Written by Jay Anderson
Following on from my personal take on the upsurge of craft fairs in Scotland I decided to find out what it’s like from an event organisers perspective. Having just helped out Kirkcaldy with their first pop up shop by trying to support Veronique and Janine of The Jazz Emporium , I got a taste of the huge task organisers experience. Not only the PR, marketing, organising tables, support materials, finance, decorating etc but also dealing with our artisan egos (yes, we all have a wee one hidden inside that creeps out just when we get the dodgy corner or the stall near the bathroom – although I think that’s quite a good one now when I saw the number of people who passed the maker’s table that was placed there!)
I contacted the brave and the good asking them if they thought there had been an upturn in craft fairs? It was good to hear that most of them thought there had been one. People have always been on the lookout for unique, well made, beautiful products, although over the last few years people have become more aware of the provenance of things which they buy and want to know who made it and where the materials came from. There’s definitely been an increase in interest for handmade goods and away from sweatshop labour.
The organisers thought people were looking for well made, stylish, usable, good quality and value for money, although what that actually is varies greatly. People are definitely not after crocheted potholders and toilet roll covers…. work needs to stay interesting and varied.
I wondered if there was a central point where anyone organising one in Scotland could inform people of what’s happening or is it word of mouth? Amazingly, the feeling was there wasn’t – there are a few places to go – Central Station, Craft Scotland etc. There is no one place that would have a definitive list. Most mentioned that they found out about new fairs through word of mouth, so networking is key. From the business side Craft MBA was mentioned and a free resource such as Businessballs.com and your local library (to get some general books on project management and basic business skills).
I asked them if they knew of other organisers and names such as Made in the Shade, Magpie Market, Granny Would Be Proud, Dundee Jamboree & Tea Cosy were mentioned along with. 2D-3D, Craft Fairs Scotland and Out of The Blue. Perhaps some joined up thinking might help organisers and makers if this type of thing did exist?
What of the future? Well it’s exciting, with new fairs popping up – numbers increase & events can only get better. We are seeing a trend towards smaller pop-up events organised by groups of like-minded designers and makers as opposed to the larger type of craft fairs in town halls etc and this is great for both customers and designers.
So, will I continue to build my work through craft fairs? Hmmmm, I’m still on the fence with that one. As long as I continue to enjoy what I do and not start to produce work that I think will sell, I’ll see what comes along and where it takes me.
Thank you to all the event organisers who took the time to answer my questions!!
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