October 25, 2011

Talking about craft fairs...

I`ve started writing for the blog of my Etsy Team (Aspiring Artisan´s Guild) this week. I wrote a post about craft fairs... and I wanted to share it with you (It`s only in English so I apologize for the lack of Spanish translation)


He comenzado a escribir en el blog de mi Etsy Team (Aspiring Artisan´s Guild) esta semana. He escrito un post acerca de mi experiencia en hacer bazaares y ferias de arte... se los quiero compartir aquí pero lamentablemente está sólo en Inglés así que les pido una disculpa por la falta de traducción)


For the last year and a half I have been doing lots of craft fairs. Any kind of craft fair you can imagine, the tiny ones (only 5 or 6 artists in a very small place), the big and very well known ones, the new ones, the just started ones, outside, inside, during any season and time of the year, successful ones, crappy ones, you name it! I have even sold in a public square below a mountain in Montreal where people gather on Sundays to play drums and have a lovely day outside and where a bunch of artists and hippies sell their stuff on the ground. After all this I can proudly say I can tell you I have learned a thing or two on this topic and I would love to share it with you.

First of all I would suggest you do your research right. There is a bunch of information you have to consider before doing a craft fair and these are some points I think are important:

1. Is it a well known fair or is it new?
2. What kind of crowd attends this fair?
3. How much is it?
4. Location
5. Indoors or outdoors (both have their complexities)
6. When is it?

1. Is it a well known fair of is it new?

I have done both and even though I have had pleasant surprises with new craft fairs, I have also had bad ones. For example; the location was not as good as promised or no one knew about it so there were no clients at all! A well known craft fair or design fair has gained its reputation over the years by making things right, buy choosing their vendors right, by choosing a good location and a good time to make their event and also by doing a good advertisement of it. A good and successful craft fair will be able to provide you with photos of previous events and you can even ask other artists who participated on it about their experience. Do your research!

2. What kind of crowd attends this craft fair?

This is very important because if you go to an event with the wrong crowd you`ll have no sales. Do you know which kind of people appreciate and buy your work? Age, gender, profession, background, etc...

3. How much is it?

Some craft fairs are less expensive than others. Make a budget that includes the cost of the fair, transportation expenses, your display and your packaging supplies before making a decision to participate. To have a successful event you`ll have to make profit after paying all this previous expenses, so if you have never done a craft fair start with an affordable option so you can have the experience and see how it goes.

4. Location

For people like me with no car and living in a city where taxis are super expensive this is very important. I usually pack everything on a big (rather huge) suitcase and go like a gypsy carrying this and another big bag on the metro and buses, not the most gracious way to go around but I deal with it and save myself some money, sometimes one of my friends would be super kind with me and drive me to the fair (and I would be so happy when that happens). If you have a car (lucky you) check the parking options beforehand, you don`t want to be going around for 30 min. looking for a parking place when you have to set up your table by 11am!!! Location is also a good indicator of what kind of crowd will attend. Check if there is an ATM nearby, must of the times only cash is accepted in this events and sometimes clients don`t have enough so this could help your sales.

5. Indoors or outdoors (both have their complexities)

I usually prefer indoor fairs because I don`t have to deal with rain or wind (I`ve found myself hanging from a tent trying to stop it from flying away!) This also depends on your work. In both cases make sure what is going to be provided to you: table (check the size), chairs, a tent (for an out door event), wall space, rack space, electricity, etc... In my case I try to get wall space to display my cards hanging from a thread but in some places you cannot nail things on the wall so take this in consideration).

6. When is it?

There are craft fairs all year long. Best ones of course happen at the end of the year due to all the gift giving frenzy, but depending where you live, there are some other times of the year that are excellent or maybe not that good for doing a craft fair. For example, here in Montreal everyone goes out for the summer and I discover this while having 3 very bad craft fairs last summer. I just could not understand why I was not selling at all until someone explained this fact to me so now I will not do summer fairs.

Once you have decided to participate in a craft fair you have to plan many things. What are you going to sell, do you have stock or you need to prepare for it?, how are you going to display your work?, price tags, packaging, business cards, etc... I always take some tools to repair any of my dolls or jewelry in case something happens to them and I make sure to have enough change. Remember, you are going to be there for many hours so the least you want to be is hungry, bored or uncomfortable, take water, a yummy lunch and a book or whatever you can do while being there that will entertain you. Oh oh oh and do charge your cell phone before going, you want to be able to make a call in case... well, in case you need to!

In my opinion craft fairs are an excellent opportunity to show your work in a different way and to meet your clientele in person. It makes me happy to see the smiles of people faces when they see my work and I have met wonderful people and even made some good friends doing craft fairs. Even in the events where I have had very little profit I have gained something or learned something so I have never had regrets. Some of the retailers that sale my work have met me in a craft fair and some of the customers that knew me in a craft fair have looked for me later on to buy a doll or something. You never know!!!

My last advice would be to attend a craft fair yourself, specially one that you would like to participate as a vendor. Go and spend some time there, look at the crowd and get some ideas for your display from other vendors, ask questions, get the feeling of it! This will give you a very good perspective of the event itself and then you can go ahead and try it!

Good luck!!!



Chiquita banana said...

No entendí mucho pero se ve lindo j
besos cara carmina

Cara Carmina said...

chiquita!!!! mil disculpas, es que este post lo escribì para otro blog y lo quise compartir acá también pero nada más lo hice en Inglés.... gracias por visitar!!!! :D