Frankly, The Folksy Magazine


The British Craft Market – be proud!

by Emily. Average Reading Time: about 3 minutes.

bethanie101_5097

Written By Bethanie Ruston

I am a bit of a newbie to the craft scene. I have been ‘designing and making’ for years but I have only recently begun to take it seriously; for this, I have to thank the internet and the influence of social networking for helping modern people turn their hobbies into careers. And of course our romantic desire to go back to the days of pre-industrialisation, which has enhanced the 21st century love for vintage and handmade.

I have built my website, opened my Folksy shop and created social network pages. I have also sold at a few craft fairs – this is supposed to be one of the best bits after all. But I’m sad to say I’ve been left rather disillusioned with some of the fairs I’ve sold at. The last craft fair I went to left me in a down right bad mood. The atmosphere was dull to say the least. You could almost see the cobwebs on the regular stall holders’ stock. The foot fall was poor and stall holders didn’t seem bothered by this. I was practically jumping on the few who did come through the door, eager to meet people, show off all my hard work and hopefully make some sales!

Upcycled Rocking Horse - Tatty Batty
Upcycled Rocking Horse by Bethanie Ruston at Tatty Betty

The lady next to me selling handmade jewellery gave up very early and spent the rest of the day drinking tea in the corner of the hall with several other stall holders. Surely it could be better that this? Stall holders could and should be so proud of their stock and their brand that they dare not leave their stall all day. Why did they not want to be at the stall, to be the face of their brand? Communicating with other crafters and artists is great, to build relationships and to learn from one and other; but ultimately, doesn’t the customer come first? Maybe it’s the sales assistant coming out in me. I would like to think, though, that no matter how good your work is, if you are not there to talk the customer through the product, the idea behind it, the process, or even just to say hello, then the customer will carrying on walking. There is, after all, no-one there for them to hand the cash to!

Bethanie (right) and her buddy at a recent Vintage & Handmade Fair
Bethanie (right) and her buddy at a recent Vintage & Handmade Fair

One of the greatest things about British modern craft is the ability to tell a story. Telling the story of your work, where it’s made, how it’s made and what your inspiration was helps your product to stand tall above anything you can buy that’s mass produced. High-street stores are constantly producing ranges of goods that are made to look handmade, because they know that it’s a very popular look at the moment. That feeling though, that handmade love story, is something that you can’t buy from the high-street.

Mr Robotington by The Imagination of LadySnail - one of Bethanie's fave Folksy makers

Blogs, social network sites and Folksy make it easier to tell the story of your pieces. Makers can share inspirations and ideas behind their products. This helps to build a good relationship and customers are always keen to see the hard work and craftsmanship that has gone into what they are about to buy. When selling at a craft fair you don’t have this aid, it’s just you and your products. But what better way to sell? To be able to talk face to face to your customers.

My experience taught me to research into potential craft fairs beforehand. To make sure that the fair is well advertised, in an area which will generate lots of interest, and to research into the other stalls on show. But most of it all it taught me to never become complacent about my work. To always stand proud at my stall and greet each potential customer with a smile.

You can read more of Bethanie’s musing on her blog or follow her on Twitter

 

33 comments on ‘The British Craft Market – be proud!’

  1. Kerry says:

    I completely agree. I’ve only ever done one craft fair before which was at Christmas last year. We were stuck in a back room which didn’t get much footfall in comparison to the main hall. It was disappointing and I made my feelings known.

    I am doing my second stall at the same venue next weekend and I was offered a table in the main room right next to the door so I’m hoping for better this time.

    I was shocked at how some stall holders just seemed to get up and disappear whilst potential customers were left to fend for themselves. As well as appearing ignorant to potential customers I would be more worried about actually leaving the stock from a security point of view but hey ho each to their own I suppose.

  2. Didy says:

    It is always disappointing when footfall is low at craft fairs. I like to work on my beading at my stall when things are quiet so that when people do come in they can see that I do indeed make everything myself – and it gives a starting point for a conversation with potential customers.

    And if the fair remains quiet – I just look upon it as an opportunity to complete some more of my work!

