Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Craft Show {the Experience}

Oh dear, where to start?

at Indie Craft Parade

For one, I'm very glad I jumped in and tried the craft show experience.  It's something I'd always been curious about, and now I know.  Let's see, what do I know...

*that it really will be fun, even if you still have butterflies in your tummy during set up.  Before the first opening, while Heather and I were grabbing dinner, I really didn't want to go back to the booth.  I knew I would, but I really didn't want to. The pressure to perform and interact - the introvert in me was decidedly nervous. Thank goodness for Heather!

thanks! Heather

*people are overwhelmingly nice.  There was only one lady who scoffed upon examination of my "summer weight quilts" remarking that she was a Quilter with a capital Q.  No batting?  The blasphemy. Otherwise, people only had nice things to say.  Kind of like blogging.  People are looking for something nice to say, in fact.

ICP excited much?

*even a "good" sales day feels slow.  One sale per hour is a hot pace with mid to high priced goods.  But in fact the sales came in waves with hours in between where I was left wondering.... when?  if?  I'm so glad I had friends to keep me company.

Indie Craft Parade table tidy

*bring handwork that you don't have to look at. So, basically, knitting or crochet.  I never touched my reverse applique needlework because I needed to be ready to engage at all times.  People even seemed to stop and look more often when I was standing vs. sitting.

ICP Blog readers shop!

*the item that stops everyone may never sell.  I wish I had a count of how many people picked up the Typewriter iPad sleeve before it finally, eventually sold. Heather and I started chuckling with each passer buyer.  The Rainbow Stitch Coin Purse was equally attention grabbing, but never did sell until it hit my Etsy shop last night (thanks, Courtney!).



Speaking of sales, I know you wanna know.  I'm very glad that Indie Craft Parade is a 3-day show.  That was key for me.  I had invested almost $500 in special supplies, travel expenses and exhibition fees.  I "broke even" (not including labor or stash fabrics used) by Saturday morning and had only made a $500 profit by Saturday night.  Sunday added more sales, but not enough that I felt it was worth all the time and effort I'd put into preparing for the show.  Certainly I'd made money, but definitely the hard way!

Today as I've been logging sales of leftover goods through my Etsy Shop, I'm feeling much better about the bottom line.  Thanks so much for supporting my work!  I'll admit I like selling to you guys the mostest.  Each piece is going to such a friendly home!

I'm really here!


What about my Inventory?  That was as surprise.  Baby Quilts made me the most cash!  I sold a total of 3 baby quilts at $165 each. These were quilts I'd previously made for other money-making ventures.  How awesome to release them and gain a good bit more!  I was barely hoping to sell any, let alone three.  Plus, I also sold random items I'd had in my cabinet for awhile, which felt so good.  My Sashiko coasters were the first transaction!

Journal covers did sell, but not as well as I'd expected.  I believe I sold 13 out of 29.  I could have made less, but then again you all are enjoying buying them on Etsy.  Win-win! (And there are a few left, just sayin).

Ric Rac Rabbits

iPad sleeves were a bust.  I sold 2, one at full price ($40) and one at the discounted price ($30) as of Sunday morning after hearing "wish I had an iPad" from hundreds of people.  I think the sleeves were most exciting to someone who doesn't have an iPad.  Which makes sense. It was just hard to hear.  Ok, annoying.  The ideal customer was planning to buy an iPad soon.

The Summer Weight Quilts aka Picnic Quilts did fairly well.  I brought 4, sold 2 and traded 1 for a very special necklace.  Hey, let's talk about that!

Trading.  This was the best surprise of all.  I love trading!  It makes everyone so happy.  My booth was just beside the Yellow Elm headbands.  Sweet Elizabeth was super patient about our frequent (constant?) use of the walkway beside her table that provided access to my booth.  Seriously, with all the friends that came to help, we were in and out so often.

ICP the friends take over

Anyways, when I realized that Aria would love Elizabeth's headbands and started shopping for one, Elizabeth suggested a trade.  YES!  I traded 2 headbands for one journal cover (and she picked out a Typewriter because she has such good taste).  One headband ended up being for me.  I wore it the next day, feeling both supportive and cute.

with Elizabeth of Yellow Elm

That got me thinking about other trades... I offered Once Again Sam a trade for a felted monster I wanted for Liam and Foundling a trade for a text necklace.  No one was a bit offended.  In fact, Betsy at Foundling seemed to jump at the chance.

photo by Foundling
 
She picked out a picnic quilt and I this necklace.  Honestly, I was originally attracted to her necklaces just because they use Text.  Eventually I understood that they actually say something.  Mine says "peace be with you".  It's my birthday present to myself.  Yay!

