Craft Fairs: Letting Go of What Doesn’t Work

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Strange to think, but it’s almost time to start preparing for Spring and Summer craft fairs. I received an email just the other day telling me that the application is up for a fair I did last August.

But here’s the thing, I’m re-thinking how I think about craft fairs this year.

We’ve done a lot of craft fairs. All kinds from big one and two day events to small little half day church fairs. We get tons of compliments on both our booth and our art; but, while we do okay at them, we don’t do spectacularly. So it’s time to make a change. Well, two changes.

The first change I’m making is – no more fairs that cost over $100. We just don’t do well enough at them to keep at it. It’s a sad change, because I love doing big fairs and talking to people. But, the fact of the matter is – they don’t work for us. At least not in this state.

And the second change is even bigger and harder for me. We are going to do just a few fairs this year and for each of them we are going to reverse our focus. Usually, the display is 75 to 80% fallenpeach travel photography (bookmarks, cards, prints etc) and the rest Sammy & Friends (bookmarks, cards etc). Well, this year we are going to switch those.

Matt’s Sammy & Friends illustrations are growing. He already has a new winter one that I am working with and we have a bunch of ideas in the pipelines. His illustrations draw attention at fairs and do fairly well there too. I want to see what happens when we put most of the focus on his art instead of mine.

sammy the cat sleeps on heart pillow bookmark by fallenpeach

Which hurts a little. But I need to let go of what isn’t working and try something new. It’s time. And I truly am excited to see what happens. So the winter is for building up on both stock and new images if possible and searching out fairs that we think will work for our Sammy & Friends line.

Sometimes it takes a little bit of bravery and to remember that the business is more important than pride to push forward and try something new.

Tell me in the comments about your experiences with pushing forward and making big changes – I would love to find it it worked for you or if you are working on another big change!

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Apple Harvest Festival Photos

First of all, I want to thank everyone who stopped by our booth at the festival this past weekend; we had a lot of fun talking to people and sharing travel memories with you.

Here are some photos / instagram photos I took of our booth at the Glastonbury Apple Harvest Festival. We received numerous compliments on our booth and I have to say I’m really proud of how it came out. This was the second fair that we used this set up and I love it more every time I use it. Our next fair is indoors and we only get one table, so that look will be very different.

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Meetup: October 2013 Goals

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Road Trips are wonderful things. They refresh us and they get us talking about goals and dreams; unfortunately,  it takes everything I have to hold on to those conversations once we return home. Let’s look at my goals from September:

Keep up with 30 Days of Lists – Kinda proud that I made it all the way through with only a couple stumpers 🙂

– Catch up on Project Life (I’m only …. 3 months behind…. )

– Begin to organize old photos and collect into new photo albums. Condense in some places, expand in others.

– focus on fallenpeach itself. ignore other divisions temporarily.

– edit photos of new bookmarks, begin listing.

– Plot and take next road trip  – I can not wait to share this trip with you guys, it was amazing.

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Lindsey Faces Down World's Largest Buffalo photo by fallenpeach

That would be me, facing down the World’s Largest Buffalo! 🙂

September wasn’t really a failure, per se, I had a wonderful month and we had  an awesome vacation. But in terms of goals, I did not get a whole lot done. Keeping in mind my goal of priorities from September and my need to slow myself down a little, let’s see what is in store for October (oh my god it’s October!) :

Craft Fair Prep

– make / restock select items that sold out at the Oyster Festival

– research and sign up for at least two Holiday craft fairs

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– make list of new products, photograph and edit photographs, then make schedule for releasing them into our etsy shop.

Life

– officially catch up with Project Life (still a couple months behind)

Future

– start plotting, planning and branding for separating our graphic design services from fallenpeach

Other

– keep to budget this month, less if possible.

– continue getting Halloween costumes ready.

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How was your September? Do you have big plans for October? Join in The Meetup and post your link in the comments!

On to the Next Thing! – a Monday Update

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Our booth on Saturday. That’s Laura sitting behind the table 🙂

Happy Monday!

Thank you so much to everyone that came to visit our booth at the Milford Oyster Festival this past Saturday! My cousin Laura and I had a lot of fun talking to people and enjoying the weather. It really was beautiful out, although a little hot midday!

I feel like I have a whole new set of goals now that the Oyster Fest is done, and I really do. But I think this week will be for unpacking, cleaning up and organizing my thoughts. I need to make a lot of to do lists and figure out what needs to get done before The Next Big Thing. And I owe you more photos of our booth from Saturday, because I really think it looked great! That will be another post this week.

The Next Big Thing, fallenpeach wise, is our Anniversary in September. We will be 4 years old this year and small celebrations will be had.  🙂

What did you do this past weekend? Anything exciting?

Monday Update: 6 Days Left Until the Milford Oyster Festival!

