Last Saturday I participated in my first ever craft fair. The actual fair itself was perfect and passed without any problems. I set up promptly, my stall looked great and I made sales. But on reflection, I failed to plan effectively and to allow myself some breathing space before the day. I packed on the morning and felt rushed and stressed as I plunged everything I needed into a bag.
As I berated myself at the time, I vowed to never leave things to the last minute ever again. So, to give myself the kick up the backside I needed, and to help any of you out who might be facing your first craft event, I thought I’d write a checklist on how to prepare properly for a craft fair.
Know what type of pitch you’ll have before you do ANYTHING
Before you start getting carried away with hundreds of products, lighting, props etc. check what size your stall is and what will be included in your pitch.
Most stalls are pretty basic and come with aproximately a 6ft table and two chairs. If you’re allowed to use the space in front of and to the sides of your table check with the organiser first. You might also be able to put stuff on the wall behind you too. Also, venues for craft fairs tend to be dimly lit so you might find that you need to bring your own lighting – but it must be PAT tested.
You’ll usually need to provide your own table cloth of sorts as you don’t want a chipped, ramshackle old table off-setting your goods!
Get your products ready well in advance
I really cannot stress this enough as this is exactly what I didn’t do and hated my stupid self for it. Once you know your pitch dimensions you’ll be able to plan how much product you can physically display and take with you.
It’s best to make anything that you would like to bring well in advance so that you’re not rushing through it last minute doing a half-hearted job. I learnt the hard way this time around and stayed up until 11pm most nights (even after doing a full days work!) to get product done. Use the days before to factor in any last minute table top styling ideas, packaging everything protectively and promoting the event – but more on this later.
Craft fairs can be the perfect place to showcase brand new or limited edition products which is why I slogged my guts out to get some new bits and pieces finished. Like this brand new black liberty print bow tie:
I also had some beautiful skull print fabric gifted by Fabric World that I wanted to turn into some hair bows to sell on the day:
I loved working with this fabric and the finished product looked polished due to the high quality of the material. The hard work paid off in the end as I sold one and had many complements so it’s now up on the Etsy shop.
Package your items to eliminate damage
If your products are delicate and you have to travel far to get to the venue, it’s so important that you package your pieces securely to eliminate any possibility of them being damaged. It would be heartbreaking to turn up to a fair only to discover that some of your items have broken in transit.
Use bubble wrap and individual boxes if you want to keep things separately and not get tangled or thrown around. If you have to travel by foot take a suitcase or trunk on wheels and pack out the space so things aren’t being chucked all over the place.
If you have prints, photos or paintings you’ll want to keep these flat so if you don’t drive you could consider getting lifts to the station or the event. If you have the budget you could pay for a taxi. I got the train but it was only a short ride and kept prints flat in a pop up cardboard box carrier.
Get promotional materials sorted
If you want to ensure you make an impression and direct people to where you sell your products, take business cards, flyers and labeling with you. Clearly display promotional materials on your stall and offer it out to browsers and people who purchase something.
For example, if you have sold out of something or you produce custom orders, give someone a business card with contact details and tell them to get in touch.
Promotional materials help to “build your brand” and remind people that they can connect with you online. I use a combination of business cards and handmade product labels to make an impact.
I like my labels to be handmade and printed as I think it helps to emphasise how much detail and effort goes into everything. I decided to add extra style to my labels using an X-Cut paper puncher. It’s so simple to use and there’s loads of different shapes to chose from to emboss your paper and crafts.
Use props to make your stall stand out
Props and stands can give your products the attention they deserve and help to demonstrate how they work or what they will look like on. As I sell hair bows I took a manaquin head to clip to a hair piece. You might also want to bring platforms to give depth to your stall to highlight best sellers.
If you sell prints and cards, you might want to invest in a card rack. This will allow your cards to be displayed upright to browsers who can then easily look through your items.
A word of caution with props – don’t go over the top. You’ll risk putting potential buyers off if your stall looks too pristine and like a “set”. Customers might be too scared to touch or move anything. Plus, a busy stall won’t let your products speak for themselves.
Promote the event as much as possible in as many ways as possible
Don’t assume that the craft fair organiser is also a marketing guru – it’s likely that they’re too preoccupied with filling up pitches and collecting cash. In fact if it’s a smaller event there will have been little to no marketing done by the organisers or even the venue as they could be seperate entities.
Find out what the venue or organiser’s or venue’s social media channels are and see whether they’re tweeting the show. Share their updates and share you own content with them in order for them to then like and re-share your updates (how many times did I write share in that sentence?!).
Check to see if there is a hashtag. Use photos of the flyer and your own products to sell the show. Create a Facebook event and invite your friends and ask other craft sellers to invite their wider circles too.
Whilst digital is great for reaching more people, don’t forget to flyer the locality and put a sign up outside the venue telling people what’s going on and where to go. There’s nothing worse than getting all set up on the day only for three people to turn up and look at your stall.
If you’ve got any more tips to add to my guide, feel free to write them in the comments below.
*I was gifted the skull fabric and x-cut paper puncher but all views are my own.