How to feel more confident before your first craft fair
A lack of confidence is often the reason that crafters don’t take the plunge! When we introduced the Craft Fair Secrets series, Nichola from Folksy shop Miss Frekkles left us a comment saying she was completely daunted by the idea of selling at a craft fair. We asked her what her major concerns were…
“The thing that worries me about doing a craft fair are the initial cost versus how much I would sell. I knit so I wouldn’t want to make too many items, or too little, also finding the right fair for my product – should I go for locally organised or professional, over a weekend or just one day. Going it alone is also scary, I’m quite shy and find it hard to be bold (If you know what I mean?)”
There’s so much to consider and worry about when you are thinking about taking on a craft stall at a fair, regardless of the size of the fair.
This week we’ll be looking at Nichola’s worry about a lack of sales on the day. The fear of returning home to your family and having to explain that you sold nothing at all or didn’t cover your costs can give many crafters sleepless nights on the run up to their first fair (or any fair!). Should a first time craft fair be all about sales or are we worrying unnecessarily? Shelley Dukes, from Folksy shop Lady Jukes who has been attending fairs for many years thinks we are.
“Fairs are as much about meeting people and spreading the word as they are about selling. I’ve been at fairs where I have sold virtually nothing and it is disheartening, but at the same fair I’ve been approached by a boutique wanting to sell my stuff, so in the long run I probably sold more. For me, going to a show is great fun, so enjoy the atmosphere and check out the other stalls and try not to stress about what’s selling.”
This is a really common response from all of the experienced crafters that we have been talking to. The idea that you have to come home with a cash box bursting and no stock left in order to have had a successful craft fair seems to be very far removed from many crafter’s goals. Selling well at fairs is something to be worked on through experience. For a first timer, concentrating on the other beneficial aspects of a craft show may allow you to stop fretting about ‘What if I don’t sell anything’ and take the plunge.
If you are worried about not selling anything, or if you’ve come back from a craft fair disappointed by your sales, read our post Not Sold Much? Here’s Why and What to Do, which has lots of practical tips for identifying possible issues and diagnosing what went wrong at a craft fair.
I must admit that I don’t get nervous at all now doing shows but I certainly did in the early days. The truth is that you’ve really got no guarantee as to whether you’re going to do well or not at any event. I can remember preparing for fairs and feeling quite apprehensive in the run up to the event. I would make lists and create new items and really go overboard in my preparations. And no matter what, I always ended up sitting up until late into the night packing things and finishing bits and pieces off. This meant that I usually felt very tired setting off for the event and needed matchsticks to prop my eyelids open during the day. Fiona – Silk and Art
So what can you gain from a fair to make it financially worth your while, especially if people don’t buy on the day!
- Networking – Networking with other crafts people is a great way of finding out about other fairs, almost all the sellers we have spoken to say this is the best way of finding a fair that is right for your market. So using the day as an opportunity to pick up email addresses and chat to fellow crafters in your local area is a great use of your time.
- Local Advertising – Craft fairs are often attended by boutiques and independent gift shops looking for local talent. Make sure you have a professional looking card to give to these scouts. You can also use a fair to update your mailing list and hand out cards or flyers for discounts when people shop online.
- Feedback – Sometimes not selling can be a sign that you need to rethink your stock, your stall design or your pricing. Chatting to customers and stall holders will give you insights into how to improve things, what to change, what to let go of and as Fiona also told us “Not selling anything is not failure. See the bigger picture and take it in your stride. Evaluate and move on.”
Even really experienced sellers still get stage fright! I asked Aileen from Aileen Clarke Crafts if she still got any before show nerves, and how she manages to keep calm.
I really get butterflies before fairs no matter if it’s one I’ve been doing for years or a new one. It’s the anticipation of taking your work out to the public mixed with the excitement of selling and the anxiety of wondering if your stall will look good enough. It’s always nerve wracking wondering if you will be well placed within the venue, who will be next to you, will it be busy, will the customers like what you make, have you made enough of one particular thing! The list is endless. The best way to deal with it is to be confident in your work. Don’t worry about things that are outwith your control. There’s one fair I do every year and I used to stress so much about what table I’d be given. I’ve had a different one every year now and I make the same amount of money each time so it makes no difference. All you can do is turn up, set out your stall, smile and see what happens. I do use Bach Rescue Remedy though, and try and get set up in time to relax with a cup of something hot before the crowds pour in.
So if you make nothing at your first fair you have to try to remember that the experience and new contacts or friends you have gained were probably worth the cost of the stall. Getting over the hurdle of your first fair whether it’s profitable or not is a giant step into growing your business. Be professional about it and try to analyse where your weak points are from the feedback you receive on the day. If you think it’s your selling technique that’s letting you down then take a look at this post all about “What to say to potential customers?“.
As always we really enjoy hearing your comments. Whether you are a regular craft fair seller or like Nichola from Miss Frekkles you are daunted by it all and just looking for answers. I hope that we have convinced a few of you to give it a go!