Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Lessons from a crafts fair neophyte

On Friday I wound up my last crafts show of the year. Jewelry-making is still very much a hobby for me, but I started committing to crafts shows last spring as a way to force myself to amp up my game. It worked, but I am acutely aware that I am still very much a novice.

So take these lessons from a rookie for what they are:
Gold Cellini spiral necklace and earrings I sold last month--
the buyer put on the choker and wore it out of the show!

1. You need stuff to sell stuff. I had way too little inventory at my first few crafts sales. But let's look on the bright side: Because I didn't do well those first few shows, I wasn't depleting my inventory!

As the months went by and I kept adding stuff, I had more and more to offer. I also was able to offer more items at varying price points. (I am still under-inventoried, but I'm working on it.)

2. Good displays get attention. For my first outdoor crafts fair, I needed to invest in a tent, table, signage and business cards. I didn't have much left over for display stands and had to improvise (put a cake stand into jewelry service, etc.) My table display still needs a lot of work, but I've improved it with every outing. I bought a nice copper earring display stand and some sisal mannequins, and at a yard sale I picked up a cool framed mirror that I use as a tray, some baskets and other pieces for a song. The pieces really made a difference in making my jewelry look nice, not just necklaces laid flat on a tablecloth.

3. Get Square. I used a company called ProPay to take credit cards my first three sales, but switched to Square after my jewelry-making friend Patti turned me on to it. It worked beautifully on my iPhone and the charges were deposited into my checking account very quickly. The swiping gizmo is free, and the charges are very reasonable. And being able to take charges allows for more impulse buying!

4. Choose your markets wisely. I was so anxious to get my feet wet with a crafts show that I signed up for one that was more flea market than a showplace for artisans. Live and learn.

Going forward, I think I will concentrate on shows in which there is no table fee but you pay the organizers a fee based on sales. That was the case at three of the markets I sold at, including my office one, in which a portion of the proceeds went to a designated charity. The other two shows benefited a church and an interfaith religious group. This choice may not be for everyone, but I like the idea of making a contribution to causes I support.

5. Take photos. Subtitle this one: Learn from my mistakes. I was going to illustrate this blogpost with a pic of my booth--except the only pic I ever took of my booth was of that crappy flea market outing. I didn't think to do it at the Mount Vernon Unitarian Church's Holiday Shop, where my display looked the nicest. Then I thought of making a photo mosaic of some of my sold pieces, but I realized I sold several that I never got around to photographing. So I'm just showing the one necklace that I blogged about here and here.

And if you really want to learn more about doing crafts shows, hop through this linky roundup from people who know way more than me: The Ultimate Craft Show Preparation Link List, compiled by the folks at Handmadeology.

I also find inspiration in the Show Me Your Booths Flickr stream.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your advices, they're precious!! The cellini spiral is amazing, bravissima!!!


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