10 simple and stress free ways to prepare for a craft fair

10 simple and stress free ways to prepare for your next craft fair! Click through to learn how to simply prepare for a craft fair and set your stall up for success and make sales!

You’ve been waiting what seems (an age!) but it’s finally the day when the craft show organisers email the successful applicants for the upcoming craft fair! You nervously login to your email and to your glee, the newest email to hit your inbox says:

“Congratulations! Your application was successful!”

Your eyes widen with excitement, as you leap off your seat, dancing Elaine Benes style, complete with the protruding thumbs and the awkward, jerky leg kicks, haha. Surely it’s not just me, who does this right? Congrats on this achievement!

Over the last 3 years, I’ve sold my handmade jewellery at a variety of live events including local and specialty markets and on consignment, both online and in a physical retail shop. I started from scratch (no one’s born knowing how to sell at craft fairs), so over the years have gained some experience, including learning from some major mistakes! But it’s no big deal if you make mistakes, it’s a lesson that had to be learned so you can grow and improve. Rather, what’s more important is how you bounce back from it. No matter if you’ve never sold at a fair before, you’ve got a few fairs under your belt, or you’re a seasoned seller, here are a few key tips I’d like to share to help you prepare for your next event!

 

Consider your stall display

A lot of people get hung up about it and it’s an easy trap to fall into. Along with deciding on whether to buy or build a table, tablecloths, product displays, colours, signage, etc it’s easy for it to get out of hand, and very overwhelming, very quickly. For someone just starting out, just stick to the basics. A table, some basic prop displays and a sign with your shop’s name. As for the overall aesthetic, going back to your branding and brainstorming what sort of feelings your brand evokes and translating that into a physical space is a good place to start.

For your table, a lot of fairs allow you to hire one straight from them. Usually there’s a space on the application form to indicate if you’d like to hire one or not. Some of the bigger fairs also allow you to hire chairs and change rooms too. If you’ve been successful with a stall space, but didn’t indicate at the application stage, it might not be too late to hire from them. Get in contact with the organiser’s to see if you can still hire one from them. Hiring saves you from not only spending money buying a trestle table, but also of course lugging it to and from your car to the event. Once you’ve got the table sorted, simply source a tablecloth. It could be something from your own collection at home, op shops, garage sales or you can get a plain coloured one that’s not very expensive, from Kmart, Target, Ikea, H&M etc. If you’re using a tablecloth, make sure you’ve ironed it and it’s relatively wrinkle free.

Now that you’ve got your table covered, how do you want to lay out your work? This depends on what you sell. Whether you sell art prints and illustrations, body and bath products, jewellery, ceramics etc there’ll be slightly different ways to display them in their best light.

What you don’t want to do is lay things flat on your table. Not only does this make it hard to see from a distance what you sell, you’re not making the most of all your space! Think of your favourite retail stores. They don’t just lie their merchandise flat right? They make use of of all the space which means building upwards! Some things to consider:

  • It’s easy to attend fairs and think: Oh I want my stall to look exactly like that one (but then your stall will just blend into the sea of sameness.) How can you differentiate your stall from your competition?
  • Can you do it via colour? Patterns? Materials?
  • Do these attributes convey the feelings you want your brand to evoke?
  • Try to be consistent with the materials you use across your entire stall. This gives your stall a cleaner and more cohesive look.
  • Do your products need to be propped up to be displayed best?
  • What can you use to prop them up? Shelves? Pegboards shelves? A-frame shelves? Racks? Stands? Buckets? Tins? Baskets?

Since Kmart, Target, Ikea, Typo and the likes have really upped their home décor offerings in recent years, they’re a good place to start sourcing some inexpensive prop displays.

You want your stall to be instantly recognisable, so that if your fans are purposefully coming to your stall, they know which one it is at first glance, so it’s important to consider signage too.

  • Are you handy with sewing?
  • Can you sew your own banner?
  • Can you paint your banner?
  • Can you use wooden letters? Metal letters?
  • Whatever you choose, it could be a fun do-it-yourself activity!

 

For when you get more experience or for the more experienced…

When you become a bit more experienced and established and know you’d like to do more craft fairs and markets in the future, then you can start thinking about building some custom items for your stall yourself or commissioning someone to build it for you.

Likewise, you can upgrade your stall and build upwards and include things like a frame that takes up more of your allocated space, so you can hang items on walls, walls, shelves etc. With more time and experience, your brand will evolve and you’ll know what it’ll mean and look like as you grow and mature with it.

 


FREE PACKING CHECKLIST!

Get your EPIC craft fair packing checklist straight into your inbox, so you’ll never forget all the essentials for your next craft fair!