In Summary (because that's how you're supposed to end an essay), I had a really good time.  I sold enough, but not a huge lot.  What felt like tons of people took my card to look me up later.  No one was interested in buying patterns.  Overall, it seemed like a medium good business venture and a super good personal experience.  Right now I'm planning to do Indie Craft Parade next year.  In the meantime, I'll make a journal cover or a baby quilt when the desire hits, which is really the most ideal way to build up inventory.  I hope that next year is less work, less investment and as much or more sales.  But, we'll see.

In the meantime, I'm going to get a quote for painting the house!  Fingers crossed I made enough money to cover the bill!

62 comments:

  1. Sounds like a great experience, overall, and your booth looked incredible! I've admired that rainbow purse since you first presented it on the blog. After hemming and hawing (I guess for months, really), I decided to just treat myself. It just makes me so happy in pictures, I can't wait to actually touch it :) Congrats again!

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  2. Sounds a bit like my one show experience, a hard way to earn money for sure, but a really cool experience and a lot of fun. I so wanted to come see you this weekend and ended up havin unexpected company. I was so happy to see my friend who lives so far away, but so wished it was another weekend! Your booth looks lovely, thanks for sharing

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  3. Wow, this has been such an experience for me just following your journey via your blog. I have always been curious about craft shows and all that goes into being a seller at one. After this I have much more appreciation of the artists and their arts and their pricing. Thanks so much for sharing.

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  4. Glad to hear you enjoyed the experience Rachel! Makes me want to do one at some point :)

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  5. I've been waiting for this! So how do you feel people generally responded to your style, both of your booth and your crafting?

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    1. Definitely positively. I mean plenty of people just walked by. Who knows if they even registered my booth, because it's easy to get shell-shocked from all the good stuff. But, overall, I felt very appreciated =)

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  6. Sounds like you had fun! Quilt snobs are, in general, insecure. Were there other vendors there with hand sewn stuff? (Just curious, LOL. The good news about doing it again is you have some experience, you have some of the reusables already made (back drop). Hope the house gets painted :-)

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    1. There was actually a booth that had quilts across from me. There were other booths with bags, purses, tea towels, etc. There were also lots of journals, but none reusable covers like mine. The others were cool, though. Just different.

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  7. thanks for the great essay. I've done a craft show or two myself, and know others who do it regularly. It's lots of work, part sales, part marketing, and dealing with lots of lookers. I'm mostly a looker at craft sales, being cursed with the "I can make that" gene.

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    1. I totally have that gene. It takes practice to recognize that just because I can make something doesn't mean I have to. I say that after happily having purchased my journal cover from the shop.

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  8. Thanks for writing this - having done quite a few fairs (but never a 3 day event) I know how exhausted I feel afterwards and lack the energy to write about them whether good or bad. It sounds like it was a good/useful experience and how lovely to be selling leftover stock on Etsy! Well done.

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  9. Great to hear your positive account, and what a beautiful necklace!! Great idea to trade items like that. Your booth looked stunning, glad you enjoyed yourself.

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  10. I have been waiting on pins and needles to hear this report, since I've been immersed in following your craft show prep!

    I've had moments of getting excited to do one myself, but just not sure if I could handle the smiling/talking interacting part. I've always preferred to sell online for that reason.

    But then there's just the hands on part of setting up a little storefront and actually selling face to face that kinda tugs on me...

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  11. So excited to hear how your show went. I love how your booth looked, so happy and bright. I am contemplating doing one later this year. I ma more nervous about having enough to sell than the selling face to face part.

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  12. I must have checked 5 times to see if you had a report up yesterday! My first sale is in less than two weeks. Your posts have been SUCH a big help. I am so worried that my place mats and runners are interesting, but wont match anybody's dishes-- sort of like the people who liked your sleeves but didn't have an iPad.

    My items & pricing will be different than yours, but i am curious, how did you feel about the prices you decided on? What was one thing you learned that you wish you knew before the sale? Would you do anything differently?

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    1. Do differently... no iPads, no wall art (forgot to mention that it didn't sell) and I'd try whatever new product lines occur to me. I might find a better way to display baby quilts.

      Also, wear comfortable, not cute shoes cause they can't see your shoes!

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  13. Congrats Rachel! Your booth looks fantastic! You are so positive it would be hard to pass by your stall. It looks like you did really well! Did you think your pricing was right? I can't imagine selling your beautiful work for any less than you did. Your Etsy shop looks beautiful and I am very tempted by the typewriter journal!

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    1. Yes, I definitely think the pricing was right. What a relief! I couldn't have done it without all your help!

