Friday, July 6, 2012

Call me crazy!

Yep, it's official.  I'm crazy.  I had been thinking, "When I finish Handstitched Class, I should really take it easy for awhile.  No big events.  I need a break!"  And then, when I heard about participating as a vender at the Indie Craft Parade, a very cool craft show in Greenville, SC, my good intentions met their doom.  Being in a craft show just sounds so... fun.  And the event falls right before my birthday.  It would be like a birthday present to myself, right?  Oh, and I could share the entire process with you?  Surely, that's a win-win? 

All of those question marks are in acknowledgement of the logical errors therein.  I know with my brain that doing a craft show is a ton of work with financial considerations.  But, my heart is like a kid envisioning that idealistic summer lemonade stand.  It's all fruity like that.  Oh, and there are pennents at the Indie Craft Parade.  Those are almost as good as ric rac.

image courtesy of Indie Craft Parade

So, I applied just to get the decision off my mind and found out early this week that I'm in.  There was a token day or two that I let pass before paying my vender fee, but really, I knew I was hopeless.  Here are the official details:

*Indie Craft Parade runs September 7-9 in Greenville, SC to the tune of thousands of guests.  Tickets to get in for the Friday night Gala are $25.  Admission is free on Saturday and Sunday.

*I'll be bringing a variety of items I've made for classes and magazines that I've been storing away for about a year with the vague thought of doing a craft show someday.  If I enjoy this process (and actually sell stuff), I may do the Indie Craft Parade each year as my annual unloading event.   This will free me up to create without that nagging "who is this for?" feeling.

*I'll also be making about 50 new items in specific categories that I hope will be marketable.  I chose things that I like to make anyways and that allow me creative expression like baby quilts and journal covers.  I'll share more details about my inventory strategy in a later post.

*I have to design a booth!  Holy molly, this is the scariest part!  How to display all these items, how to tag them, what about a sign, background, bags?  There are lots of questions here.  I've already done some brainstorming and I bet you'll help too!

Ok, what do you think?  I know that I'm crazy (see opening statements), but haven't you ever dreamed of doing a craft show?  Don't you think it would be fun?  Later when I admit that I'm feeling totally overwhelmed or if I don't sell hardly anything you can say "I told you so" but for now, dream a little with me?

Also, if you have questions, go ahead and ask them.  I'm looking forward to sharing the behind the scenes on craft show prep. As a serious newbie, it's sure to be amusing, if not educational!

62 comments:

  1. it'll be so fun rachel! I used to do a few craft shows, it's fun selling your own brand. :)

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  2. I'm excited for you! (and I don't even know you)I'll bet it will be fun and you'll probably learn a whole lot, like whether you ever want to do another craft show. I'm looking forward to hearing about your process.

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  3. Yay! I'm with you, it sounds fun. I can't wait to hear all about it and see what you bring!

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  4. It sounds wonderful, and so fun! I'm sure you'll have a blast and I'm looking forward to hearing about all the plotting and planning.

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  5. I had to laugh when you said it was your birthday present to yourself. Sounds like serious punishment! But then again the idea of making things you love without worrying about who they are for is awesome. So I hope you absolutely love the experience and it becomes an annual event as you mentioned.
    Use one of your smaller quilts or larger handstitched items as backdrop. So pretty! As far as displaying and hanging...if you have duplicates, you could keep those under booth table to save space.
    Have some serious fun!

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  6. I'm looking forward to reading all about the process! Sounds like a fantastic show to be involved in, it will be a blast.

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  7. Oh you'll be good - not in your nature to stuff it up!!

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  8. I've been doing craft shows and markets for about 2 years. I have found it to be a lot of work, and a ton of fun. There's nothing better than face to face, personal interaction with your customers.
    Your display will depend a lot on how much space you're going to have. Indoor shows are sometimes limiting in that respect. Large quilts can be really difficult to display inside, so maybe concentrate on your smaller items.
    Have fun and good luck, and don't forget water, snacks and ChapStick!