    But it is important to network with other stallholders too. That way you find out about the fairs that are worth going to. And we stallholders do tend to buy from each other too!

  3. I agree with everything you say Bethanie! I am lucky enough to attend some fantastic craft and vintage fairs here in Cornwall, and the best part is connecting with the people who come in to see what’s there. I love talking about my work, so it’s a great excuse! It’s brilliant to get feedback and (hopefully) compliments – it’s such a boost to have someone say “Oh I love that!” – even if they don’t buy anything that day. Who knows, they make take your card then find you online later on:)

  4. I’ve had similar experiences with craft fairs in the past! I’m now more willing to pay more as it usually results in better sales (and greater confidence!) as the organisers will have used the budget to promote it. I’m now quite spoilt for choice with good fairs (I’m from Brighton).

    I think that not promoting a fair for stallholders who have paid money for tables shows that the organisers are not valuing your work. This can then spread, so that the maker doesn’t value what they are selling, and then neither does the customer!

    Lets hope more sellers have enough faith in their work to choose fairs which think promotion is worthwhile!

  5. Sue says:

    I have been doing craft fairs for 30years, and I still don’t always get it right, but its always nice to get out and communicate with potential customers, and keep smiling right until the end, I’ve had some of my best sales when others have had enough and are packing away early :) I think Folksy is a fabulous way to sell these days, although it’s more difficult for people to find you amongst everyone else :(

  6. Lizziemade says:

    Yes… me too… I was very disappointed to make sales totalling only £11 at my first (and so far only!). It was an exhibition/fair and was held locally, which means the table hire wasn’t expensive and I didn’t have any big transport costs. But still… after working hard to produce a table-full of stock (I make hand-bound books, which are time consuming items), and also to make my table look as nice and eye-catching as I could… Hardly any customers. Very little footfall. The event hadn’t really been advertised much (I suppose I should have expected that). I didn’t even cover my costs and was really put off.
    Other crafting / bookbinding friends have commented in similar ways.

    There was a row going on recently, where some crafters (who do sell at craft fairs on a regular basis) paid a lot of money for a stall at a supposedly high-profile event. It was more along the lines of a Fair, with events, displays, stalls, cafe etc. They ended up stuck in a large barn, in the corner of the grounds. No proper heating, no real signage to say they were there… The event hadn’t been very well publicised either. No customers. Large outlay, no sales – not good!

    It does seem that the UK have a love-hate relationship with “Craft Fairs”. Either you are expected to shell out large stallholder fees (like £80+) for a huge event where you are just a tiny table among so many other tiny tables… or you have to take pot-luck at smaller local events and hope the people doing the publicity have been efficient and clever! The Etsy Bookbinding Street Team, of which I’m a member, had a bit of a discussion in their forum and blog, about craft fairs etc. A series of useful articles about the actual stall, stock etc, but also discussion about the markeplace and finding your kind of fair. I suppose that’s part of the challenge – finding the right place for the kind of things that you make and sell. Then going back as often as you can, to become a regular presence (whether annually, monthly etc).
    Obviously that craft fair that you mention, was not the Right Place for you!
    (sorry, this is a long comment… Hello, by the way – found you through Facebook)

  7. Lizziemade says:

    Oop, just realised I mentioned A Rival Online Marketplace on a Folksy magazine site… apologies… no offence intended (cringes and goes away…)

  8. Carole King says:

    I live in West Wales and we have very similar range of problems here. ‘Crafts’ range from cheap bought in, pre-printed bits and pieces assembled and called handmade cards to fabulous silver and metal work, creative ideas using wood and ceramics alongside individually woven and knitted textiles.
    It must be up to us to educate our public about what is worth buying and how time and energy goes into real handcrafted products. As previous comments say- it is up to ourselves to choose who we show our work with and putting it alongside pieces that don’t show true craftmanship seldom elevates what is good.
    This sounds rather negative but I am lucky – we have formed our own group to show really excellent work from local makers we respect and with a lot of hard work its beginning to pay off- and we have great fun too…

  9. Bethanie Ruston aka Tatty Betty says:

    Hello everyone :) thank you all for your lovely comments in response to this piece. It was something that I really felt passionate about so I’m glad that you feel the same. It seems to me that although we have all had similar experiences we have only let it makes us stronger and even more determined which is the most positive outcome of all! It’s great to hear that so many of you who have had these experiences have gone on to find the right craft fairs for you, or even set up your own craft group (if you want something doing ..!) … I do think it’s inevitable starting out in the big wide world of craft that we will come across such obstacles .. but we can only let it enhance our faith in our products!

