Tag Archives: Tips for Beginners

Checklist

Craft Fair Checklist

Continuing our occasional series of posts with ideas and tips for new crafters, this time we’re looking at preparation for the craft fair itself. Here’s our Craft Fair Checklist.

So you’ve booked the date and the venue. A few days before the event, take some time to check that you’ve though of everything. Use our

Craft Fair Checklist

Weather

Weather
Check The Weather Forecast
  • Have you got enough waterproof boxes, clothes, covers if wet weather is forecast?
  • You’ll need warm clothes if its going to be cold – and don’t forget a hat and pair of gloves.
  • If we get a summer, have you got sunscreen ready.
  • How will you secure your stock if it’s windy?

Stock

This may be blindingly obvious, but double check that you have enough stock to:

  1. Fill your table or pitch
  2. Reserve  stock to replace all the items that you sell
  3. Enough to last the duration of the event

Display

Jewellery Display
Part of our jewellery on display

How are you going to show your products off to their best advantage?

  • Try to get some height onto your table
  • Use props, if appropriate
  • Acrylic or wooden shelves give lots more horizontal space to show things off.
  • Can you hang items from twigs?

Table Cloth

Derby Mind Body Spirit Fair
Our tablecloth at a fair reaches the floor

An important part of your stall presentation is the table covering. Think about the colour, the fabric and whether it will show creases. Always ensure that your cloth reaches the floor at the front of your stall. Not only does this look neat, it allows you to hide your extra stock, your lunch box, etc out of the public’s sight.

Price Cards and Tickets

Always try to have price tickets, labels or cards for every item that you sell. Many people don’t like to ask in case they can’t afford to pay.

For some crafters, handwritten tickets are perfect, but you can always us a computer to create a consistent “brand” to your tickets and signs. It is good to laminate signs because card and paper starts to curl up at the slightest sign of damp.

Pricing and Discounting

Setting the price for each item can be agonising. The things to take into account when setting prices include:

  • The cost of your materials
  • The cost of tools and equipment used
  • The cost of the space that use to make and store your craft materials
  • The cost of your time
  • At what price are your competitors selling similar items
  • What you think the customers will pay

Al some point, you will get a customer asking for a discount. It is worth deciding what your discount policy is before this catches you by surprise. Some crafters never give discounts, others are willing to do so when, for example a customer buys several items or spends more than a certain sum.

Change

Pile of coins
Have you got enough change?

Have enough change in the right coins that allow you to give change for £5, £10 and £20 notes. Keep your change (and your takings) safe at all times. Many market traders and crafters have a money belt with large pockets at the front that they never take off during an event.

Sellotape, Stapler, Scissors

It’s a great idea to have a craft fair toolkit. As an absolute minimum, you’ll need sellotape, a stapler and a pair of scissors. You might also find a use for clamps, pliers, screwdrivers, drawing pins and other things as you build up your experience.

We now always carry a bottle of bleach after a fair when our stall was over a very smelly drain.

Other items that you should keep in your toolkit:

  • First Aid Kit
  • Public Liability Insurance Certificate
  • PAT Test Certificate if you use electric lights or appliance
  • Food Hygiene Certificate – if you sell any kind of food

Business cards

We give every customer a business card – and quite a lot of people who just browse too. We want repeat customers at future fairs and customers to visit our website. So our cards have our web address and we make a point of telling them about our calendar page.

Business cards are a cost before you take any money, but they are a wise investment. Our are ordered online from Vistaprint, but there are plenty of printers and other suppliers.

Over to You

What would you add to this Craft Fair Checklist. Please leave us a comment.

 

The LoveTaliesin gazebo set up at a craft fair

Craft Fairs In The LoveTaliesin Gazebo

The LoveTaliesin gazebo set up at a craft fair
The LoveTaliesin gazebo set up at a craft fair

Craft Fair Growth

We’ve been going out and selling our jewellery at craft fairs for several years now and have developed our ranges of jewellery and associated product lines to the point that we need more space than is normally offered by a single stall in any fair. The stall size is normally based on a 6 foot long table, sometimes the traditional fold-up table found in church halls and community centres and sometimes trestle tables. These will be provided by the organiser who will also arrange for shelter in the form of a hall or a marquee.

As our product range has grown, a single table is simply not enough to show our goodies at their best, so the next option is to book two tables. Obviously, this normally costs double the rent for a single space.

Moving Out Of The Marquee

Some craft fair organisers are able to rent outside space to crafters to set up their own tables. Indeed there are some hardy souls who trade in the open air.

We’re not made of such stern stuff. We decided that if we are to venture outside the secure confines of the marquee, we needed shelter and some security, so we bit the proverbial bullet and bought a gazebo.

We have also had to provide our own tables and everything else that we discovered that we needed.

The Plus Side

But the biggest advantage of our gazebo is space. In 3 x 3 metres, we now have three tables, mobile workshop space for making and customising jewellery and storage for stock and components while still having enough space for the two of us.

The interior of the LoveTaliesin Gazebo showing jewellery displayed across two tables
The interior of the LoveTaliesin Gazebo showing jewellery displayed across two of our tables

The Down Side

There are, of course a few disadvantages. Firstly, our car now has to transport even more to the fairs. Then there is the extra time it takes to erect the gazebo and set out three tables of stock. We have several 5:00am starts and that takes some commitment.

