Craft Fair 101: a new mini-series
Over the weekend, I worked my first outdoor craft fair. It’s the third show I’ve ever done, and it was a good selling weekend for me. It was also great to see friends, meet other vendors, and to share a booth with my friend Maryam. The downside to the weekend was the wind and lack of foot traffic on Saturday.
Every time I do a craft fair, I learn something new. So I thought I’d share my experiences in a mini-series I’m calling Craft Fair 101. It’s essentially a cheat sheet for anyone who’s wondering what it takes to sell their wares at a fair. I started off pretty clueless, and I don’t wish that on anyone else.
Ok, I’ve got something I want to sell. How do I know which craft fair to do?
The first thing you want to do is find a craft fair that’s suitable for what you sell. Start small: apply for smaller shows and then gradually work up to doing bigger ones. Smaller shows means you’ll pay less for booth fees, and you’ll also get a feel for what kind of people dig your stuff. That info will help you pick your next fair.
Finding a good show takes a bit of research. If you’re in the Dallas area, get on the DFW Craftshows email list. They send daily emails announcing upcoming shows that vary from church fundraisers to the next etsyDallas bash.
Craft fair season is generally twice a year: April-June and November-December. Be aware that the Autumn shows are harder to get into, since more vendors apply in hopes to boost their profits during the holiday season.
Image from here.
I’ve decided on a show. Now what?
Apply! Look up the application deadline. Most shows require you to apply 1-3 months in advance.
If you’ve missed the deadline, don’t fret. That’s a perfect opp for you to go check out the show and see what people are selling and how many people attend. Consider it research!
What do they ask for when you apply?
Most applications ask for a link to your etsy shop, or pics of your wares. If you’re not set up on etsy yet, you can easily create a blog to throw pictures of what you make onto. The jurors just want to see what you make and how good your craftsmanship is.
The jurors also want to know exactly what you’re selling. Might seem strict, but they want a well-rounded show with a variety of wares.
Money! Depending on the show, you will either have to put down a non-refundable application fee, or pay the booth fee in full. If you don’t get into the show, most of your booth fee will be refunded to you, minus an application fee. And booth fees can range from $35-$400+, depending on the show. Like I said earlier: if this is your first show, I’d advise you to start with a smaller (cheaper) event.
Image from here.
Woohoo! I got in! What do I do now?
Congrats! Keep your eyes peeled for more info from the organizer of the show. In the meantime, map out a plan of attack: how much product do you want to have made for the show? Be realistic with how much time and energy you have to make product. I always underestimate how long it takes me to make jewelry. So this advice is for me too!
Now would be a good time to order business cards and packaging for your wares. Vista Print is always offering 250 free business cards, so that’s a great option. You want people to be able to find you on etsy after the show!
Also, start thinking of how you want to set your booth space up. Maybe you come up with a theme. Maybe you just keep your eyes peeled for ways to display what you make.
Sad! I didn’t get in. What next?
Chin up! There’s probably a good reason why you weren’t accepted into the show. Email the organizer and ask why you didn’t get in. Is it because there are already too many vendors selling what you make? Is it because your stuff isn’t good enough? Were you dinged because you submitted bad pictures? This is important to know.
Mark your calendar for that organization’s next show. Then apply again! Or find a different show to apply to. I got rejected from the second craft fair I applied to. It was a holiday show, and there were already too many jewelry vendors. Again, the show organizers wanted a bigger diversity in vendors and product. I was bummed, but decided to just apply to that organization’s Spring show instead.
Image from here.
I know this is a lot of info to digest, but I hope it’s helpful! If you have any tips to add or craft fair experiences to share, please message me. I’d love to share it with everyone!
Up next in the series: Preparing for the craft fair.