Editor’s note: Our friends at Academy of Handmade asked me to share some of my tips for keeping your cool at craft shows on their blog. I’m super excited to share some of the ways I’ve learned to deal with unexpected circumstances at craft shows below and you can read the full article on their blog. -Nicole S.
If you’re looking to make the most of your time and effort at craft shows check out our online workshop:
Craft Show Success: Make sales and build your business, confidence + community through selling at craft shows.
I share the tips and tricks I’ve learned from vending at over 300 craft shows and producing over 40 of them. You’ll learn how to: find and apply to the right show, develop your “look” using basic branding, prepare for shows with products, checklists, staff, and a pitch, merchandise and display products for maximum effect, deal with pricing, permits, and taxes + MORE!
Craft Show Success teaches you how to:
- Find and choose the right craft shows for your brand
- Determine and achieve your craft show goals
- Get organized and be prepared before, during and after craft shows
- Submit a stand-out application with great photos
- Create cohesive branding for your business
- Maximize your booth space and create unique on-brand displays
- Price your goods for profit
- Navigate licenses and permits
- Maximize your time at the show
- Build and solidify relationships with your customers, creative community and show producers
Click below to preview our Craft Show Success online workshop.
Before I started co-producing Patchwork Show nine years ago with my partner/aunt Delilah Snell, I was a craft vendor for over ten years. The experience of vending at hundreds of craft shows helped lay the groundwork for co-producing over 40 of them.
Through all the trials and tribulations as a vendor and producer I’ve had so many awesome moments but I’ve also been thrown curve balls and learned how to keep my cool when things don’t go exactly according to my expectations.
My experience has taught me how well thought out preparation for the unexpected can help make good craft show situations even better and improve not-so-good scenarios. I taught a CreativeLive class: Secrets of Selling at Craft Fairs: How to Get In, Make Sales, and Grow Your Business and created Craft Show Success an online workshop for our Dear Handmade Life website where I shared all the knowledge I gained in my years as a vendor and producer.
The importance I place on being well-prepared became a bit of an inside joke with my live audience during the CreativeLive class, as over the course of the two days of filming the point I hammered home again and again was to BE PREPARED.
Every craft show experience is different and each one provides both opportunity and risk. Just because another vendor does well at a show doesn’t mean you will. Just because you did well at a certain show before doesn’t guarantee you’ll do well the next time around. There are so many uncontrollable factors that go into your overall experience at any given show… weather, booth placement, show promotion etc. BUT there are also several factors you CAN control that will help you keep calm, cool and collected in the midst of unforeseen circumstances.
BRING EVERYTHING THERE’S EVEN A SLIGHT CHANCE YOU MAY NEED
The comforts of home don’t exist at craft shows. The weather may be extremely hot or it may rain. The bathroom situation could be less than pleasant (hello rarely-cleaned porta potty’s). There may not be any food vendors at the show. After finding myself in need of basic necessities at craft shows early on, I created a packing list and a bin with the essentials I always had with me at craft shows.
Aside from the basics like your goods, display items, tent etc. you should create a checklist of things you may need. Everyone’s list is a bit different but here are a few of mine:
- first aid kit (I can’t tell you how many times a Band-Aid came in handy)
- paper towels
- baby wipes
- small roll of toilet paper
- extra water
- granola bars
- sewing kit and general tools (like tape, s-hooks, fasteners, safety pins, binder clips, screwdriver etc.).
This list could go on for pages. I created a packing list based off what I (and several of my friends who are veteran craft show vendors) make sure to always have with us and it’s included in my CreativeLive class as well as the online workshop version on our site. Create your list and make sure you bring your bin of essentials to shows. Be sure to update and replenish it after each show.
Head over to Academy of Handmade’s blog for the rest of my tips.
*Photo: Patchwork vendor Kelso Doesn’t Dance