A few weekends ago was my first ever craft show! And is a word, it was a total success! Never having done a craft show I wanted to write a very candid post about my experience in an effort to help others who, like me, had never done a show before.
The show was more of an experiment for me rather than a full frontal money making opportunity. I wanted to experience a show and evaluate whether I would continue to do them. Yes, I did want to make money but my sales goal was very low - $500. Which was the amount I spent on everything related to the show hotel, food, display pieces, show fees, etc. I also put a number in my head that was the I WOULD BE SUPER DUPER INSANELY HAPPY if I made this much. That amount was $1500. Why $1500? Because of this insightful information from Sara. How did I do? Hold tight and I will tell you.
I'm the kind of person who gathers as much information about what I'm going to do before I do it. I read numerous craft show check lists, booth conduct articles, customer interaction tips, and anything else I could get my hands on about craft show. Even though I read and read and read there are things that no one tells you..
1. You will NEVER feel ready no matter what. I could have spent another 2 months creating items to sell but at some point you have to stop. Be happy with that you have finished and get some sleep, you are going to need it (see #2).
2. It is exhausting! Time and time again I read that you should stand the entire time. But what they don't tell you is that it gets exhausting. I consider myself in pretty good shape and by Saturday afternoon my legs were so swollen they felt like sausages in jeans.
3. People are mean. I overheard people say things like...
"I could make that"
"I can't believe she is charging so much for that"
"Oh I don't like that at all"
I wanted to say, "you know I can HEAR YOU!!" But I just smiled and kept standing (did I mention my sausages in jeans legs?) Everyone is entitled to their opinion but it would be nice if the artist didn't hear your negative opinion about their work.
4. People take tons of pictures of your work without asking. Most photographers don't take photos of people within hearing distance without asking. My work is very personal so I felt like they were taking photos of me without asking. After the second or third time this happened I just ask people what their were shooting for. Most people had a blog and wanted to post about my work or some people really, really loved the work and just wanted a picture. Which was wonderful on many levels; making blog author contacts and starting a conversation with an admirer of my work. Double bonus!
5. Children can ruin your merchandise. I LOVE kids and very often I have my 6 year old niece help me in my studio. I would take any opportunity to take my niece and nephew to a show like Renegade to expose them to the awesomeness, so I think the kids should go to shows. But more then once kids came into the booth, grab items and handle them in such a way that one kid actually damaged a piece. So it is something to keep that in mind when you do a show; don't hessitate to politely ask children be careful with your stuff if it is fragile.
Now on to the positives...
1. Oh hi, that's what you look like. You really get to know your demographic in a way you never get to when you sell online. I really had a particular "girl" in mind when designing the jewelry. What I found out was that "girl" was even more tattooed, more pierced, and had more black clothes then I had envisioned. This will help me in marketing and helping me take the line further now that I know better who the lines appeals to.
2. Lot of metaphorical high fives. You get a lot of instant positive feedback which is a great boost.
3. Ca-ching. There is a total rush when people are handing over money to you all day long!
4. You make craft show friends. Kind of like camp friends but the friendship lasts only two days instead of all summer long.
5. Craft show are addictive because of all the reasons above.
So how did I end up doing? $1850 in two days, many new newsletter subscribers, and some potential new wholesale accounts! And the conclusion? I will see you at the next show, so come say hi!