Tips for Your First Craft Fair

So we launched our craft business, Oddly Wild, back in September 2017, a little over two years ago.

What a rollercoaster!

It was a great time to start as we picked up a lot of Christmas trade, and got to take part in a variety of fairs and markets.

Its been such a fantastic experience, and the fairs gave us the opportunity to meet some brilliant designer makers, as well as being able to talk to customers and hear valuable feedback about our products.

But what a lot of work!

No one explained just how much time and effort is involved in getting everything ready. At times it felt like we were trying to hold down 2 full time jobs!

So here are our top tips for anyone looking to take part in their first craft fair.

Visit Fairs

Before we started our business, whilst in the planning and development stage, we visited a lot of craft fairs in our local area. This is good chance to get a feel for the types of products being sold, and to get a sense of the footfall. There is nothing worse than going to the effort of getting your stall ready and looking perfect, only for no one to turn up.

Plan Your Stall

Once you have some fairs booked and in your diary, its time to start planning.

We spent many hours, over many days, over many weeks mocking up, changing and sorting how our stall could look. The dining room table came in very handy! There are endless possibilities and you need time to plan how you want your stall to look. We trawled pinterest for ideas, we brought a couple of bits, borrowed some, and my husband even turned his hand to a bit of diy and made us a wooden christmas tree frame for our tree decorations, along with a stand to display our clocks.

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But you really dont need to spend a fortune. You’ll be suprised how useful a few household items can be. We made use of a wicker picnic basket and some ikea spice racks.

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Make Lists

Its quite a shock when you realise just how much work is involved in getting ready for a fair, and when you work full time it can feel a little overwhelming. Writing yourself a checklist of everything you need to do is the best way we found to take a little bit of pressure off. Its amazing just how much better you feel when you see everything you need to do all written in one place. And the satisfaction of crossing those things off, one by one, is an incredible feeling.

Preparation

It may sound like an obvious one, but being well prepped is key. In the run up to our first fair, we realised the night before that our stall position was not going to work for us. And that wasn’t just us being fussy…..honest!

Due to having a large stand to display our clocks on, a stall right in the middle of the room would have been extremely awkward to set up. Not to mention annoying everyone around us! Unfortuantely it was too late by this point to do anything about it, so we had to wait until the morning of the fair. And my goodness what a faff!

Since then we have been very clear and upfront with fair organisers, as to what space requirements we have.

Interact with organisers. They want the event to be as much of a success as you do.

It is also essential to get all your products, stall props and any tools you might need, together the night before. And if you can, pack up your car too. We managed to forget a vital piece of our stand at our first fair! Lucky for us the fair was only a 15 minute drive from home.

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The Big Day

If you can, call in some help from your family and friends. Our little Corsa is a lovely car, but its really not designed for carrying large amounts of stock, and all the other little bits and pieces that you need for your stall.

We are very fortunate to have an incredibly supportive family, close by and on hand to help in any emergency. In fact both sets of parents helped to transport stock, set up the stall and, very importantly…….buy coffee!!

Loading and unloading can take a lot of time, so have someone with you if you can.

I am lucky enough to be running the business with my husband, so the fairs have been a joint venture, and we have each other to chat to. But they can be extremely long days, busy one minute and quiet the next, so its always good to have someone with you. And invite your friends and family to visit the fair, and pop by and see you. Its always reassuring to see a familiar face in the crowd.

Network

As well as selling your goods, fairs are a great way of meeting other designer makers. It has been lovely to chat to people, to hear them talking passionately about what they make, and to get tips and advise from those who have been doing this for years. Its invaluable, inspiring and I found it a really positive experience.

Smile

Be friendly, smile, and talk to your potential customers. It’s really scary! I don’t find it easy at all, but people are generally genuinely interested in what you are selling and the story behind it. Tell them about your processes, where you produce your work, how long you’ve been doing it for. The response can be so lovely and inspiring, and its always great to hear postive feedback.

Enjoy Yourself

Beyond everything else, enjoy yourself.

We love seeing the smiles on peoples faces when they see our clocks, especially the little kids eyes lighting up, and the huge grins that form. It makes it all worthwhile, and is ultimately why we do what we do.