  10. Alison says:

    oh my goodness how many times have I said this will be my last fair, making just the table money (or not in some cases) but its the people you meet, especially the other stall holders that makes it a great day. I have to say wedding fairs are far worse – having only ever done two I have vowed never ever to do another – the table price is generally a hefty 4 times the price of a regular craft fair and I have never ever made a sale, lots of fondling of stock, lovely comments & taking of cards but its generally just a nice day out for the bride to be, but thanks to my first fair I did make a great friend which definately made up for the day. I think its a case of trial and error, trying some different ones and building up contacts so you can hopefully find something that suits you and your product and you know that the person orgainising it is as much into craft as you.

  11. Sam Osborne says:

    I was nodding all the way through this article – well said Bethanie! I’ve been doing craft fairs for just over a year and some have been brilliant with fab rapport between the sellers and lots of interested customers and some of been disasters in terrible locations and no visitors.

    The public ARE keen to come to craft fairs, it just has to be made easy and enjoyable for them and you have to remember that you are competing with high street shops – in terms of shopping experience I mean – and a dark hall, with no heating, badly laid out tables and refreshments served in plastic cups isn’t going to cut it. I know that a lot of craft fair organisers know this and work very hard to provide a shopping environment that people enjoy and that shows off the beautiful handmade items and crafters to their best, but I’m sure we’ve all been to fairs where this isn’t the case, and have often spent a lot of money on them.

    I love doing craft fairs, although they aren’t always the most lucrative. I love getting the chance to actually talk to my customers face to face, to hear feedback right there and then and see then walk off happy with some of my items. Looking forward to getting started on this years fairs next week :)

  12. Claire says:

    I feel your pain! But my greatest frustration with craft fairs & the handmade movement is mainly about our lack of pride in handmade. Customers love to find a bargain & often I feel they would rather buy cheap from a high street store feeling like they have bought into the handmade trend without actually investing in the handmade story or creator. We have lots the value of workmanship in the UK & the price ticket is the only thing of interest! No wonder US sellers on handmade sites do so well compaired to the UK or European counterparts, one of the few things the Americans do well is taking pride in craftsmanship & small independent business’s. I wish we had the same attitude to clothing, accessories & gifts as we do to food, don’t just eat British but buy everything else British!
    My second gripe comes with actually getting in good craft fairs. As a jewellery artist I know I will always have a large number of competitors at fairs, but I feel I offer something different than most. However this year alone I have applied for over 10 fairs and only got 2! Any fair worth being part of is so oversubscribed that it turns business into the lottery! I want to see more good quality craft fairs, supporting new crafters (not always choosing existing craft fair stall holders) & all craft fairs big or small creating a buzz about their events! Spending a small fortune on a stall where you are lost in a crowd is false economy, perhaps craft fairs should look at taking a percentage of a stallholders takings?
    I also want to see online handmade sites working harder for their sellers, promoting UK handmade to the UK, hopefully we can start to take pride in the amazing people & products we make right here in the UK. Rather than the public running to the nearest cheap high street store to buy that present or item they need they consider supporting individuals on their own doorstep!

    Perhaps this is a call to arms for all those crafters out there who want more than the occasional craft fair & online sale, join me in making the UK proud of handmade!
    Claire x

  13. This us all so true you have to consider your investment in fairs as that. When you don’t have a store it’s marketing snd promotion. I have had follow ups from these and have got in the habit if making sure I point out my folksy store to browsers. It seems quite often people go window shopping to craft fairs. Tbe comments regarding price and the high street cheap imports set so true. People will say how beautiful your things are and then go on to say how much cheaper things are else where. I try to talk to them about originality and quality.

    It does make sense to try to research the fairs before you sign up and check out what marketing the organiser and venue do. Then add your own promotion.

