I’ve been thinking for a while about selling the things I make, but haven’t been brave enough to take the ‘big step’. Things like tax and insurance are scary enough let alone the regulations that you need to comply with. Even something like a ‘sock monkey’ can cause great headaches if you start to look into the plethora of guidance on the web!
In April our local church is hosting its first craft fair and my daughters are encouraging me to apply for a stall. As I’m still not quite sure whether to grab this opportunity with both hands or run very fast the other way, I thought it might help to share some of the things that are buzzing through my head.
What to sell, what to charge? – Visit a craft fair and you will see that beautiful bunting, lavender filled hearts and applique aprons adorn the tables, but what differentiates one seller from another? What is each stalls unique selling point? What makes it stand out from the competition? As a business you need to price your creativities to cover the costs of materials and overheads like stall hire as well as include a charge for labour….all without scaring off your buyers! So what quality products can you make that will sell well? No wonder patterns and make-it-yourself kits are popular!
Where to sell? – Online, house parties, craft fairs, playschools, independent shops, or sidelines in tea rooms – as you can see I’ve had my thinking cap on! Whilst a craft fair seems like a good option to gain customer feedback, I’ve heard sales can be slow as us crafty folk like to visit for ideas and prefer to buy things like buttons, rather than the finished article.
Labelling – During one of my ‘braver’ moments, I thought I would order some labels.The wording “The Stitch Sharer, Handmade in England” seemed simple enough ….. but what about something made on my trusty sewing machine? I’ve ended up going around in circles on this one! Is there a difference between a fabric being guided across the footplate of a sewing machine “by hand” and a jumper being created on hand-held knitting needles?
Perhaps it would be easier to just have “The Stitch Sharer”, but then how do buyers know the piece is lovingly made by my own “fair-hands”!
As you can see I’m a bit confused! To help find my way I would love to hear any:
- Valuable nuggets of business / craft selling advice
- Your “If only I could buy a ……” moments – to inspire the things I design and make
- What type of textiles (especially knitted, sewn or crocheted things) you buy at craft fairs
- Whether you want to hear more about how my “selling” journey unfolds – if there’s enough interest perhaps I could develop a ‘craft business’ section on my blog!
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This is interesting!
I used to run craft fairs and also have had stalls with my own work. It is so very hard to pinpoint what it is that makes an event successful – quite honestly I think a lot of it is luck. One thing I would say, on every occasion be friendly! It sounds so simple but it is often the part that gets bypassed. I saw a lot of people so absorbed in their own stall, getting the display perfect, that they forgot about their customers! Good luck with it, I hope you do well. Oh, and I like label one x
That’s such great advice especially as talking to people is one of my most favourite things!
Stumbled upon your blog and noticed you live in/near Sussex. Have yo checked out http://www.makemarket.co.uk/ as a way of selling handmade stuff. I’ve been to one of their fairs and it is usually heaving although there is a lot of competition amoungst the sellers. Craft fairs are a good way to see if your stuff is popular, well priced although I know from conversations with a friend who does this there is a lot of work required in the run up to make sure you have enough stock and that presentation on the day is key to get people to come over to your stall. Good luck
Thank you for feedback and the tips, really useful. X
I too am thinking about starting to sell at craft fairs; not so much as a business, just as an outlet for all my “creations” I think your blog is so interesting and helpful. I am way behind you in “blogging” etc but hope one day to achieve what you have.
PS I like label#1
Thank you for your lovely feedback. I have been on a bit of a journey over the last few months and at the moment decided to keep my crafting as my hobby too. X
It’s really too bad that you don’t live close to where I live. There is something called the Craftcation Conference, which is geared toward crafty entrepreneurs. I went last year and am going again this year. They have workshops on pricing, using Etsy, setting up a website, setting up a craft fair booth, accounting, and a whole lot more stuff. It’s really cool.
That sounds like an amazing conference! I’ll have to find out if there is anything similar in the south coast of England. X
This is a great topic, I have done craft fairs, it is often very competitive, you need to make sure that what you are making is unique, it can be really disappointing to find that other peoples work is similar or cheaper than yours. Have you thought about a Folksy or Etsy account, you can do lots of product & price research before you start and the overheads aren’t too high.
Thanks for ideas and suggestion about folksy and etsy, I’ll have a look tomorrow and see what I can find out. X
Interesting post (and motivating) It’s clear you’ve done your research.I think one of your other commenters made a good point about having a price range to suit everyone. When I go to craft fairs I usually end up buying smaller pieces and I usually buy for other people rather than myself. I know it sounds a bit cynical but is there a way you could tie your products into a festival/celebration and have a selection, maybe not all, of goods appropriate to that? Mother’s day? Spring? Best of luck with your endeavours, looking forward to reading about it.
