This weekend I had my very first experience in owning my own both at a craft show. There were many hours and sleepless nights with creating my craft. Along the way, I learned a few things about myself that I believe would make life a little easier to others who plan to begin their own business or even work a craft table in the future.
1. ASK AROUND
I think the easiest and hardest thing about craft shows is finding out when they are happening and the details of said show. What I mean is, if you want to start getting an audience, start asking around to your friends, families, coworkers, random crafters in the mall, social media such as Facebook and Twitter, etc. when shows are being planned.
Once you determine the various times, find out who you have to contact to get the details. How much a table costs, what’s the location, what is acceptable or not, can you have last minute ideas on your table that is outside what you signed up for, time of day (or even night), etc.
2. GET YOUR IDEAS TOGETHER AND DETERMINE YOUR MAIN TARGET AUDIENCE
I tend to sketch out my ideas before making an actual object. It helps me bring what I’m imaginating to life (motto sounds familiar?). It doesn’t have to be anything major. Some doodles here and there several weeks (or even months in advance). It can save you in the end and help you budget what you are willing to invest timewise and money for materials.
For roughly a month, we spent at least 5 hours everyday working in some shape or form on our art. We would doodle, sew, cut out a prototype (a sample of a larger set), tweek it, and then work on it some more till we were happy with the product. The doodles helped us determine what materials we would need whether it was yarn, felt verses fleece, more thread to hand stitch or for the sewing machine, fabric glue, etc. Anything we may need and would use in the future.
3. SHORT TERM VERSES LONG TERM GOALS
What are your plans for this event? This mental hurdle was difficult for me and my sister. We were determined to make as much as we can and sell everything. Our quality in our work began to suffer.
So we took a step back, took a deep breath, and talked to each other about our goals for the event. Do we want to sell, or make connections that could spread and grow our business in the future? At the end of the day, it was the later. Of course it would have been great to sell everything, but the interactions we had throughout the day was worth the little to none that we sold in our crafts. Compliments, constructive criticism, and networking are all important and play important roles to oneself and pride in their work.
Compliments helped our self esteem and belief in our products. Why weren’t anyone buying if they liked it? Are they too mainstream? Did we miss our target audience? Actually, it was the opposite. Because of the weather, there were many children and younger adults who would enjoy the crafts we made. People who were there were older and hunting for their grandchildren who weren’t old enough to know who some of the characters were such as the Hello Kitty Character plushies that we made. The items were popular but that particular group that was there weren’t interested in what we made. They were interested in our overall business and if we made custom orders. Otherwise than that, everyone who passed our table would stop, talk to us, and compliment on the work we put into out craft.
Constructive criticism was a small point that will help us improve in the future. Because we were working on them non-stop, our eyes began to glaze over on any small ‘impoerfection’ in or work. Some people and other crafters noticed and mentioned them along with the compliments. They were not mean about it or rude. They were helpful and we took mental note for improvements int he future.
Networking was the hightlight of the event today. We gathered new ideas from other crafters and made connections for item we would like in the future for ourselves. They in turn took our information. You never know what a few days, months, or even years may bring.
4. PRICE MANAGEMENT
Pricing may seem like a fickle thing, but it is important to many. Our handmade crafts are easily at least 2-4 hours of planning, material hunting, cutting, prototyping, handstitching, etc. Using the US system of minimum wage is roughly $7.00 (just rounding down). A plushie is 2 hours average which make it $14!! I know for a fact I won’t be paying $14 for a plushie the size of my hand.
Realistically, all crafters charge much less for their arts and crafts. My crochet hats take 3-10 hours depending on how intricate the design is. They are worth way more than the asking price of $15-$20. But I charge what the everyday person is willing to pay for them. At your table set a low-high price. As in something that would be $30+ based on minimum wage is $15. Then have package deals. Say you buy a hat and scarf originally $20, get them both for $18. These deals make people stop, talk to you, and allows you to figure out what or who they are shopping for. It also gives you a moment to give them your business card and tell them a bit about the work you do.
When time is getting close to taking down your table (if it is a single day event. If it is a multiple day event, do this tip on the last day), lower the prices. If you use note cards like the image above, cross out the oringal price from earlier in the day and put the new pricing next to it. Why is this important verses getting a new price tag? It is a visual. I am a big visual person on deals especially when I go shopping in the craft store. to see the original price of an item, crossed out or stickered with the new price people are more lenient to purchase an item.
You may not want to do it, but to grab those last few sales and networking opportunities, it could be worth it.
5. HAVE FUN!!
I cannot stress this enough. Yes, you want to sell. Yes, you want to make money. Yes, you want future orders. But have fun at the event and while you are making items. This is your time to enjoy what you do, talk to people, eat yummy treats and get more ideas for your projects to make uniquely yours.
The hours you spend on your materials, drawing, making everything come to life…have fun and enjoy. Your creating. It should make you smile not cringe when making something. And when it’s fun, its not a job: it’s your life.
Especially if you are sharing it with a special person in your life, this can bond you both closer. It did for us 🙂
I hope these 5 tips help anyone out there who wants to do craft tables or begin something very small for fun for themselves. If you have any tips for others that may be useful, leave them in the comments below and share with others. Till next time.