It was super overwhelming to think of signing up for a craft fair. Not only did I have to decide what I wanted to sell, but I had to figure out which shows to sign up for, how to create a brand identity, how to come up with a backdrop and display items, how to price my items, etc., and all within a short amount of time, and without breaking the bank.
My three craft fairs this year in no way make me an expert, but I'm glad that I did all three, and I learned a little from each one. I'll share a few of the things that I did to prepare for them. Maybe later I'll talk more about the experience.
One of the hardest things about preparing was to decide what items to make. I wanted to make items that I thought would sell well, but I also wanted to make sure that I would be able to pay myself an hourly wage for making them. Spending an hour and a half sewing a pair of baby booties that I could only sell for $10, was not worth it. I also had to take into account the cost of materials. Even if I could make it relatively quickly, and sell it for $20, if I wasn't at least doubling my expenses, then it wasn't worth it either. Having sold some items at a local craft bazaar, I had a bit of an idea of what would sell, and what I could sell it for. That really helped a lot. I still don't pay myself what I deserve, but our community is a bit on the thrifty side. Half the people that go to craft fairs are there to glean ideas, not to spend money. So they had to be reasonable enough to get them to cough up the change. I was charging $20 for a super hero cape. I know that a lot of people thought that was a bit pricey, but in all honesty, they'd be hard pressed to make it for that much if they had to buy all of the supplies themselves.
I love to sew, and sew a lot of different things. Because I don't have an online store, I haven't really decided what I like to sew most. I want to sew everything. It was hard to decide what my market was. I still haven't figured it out, and it might change next year. Mostly women's accessories, but I like sewing and crafting for kids too. I love to work with leather, so I have plenty of leather cuffs, card cases, keychains, bands etc. I tried to tie things together as much as I could. The second and third shows I ended up adding scarf pins into the collection. They related too, and added too items that I was already selling.
I know that a lot of people mark their prices down for craft fairs, but I actually marked mine up a bit. I figured that I had to account for the fact that I had a booth fee to cover, display items to pay for, and I was putting in all of the work hours, and manning my booth the day of the craft fair.
I also found that if I offered reduced prices for buying more than one of an item, I sold more. I had multiple people buy 5+ scarves.
I didn't put price tags on my items, I created small printed cards that listed prices. It saved me a lot of time. I was also able to adjust my prices according to prior sells. For the card display, I bought a pack of styrofoam balls at the dollar store, cut them in half, and cut a slit in the top of the ball for the card to slide into. Booyah, saved me from having to buy a million different tiny frames or easels. Not fancy, but inexpensive, and it wasn't too distracting.
I really wanted to make sure that I could take credit cards at the craft fair. Mobile payment options make it super simple to accept credit cards, and most of them have really reasonable fees. Square, Paypal, and Intuit, all offer mobile card readers for your smart phone. Most charge 2.7-2.75% per transaction. Not bad. I turned to facebook to ask my friends what they recommended. I heard positive things about each option, but ended up selecting the square (because it matched my phone better). It worked well for the most part. The reader can be a little finicky at times, but the interface is really user friendly. I was able to upload my logo to my account, and after each transaction I can text or email a receipt to my customer. Awesome.
I felt a little ridiculous setting up my awning. It was by far the most involved backdrop at any craft fair. but I have a teeny tiny corolla. Everything had to be able to break down to small parts and pieces, and by the end I was able to get it put together pretty quickly. I was super pleased when I had a couple of girls ask to have their picture taken in front of my booth-what a compliment.
See my display board on Pinterest for more ideas.
Check out my Bloggy Blog Blog Business board for more info on craft fairs, pricing, etc.
One of the biggest lessons that I learned from these few craft fairs is that I couldn't do it alone. I hate that. I love being independent. But I love even more that I had friends and family that were willing to support me. My mom and mother in law watched my boys multiple times. I had a good friend that came and sat with me at my first show, and watched my boys during the second. Two of my sister in laws got up early to help my set up my booth, and then came to help me take it down. I love my friends and family. I'm learning that I need them, more than I know.