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  14. Wow what an experience! It's so good to get a review of those kinds of shows. So glad you learned so much. It's a shame you didn't sell more than you wanted, but at least you got some sales! I'll have a look over at the etsy store =D

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  15. Oh No!! Just went to have another look at the typewriter journal and its gone!!! My heart sank a bit! But well done!!! All of us who couldn't be there but have loved your things can buy through esty. Fantastic!

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  16. Way to go Rachel! Not only did you make some money, but you did something scary - and you did it WELL! Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Your booth was beautiful. And I never thought about trading. Fun!

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  17. I'm glad that it was a success, and most of all that you had a good time! I bet some of those connections you made with other artists and makers will be very beneficial. :)

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    1. I kept your pricing email by my side during the actual tagging bit, Jenelle. Thanks again for that concise bit of encouragement. I found that my prices were not too high.

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  18. Good job! I bet everyone loved their purchases from you. I've enjoyed seeing you create your gorgeous inventory. The trading was a great idea too.

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  19. So happy for you! What a beautiful display! Thank you so much for taking the time to take us through the process of building your inventory,selling and all the stuff in between! I sure do appreciate all the work that goes into this,even more now!

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  20. Hi Rachel, I am glad that your venture was a successful enough that you are willing to try again. I tried this once with a friend back in 90's we sewed all summer making beautiful quilted vests and baby quilts, wall hanging etc. but people were not willing to pay prices and we didn't make any money,except to pay for entrance fee and some materials. Lucky for us my friend's husband worked for a big bank in Toronto and he took our things in and we sold everything and even got orders for specific things but I never did it again. I can't even go to craft shows anymore without seeing the fear in some of the vendors eyes. I am so glad it worked out for you.Blessings Sandra

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  21. what a great read Rachel. Thanks for sharing.

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  22. So glad it was worthwhile for you! I have never been able to do better than just breaking even for the day's expenses. I think it helps to be at the right market though. The whole etsy thing after was a great idea too. Thanks for all the prep info and feedback, I have found it really interesting and helpful!

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    1. The right market is really key. I'm thankful to have this event nearby!

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  23. Thanks for sharing your experience! I've been doing craft shows for a few years - the ones during the recession went terribly. I did find a show I liked and I am returning for the 3rd year. What surprised me last year (2nd year), was how many people commented how they "hoped I would be there again." In fact, the craft show head organizer lady told me that many people had asked if I was returning that year! So, if you decide to do it again, some of those "passer buyers" from this year, might not be able to resist your beautiful items next year. Glad it turned out well! We certainly aren't in this for the money :)

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    1. I can second this statement. I used to do shows years ago and some buyers like to be trend setters, supporting new vendors, but most need to see you a few times before they make a purchase. Your sales build over time as shoppers save/plan to purchase the next time they see you:)

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  24. As if we don't have enough gatherings, imagine if we had a craft swapping night. You're bartering has inspired me!

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  25. I vowed I would never do another craft show, but after reading your posts about getting ready I got the "craft show fever". There is something about breaking even that is attractive, but I did learn that if you have your husband help, he will buy you something from everyone at the show you become freindly with, and in the end, it is all about leftovers we can trade with each other. It is a lot of work for a fun day or two.

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  26. Thank you so much for sharing your craft fair ventures. I have always toyed with the idea of doing one, but have yet to summon the courage.

    Your blog is such an inspiration!

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  27. So happy it went well for you and overall you enjoyed yourself!! I'm surprised that little coin purse didn't sell at the show, I would've bought it for sure! Can't wait for the quilt-along :)

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  28. I think you did well and your trades were amazing. The fun of sharing the time with your friends and the ability to sell your leftovers in your shop make it all wonderful. The iPad thing makes me feel better. I am much older than you and just a little above the average age of many of the buyers of handcrafted items in our area and felt let behind in technology because I haven't decided I have to have an iPad. I like to travel too much and retired to early to have lots of extra cash. what I have generally show up in stash.

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  29. It sounds like a pretty positive experience overall. I bet some of those people who looked and didn't buy will remember you and look for you next year.

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  30. I appreciated reading your perspective on the craft show. I am beginning to get butterflies over a small craft fair where I will vend in late October. I have a REALLY hard time guessing what people may want to buy.

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  31. I have only done one really small craft show, but I took my mom. She was so worried that my feelings would be *crushed* if I didn't at least break even that she was practically ambushing people to get them to buy from me! Thanks to her, I cleared $68, and sold enough stuff that I left feeling good about the experience. I am going to try to do two small shows this year---let's hope my Saleswoman/Mom is up to it!

    Brenda in Iowa

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    1. Can i borrow your mom? : )

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  32. Thank you so much for sharing this entire experience! I'm glad you had such a fun time and had such a great pit crew. Your booth looked beautiful!