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    1. Thanks, Linda! I am definitely struggling to come up with ideas for the quilt display. That's a tough one.

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    2. A unique and sort of space saving trick I used: An old wooden ladder with dowels (tie the rods in place with yarn) across the steps are great ways to hang folded quilts. And it looks cool. :) Then I use two clothesracks and just fold and drape and fold and drape. Giant hangers help with this. Hope this helps!

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  9. I hope you have a great time with this new adventure! I look forward to hearing all about it :)

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  10. Oh yay! I'm so happy you're going to do the show! It will be so fun to watch it all come together!

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  11. That is really awesome! I think I would be most stressed about all the details that do not involve a sewing machine - haha. Like making tags and organizing inventory. But - it's on my list of things to attempt one day! Good luck! Would LOVE to hear about the process as you go along - I think it'd be really neat to see inside the planning process!! Thanks Rachel!

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  12. Sounds like fun. I am anxious to see how it all comes together. I have considered doing a booth at some of the smaller quilt shows but I don't have a large inventory of products yet.

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  13. Congratuations on your decision to be involved in the show! Hope you have a great time--and celebrate your birthday in style! :)

    Obtain your show information as early as possible. You may need to use fire-retardant props (table covers, etc.) in your booth and have sign specifications, among other things.

    And be sure to have a second person available throughout the show. Facilities breaks can be difficult without another person! *LOL*

    Shows are a lot of work, but also can be a lot of fun. You'll meet other vendors, refresh your internal store of ideas, and have mostly good experiences with the shoppers.

    I hope you'll share your planning processes with us, as well as the show results!

    Taja

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  14. I don't think you are crazy because I have done craft sales for years!!! They are lots of work but rewarding when people buy your stuff and all the great compliments you get!

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  15. How excited! I think I may have to come visit (not too far from Charlotte, plus I get milk at Happy Cow in Greenville). I have done one show, a BBQ festival in Lexington, and it was super fun. Have not had the energy to go back, but mostly because the audience wasn't quite right to appreciate handmade stuff. This is the perfect venue for you! You will have an amazing day!

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  16. Sounds great. I'm looking forward to reading your pots about this as I might be participating in something (much smaller) in the fall.

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  17. Good luck! I am sure you will be wildly successful. If you are looking for a nice place to eat in Greenville, S.C. try Soby's. It is fantastic!

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  18. That sounds like so much fun! It's a good idea making a variety of things. Just remember the smaller items tend to go fast so make more of those and have some in reserve. =D

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    1. I hope to have lots of small stuff! I'll look forward to getting your advice on my inventory plan when I make that post.

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  19. Congrats on being accepted to the fair! It'll be great to have the chance to interact with your customers face to face and get to meet some other creative folks. I have never sold at a fair before so I don't really have any tips, but I have shopped at many, and I think your colorful quilts and sewn items will attract a lot of people! Good luck! I can't wait to hear more. :)

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  20. Nah, that's not crazy! That's completely understandable and I would do the same thing! In fact I'm considering doing a similar kind of show, but mine's in a town 4 hours away . .. now THAT is probably crazy, huh? ;o)

    Can't wait to read all about how it goes, thank you in advance for sharing the behind-the-scenes!

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  22. Sounds like soooo much fun! It's like having your own brick and mortar for a weekend. I'm pretty sure you'll end up selling everything you make because your stuff is awesome but if by freak reason it doesn't sell maybe you could unload it on your online store. :-).

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    1. Ok, you are ALL so sweet and supportive. You have more more excited than ever!

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  23. Sounds like fun to me. I live about 15 mins south of Greenville and can't wait for the craft show. Hope you have a good time and sell lots of goodies.