Bring marketing materials

It can feel a bit overwhelming attending a craft fair sometime. There’s a lot of visual stimulation, with all the stalls vying for your attention. Therefore, bringing marketing materials such as business cards and post cards can be helpful for attendees to remember you, your brand and your products. At a minimum, your marketing materials should include:

  • your shop’s name/logo
  • your name
  • social media handles
  • email address
  • online website

 

Some people like to look at the entire fair first, before making a buying decision. So to help them on their buying journey, they may pick up one of your cards to help them remember you. If you don’t offer a business, card how would they ever remember you? Between the masses of people and similar looking stalls, it can be difficult remember where your stall was in the entire fair. What if they decide to buy at a later occasion or they know a friend or family member that would love your work?

If you need assistance designing these, reach out to your network. Do you have a friend or family member who is a graphic designer? Let them know and they too can share with their network, that you’re on the look out for some help. Or else put out the call in any business related Facebook groups you may be part of. You might find other small business owners who can help you with your graphics. Or you can find a freelancer to help you with this project.

Furthermore, printing marketing materials doesn’t have to be super expensive. Depending on what your budget is, there are loads of options such as:

  • Moo
  • Vistaprint
  • Fastprinting

 

Prepare your packaging

Customising your packaging is an easy way to cement your branding and increase your exposure whilst at the fair. If people see lots of people carrying a bag of goodies from a stall, naturally it’s going to pique their curiosity and wonder what kind of attractive goods that shop sells!

Depending on what you sell, your packaging should fit the product and not be excessive or take ages to package up. Packaging could be: sleeves, boxes, paper bags, tissue paper etc and customizing it doesn’t necessarily need to be expensive. You could get some stickers printed or get a custom stamp made and ink pads in your brand’s colours.

Bring more enough packaging to match the amount of stock you’ve made for the fair, as sometimes people might extra packaging to give your products as gifts. When you’re deciding on yoru packaging, keep recyclability in mind. Some fairs stipulate no plastic in the fine print for all their stallholders, so check to make sure.

 

Preparing your stock

When asking this question you’ve probably been given a lot of useless advice like: As much as possible, until your fingers bleed, no idea etc.

Click through to read more on guidelines you can follow to actually determine how much stock to make before a fair:

How much stock should I make for a craft fair or market?

 


FREE PACKING CHECKLIST!

Get your EPIC craft fair packing checklist straight into your inbox, so you’ll never forget all the essentials for your next craft fair!


Tell everyone about your event!

Now that you’ve been given the green light and had your stall space confirmed, it’s time to tell everyone about the event including your friends, family, colleagues, everyone!

The bigger fairs these days send out a package of physical marketing goodies like postcards and even posters to help you advertise the event so make use of these and hand them out to people you know. Also prepare an online promotion schedule on your social media channels, your blog and email newsletter sharing with your fans about the upcoming event and what new things you might be debuting, a competition you might be running or anything else.

 

What will you wear?

What you wear and how you present yourself, reflects on your brand. How can you dress in a way that aligns with your brand values or aesthetic? Do you create wearable items? How can you incorporate those items into your outfit, so they stand out and not compete with the rest of your outfit?

 

Be prepared for all weather conditions

Prepare for the unexpected. Sometimes things can go not according to plan and when or if it does, it’s helpful to be as prepared as you can be, so take the edge off the stress.

So in the case that your market is outdoors, bring items such as warm clothes/gloves/scarves, umbrella/raincoat, hat, sunblock, facial tissues, snacks/food/drinks to keep you going during the day. It’s helpful to keep hydrated and your energy levels high, so that in the case it’s busy, you’re not going to become hangry. In the case that it’s windy, sandbags are fantastic and life saving! I’ve seen first hand, gazebos blow away, up and into the air – which could be dangerous not only for you, others and property too. Follow the organiser’s instructions if the weather turns for the worst and remember, safety first!

 

Pack!

Having a comprehensive checklist can totally take the pressure off, knowing that you’ll have everything you need so you can concentrate on talking to people! I recommend packing the day or night before to save yourself from freaking out the morning of. Some people like to use plastic crates, suitcases, trolleys etc. Try different things and see what suits you best.

Download your bonus packing checklist to help you with your craft fair preparation!

 

Have fun

Sometimes it’s a constant stream of customers and it’s so busy, there’s literally a line of people waiting to hand over their hard earned cash for your kickass products. It’s an amazing feeling. Congratulations on all your hard work, high five! Whilst on other days, it’s not as busy as you may want it to be. Business comes in waves, so enjoy the ride, it’s all part of this crazy thing called life. Perhaps it’ll pick up later on in the day or the next few people that visit will buy up big. Stay optimistic and positive and enjoy the present, because there’s no other time quite like it. Good luck!

 


FREE PACKING CHECKLIST!

Get your EPIC craft fair packing checklist straight into your inbox, so you’ll never forget all the essentials for your next craft fair!


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Monica is a corporate cubical escape artist turned jewellery maker, designer and creative business infopreneur. She helps fellow artists, designers and makers launch and grow a handmade business they love.

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