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  33. Thanks so much for the recap! It certainly sounds like both a lot of fun and a lot of work. I'm glad you made some money, and those trades are fantastic. That necklace is gorgeous!

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  34. Oh that makes sense - my husband works in gaming and works at game conventions 4-6x a year. He always ends up trading some of his company's product for a board or video game here and there, and never comes home without a bunch of stuff he wouldn't have otherwise, I'm pretty sure that's the FUNNEST part of shows.

    I'm glad Etsy exists, and glad the rest of your stuff is selling. That's a cool necklace too!

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  35. You've received a great and interesting experience!
    Thank you for sharing!

    Hugs,
    Tatyana

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  36. First, I hope the house-painting quote makes you sing with happiness (that you made enough to cover it!) - a goal met!
    And finally, so glad the experience was a positive one for you, whether you do it again or not. I did a few shows long ago and your experience about matches with mine. I've been asked to do 2 private shows over the next few months and your notes have been so helpful in planning for those. Were your iPad covers interchangeable with Nook/Kindle covers? Again, good job!~

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  37. Interesting. I'm glad you shared. Thanks.

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  38. Because I'm also contemplating a craft show, your blog posts have been really interesting. Thankyou so much.

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  39. Well, done! Your booth is striking! And what a great experience. Now you can say, "I've done that."

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  40. I must say I've given up craft fairs because of the crazy amount of effort you have to put in to prepare. I mostly sell handmade chocolates at fairs now (snce my other items didn't sell but food always did) which means I have hundreds of truffles to prepare in the 5 days build up and full time work too. And then when I bring stock home I panic that I have to get rid of them all before they go stale!

    So I have decided now for the price of the set up costs instead I will buy online advertising and I will spend that day I would be at the fair promoting my online shops. I'll probably do just as well and I won't have to stress beforehand so much.

    I did enjoy reading this though, I personally love the idea of summer weight quilts!

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  41. All I'll say is that I think your stall/stand looks amazing. You are so talented. The things that you have to sell look wonderful ... I'm off to have a look at your Etsy store. Sometimes it takes time to get know and to get your stuff out there. You quilts look beautiful.

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  42. you and Heather were the best craft-show neighbors!! so glad we got to meet (and swap product!) :)

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  43. good for you! i'm two thumbs up on experiencing anything new.

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  44. Rachel, that was such a great trade!! I love my picnic blanket.

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  45. Gee Rachel - that was a GOOD read, Thank you for all you insight. I've been selling for a couple years now, but never in a market booth. I'm terrified. Not sure why. Locally, everyone says, "WHAT!? You aren't at this craft fest or that crat fest!??". I think about it but the display and booth rental costs are SO much.

    ha - still haven't decided... but glad to read this. : )

    BY THE WAY - my best selling avenue so far has been a big gardening/outdoor trade show. I get a booth for $50 and sell art there. I sell out every time. Sometimes being in a room full of crafters lowers the odds... hmmm I also put my fibre art in with photographers & painters, and the crowd just eats it up. I go in a quilt market, and there's just too much competition to even get noticed.

    peace girl! : )
    Monika in Canada

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  46. I'm glad it was a positive experience! it sounds like you learned a lot from it, and it's great that you were able to sell so many things! And I love your new necklace. Happy almost birthday!

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  47. im so glad you had a good time and i am sure you are ready for a nap now! xo ;)

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  48. Oh my goodness! I totally would've purchased the Rainbow Stitch Coin Purse. It is gorgeous!

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  49. Sounds like you did fantastic! And as for the scoffing lady... there's always one. I don't think I've had a show yet where someone hasn't picked up one of my items and, right in front of me (but speaking to someone else as if I'm not there) said how I was overcharging or that it was something they could make themselves for much cheaper. There's always one. I try to just tune them out, because generally everyone else is nice.

    In fact, I learned something really interesting. My materials costs went up last year, and I raised my prices on everything by a dollar. NO ONE complained about the price after I raised everything. Isn't that bizarre??

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  50. Thank you so much for this wonderful series! I am thinking of entering a show, and this was a huge help. It's much smaller scale, but I would love to work up to something like this. Your work is adorable, and you made me want to come to this show in 2013! My MIL lives close to Greenville, so I'll have to plan a trip!

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  51. So glad you shared your experience! I did my first/only show in December. It was a one-day thing, but otherwise I had some similar experiences. My conclusion was pretty much the same as yours -- it's a hard way to earn money (at least at my level), but a really cool experience. It made a huge impact on my husband, who does woodworking. That was the first time he got feedback from strangers on his work, and despite being a major introvert, he talked to everyone who came by. :)

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