    Has anyone tried ‘rent a space ‘ schemes which seem popular near me. Not sure I like not being able to promote my own work.

    Linda

  14. pixie says:

    For the time being I have given up on craft fairs as they can be very soul destroying. Over the last couple of years I have tried lots of different ones, with varying degrees of success.
    I was even on a waiting list for one and when I got there it was full of items from poundland and lots of items breaching intellectual copyright of very famous brands.
    I make jewellery too from polymer clay that is quite unique and quirky, but jewellery is always very saturated or the places are already filled with regular stall holders.
    For me it is almost like a quest for the elusive fantastically full and well promoted fair, with space still available, do they exist?
    Having said that I think it’s very important to present a well thought out and nicely presented stall and to be friendly and enthusiastic.

  15. I completely agree. I am so disillusioned with craft fairs that I am re-thinking my whole strategy. The fair I attended regularly, and which used to have some lovely stalls, now looks more like a flea market.

    I wonder whether there are now just too many fairs and the customers are “faired out.” There is also the element that wants something for nothing and is not prepared to pay for handmade. They do not appreciate the time, care and energy put into a product, and you can’t really explain it to them.

  16. At last other people with taste! It’s so hard to make any money at the moment, trying to get blood out of a stone, so when you turn up to a fair and its full of imports it’s so annoying. I’ve given up on most of them.
    The handmade wooden products yew wood make are amazing but people want cheap light weight rubbish instead of paying for British craftsmanship. My jewellery is getting harder and harder to make at Argos prices!! So good luck everyone and hope we all get where we want to be soon x

  17. Emma says:

    Hello all.
    I’ve read your posts with interest. I’ve been on both sides of the craft table. In the past I made jewellery and lately miniatures, and over recent years sales have started to decrease. Last summer and again just before Christmas I organised two craft fairs. Both were well advertised in local papers, radio etc and I had a really good response from the crafters. The summer fair was held in a hotel right on the beach, beside the bar, and we hardly got a soul through the door. The weather was beautiful, too hot really, They just didn’t want to leave the beach.
    The Xmas one was right beside the main road leading into the city, again well sign posted and advertised. Again very few people through the door. The morale is, you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make them drink. People are more inclined to buy on the internet and spread the cost on their credit card. Unfortunately at this fair stall holders left early, and one or two didn’t want to pay for their table. Very unpleasant.
    I think as the credit crunch pinches even more crafts will suffer. I don’t want to be a party pooper. But having been on both sides of the table, it’s unfortunately looking that way. So far this year I haven’t arranged anything and have stop making my crafts.
    Good luck to you all, I sincerely hope things improve. x

  18. I think Suzanne Jones is quite correct; I believe we’re reaching saturation point with craft fairs, all over the UK. Especially when many of them do not offer real, traditional, handmade goods, proudly sold by the owner/makers.
    Handmade seems to have taken off over the last few years, by both crafters and buyers alike, but the market is very saturated at times, and it seems like there is much of the ‘same’ out there now. Everyone is chasing a fewer number of customers because of the way the economy is too. Folks are spending less money, no matter how lovely/unusual/individual your handmade creation is.
    But I don’t know what the answer is either! Too many websites abound, too much choice maybe??

  19. Lorna Watson says:

    I’ve been selling knitted accessories at craft fairs for 6 years now and I have worked out which companies and venues to aviod. To get some kind of success you need to go to the place that suits your items i.e. don’t sell handbags for £100 at a small village fair and if possible go to a fair that’s part of a bigger event rather than stuck in a dingy hall with a small sign outside. I have continued to go to small cheaper local events where I have regular customers and make a small but steady income instead of thinking that I will make lots of money. You have to be realistic. You should just enjoy your crafting and that will filter through to your customers.

  20. Shirley Youd says:

    I find craft fairs great – but I also display at school sales, exhibitions (big and small), car boots. I find sitting at home in the winter months on FB and other sites like yourselves Folksy – (don’t get me wrong) – I do enjoy it but a bit like working in an office which is what I gave up to fulfill my dream of making, designing and chatting to customers. A good blend of people over a large spectrum deffinitely is the answer to the selling dream. After the long dreary winter – I applaud when spring and summer comes along and I can get out and meet all my lovely customers x

  21. Emily says:

    We had this same debate on our twitter and facebook page.

