You like to create and enjoy crafting. You've spent countless hours creating and perfecting your technique until your craft finally surpasses your high standards and your own worst critic - YOU! You've made tons of products for yourself, your family and friends and you are now ready to sell your craft to a wider audience - your first craft show!
First craft shows are exciting and daunting at the same time. You'll need lots of inventory, displays, business cards and the list goes on until your head is spinning.
First things first - is your business ready?
We've established that you already excel in your craft. Next we need to determine what you'll make, how many you'll need and the best way to lower your supplies cost, so you can maximize profit!
First you'll need to make up a list of what you would like to make, what you'll make first and how many you'll need. Make sure your list includes lots of variety in items. Shoppers come to craft shows to shop for unique or one of a kind items, not mass produced items.
Once you've made your list - stick with it! Now its time to shop for your supplies. Shopping for supplies at Walmart or the local big box craft stores is going to eat into your profits. You need to find your supplies in niche areas. Wholesalers who specialize in selling to crafters and business owners. Start your search online. Pull up a search engine and do some research on what supplies you need and what websites carry them.
Next we need to start thinking about how you will display your crafts. Most crafters use plastic 6 foot tables to display their inventory. Some shows will rent you tables for an additional fee. However if you plan to do several shows, it is more cost effective to purchase your own. You can get 6 foot tables that fold in half so they are only 3 foot long from Walmart. This is a wise investment and you'll probably find many other uses for those tables besides just your craft shows. I use mine for yard sales, parties and for crafting on when I'm prepping for a show. If you are selling smaller, lightweight items, clothing or painted framed artwork, gridwall gives your display a nice professional look. I found mine on my local Craigslist. It took me over a year to get some that way but I got a fantastic deal. So keep checking back often. Your display is going to depend a lot on what you are selling. Pegboard from your local hardware store is another alternative. Especially if you have someone who's handy to make you some display pieces with pegs hinged together. When considering your display pieces, consider the amount of time it is going to take you to set up and tear down. This is a biggie if you do lots of shows. Some shows only allow you 1-2 hours to completely set up. So you need to be able to have display pieces that set up and tear down quickly. Pegboards and gridwall can sometimes require you to use peg hooks which can be time consuming to put up and take down. Take in special consideration if your show will be outdoors. Don't forget to factor in the wind! Wind was what surprised me most about my first show! I wasn't expecting it to do so much damage! My displays kept blowing over and products were flying away. If you are dealing with an outdoor show, consider all weather elements for your area.
If you are using tables you'll want some kind of table covering. I recommend black fitted table cloths. You simply unfold them, drop them over your table and they stay put. Other alternatives of course - you can make your own if sewing is your skill or you can get some flat sheets and throw them on your tables. Don't forget to bring a comfortable chair, most craft shows do not provide them.
A good place to start is Kate's Craft Store - they have a large variety for the boutique and hair bow niche as well as many other craft items.
Business cards, signs and prices
Next you'll need business cards, a sign and prices. You can get business cards for free or very inexpensive from online business card printing sites. Allow a few weeks before hand to get them designed and shipped to you. Often times, if you buy enough products - these companies typically will offer you a free sign. If not make one! You should have a sign up so shoppers can easily identify your business.
How will your price your items? As a shopper I prefer everything individually priced or grouped together by same price. As a seller I like to stick with simple, easy to remember prices. I tend to group my like items and same price items together and create a sign with prices on it. While we are talking prices. Price your items in singles and multiples prices. 3.00 for one or 2.00 for 5.00. People will usually always buy a second one to get the better deal and you just made a little more money. Win, win!
Last minute tips
You've got your supplies and you have a good amount of items made - do a trial set up of your items at home or yard just to get a feel for how you will arrange things and what you need more of. For my sanity I put together a craft show tool kit. Items you need at every show etc. Markers, pens, paper, pricing gun, business cards, hole punch, scissors, tape, extra price stickers and paper are just a few of the things I have in mine.
One more important thing to consider before heading out to your show. Consider doing a giveaway at your table. Either put together a basket of items and have people enter to win them. Or enter to win one of your products or a gift card. Have entry forms for them to use to sign up for the giveaway. Make sure the paper ask for an email address. Why should you give something away for free? Because with all the social media there is today, (Facebook, Pinterest etc) its not a guarantee your fans or followers will see your post/pins. If you collect emails you can do direct marketing to them! There are many email marketing programs out there that allow you to send out free newsletters. Your newsletters can inform your customers of your sales, what shows you'll be at and your new products!
Engage with your customers
Many crafters are shy or interverts by nature. Try coming out of your shell and engaging with everyone that comes into your booth. A friendly "Hello, how you today?" Goes a long way towards making your customers feel welcome. Bring along some of your work to work on during the slow times or to give demonstrations. People love to stop and watch you doing something unique.
Entertain the kids!
Consider if the event you are considering is a family atmosphere? If so there are bound to be kids at the events. To keep them happy and entertained in your booth so parents can shop, is crucial. If they have something to do, they are not touching and knocking over your things and parents will stay longer and hopefully buy more if their kids are happy. A few great options for keeping kids entertained are bubble machines that blow bubbles. A lollipop tree, a little game kids can play such as turning over a duck in small container of water and winning a small prize. Having a small box of toys for them to play with. As a parent myself - I always have small little toys laying around my house that are perfect to go in my craft show box. They are toys from fast food meals that I don't mind if they "walk" off with a child or not. Balloons are another great option. Even better if you can advertise your company name on them. If nothing else, request to be next to a face painter if there is one at the event you'll be at. Long lines waiting for face painting are perfect traffic for you.
There are many factors that make you a success at a craft show, hopefully with the help of some of the suggestions and tips in this article you'll be selling your crafts at a show near you soon!Cheryl Vicory