If you are interested in learning how it came to be – check out my previous post about Goal Setting.
Before I even knew I’d be doing a craft show, I set some goals for my business for the holiday season. I wrote down how many scarves and headbands I realistically could make on a given day. I also assigned a specific amount of time to “marketing” – updating my blog, my Etsy shop and Facebook. I also wrote: “create a new product” on the list.
Research - Learn from those that have done it.
I did a little Google search on “tips for craft shows” and that led me to many great articles. I especially liked this one from a blog on Etsy.
My big take-aways from my research were these:
- “You can’t sell what you don’t have.” Simply put: get sewing girl! The more you have, they more you have to sell. The other side to this coin is this: don’t kill yourself either. You will have enough, and if you don’t, then you will next time.
- Do your own promotions – toot your horn! Sound the alarm! Let everyone know what you’re up to.
- Accept credit cards. I used the SquareUp card reader for my iPhone. And I accepted personal checks. (Read on to see how this worked for me.)
- Have an eye-catching display that draws people in. Pinterest came in handy here.
I worked very hard, not only creating my products, but also considering the details of the event.
- Table Design – even though I don’t own a 90” round table, I used my dining table to plan my booth. I took photos and asked friends their opinions about my layout and got some great feedback (thank you Susan and Michele!)
- Change. How much change should I bring? I asked my friend Susan – who is far more experienced than I - and she advised $100 in small bills. All of my items were priced at either $5, $10, $15 or $20. This made the change issue easier.
- Organization. I sewed a “vendor apron” to hold my change, my phone and credit card reader (I used Square Up – more on that later) a receipt pad and a pen. This was great because it kept my hands free and my money close. I found the tutorial for the vendor apron, and made it the night before the show (gotta love last minute projects.)
- Packaging. I thought about how I would package sold items. Days prior, I prepared the bags and tissue paper to make wrapping fast and easy. I brought my packaging supplies in a separate box that was easy to access and reserved an area in the back of my table specifically for wrapping up the goods.
- Each of my products had a business card attached to it (another prep job perfect for evening t.v. watching)
- Realities of life. I asked a friend to come sit with me for a bit so that I could have a bathroom break. Thank you Lauren! My mom, who was concerned about thievery, brought me lunch and watched over my booth. It was nice to have the company. There were no thieves at this craft show.
The show itself was great fun. I’m sure because it was my first and I had adrenaline on my side, the time went quickly. I arrived to set up at 9 a.m. (doors opened at 10 a.m.) and Lauren and I were cleaning up at 3 p.m.
Many friends came and I felt very supported. I sold ¾ of my scarves. Because I was busy, I did not get to see much of what other vendors were selling, except those directly around me (light-up glass blocks that look like wrapped gifts, purses crocheted using plastic bags and aluminum can pop-tops, custom name plates for kids rooms, homemade jams and lots of jewelry.) My mom reported that I had the best booth (of course she did, thanks Mom) and I did feel like I had quite a bit of activity. I think my pricing was right for this audience (a small church community, and of course, my friends.) I also felt like I had a popular item – the infinity scarves – that no other vendor offered. That is thanks to the organizers of the event who required vendors to commit to their products in advance, so that no two vendors were selling the same things. Thank you Calvary Baptist Church!
I also paid attention to what people were saying as they were trying on scarves, looking in the mirror and commenting to each other. I was in the back of my table, busying my self with a few hand-sewing projects (another great suggestion - this from my sister Beth: “Keep busy so that customers don’t feel like you’re staring at them.”) Most popular comment: “Oh, that’s cute, but get this one because it will go with more.” I sold all of my neutral scarves first – the blacks, greys, and creams. The brighter colors and/or patterns sold well, but not until the neutrals were gone. Scarves displayed on the mannequin always sold.
Sales of my other items (ornaments and headbands) were slow. The scarves really stole the show, and that’s ok. I am curious about a different way to market the ornaments and headbands. I think they have potential, but I need to find the right niche.
Here’s what I wish went differently:
- I wish the church had advertised a bit more. I went there the day before the event and there was not a sign to be seen. There was one small hand made (by a child – cute, but ineffective) sign on the day of the event. It was posted on a corner far from the actual location. The location of the church was tricky (requiring a u-turn) so some big banners would have been helpful. This was only the church’s 2nd year hosting a craft show, so I’m sure they are working things out.
- I wish that my cell phone coverage was good enough to use my Square for accepting credit cards. Once inside the gym, I had only 3 bars of coverage – not enough to run the Square. Other vendors around me had no issues using theirs (Square, as well as other types of credit card readers.) Each of us had a different cell carrier. My Verizon didn’t work. Lesson here: find a different way to accept credit cards. I could look into an old fashion “knuckle crusher” that you slide over the card with carbon paper. Or I could take credit card numbers on the receipt and input the info using the Square once I had coverage (in this case, in the parking lot!)
- It would have helped to have wi-fi in the gym. They had it in the church office, but it did not reach the gym. Having a wi-fi signal would have allowed me to use the Square. I don’t think I lost any sales over this issue (many thanks to friends Barbara and Missy, who took my phone and customers to the Church office for me!) The snafu did prompt me to accept checks, which I hadn’t planned on doing.
But all in all, it worked out fine.
Again, huge thanks to the friends and family who came to help and buy! It was a lot of work. I learned a ton. Would I do it again? You bet!
Update: After the show I came home and cleaned up the tornado of fabric that took over my house. I took a few days to decompress and then I photographed everything that did not sell at the show and put it in my Etsy shop. I also started sewing again. I am adding new items to my shop daily and they are selling fast -- Go check it out!
Next time: New Year, New Projects. I love my scarves, but I’m itching to fire up my creative brain to try something new.
Stay tuned for new creative endeavors.