PART I: PREPARING YOUR PRODUCT
Whether you make bows or sell Mary Kay, it is helpful to think about your product. The most frustrating thing I have learned when participating in craft fairs is you never know what people are going to want. At one fair, one product will do great, at another it won’t even get a second glance. Here are a few tips on preparing your product for whatever may come!
1. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. My friend’s very first fair was in a smaller city on a Thursday evening. She had a great collection of handmade, Pinterest-inspired gifts, but it’s possible many of the shoppers were not on Pinterest and were not interested in paying for handmade items that they could make themselves. A few weeks later, however, my friend participated in a craft fair in a higher end suburb where items that didn’t get a second look on Thursday night were selling faster than she could set them out! Those people? Busy, soccer-mom types looking for unique, handmade gifts and décor that they had seen on Pinterest.
Your AUDIENCE matters. Here are some questions to determine who your audience might be: Where is the fair located? Downtown, suburbs, rural? What does it support? (if anything) Is it combined with a larger event or is it stand-alone? Who are some of the other vendors? If you can determine your audience, it will help you determine your product. Familes? Retirees? Children? College students? Singles?
2. WHAT IS POPULAR? Curious what is hot right now? Browse Pinterest, Etsy, and magazines! Be sure to look for repeating color themes (teal?), popular clothing and accessories (owls?), or unique decorations and styles (shabby chic?). Gearing your product toward what is trending tells buyers that you are up-to-date and ready to meet their modern gifting needs.
With that said, traditional items are coming back! It’s called ‘vintage’ and it is BIG right now. Finding ways to merge the nostalgia of yesterday with the modern trends of today shows buyers that tradition can still live on in their home.
Another theme right now is being “green”. Think upcycled gifts. Earth-friendly, American-made products. Organic materials. Heck, even using ‘green’ wrapping paper and booth decorations will win you a look with many buyers!
For more ideas, click here to see Etsy’s 2013 Winter/Holiday trend forecast!
3. HOW MUCH DO I PREPARE? Keep in mind what season you are preparing for and what your product is. Also keep in mind how long it takes you to create each product and how much each product will cost you… and the buyer. And don’t forget to consider how big/expensive your craft fair booth was! If you are at a weekend event that you paid $500 dollars for, then you had better have at least $500 worth of product ready to sell.
If you paid $25 for a table at a one-day event, then here are some recommendations: Feel free to have a whole basketful of small, stocking-stuffer type items that are easy to make and inexpensive to buy. Advertise these as stocking-stuffers, party favors, or great teacher gifts! $1-$5 items often sell well. For medium items that take more time and are still reasonably priced “the pros” recommend making 10-20. And larger or more expensive products should be kept limited to 3-5. These might not sell that day (many people attend craft fairs with cash only) but you can always offer to take orders! Remember, any leftovers can be sold at other events, on your personal business page, or given as awesome gifts. It’s a win-win either way! Just be mindful of how much preparation time you have. (There is no magic number here! These numbers were merely gleaned off of other craft fair posts… you follow your gut.)
4. BRANDING YOUR PRODUCT. Who are you? If people buy your product, and someone later says, “Oh! Where did you GET that?!” will they be able to easily pass your information on? My first craft season, I did not brand anything. My table had a name and I had pitiful little business cards, but if you looked at my coffee cozies you would have NO idea where they came from. This year I’ve gone big-time and printed little tags that I can sew into all my products. Here is a link to a great tutorial http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mH2R2dVQxc.
If you’re not ready to brand a ‘shop’ yet, your name is enough! Print it on business cards or flyers with a list of products you make and a link to a Facebook page, Etsy shop, or email address. This will not only help buyers remember you and pass your information along, but it will also help them feel like they bought a product that had some thought put into it. Even if you are “small potatoes”, like me, having a name or brand gives me more credibility as a seller and gives others more confidence as a buyer! And I guess I should add… make sure you create a product that you are confident putting your name behind!
You are awesome at parties. We love receiving your products as gifts. Your catalogs do great in the teacher’s lounge. But when it comes to craft fairs, people tend to walk right past you…
A frustration for many business consultants is that SO MANY people are out there selling the same product. Nearly everyone knows someone or has their “lady” on speed dial, so when people come to a craft fair they don’t want to sign up for a giveaway or place an order in your catalog that they could get through their friend. What’s a girl to do?
– Have product available to sell right there, right then. It’s even better if it is at a discount! I went to a very large craft fair and almost walked right past the Thirty-One booth, until I saw that she had a whole tote full of discounted items- flowers, scarves, luggage tags, pocket books, small totes, key fobs. I think I spent $20. I know that having product available for purchase is risky to many of you, BUT… I guarantee you, products that buyers can hold, smell, touch, and take home will sell a lot faster than products that they have to wait for.
– Take advantage of the fundraiser! Most companies encourage business consultants to do fundraisers with their product anyways, so having a big sign at the craft fair stating that X% of all catalog orders filled out THAT DAY will go directly to support the cause of the event is a big draw for buyers. If they know that their purchase is going to help support the cause they are shopping for, they will be more likely to make a purchase from you that day… even if you’re not their “lady”.
Here are some links to other great craft-fair tips:
Join us next Thursday for Craft Fair Preparation Series: Part II- Advertising! Ask any craft fair coordinator and they will probably tell you the number one method of advertising… is you! Next week we will look at different ways to get the word out so we can ensure the most traffic, and the most success, possible.