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  24. I am so glad you went for it! I would love to do a craft fair. In fact in my old town they have them every weekend downtown during the summer, and I hope to be apart of it one day. I think tags, bags, and a banner would be really sweet! All pretty easy to design, do you have photoshop? You can order all that online through some pretty good printers too. I'd make sure you really market your online store to every person who stops by. Not everyone will be ready to buy right then and there, but will want to remember you when they go home.

    I think on top of all the items you make for the show, it would be cool to have nice patterns (like your makeup case) and fabric bundles to sell to for those who feel like crafting themselves. Maybe you could get a wholesale fabric hookup from a friendly sponsor :)

    And if you haven't finished your modern medallion yet, you should totally sit in your booth hand stitching, guaranteed people will love that! haha

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  25. If you have not worked in retail, lay out your booth for practice and get someone with a "retail eye" to look it over. There are a lot of details that come natural to a pro that you wouldn't think of ahead of time.
    I am a fan of simple brown paper bags with a stamp on them; looks professional and handmade and green (ish) and crafty all at once.

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  26. Good luck have you thought of making stuff from the hand stitch class, most of them are small items that might sell better than quilts.

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  27. My husband and I do 2 craft fairs every year, in July and September, for 5 years now. Our is not the crafty fair, but the eatable kind: we make cheesecake bites to sell. It is quite a bit of work, but we find it useful to promote our business (we are a catering company). It's not very profitable, though. The fair in July pulls in about 5,000 people and the one in September about 4,000. We live in a small, rinky-dink town in northern WI, so that amount of people is a good turn out.

    Good for you for being apart of it! I have often thought of having my own booth to sell my crafty wares, but for now, it's still a dream....

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  28. I'm so excited for you. I'm in Charleston but went to high school in Greenville and just stumbled on this show online in the past month and added it to my calendar. Check out oneshabbychick.typepad.com She lives in Hawaii and does craft shows. I think she might have even done some posts awhile back with advice. Good luck.

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  29. What a great way to celebrate your birthday! I'm excited to be a fly on the wall through the whole process. Congrats!

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  30. I'm glad you posted this - Seattle has the "Urban Craft Uprising" show twice a year and I've never been - it's this weekend, and I've been so tired from (cough) embroidering and paper piecing that I'd decided I'd probably skip it to catch up on all the other stuff that needs doing.
    However, your enthusiasm is contagious, so I'll get my butt downtown after all! Sorry I can't go check out your sure-to-be-amazing-once-you-figure-out-what-to-do, but I'm looking forward to the updates!

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  31. Awesome ... just reading your blog makes me feel excited for you. I wish I was so motivated to do something like this, I'm sure it would be so good and such an adventure. Good luck and I look forward to reading your adventures along the way and how you are going leading up to the the craft fair.

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  32. This sounds like great fun. The NW Ohio Modern Quilt Guild is getting ready to do a non-juried show in August at the Toledo Botanical Garden. I'm eager to see how we enjoy this... maybe next year we'll go for the juried show??! Hope you have great success.

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  33. I was looking through the pics of last year's show and wow, that looks so fun! Your stuff will fit right in. I wish we had a nice craft show here where I live.

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  34. This is so exciting! I live in Greenville and go to the Indie Craft Parade every year. It is a very small space and most people are selling small items, like bags, but I definately think you should bring some quilts. I don't remember ever seeing any quilts so you would stand out and I'm sure it would be a hit!

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    1. Thanks, Megan! I will be bringing some quilts. The trick is going to be how to display them.

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  35. so exciting!! Its so close, I might have to make a weekend of it!

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  36. Sounds like you'll be busy until September! Can't wait to see all the goodies you create :)

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  37. I so always dream of having a booth like that! Of course in my dreams I always sell everything and have to start turning people down I have so many custom orders...
    Good luck. I'll be trying it out vicariously through you, maybe someday I'll do my local show.

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  38. My first thought? Road trip! And google maps confirms that it's a doable drive...

