little JOY to the things you make, and have a good time while the $$$ roll in! "Grumpy" goods tend to sit on the shelf.
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