New Wigwam Motel Pendant by fallenpeach on Etsy

one of my brand new pendants hanging on the awesome vintage radio I found this weekend!

Last week I felt stressed that I wouldn’t get everything done, but after this past weekend I just feel really excited. I haven’t done a craft fair in a long time and I do love them. Plus, I spent the weekend making new keychains as well as brand new round and square glass tile pendants and everything looks BEAUTIFUL. I can not wait to show them off next Saturday at the Milford Oyster Festival!

I added some things to my Craft Fair Checklist and printed it out. I made a to do list of everything left to buy or make or do and I’ve crossed almost everything off of it. My biggest concern right now is that I won’t have the big car I thought I was going to have to transport everything. And I have a Mini Cooper Clubman. I have a few backup plans if everything doesn’t fit, but hopefully I can have everything ready and test packing the car by Wednesday or Thursday.

Other things I accomplished this weekend: Bought an awesome, old and HEAVY radio at a tag sale to use as a display piece, found a super cute photo album to use for the September 30 Days of Lists and cleaned my desk. I also compulsively checked the weather. We are supposed to have a gorgeous day next Saturday, I can only hope that that stays true!

I spontaneously took the photo above this morning to show off a pendant and the radio, and now I think I have my prop for Etsy photos when I list the pendants – I absolutely love this photo!

I’m using a lot of exclamation points today. After the week I had last week, it feels really good to be happy and excited about something. Here’s to a good week full of good things happening!

 

Craft Fair Update: Milford Oyster Festival

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We are incredibly excited to be back at the Milford Oyster Festival in Milford Connecticut on August 17, 2013! It’s been over a year since we did a craft fair (due to getting married and all 🙂 ) and I am so so so excited about this. I’ve been making a lot of fun changes to our craft fair display and getting a bunch of new products ready. My blogging has been a little erratic because of this, but I’m hoping to be back on track within the next two weeks. There is just so much to do!

Things you should know about the Oyster Fest – the headlining band will be Blues Traveler (!!!) and it’s a lot of fun. Hope to see you there !

 

How to: Craft Fairs (from the Archive)

Back in 2010 I wrote a fairly comprehensive post on craft fairs. Since I’m about to do a craft fair for the first time in at least a year and a half, I thought I’d bring it back out. Here it is, enjoy! And be sure to comment with your own craft fair tips and links 🙂

