Saturday, 21 November 2015

The Pro's and Con's of the Craft Fair (or, why we freeze our butts off)



I've just got back from a day peddling my wares at a Christmas Craft Fair. This one was for an excellent cause -Sophie's Smile -and always has a lovely vibe, good footfall and superb volunteers (like, the actually come around offering free tea and coffee every half an hour which is amazing!).

Despite horrendous weather, nearly sub-zero temperatures and a Michael Buble CD on repeat for five hours, it was a good thing to do. For a few reasons.  Which is why I thought in the middle of craft fair silly season I'd share some of the good, bad and ugly xx

Pro's:

  • You can support great causes (schools, nurseries or charities) whilst sharing your craft;
  • You can talk about the craft you love, all day, like a nutter and it doesn't matter;
  • You can make some money which helps buy more supplies (or cake);
  • I find it useful to see all my stuff in one place, get a feel for what direction I'm going in and have a good evaluate;
  • The public feedback (whether positive or negative) helps you grow;
  • It's excellent face-to-face advertising for you and your brand;
  • The opportunity to make contacts and network is essential -I've found most of my commissions have come off the back of meeting people at craft fairs;
  • You can see what is selling in the craft world generally;
  • You meet the competition and this forces you to think about your pricing, your presentation and your product;
  • It's a day away from your kids;
  • It's a safe testing ground for something new or a little bit different.

Cons:
  • It can end up costing you money (consider your time, pitch fee, petrol, childcare, raffle prizes, food and drink when counting up your takings);
  • Let me reiterate; you can spend all your takings on cake (and other lovely things!);
  • It can knock your confidence if you're not used to seeing people look over your wares, or hearing the comments they make;
  • If you hear 'I could make that, that's a great idea' one more time, you might be driven to violence;
  • You can freeze your arse off in highly inclement conditions;
  • You might have to hold your pee for five hours;
  • The panic and stress involved in getting organised the week before might put you off your craft for life.

Top tips for Stallholder Survival:
  • Be realistic about your making time prior to the event, and consider the number of events you do, based on the stock you are able to make;
  • Always keep in mind that the advertising and networking value might not put cash in the tin on the day, but could pay dividends later;
  • Choose your pitch well in advance and think about the weather. If placement isn't specified on the booking form, contact the event organiser in advance and make a request;
  • Practise setting up at home so you can swiftly assemble and disassemble on the day;
  • Take your own flask of tea, coffee and snacks (saves you money!);
  • Unless you specifically need to buy something as a gift, just don't!;
  • Make sure everything is priced and labelled clearly before you go -people just don't like asking and you might lose a sale as a result;
  • Have your contact card/details at the ready in case people want to speak to you again;
  • If you can, be flexible with your commission possibilities -it's always better to discuss a customer's ideas before you say no!;
  • It's ok to say "no" (to making more than you can in the time you have, to offering a discount, to coming back next year if it really didn't work);
  • Research your pricing carefully and make sure you charge an honest and fair price to the person who made the item -YOU! You only do other crafters and artisans a disservice by charging below cost and time.