Thank you for your really helpful feedback. Will keep you posted!
Developing an artistic brand is key. I have been in the process of trying to do this for a while. It is challenging but I am determined to do it. If a buyer can look at your work and recognize that it is distinctly “your work”, I think it would be easier to sell whatever item you choose to make.
You have definitely got me thinking. Thank you. Good luck with developing your brand, it will be good to follow your journey too. X
I think you most definitely can use handmade even if it’s on a sewing machine as it is still made by you and not on a factory production line. Good luck, and look forward to hearing about it.
Thank you. Btw – your jar of meringues look amazing. X
I read this with interest as it is something that I am grappling with too. I think sharing your story is a good idea – I am trying to share mine too. I bought the craftseller magazine because of the supplement but have yet to read it. I am a great procrastinator and will faff about with the details rather than tackle the important bits. If I were you I would take the stall so you get some feedback – hopefully you will be able to see the kind of thing that people like and so this will give you some direction for the future. Good luck with it all – look forward to sharing your journey with you 🙂
That’s great advice. Thank you. I love the beaded necklace you have just made. Very beautiful. X
Thank you 🙂
Label #1 you should go with.
Thank you. x
I went through the samething. But if you just step out on faith you will know what to do better and what to keep doing. It was an experience for me. My first event was at my church and that’s when I knew what consumers want. Every event you plan to go to is different so you would have to make items according to your audience. But make sure you always do your research on the area so you know what to make in order for your business at that moment to be successful. Bring a couple of surprise items with you and go from there. My first labels I order them on ribbon and sewed them to my clothing as a start and them I order them from a company. If you can hand make your labels, by all means save a few pennies. I hope this is helpful. In Faith
Thank you so much for your encouragement and words of wisdom. x
I’m so interested in your journey. I too have been thinking along the same lines about selling my wares!
Firstly, I love label No.1, its gorgeous. It looks classy and tells me that what I am buying is a one-off.
Yesterday, I bought the Feb issue of Craftseller and inside is a free magazine with pages of info from being your own boss, making money to networking. I’ve brought the copy into work with me to read in my lunch hour as its really interesting. So, if you havent got that, it may help answer a few questions.
Good luck and I look forward to hearing about how you’re doing!
Thank you for your feedback – it seems lots of people are thinking about selling so if I can help others along the way that would be fab. I think I’d better pop out to my local magazine shop! x
How about selling something like little tapestry stuff? Or you could buy button blanks, and make teeny tiny pieces of tapestry, and make them into buttons, You don’t see many of them around. Then, you could try ideas that are useful for people to buy, like pincushions.
I would love to hear more about your business.
That’s a great idea – thank you. I’ll let you know how I get on. x
Go for it, we started last year doing just a few fairs, it is very gratifying when customers love what you do, although you have to be prepared for a lot of ”Oooo thats lovely!” with no intentions of buying anything. We have learnt most from other stall holders, one piece of advice that sticks with me is have something for everyone, lower priced items at the front and more expensive at the back, quite often selling lots of smaller items pays for the overheads. Good luck, and keep posting how you get on.
Thanks for the advice – thats a top tip and one I’ll remember. x
A friend and I are also looking at selling some of our craft this year so this is a very timely post for me. Good luck and please do keep us posted.
Will do. x
Of the two labels, I like the 1st one best for just about anything. It doesn’t say ‘hand stitched”, so IMO it’s fine for something you make with your personal sewing machine. To a lot of people handmade means, not mass produced.
Whatever you decide, I wish you luck. It can be tough to put yourself and your creations out there. Being the artist and the customer service means having thick skin at times. It also means meeting some wonderful people and hearing a million compliments on your work.
Thanks for the label advice – much appreciated. x
I’m interested in your selling journey too – and what a great tip from Alison Willcocks about working out what you want to achieve, and then seeing how to get there. A great motto for life even! I’m way too slow at making things to even think about it – but if you can make it work you’ll be living the dream. All good wishes for your success 🙂
Thank you – I’ll keep you posted. x
This is a great post. I have many of the same concerns and questions as you.
Thank you. We will have to try and find some answers!x
I would also be interested in your ‘selling journey’ as I have dabbled in this area myself, with mixed results.
This may sound a bit strange but I think in order to turn your craft into a ‘business’ you need to work backwards! Work out what it is you want to achieve, then work out how you are going to get there. Good Luck 🙂
That’s a great tip. I’ll have to get a business plan together. X
Definitely interested in your “selling journey” having not yet gone there myself.
Will keep you posted. X