If you’ve never done it before, it can seem super-overwhelming – remembering everything you need to pack and take, and thinking about how the day might run smoothly.
Use the following tips to ensure smooth sailing through every craft fair you attend.
You need to take enough stock to keep your stall looking freshly stocked.
This means starting your market prep as early in advance as possible. This is especially important for your first stall – it will be the one where you find best sellers. Write a schedule of what to make over the weeks or months leading up to the event and stick to it.
Keep a List
Write a comprehensive list. Save it and print it out prior to each and every market you attend. This will stop you turning up and suddenly realising you forgot to bring a cash float or your mobile phone. Add to the list whenever you need as things always change over time.
Do Your Research
Do they provide tables? Will you need electricity? Do they cover insurance or is this something you need to organise? All this information will be available in their correspondence to you or on their website. If not – email someone to find out.
Perfect Your Display
This comes easy to some and not so easy to others so it is an awesome idea to do a mock set up.
Merchandising is important because it is how your customer sees your brand. If it doesn’t interest them they will keep walking so you need to make an effort. Get someone you trust to look at it and give you feedback. Draw up a little diagram so when you get there all the thinking has been done and you can jump straight into it.
Get an Early Start
Rarely is a craft fair just around the corner from where you live, if it is then congrats! If it isn’t then you need to ensure you sort two important details out.
Firstly where is it? If it is close enough go for a drive so you know exactly where – if it is too far research on maps. Once you are there you will need to know where you can drive, where you can park and where you need to set up. Most markets will email you these details in advance – so study them to reduce confusion on the day.
Secondly, though not always easy, leave on time. The last thing you want is to be running late as you really need a nice easy morning. Take plenty of extra time in case of traffic and so you can stop at your favourite café for a take away coffee.
Take a Friend
Craft fairs are fun but they are even better with a friend. Find someone who is willing to be your assistant for the day in exchange for lunch and coffee – it’s easier than it sounds!
All they really need to do is be your support if you are tired, fill in for toilet breaks or simply be your company for the journey there and back. Of course it is completely possible too attend markets on your own, it is done by many makers, a friend can help ease you through the busy times though and is someone to celebrate with at the end of the day.
Dress for Comfort
Flat shoes, warm clothes just in case, and something you feel confident in. You don’t need to dress up, neat casual is fine. It is about feeling comfortable and confident so you can happily sell your work and meet new people without feeling self-conscious.
This is something that can’t get said enough. If you do not drink enough water through the day you will be tired and probably grumpy before the day is over.
Water helps keep the oxygen running through your blood and keeps you hydrated so you have enough energy for even the longest of days. Take plenty of water bottles too because not all markets have water available to purchase.
Take along more than you need when it comes to this type of thing. Business cards, or more effective are fliers that tell a little more about you and what you do. There is so much to see at fairs so having information for people to take home means they will be more likely to remember or recognise you in the future.
Work in Progress
If possible take along some work in progress. Depending on what you do this can be a simple task or it could be impossible.
Having something to work on during quiet periods keeps you busy and customers love to see what you do. So if this is possible take something along, even if it is just something small or even a notebook for planning.
Take a little book along and write down the things you notice so that you haven’t forgotten by the end of the day.
Write down which items got the most attention. Which colour ways attracted people the most. What positive things did you hear people say. All of this can be taken into account as you plan and make decisions for future projects and markets.
Write down all sales. Write down what sold and the sale price, how the customer paid and what time the sale occurred. This is helpful for future market prep as well as bookwork at the end of the day.
Practice Self Control
Many makers have a rule not to make any purchases while at the market. It can be so tempting being surrounded by beautiful items. If you don’t have this rule or at least a limit you will end up eating through all your profits.
Take business cards and when you get home look them up, follow them on social media and tell your friends. There are more ways to support your fellow market stall holders than making a purchase and this means you can take home all that you make. It is a huge compliment to have your work purchased by other makers and it does happen all the time despite the rule!
Play the Customer
An important point to remember is not how your stall looks from where you stand but how it looks from the customers perspective. As often as possible walk around and take a look. Are there grubby finger prints? Have items been moved by people looking? Is your tablecloth wonky? During quiet periods assess this and make changes so that your stall is always looking neat.
One of the most important pieces of advice is to relax and have fun. Markets are an excellent way of making and building connections, learning about what to do and what not to do, connecting with customers or potential future customers. So enjoy it, have a laugh with people and you will go home feeling satisfied.
