2010 was the year that I decided to explore the possibility of taking my crafting to the next level by participating in considerably more, and larger craft events. Unfortunately 2010 turned out to be the year that most people decided that buying handmade crafts was not top of their list of priorities!
After investing a huge amount of time, effort and money in the many events I attended over the summer I just about broke even, but was left exhausted and without stock for the upcoming winter events that I had committed to, wondering what the hell was I doing with my life? I know from reading other blogs that this has been the case for very many crafters. Disappointing as the financial rewards were I feel enriched by the experiences I have had and by the many wonderful crafters I met in the process - Karen, Catherine and Meg to name but a few. It has also made it clear to me that the way forward for me, at this point in time at least, is to go back to doing a few select events that do not involve a huge financial outlay, at the time of year when my work sells best i.e the Winter months on the lead up to Xmas. Luckily I attended a couple of cracking events at the end of the year that made up for previous disappointments and boosted my confidence enough to encourage me to continue.
This year I have snuck a couple of early March events to maybe catch some Mother's Day purchasers and one in June as it is local to me and part of the West End Festival but apart from that I am concentrating all my efforts into building up my stock for the end of the year. Having made this decision I feel as though a weight has lifted from my shoulders. I now have the time to do other things that I enjoy doing - this year is going to be the year of travelling for me. Not some Elizabeth Gilbert style life changing trek across several continents but a few short breaks going to places I always wanted to go and generally just enjoying myself!
and a couple of days in London where I managed to catch the last day of the Diaghilev and the Ballets Russe exhibition among other things!
I also managed a short break to Bruges (my first encounter with Eurostar - brilliant - V. civilised!) which is a place that I have always wanted to visit. It is great for a cultural break with it's great architecture, galleries and restaurants. Great shops too. And chocolate! We even managed to see a fantastic piece of performance art/dance.
I have also booked a short break to the Outer Hebrides in April...
a chance to check out the tweed mill and get some good walking in! And another road trip to visit my sister in Cornwall is on the cards! Throw in a couple of weekend trips - The International Quilt Fair in Birmingham, Country Living, Knitting and Stitching Show etc and the year is shaping up pretty well.
So all in all, despite a slightly disappointing 2010 I am filled with optimism for 2011 and I would just like to share a few thoughts with you based on my experiences. They are mostly common sense but.......
1. Price your work realistically and STICK TO IT. Don't be persuaded to undervalue what you do.
2. Know your market - who is your work aimed at - try to find events that attract your target group or that at least have a good chance of attracting at least some!
3. Don't take it personally if you don't sell alot (or in my case at a couple of day- long events only ONE item!!) and don't let it dishearten you (difficult I know) It is NOT a reflection on you or the quality of your work. Use the time to learn what it is that customers are looking for and what they like about your work or just chalk it down to experience and don't book for that event again!
4. Talk to your fellow crafters and try to learn from their experiences - most people are more than happy to share information about events etc. but remember that everybody has a different experience depending on what they are selling and their expectations of what a 'good' day's takings are.
5. Try to test drive at least one or two new products a year - craft fairs are a great way of getting lots feedback about your products. This is especially important if you are attending several events in the same place or area over the year - people like variety and existing customers need encouragment to buy yet more of your fabulous products!
6. Talk enthusiatically to your potential customers about your work - it is amazing how few people will realize that YOU have actually physically made it! Plus people are more likely to buy from you if you engage with them. Promote any other events that you are taking part in and maybe have a small handout/flyer with a bit about you and your craft credentials.
7. Use each event as an opportunity to refine and perfect your stall display - don't rest on your laurels - make an effort to be creative - you don't need to spend alot of money. My favourite addition to my display this year is a twig that my friend Laurence picked up for me in Pollock Park and some battery operated lights from Ikea. Also, move things around on your display - especially if you are somewhere for more than a day.
8. Enjoy yourself! Be prepared and take something to work on if you are not overun with customers, some nice food and a flask of good coffee/tea. I don't know about you but I get very grumpy if I don't get something nice to eat. Some events are woefully lacking in the refreshments dept.!
9. If you are taking part in a large event have a range of items with prices to suit all budgets - sometimes it is the cheaper 'bread and butter' items that make an event successful financially. If you can find that 'magic' item that is quick and inexpensive to produce but highly desirable you are onto a winner!
10. As my pal Isobel always says - Go in HOPE rather than in EXPECTATION.
If anybody has any thoughts or observations to add to this please feel free to comment - I would be really interested to hear about your experiences. Until next time....Happy Crafting!xx