Thursday, July 22, 2010

Encouraging Words for Discouraged Crafters

It isn't easy being a crafter. We haul our equipment and supplies to various craft shows and spend hours creating products in the hopes that someone will buy them. Most people start crafting as a hobby, just something to do in their spare time and expel their creative energy, but some people take it a step further and sell what they have made.

The first craft show is always a little wracking. I remember staying up all night making more inventory and only getting three hours sleep. I woke up early the next day, packed up my truck and drove to the gas station to fill up. At the time I had a partner and she needed to charge her phone, so she plugged it into the outlet in the dash. Little did we know that the wiring in my truck was malfunctioning and it ended up starting a fire. So here we are, next to a gas pump, with all of my newly made crafts stored in the truck and there's smoke billowing from the hood. Long story short, the fire department was called, I freaked out and cried, borrowed my husbands truck, composed myself and repacked my stuff. The truck was later towed and fixed.

Most first craft show adventures aren't quite as dramatic but it was one of the best learning experiences I ever had. After all the trouble from the beginning of that day and all the work I did to prepare for that first show, I only did "ok." I didn't sell nearly the amount of product that I thought I would and I found that my sales skills were lacking. But after a few more shows I learned about what crafts were popular, what my customers liked and how to talk to them. The more I applied what I learned, the better my sales got.

Crafters shouldn't be discouraged from selling their products just because they don't sell right away. It takes time and practice. Don't be afraid to take that step and introduce your product to the public. You should be proud of your creations. Ignore scrutiny, but not constructive criticism because you should never stop trying to improve your product.

Selling what you make is incredibly challenging but just as rewarding. Build a positive support system for yourself among other successful crafters and learn from their experiences. Research your competitors and know that as much work that you put into selling your craft is what you will win back in return.

Good luck and never stop trying!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Selling your crafts? Tips for picking the right venue, Part 2

Craft shows are a great place to sell handmade goods but are normally available only on the weekends. Traveling to shows also requires extra time to set up and break down the display, not to mention hauling it all around, plus the time to sit all weekend and sell. It’s a system that works for some, but not for all and that’s where selling at stores has its advantages. Stores offer more days of the week to sell, rather than just on weekends, and there is no need to constantly haul display equipment. There are a few things to consider before signing any contract with a consignment shop or store:

1. Just as with crafts shows, it is equally important to find out how long the store has been open. Shops that have just opened may have weak sales at first because it takes time for customers to find out that it is there, but monthly rental fees are usually inexpensive in order to entice new crafters to sign contracts.
2. Get to know the owner. Do they have any experience owning their own business? How familiar are they with the craft market in their area? How hard do they work to satisfy their customers? Businesses are a reflection of their owner so crafters need to be sure that the owner and any employees are the people they want representing and selling their creations.
3. Shop around. Compare rates, display areas, location, and the types of crafts that are sold. If the store sells items that are not handmade, be cautious about selling there. Mass produced items don’t always hold the same quality and craftsmanship that a handmade item does. Most crafters do not want their creations associated with a mass produced product. Depending on the item, it can de-value something that is handmade.
4. Avoid shops that let anybody sell anything. These types of stores can end up having a flea market type of environment, which can be a disadvantage to most crafters when it comes to pricing.

Whatever venue that a crafter chooses to sell at, the most important thing to consider is the comfort level. Crafters should be comfortable, no matter where they sell.

For more info on where to find craft shows in the Waukegan area, visit

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Selling your crafts? Tips for picking the right venue, Part 1

Crafting has a tendency to increase in popularity when the economy takes a downturn. People have limited funds and look for inexpensive activities to occupy their minds. While crafting usually starts off as an extracurricular activity to burn away excess creativity, it can often become a means of income through the sale of their wares; hence the inspiration for craft shows, stores, fairs and the like. Crafting can be an excellent source of income but selling it in the right venue is even more important. Crafters are easily discouraged when their products don’t sell but many times it’s because they have chosen the wrong venue. Here’s Part 1, on how to pick the right venue for selling crafts:

Selling at a craft show

1. The number one question to ask when selling at a craft fair is how long the show has been running. It’s important because the longer the show has been running, the more likely people are aware of it and will attend. Longer running shows have built a sizable and loyal clientele. That doesn’t mean that first year shows won’t be successful but there will most likely be more customers at a long running show.

2. The next important question to ask is if vendors will be allowed to the show or if only crafts are allowed. Depending on what a crafter is selling will determine whether this matters or not. Vendors are usually at-home businesses like Mary Kay, Avon and Homemade Gourmet, all reputable companies but they are not crafters. If there is a candle catalog vendor selling their product next to a crafter that makes their own candle, it can make a difference.

3. Find out if the show is juried. A juried show will ensure that there are no duplicates, and therefore very little competition among the crafters. Shows that are not juried end up having too many of one type of craft, usually jewelry, and do not give customers a variety of products to browse through. When customers don’t have a variety of products to browse, they get bored and leave early.

4. Ask about advertising. How is the show being advertised? Where is it being advertised? Are there street signs? Be sure that the show promoters have made some effort to publicize the craft show because it will make a difference in the outcome of the overall sales. More advertising means more customers.

Stay tuned for Part 2, for tips on picking the right store to sell crafts.