Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Craft Show Worries

My old blog still gets some hits...it's a good thing I can still remember my password! Someone left a comment today in an old post about craft shows. And I fully understand her worry...
"Megan, I have two shows booked, Dec. 1 and 7, and I'm petrified. Not only do I not have enough jewelry made to sell, I don't have an idea of how to fill an 8 foot table with displays. I honestly don't know if I'm up for it. I am having a lot of work and personal troubles right now. I feel like a jerk for dropping out but don't know what else to do. I have no display items (like busts) because I don't want to invest in something if I don't know if I'll likeit.Any advice? Please?"

First piece of advice......take some deep breaths! :) It's not the end of the world. No one will die if you don't participate and no one will die if you have a bad show. The good news is that everyone starts out being scared and having no idea what to do. Trust me. If you are that stressed it might be a good idea to back out for now and try again next year. There's no harm in that and you aren't a jerk! Life happens (trust me...just read the last few entries here and you'll see how my life has been going the last week!).

But you have at least two weeks and I think if you want to go ahead with the shows you should have no problem. A few handmade display items and a little confidence go a long way!

My first show was at a local high school. I had three small folding card tables that I borrowed from my mom and they were super wobbly. I went out and bought some cheap fabric (red and green since it was the season) that was sheer because I thought it was pretty. Some black, non-sheer fabric that was sort of silky. I found this cool tree looking thing at Michael's to hang bracelets on. I used a picture frame with a plastic cross stitch thingy inside for earrings. Necklaces went flat. It was really pathetic.

Sheer fabric - don't do it unless it's over a solid fabric. You can SEE through it (duh!) and you could see my ugly tables. Not only that, it was also sort of silky and kept sliding off the table!

Despite all the horror of my set up I still sold around $80 - which I thought was pretty darn good. It only cost $15 to get a space. My expectations weren't very high and I think that is important for a first show. It's more of a learning experience than anything else. Sales are just a bonus!

As for the amount of space - 8 feet is a lot less than you think. I prefer at least 10 x 10 and even then it's not always enough. Get two tables in those 8 feet and add a few people browsing and it gets really cozy really fast. With an 8 foot table you'll be surprised how fast it fills up! And you'll be surprised how few pieces you may need. I am a perpetual overachiever when it comes to creating items...I always always always have too much.

But if the show is a small local show I would estimate that if you have at least 50 pieces total (that includes earrings which should be the bulk of your items) you will be just fine. You don't want to have too much out on your table because it can overwhelm customers. Having ten or twelve necklaces and an equal number of bracelets should be enough if laid out properly on the table. Earrings are usually what sells most so have more of those.

So here is my 2 cents on display ideas - for what it's worth...

Go down to the Walmart or other discount store and raid their clearance fabric section. I got great fabric for $1 a yard for my tables. I didn't sew them or anything (I probably should!) but just cut them to fit. Most folks aren't looking at your table clothe seams!

While at Walmart, see if they have some inexpensive picture frames. Inexpensive is the key because to me these are just a stop gap until you get an actual earring display. They can be any color because you can always spray paint them the color you want (I prefer black or natural color).

Now go back to the sewing section and get those plastic thingys (yes that is the technical term) that are used with cross stich and yarn - you know the ones...they have lots of little squares. A lot of times they will have different colored ones...black is best to me. You'll also want some colored paper (again, I like black but white is good too) to put behind it since you don't want to see the back of the frame. This will be where you can hang your earrings. You can use them with french hooks and leverbacks (though it is a little tougher with leverbacks).

Do you have any old shoe boxes or storage boxes? Use these to create layers at your table (put the boxes under the fabric so make sure the fabric is long enough to go over these and the table). It's okay to drape necklaces and bracelets flat - especially if you're short on time and resources. It's not ideal but people WILL look! And adding layers will help.

These three things alone will give you a respectable table display. And it won't cost you much at all! It's a good idea to not invest too much if you aren't sure if this is the direction you want to go with your business.

Feel free to ask lots of questions! There's also a ton of great advice over at Cagey Crafters where some of our members have been going through these same anxieties. We'll talk you through it! :)

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