Polly Danger and Margaret Haas of Paper Pastries met at a craft show in 2009 and became instant friends, and began sharing knowledge, hints and tips about vending at craft shows. They have since built up an un-stopable system for vending that they have graciously agreed to share with our readers.
It seems like the world of indie crafts is getting bigger and bigger all the time. Craft shows abound and it seems like all you need is an Etsy shop to get invited to do one show or another. What this means for the newbie vendor is that you’ve really got to do your homework before signing up for any show! Many, many of us seasoned crafters have either started out at absolutely the wrong fair for us, and most of us have done a desperately bad show at one time or another. Think of Margaret and Polly as your worldly older sisters, showing you the ropes and sharing our lipstick.
The Minor Leagues-
Smaller shows usually have a low show fee ($20- $65) and are a low-pressure way to enter the crafty scene.
You’ve just received a request to participate in a craft show and you’re thrilled! You didn’t even have to go out of your way to find the application, they sent you a link! This is a really common scenario and it can be the gateway to an educational, even a profitable show! Then again, it could be the keys to six hours of boredom, misery, and regret. There are definitely some things you’ll want to know before you sign up for that show.
Some things to check out before you make your decision-
- Did you receive a mass email/convo, or was the message specific to you and your shop?
- Does this show have a website? Is it decent, or does it give you that Grandma-made-a-website vibe?
- What happens when you Google the show? Is the show making its way around the world wide web? In what capacity?
- How do the show promoters plan on getting the word out? Will you be expected to help promote? (note: you should be doing this anyway!)
- Most importantly- what kind of a feeling do you get about this show? Instincts are important!
The big leagues- Big names, big crowds, ($100- $400)
You’ve shopped them, you’ve drooled over the vendors, and now you want to run with the big boys (and girls). So where do you start? First things first- you’ve got to want it. I mean WANT IT. You’ve got to want in on that big, bad craft show so badly you’ll take a day off of work to re-take all of your product photos and fill out the application. This requires a certain level of confidence in your product.
When Margaret started doing shows her theory was, “I don’t want to work my way to the top, I want to start there”, so she started with one of the biggest craft shows out there- Renegade. She had a modest amount of goods, but her f-ing adorable product line, combined with a determination to be badass did not go un-noticed by the Renegade application reviewers. She’s been doing the Renegade shows ever since.
Here are some things to consider before applying to big name shows:
- Make sure all of your product shots online and in the application are fantastic and consistent. Flash photography or fuzzy images are an absolute NO NO.
- Write and proofread a short bio, no more than 4 or 5 sentences. Have a friend or honey proofread it as well. This never hurts.
- Keep your bio and photos in a file so that you have easy access to them for all of your show applications. This does not mean it’s okay to recycle the same exact bio for every show, but it is handy to have everything in one place.
- Do you have enough product to sell? Will you have enough time to make products to sell at this show? Big shows can be two days or more, so you’ll want to stockpile well in advance. This is especially true for holiday shows.
- In addition to the show fees, will you have to put up money for a tent, table, or chairs? How about travel expenses and displays? Do you think you’ll make this money back, or are you willing to accept part of that as business startup costs?
- A handful of home-printed business cards really won’t cut it. You’ll want to have a fat box of business cards printed well in advance.
Margaret and I really hope that these tips help you find the right craft fair for you! Keep your crafty ears perked up for any crafty opportunity and stay tuned for more on this topic soon!