At Craftin’ Outlaws. Photo by SeeBee Photography.
In this new occasional blog series, Ask a Craft Show Organizer, Megan Green of the indie craft show Craftin’ Outlaws answers your burning questions about craft show success. Thanks to CIA member Emonieiesha for the questions. Send additional and burning questions to megan at craftinoutlaws.com
Q: If its your first time vending at the event, what should you expect from the host in regards to advertising and marketing? – Emonieiesha
A: The marketing of a craft fair varies from craft fair to craft fair. The best way to determine what kind of promotion being offered by the organizers is to first look to the internet. Following the events website and social media can give you a great idea of what kind of promotion they offer. Many events will host their partnerships or sponsors. These sponsored relationships are a mutual exchange of marketing between both organizations.
If you don’t see any reputable news outlets or media sponsors listed, don’t assume they have no budget for advertising. Perhaps the organization is relying on a DIY approach of guerilla marketing. Where they are printing their own postcards and posters around town. Should you have any doubt or confusion or not see any specific marketing plan contact the organizer and ask directly.
Make sure to share your involvement on your own social media channels!
At Craftin’ Outlaws. Photo by SeeBee Photography.
Q: Please share the difference between juried and non-juried shows. – Emonieiesha
A: Knowing the difference from a juried fair to a non-juried far can save you a great deal of time and money.
Juried shows, typically, offer a period of time when fairs accept proposals of applicants. Organizers use this method of reviewing every application to allow for a curated selection of vendors. In most cases, a craft show is looking for makers that reflect the shows personality and those befitting their customers expectations. This system also allows a craft fair to control the genres of goods offered. For example, if a show has room for 50 vendors they can limit the number of jewelry vendors to 15 . Leaving the remaining booths to be filled with non-jewelry vendors creating a diverse group of vendors for customers to shop from.
It’s worth your time as an interested vendor to do your homework before you apply to any show and make sure you fit their general aesthetic. While long standing craft shows sometimes have relationships with local or long time vendors, organizers are always looking for new talent. It can be worth the small expense of an application fee to see if you can make the cut.
Non-Juried shows follow a first come first serve philosophy. In many cases, these are new fairs looking to build an audience of customers and vendors. These shows may have lower table fees and can allow a vendor to test the marketplace. Non-juried shows also means someone making something similar to what you create could also get in. Making it harder for you to stand out as you can be right next to your competition.
At Craftin’ Outlaws. Photo by Jessica Miller Photography.
Q: Can you provide a checklist for first time vendors? – Emonieiesha
A: For a first time vendor at any craft show, big or small, organization is key. The more time you can offer yourself to get ready the better your stress levels will be.
- 2-3 months before an event is when you should handle the bulk of your inventory. Start ordering the raw materials for your handmade goods so everything arrives with plenty of time for you to build a proper inventory. Also use this time to order gift bags/boxes, tags, tissue paper or whatever you might need for completing your day of show transactions. Don’t forget to add business cards on your things to order!
- 1 month before start thinking of your booth or table display. Practice setting it up the display in your studio, living room or backyard. Take pictures along the way to remember what you liked for reference later. This includes all the containers needed for storage and displays. Purchase or create your own signage which should include your banner or something with your logo or shop name. Make sure work is priced or that you have signs indicating prices.
- The week of show create a final checklists of everything you need to know about the craft show. Do you need a table? Chairs? Are you ready for outdoor weather conditions? Print out directions to the festival or print out the letter from the organizer with all the last minute load in and load out instructions. Have any and all travel accommodations printed, if you are traveling. Make sure you are ready for cash and credit card sales. Grab lots of loose bills and change at the bank. Make sure you have card swipers, electrical cords and chargers. Prepare a mailing list sign up sheet for new potential customers.Create a tools of the trade kit for any onsite repairs needed of your inventory.
- On Craft Show eve review your final checklist of everything you need. Tablecloths, racks, displays, business cards, bags, electrical chords and lighting. Cash, credit card swipers. Customer sign up sheet. Phone or tablet chargers. Pack non-refrigerated snacks and water. Sunscreen, tissues, allergy medicine, feminine products.
Get as much sleep as you can and be prepared for a full day of selling, smiling and networking!
Megan is a hard core maker who continues to bring a highly curated selection of handmade goods to her hometown of Columbus, Ohio and through her organization of Craftin’ Outlaws. Megan is also the owner of Stinkybomb Soap, co-organizer of Midwest Craft Con, mother of two, wife to one and lover of all things craft related.