There is this feeling that can suddenly appear when you notice someone paying attention to your work.
It is excitement that someone appreciates your hard work and skill but… it is also a feeling of fear.
Fear that they will change their mind, walk away, or make one of those comments that make you shrink back into your shell a little like “I could make that” or “that’s too expensive”.
This fear makes us feel the need to do everything in our power to please the potential customer.
Discounts, changes, or unrealistic time constraints, making us feel like we are suddenly grovelling, hoping for approval and acceptance from someone we don’t even know.
If you run a creative business you have felt this.
It is an immense pressure to put on yourself to try and please everyone.
It can’t be done. You need to take a step back and have a good hard think about how to treat customers that aren’t giving back. Because after all we are in this to work for ourselves doing what we love.
I have a good friend who is in small business and when it comes to this subject she is my biggest inspiration.
She has a large following of loyal customers she has built over the years. She also (like all of us) has the occasional hard to please, difficult, or demanding customers that no matter what are just impossible to please. And her reaction to these people who are so clearly not her ideal customer?
She lets them go.
She finds she can’t help sometimes, and so she lets the customer go, she laughs it off, and she puts her focus back on the real customers.
She feels no need to give more than she has, and she feels no guilt.
It sounds simple, but these two things can be some of the biggest challenges of running a handmade business.
There are people out there who love what you do. Find them and embrace them and simply let the others go.
They are not worth the fear and the guilt. They will never be your supporters so don’t try and convert them.
Of course kindness and understanding of all people needs to be projected and never make a potential customer feel like they aren’t valued.
Thank them for looking. You never know, if you leave a good impression they could become your ideal customer in the future.
To assist in this make sure you also look after your mental health to grow your courage, spend enough time with your loved ones to know you are supported, and eat a good diet to help your body deal with any stress you encounter.
You are doing this for you and you are number one.
Fear and guilt have never been on your ‘to do’ list – so remove them for good.
We all know how hard it can be to switch on our creativity when we have so many things to think about in our daily lives.
And I’m not just talking about the business side of what we do. Rarely are any of us simply running a creative business: we are also parents, siblings, friends, employees or carers – not to mention regular, relentless day-to-day chores.
Creative block can often be caused by too much workload, stress, or simply lack of motivation.
Here are a few simple techniques to help you conquer creative block.
Do something completely different – Maybe if the creative juices aren’t flowing then you just need to trake a step back and do something completely different.
Go for a walk, cook up a feast, do some non-creative business work or even go play paintball!
Your brain may need a little rest so it is important to grant that when needed. Make sure you keep it guilt-free though – you have to actually switch off.
Learn to work when you aren’t feeling inspired – Sometimes just going through the motions is all we need to get things kick-started.
It’s kind of like exercis – we may not love the thought of it, but once we are out there for that jog we actually do enjoy it! (Sometimes!)
So head to your workspace and just start. Pick up whatever you are working on, set yourself a short time frame to avoid frustration, and more likely than not you will be back in the swing of things before you know it.
Embrace block as part of the process – I don’t actually know a single creative person who hasn’t faced creative block.
Keep in mind that is is part of what you do. Knowing its there, knowing how to best deal with it, and being aware that it will pass can actually help clear the block quicker. If there are tears, who cares? Make a cup of tea, take some time out and just know it is part of the process.
We all knew when starting our creative business that it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. This quote sums it up perfectly!
Let your imagination run wild – Do something for you. Make art. Scribble, experiment, make mess, involve friends or the kids and just have a good old silly time!
This is like a day out for your creativity. Feed it what it needs so that it can continue to grow and flourish.
Talk about it – Open up about how you are feeling.
Find someone willing to sit and listen, write it down, or even talk to it. Yes that’s right, talk to your creativity block!
Why is it there? What is stopping you from being your incredible wonderful creative self that you know is there? Ask these questions out loud or on paper and then answer them.
It may sound a little silly but it may just help you find your block and begin the process of removing it.
Whatever you decide to do don’t let a creative block get the best of you.
We all know we can work through it. It could take hours or it could take days, even longer in some instances!
Look back at previous blocks to learn from the past, be aware of when you are in a creative block so you can deal with it effectively, and prepare for future blocks by staying strong and keeping positive.