Then there’s the need to increase our stock (and product ranges) to fill this extra space. We were really keen to make the stall stand out by having visual impact from a distance; something that is difficult to do with earrings and necklaces! So we have added scarf hangers and scarves to our craft fair stock, further increasing the load on the car.

One thing that we miss is the constant chat between stallholders when we are hidden away behind the canvas walls. It’s pretty well essential to have two of us at each fair so that we can have that contact, but also to allow coffee and loo breaks.

Scarves and Scarf Hangers make a strong visual impact as an addition to the LoveTaliesin Jewellery in the gazebo.
Scarves and Scarf Hangers make a strong visual impact as an addition to the LoveTaliesin Jewellery in the gazebo.

Lessons Learned

We have learned some important lessons during the first few craft fairs with the gazebo:

  • Our gazebo is blue, which can sometimes feel a bit gloomy inside. Eventually we want to get a white or silver roof and walls.
  • We wanted to have a strong “brand presence”, so we  bought a large banner. This also reflects light and helps to overcome the issue of the blue roof and walls.
The LoveTaliesin Banner inside the gazebo
The LoveTaliesin Banner inside the gazebo to emphasise our brand and reflect light.
  • Wind can be a gazebo’s worst enemy. We have had to pack up and leave a fair because the gazebo was in real danger of being blown away. Since then we have added extra weights to hold the gazebo in place – some made of cast iron, and some filled with a total of 50kg of sand.
  • Planning the way that the car is loaded is essential to ensure that the gazebo comes out first and goes in last.

Conclusion

The gazebo has proved to be a great addition to our business. It’s early days to see how much it affects our sales, but the opportunity to display so much of our jewellery and to expand the ranges of things that we can offer.

LoveTaliesin's jewellery designer, Sue, inside the gazebo with the LoveTaliesin banner.
LoveTaliesin’s jewellery designer, Sue, inside the gazebo with the LoveTaliesin banner behind her.

Links

Handmade with Love

Starting Your Journey as a Craft Seller

Starting to sell your craft creations can be a daunting step, but for many of us, it’s something that turns out to be enjoyable, rewarding and fun.

So you’ve been making things for a while and you’ve reached the point where you’d like people to part with their hard-earned cash in return for your stunning creations. This is the situation that every seller of hand-made items has experienced at some point and of course, we are no exception.

This is not a complete guide to setting up a craft business, but is a collection of a few of the tips that we have gathered along the way

Stock

Have a range of items to give potential customers choice.  Your range should also include lower priced items as well as higher priced ones.

Try to be consistent in the kind of items you are selling. (For example, avoid selling knitted items alongside wooden toys – unless you can do it in a way that they fit seamlessly together. Many craft fair organisers will want to ensure that there is a good range of stalls and you may be rejected or told that you can’t sell certain items.

Setting prices

This can be a tricky area. You must cover your materials cost plus your time plus profit. Don’t forget your “hidden” costs as well – things like electricity, tools, stall rent and travel.

Starting Your Planning

  • Visit local craft fairs as a customer to see what other crafters are doing.
  • Decide what you want to make
  • Make it
  • Book your first fair(s) – but don’t start out with a big, expensive event. Use www.stallfinder.com to find local events.

Where shall I go for my first sale?

Look for a small local event.

  • Girlguides, Brownies or Rainbows
  • Your local church
  • School
  • Community centre
  • Sheltered housing complex

may have a spring, summer or autumn fair.

A Craft Fair At Great Haywood Memorial Hall - An ideal type of venue when you're starting out as a Craft Seller
A Craft Fair At Great Haywood Memorial Hall – An ideal type of venue when you’re starting out as a Craft Seller
  • A half-day sale is probably as much as you’ll want to do for a start.
  • Check that the table rent is affordable.
  • In the early days, try to stick to events with fairly flexible booking arrangements. (Pay on the day)
  • Don’t be disappointed if you don’t take much money on your first few fairs.

When you book, don’t be afraid to ask how many other sellers will be selling similar items to yours. In the same way that good craft fair organisers want a wide range of stalls, you don’t want to be surrounded by lots of other stalls selling similar items to your own. However, don’t be afraid of some competition; every crafter will be different.

Your first few fairs

  • Network with other stallholders
  • Be prepared for setbacks and disappointment and learn from them
  • Take careful note of feedback from customers – and non-customers
  • Be prepared to change the items that you stock
  • Experiment with different ways of setting up your stall
  • Keep a written record of your sales
  • Feel great the first time your takings exceed the table rent.

Online

It’s never too early to think about using the power of social media and the internet to promote your craft selling.

Set up a Facebook Page and a Twitter profile and use them only for your craft business. These are both free, although advertising options are available later on. Find some training – and keep an eye on the online marketing gurus. (Links)

Consider setting up a store on the crafter’s marketplaces Etsy and Folksy. Both of these have costs. 

It’s much less important (and almost certainly expensive) to try to set up your own ecommerce website at this stage, but keep it in mind for the future.

Finally

Above all, enjoy your crafting and selling, and whether you keep it as a part-time interest or turn it into a full-time  business, get some business advice. Once you start making profit, you will be liable for tax. You also need to consider insurance. As you get better known you may also need to establish copyright protection for your designs.

If there’s another tip for crafters starting selling that you’d like to add to this, please leave us a comment or contact us.

(This post was updated on 29/1/16)

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