Oyster Festival 2010

How to: Craft Fairs
 Craft fairs are a way to be visible in your area. They are a great way to meet customers and talk up your products in way that is still easier to do in person than online. Fairs are a lot of fun and also a wonderful way to meet other crafters, make friends and get advice where you can. At every show I do, I talk to the other crafters and see what their techniques are, what kind of shows they are doing and if they know of any more that I should look into.
The key to making the most profit is finding the right fair for you at the right price. The smaller the fee, the more chance of a profit for you. The bigger the fee, the bigger the fair and also the more chance of a profit for you, but also a bigger risk. Look at how much money you have for fairs and how many fairs you think you might want to do during the season. Think about your craft and your customers and where they might be shopping.
Fees can range from $20 – $600 depending on the fair, the location and the number of days. When you are just starting out, it’s best to find fairs that are under $100 to test the market and see how your products sell. It’s also a great way to start figuring out what type of fair is right for you.
 Example: The first fair we did was at a small private school in a very woodsy part of Connecticut. Sort of out in the middle of nowhere. The fee was $100 for two days. At that point, we didn’t really know how our products would sell or to what crowd we should market them. This was an opportunity and we jumped at it. We made about $120. Which means that we made a $20 profit after taking out the fair fee.
This was not the best fair for us and a lot of elements factored in. Two major factors were that the fair was only really advertised to people that attended the school and we were placed right next to the school store’s booth – people tended to stop there and then not move on to us. The lack of publicity combined with the $100 fee made this fair not a great choice. But we gained experience, met people and had fun. So it wasn’t a total loss.
Even if you don’t make a lot of money, remember to talk to your fellow crafters and have fun.
Now, if this fair had been advertised in the papers for weeks ahead of time and/or been in a more public place (not hidden in the woods on a back road) then we might have made a lot more money in those two days and it would have been worth it. I’m not saying to skip expensive fairs, because sometimes they can be worth it, just in the beginning do your research.
Craft Fairs with smaller fees usually take place at public schools and churches around holidays – Christmas, Mother’s Day etc. and can be a great way to get yourself out there without too much of a risk. Also, fairs that take place in very public places like town greens and on major roads will most likely have more foot traffic than fairs on back roads, and may be worth the higher fee.
 SoNo Flea craft fair display by fallenpeach
  Finding Fairs
The first place I usually look for fairs is the newspaper. All newspapers have a community section with coming events and that is where you can usually find “Vendors Wanted” listings. You can also check the want-ads in the Tag Sale/Craft Fair section, but my experience shows that they usually are only listed there when it’s too late to apply.
Another way to find fairs is just to keep your eyes peeled when driving around. Before the holidays schools and churches will often put huge signs out front advertising their Holiday Fair. When you get home, google that school or church and see if you can find out who to contact.
If you are on Etsy, that can be another way to find fairs. Often people will advertise in the Forums when they are looking for vendors.
Also, let your family and friends know you are looking, especially if they live in another town. If they hear of something you might want to participate in they can tell you about it.
There are also tons of websites out there that have full listings of fairs in your area. Simply google “craft fairs” and your state and it’s sure to bring up a slew of websites that list fairs, their fees and when deadlines are. If you know of any specific sites please let me know and I’ll add them in here!
 The Space Flea Market craft fair display by fallenpeach
 How Many Products Should I Bring?
One of the first things I was worried about was how many products to make and bring. My best advice for this is look at the fair. How much was the fee? How many people do they expect? At most small fairs one or two of each product / style should be fine. If you have a small amount of stock and want to just bring it all – go ahead! It can’t hurt to have it. Also, make sure you have enough stock to make more than just the fee back. If the fee is $100, bring at least $200 worth of product. The key is to make your table look full and inviting. Bring enough different styles of product to draw people in.
 Display
Great cheap finds can be sought out at places like Home Goods, Marshalls and Goodwill. Be creative with your display and don’t be afraid to change it up if something isn’t working or you find something better.
 >Monday Updates: The Craft Fair Post!
 Example: When I started I used small dish racks from Walmart as greeting card displays (see above). Months later I found a fancier display at Marshalls and decided to use that instead.
Decide on a mood for your display and stick with it, make sure your pieces fit well together and there aren’t too many patterns or crazy colors to distract from your products. Check out this wonderful blog (Craft Show Designs) for ideas, and don’t be afraid to use flickr or google to find other examples of tables selling similar products.
 Cash? Check? Credit Cards?
While I believe it is still the norm for people to bring cash to craft fairs, companies like Square and Paypal are making it much easier for crafters to accept credit cards as well. It is slowly becoming more normal for crafters to pull out their phones or tablets and take credit cards. While it isn’t necessary (and if your products are all under $40, I wouldn’t worry too much about it), it can increase your sales dramatically. I’m hoping that this will be the case, anyway, since this will be our first year using Square.
Checks are a personal thing. If you trust your customers, by all means accept checks. Always make sure to get the person’s phone number, address and license number so that you can contact them if the check does not go through for some reason.
In order to provide change to your cash paying customers, be sure to bring some cash with you. The standard is to have about $200 cash on you in various bills and coins. I usually have at least $50 + in singles, less in $5’s and $10’s and no $20’s. I also bring two rolls of each coin, although I’ve only needed one of each so far.
When you get home, take $200 out of your cash box or apron – the rest is your profit from the day.
 Snow Ball Craft Fair Display
 Checklist of Things to Bring
Here is my basic checklist of things to bring. I found a lot of lists online and in books and then added some things to it. Feel free to print this list and add things to it yourself and keep it for each fair. Make copies if you want to and check things off as they are packed so that you don’t forget anything.
Table (or tables)
Chair(s)
Tablecloth(s)
Display pieces
Sign with logo to hang
Business cards
Price signage
Cardboard for last minute signage
Receipt books
Calculator
Cash box or Vendor Apron
Pens, Pencils
Notepad
Shopping bags
Tape (I usually bring three kinds of tape just in case)
Stickies or S Hooks to hang artwork (if necessary and if there is space)
Scissors
Snacks/drinks
Garbage bag (for your own trash, there isn’t always a garbage handy)
Extra change (standard is to have $200 in cash, see above for more info)
Credit card reader (if you have one)
Freebies (if you’d like – candy is a great example)
Lighting (if necessary – some fairs you must pay extra for electricity though)
Extension cords
Clipboard with sign up sheet for e-mail mailing list
Camera (take photos of your booth!)
Tissues
Inventory list
Inventory (don’t forget your products)
Sales tax form/Business documentation
Clean up rag to catch spills
Finally, have fun. The most important thing is to enjoy yourself; if you look sad or sullen, your booth with have less visitors. Stay standing and active. Move things around on your table occasionally, SMILE, talk to people.
Also, watch people and how your displays work. As you can see from the photos above, we’ve changed our display set up quite a bit. We watch and see what works and what doesn’t and then fix the problem areas. I’m also constantly on the lookout for new ways to display our products. Right now I’m looking for a new bookmark display since the spinner we made is falling apart.
Don’t forget to promote the fair – tell your family, friends, put it on facebook, your blog, twitter. Spread the word.
Good luck with your Craft Fair Adventures and if you have any questions, feel free to comment on this post or drop me an email. Please also comment with your own craft fair tips and links!