Selling at local craft fair can be a great step forward for your business. They’re a great way of boosting your revenue and as well as making a little money, fairs are a fantastic way to test out your lampshade products, gauge the reaction of your customers and get to know other makers.
Image credit: Majdalani Interiors
And on top of this there is nothing like a sociable day behind a stall, especially if you normally work from your kitchen table or studio with only your houseplants for company!
With Christmas approaching fast here’s our top tips and advice from our Facebook Lampshade Makers forum members on how to get the best from your next Craft Fair….
Pick the right fair
Under the ‘Craft fair’ sits everything from an event in a local village hall to a large city centre ‘makers market’, so picking your event wisely will pay off. If you have the chance try to go along before you commit or talk to other makers or friends to see if they think that handmade lampshades are a product that will fit in at the event.
Fiona Pullen, founder of the Sewing Directory and author of ‘Making and Marketing a successful art and craft business‘ offers this advice….
“Contact the event organiser to ask for information about the advertising, expected visitor numbers, other sellers and similar information. If you look on the event organisers social media accounts you may find photographs of the event and feedback from visitors and exhibitors”
Researching the average price of products from other sellers who’ll be attending is also a smart move. It won’t make commercial sense to be at a fair or market where your shades look very expensive compared to other handmade products.
You are your business
Even if you don’t consider yourself a salesperson, you’re passionate about your lampshades which is something you can share!
Make eye contact, say hello and be available for your customers – it’s all about building a rapport. If they show interest in a lampshade tell them something they don’t know – tell them about the fabric or the finish or mention you have this in other colours or could add a trim. Also bear in mind that they’ll need some space too, so don’t chat at them, find the right time to talk.
Image credit: Jane Sobierajski www.shadeparade.com.au
Take along a craft project to be working on – although lampshades are pretty hard to make behind a stall! But even making up a lantern kit or hand stitching a vintage shade will show off your craft to your customers and it’s more engaging than reading the paper or texting!
With so many markets springing up there’s more competition for selling handmade, so treat your next fair as a branding exercise. To do this well you’ll need the following:
Business cards or leaflets clearly explaining the how brilliant your products and services are – particularly if you make bespoke lampshade commissions. Also don’t forget to add your social media platform icons and contacts.
A largish banner or board with your brand name on so it can be seen clearly.
A good display of products, within each price ranges where possible (under £5, under £10, £10-£20, etc) which should include plenty of lamp bases to display your shades.
Karen Steed of mrssteed.co.uk has these wise words to share…
‘I do one fair pre-Christmas, I always think of it as advertising and don’t expect to sell on the day, that way it’s a bonus if you do, but also raises your profile. Your eye catching stall will draw people in & give you the opportunity to speak to potential customers. Make eye contact, smile, be generous with business cards / leaflets. I usually get commissions later from people I’ve chatted with.’
Be socially mobile
As soon as you’ve made a booking let people know when and where you’re going to be and, as much as possible, what kind of stock you’ll have with you. Be sure to answer any questions on social media and build up to the event letting people know which corner you’ll be in, which other makers will be there and what parking and access there is. This is a great example from www.parlourmadeuk.com.
Image credit: www.parlourmadeuk.com.
Try creating a story of your day – from picking the right stock, packing the car, taking a pic of your neighbours stand (especially if you can tag them on your social platforms!) and maybe even a yummy food stall that might be there. Make sure you share your images throughout the day and also mention that you’re doing a good trade! Don’t forget to tag in any hashtags linked to the organiser. Alison of www.printsandpress.co.uk has packed in all of her hastags in her post below and a great anecdote about her hotel pool!
Image credit: www.printsandpress.co.uk
Have a little faith
If this is your first or your thirtieth craft fair, there’s a good chance you might not sell anything. It’s hard not to take this personally, but think of it as the right customers just weren’t there that day – your products are still fantastic! What you have done is gathered information of who your potential customers might be and can be thinking about what type of fair you do want to do, if this isn’t the right one. Hopefully you’ve given out plenty of cards and leaflets too. Sometimes the payback of doing a fair comes further down the line from commissions for bespoke lampshades.
Marie Monro of www.parlourmadeuk.com, definitely found this to be the case…
‘I find I don’t normally sell much at craft fairs, but I do get commissions and always meet lovely stallholders. I made a good connection at the last fair I did with a curtain maker who was just starting out locally. So I find it useful to get out and just use it as a way to meet people who didn’t know about me before!
So armed with the above you should hopefully be feeling more prepared for festive fairs ahead. And remember above all that you’re products are unique, well made and extremely saleable!
We’d love to hear your tips on how to sell at craft fairs so leave a comment below…
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