Monday, April 15, 2013

Handmade Business Meeting Mondays - Craft Fair Tips

Happy Monday guys!

I'm staying on topic - how to grow your handmade business - woo hoo! Can you tell I'm proud of myself? hah.

So this week I just put in an application for our first craft fair of the season and I thought a nice post with some craft fair survival tips would be nice to share. Craft fairs are a great way to expose new potential customers to your awesome crafts and have fun to boot. Here's some general tips as well as a supply list for the big day:

1. Figure out the right fit for you.
When we first started showing at craft fairs last year it became very apparent that sales were great at schools and child-centered events (especially Waldorf Schools) and pretty dismal at hipper/adult-centric fairs. Originally, I had thought, well I'm hip and I love our dolls so there's going to be some cool parents/aunts/uncles out there that bring home our dolls as gifts, right? And of course there were - but not nearly as many as the crowds that attend events geared specifically for children. Duh, right? hah. Live and learn.
So, do your homework, go to the fairs yourself, see what fairs other crafty people in your area that sell to the same demographic like to show at. You will be paying $$ to have a booth, not to mention your time and effort - so choose wisely. And, you know, sometimes a Fair just won't be the right fit for one reason or another. That's okay. Just make a note of it, and move on to find the fairs that become successful for you and your products.

2. The Application
Well, ya can't expect to be included if ya don't apply. My big tip, apply often and early, very early. Most Fairs start accepting applications 3-5 months before the Fair date. So, even though you're packing up the rest of your winter holiday orders, some springtime craft fair deadlines may have passed you by. My advice: keep a running list of the fairs you like and their general app due dates. Also joining a fb craft fair group or discussion board for your area is super helpful to stay on top of it and be introduced to new fairs you may not have heard of.
When you apply, make sure you do as instructed - don't leave anything blank. The point is to be accepted, so make your application shine. This is the first introduction with the judges after all. Make sure pictures of your work show how amazing they are and that your website/etsy shop is lookin' gooooooood.

3. The Booth itself
Occasionally, the Fair will provide you with a table and chairs - but most often they don't. So be prepared to have the trunk space to load everything up. And, of course, you can't just stop with having a table and a place to sit, what you need is a display that looks amazing and gets people interested. I could probably do a whole blog post about different ways to set-up an amazing display, so instead I'll let you do your homework & guide ya in the right direction:

There's a cool flickr page called SHOW ME YOUR BOOTHS that is great for ideas. Do a few google and pintrest searches for "craft fair booths ideas" and you'll be inspired in no time.

4.  Inventory to bring
I recommend, if possible, to have more than you think you'll ever sell in a day and a wide range of price points.
For example, at our Tansy Dolls booth - we display a couple of our most expensive dolls (our 16") for $200. Then a larger quantity of our 10" dolls ($95), and even more of our 5" dolls ($25). We round it out with quite a few needle-felted critters (at $15) and doll clothes (ranging from $10-45). Depending on your product and pricing it may not be possible to have such a range, but having some product under $20 really helps introduce your work to people who may have limited funds but really want to support you and take away something cool from the fair.
Now, a note about bringing more than you even hope to sell - you don't want to crowd your tabletop with everything you've ever made. Rather, keep inventory hidden under your table and replenish when necessary. You want your presentation to look nice, not cluttered. Make sure your prices are clear and displayed for easy reading.

5. A Supply List/Fair Survival Kit Check List:
1. Table
2. Tablecloth
3. Backdrop
4. All other display set-up, an overhead tent if outside
5. Merch
6. All Signage
7. A way to accept credit cards, whether through square, intuitor paypal. A manual imprinter (example here) is also a good idea to have if the fair doesn't have wifi access.
8. A 'We except Credit cards' sign
9. Biz cards and holder
10. Something special for them to take away with them: A nice postcard, stickers, etc...
11. Discount coupons to include with purchases
12. Receipt Book (keep track of what sold!)
13. Money Box with at least $120 in change. $40 ones, $40 fives & $40 tens.
14. Packing Supplies - boxes, tissue paper, bags, butcher paper, Scissors, Tape (Various types – Scotch, double-sided, masking & duct), pens, twine, pencils, stapler
15. Price list  
16. Hard candies & cute candy dish
17. Trash Bags
18. Basic tools – hammer, screwdriver, clamps
19. Ribbon – good to hang stuff from tent and affix items to table.
20. Craft show details – starting time, break-down time, organizer’s contact info, etc.
21. Personal Items: Sunscreen, cooler with water, snacks, lunch. Headache medicine, Mints, camera, 22. Bring some craft stuff to work on
23. If outside, a bowl of water and dog treats for your customer's animal friends
24. If you run your business by yourself - bring a friend or two! You will need bathroom & food/drink breaks. If you can't find a friend, make friends with the people set-up beside you (of course, you should do this anyway, right? :)

6. Etiquette
Be friendly! Smile when people come close and greet them with a simple hello. Let them browse uninterrupted and don't be an aggressive salesperson (I'm not sure anyone likes that, do they?) If they want to talk or have questions, be genuine, open and honest. You obviously love and believe in your product, so let that part of you shine. Thank people. Relax. Give yourself a pat on the back and enjoy the show. :)
Craft Fair Tips, preparing for craft fairs
an example of one of our first booth set-ups

Have a wonderful week, everyone!

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