    Anyway, craft fairs! I've sold at a few (and bought at many more) and my main tips are:

    -bring someone with you to run errands, find food and watch the table while you use the bathroom

    -if you at all can swing it accept debit/credit cards (those little square readers for iPhones and similar are awesome) It absolutely will increase sales, both the number of sales and $ spent per customer

    -dress in layers (less of a problem in SC in September, I imagine a fan might be a good idea)

    -Price ALL your merchandise. Even if it is just dumping it in a basket with a single price on the basket.

    -Don't hover over potential customers, wait for them to make eye contact, then engage

    -Smile! My sales were consistently higher on days when I was excited, engaged, smiling, and happy.

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  39. Ooh, that looks like so much fun! I also seem to keep caving on things when I promise myself free time though - we're all mad together ;o)

    For the fair, I'd just say don't sit behind a stall and ignore your customers (a big pet peeve) and put prices on everything!

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    1. I've worked retail before, so I feel like I know how to sense when a customer would welcome interaction and when they want space. I agree - that's crucial! I think most people at a craft fair want to interact. But, I'm guessing it's also exhausting as the vendor to keep it up =)

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  40. I remember some pics from MARKET displaying quilts on a simple hanger, and gathered together like an award ribbon. Do you know what I mean? It pulled a lot of the quilt fabric together and did not take up so much room, but you could still get a good sense of the quilt.

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    1. Yes, I do know what you mean! Thanks for the suggestion.

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  41. So much fun! I've been needing to make a trip to Greenville - maybe ill just come that weekend! My wee bit of advice: make your prices clear and easy to find. People don't want to ask and will just wander along to the next booth. And I agree that you need to be sitting there with some hand stitching!

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  42. I did my first craft show back in October, and I had a blast. You're gonna have fun! Congrats!

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  43. I've done a few shows and really, some are better than others. Some I've sold absolutely NOTHING at (discouraging) but you make contacts and exchange cards so later on you will get a call! Smaller pricepoint items usually sell as well. Be prepared for the occasional "I could make that" comment. That's annoying but just keep smiling.
    Bring your own snacks, water and drinks, wear COMFY shoes, and I always bring a second "nice" shirt to change into after setup and to put back on during teardown.
    Have a bunch of business cards in your pocket at all times! Um....use your cards to pin your prices to your quilts!
    And mostly, have FUN! Chat with everyone! Meet folks!

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  44. Wish I could come, I love craft shows. Don't underprice yourself!

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  45. Yes you're crazy, but it sounds like crazy fun!! I wish I could come, but circumstances won't permit this year - so you'll just have to do it next year, too, so I can come and meet you!!

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  46. You are not crazy, you would be kicking yourself for ever if you didn't have a go at this, so you are absolutely right to jump right in! I am sure you will have a great time and I am looking forward to following your progress in the run-up to the Fair.

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  47. i am so excited for your rachel! you will do so well, you are so personable and sweet that people will gravitate to you and your makes will be the kiss of death for the rest of them, well for their wallets anyway... i personally wouldn't be able to walk away without a journal cover or two from you! xo

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  48. Yay! I am so excited that you will be participating!!! I live in Greenville, SC and love this show! I wanted to participate this year but had some sewing machine problems and didn't think I could get everything together in time with no machine. I agree with Megan that I haven't seen any quilts there in the past. If there is anything I can do to help just let me know!

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  49. Funnily enough, I just signed up to do my very first craft show too!!

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  50. I am really excited to hear your process and experience with this.:) I have been too much of a chicken to even attempt it even though I have wanted to for 3 years. ha ha! Oh...and there is that whole time factor too -- with the smaller kiddos and all. LOL

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  51. Congratulations! I'm sure it'll be a lot of work, but it will be a rewarding experience. Looking forward to hearing how it goes for you! Our modern quilt guild is thinking about having a shared booth at a local craft fair in December. We're hoping it'll be a fun way to meet people!

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    1. Oh, I think it would! A shared table would probably be so easy to put together with a little organization. It's a great idea!

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