    I collected all the tips and stories together and we ended up with a whole page on our site about it.

    If anyone wants a read then it can be found here:

    http://www.handmadeinpeterborough.moonfruit.com/#/surviving-craft-fairs/4560067179

  22. I’ve just attended my first craft fair of this year. It was a small two day event in the upstairs of a nice cafe, stall price reasonable and the organiser encouraged people in the cafe and on the street to come and take a look. I was pleased that sales were good for me, but it was hard work, I think it is essential to interact with the potential customer if they show interest in your work, they like to hear about how it’s done and even if they do not buy they may remember for another time. No one will promote you better than you and at first I did find this difficult, but practice helps you to refine your pitch. Keep smiling even when you just want to go home! They are a great way to meet other designer makers, and swap information. There is no magic formula, some fairs where I’ve paid a small amount for the stall has turned out the most profitable. Be enthusiastic and above all value what you do, but money is tight for many right now so I don’t think there is an easy answer.

  23. Interesting reading everyone’s Craft Fair experiences. Last Craft Fair I attended was just before Christmas, sub zero temperature outside, advertisement appeared to be an A4 piece of paper, scribbled with felt tip pen, stuck on the door with parcel tape. All the stallholders bought raffle tickets…final straw came when the stall holder next to me won a bag of plasterboard screws in the raffle (too funny not to mention)

  24. Deborah Good says:

    A friend and I were so fed up with ‘bad’ craft fairs and having to compete with all the bought in ‘tat’ passed off as craft we decided to arrange our own. We combined vintage collectors and designer/makers and have recently held our fourth fair since we started last May.
    We ‘hand pick’ our stall holders and insist they have public liability insurance. Every handmade item has to be made by the stall holder and all vintage products have to be genuine. We allow no bought in crafts and if we see any on the stalls they have to take it off, and aren’t asked back!
    We charge only £30 for a table, advertise extensively in local press, on-line and with flyers by hand and in shops, library, local hotels and send flyers to our stall holders so they can take them to their other fairs. We don’t make much profit from organising the fair (much of it is spent on advertising and we can only fit 19 stalls in the pretty hall that we hold it in), but we do well with our stalls because the fairs are always very well supported and busy. We have a very long list of applications from potential stall holders, but they will only be accepted if they meet our criteria.
    So, to cut a long story short – think about organising your own fair if you can’t find any suitable – its hard work, but rewarding, fun and very satisfying. x

  25. oakapplerose says:

    I was interested to read all these comments as I’ve just got back from a well run, lovely craft fair where I didn’t even cover my table fee. Customers seemed to like my items but didn’t seem to want to pay my prices – is £12 really too much for a hand made, hand appliqued cushion? I looked in Next and there cushions are easily that if not more!

    I do find it difficult to get the balance right when talking to customers – I’m not at all shy and I’m very smiley but one woman I said hello to ran away faster than Usain Bolt!!

    I sometimes get the feeling that they don’t want to talk so have opted for the freindly greeting and then let them browse a bit.

    What I’ve noticed recently is that people seem very interested, ask you lots of questions and then say ‘yes I’m making one myself and just wondered how you did that’ I try not to look too disapointed when this happens.

    I still do enjoy craft fairs but I look at it as an opportunity to get on with work without kids interupting and I usually meet some very nice people.

  26. susannah says:

    I tend to agree on the public perception regarding fairs- people don’t want to spend much money- I tend to do the odd one or two craft fairs to get a bit of feedback for stock as most of my items are made through orders direct and sewing/crafts are not my main income.
    However, the one or two I repeat visit are not just to make money- as a few others have pointed out, it’s important to engage with visitors and fellow stall holders…I get quite excited in the morning and feel ithas been worthwhile if I make some revenue, meet new people and get inspired!
    All my products are gift wrapped, carded and I aim to keep as professional as possible…

  27. Bethanie Ruston aka Tatty Betty says:

    Wow! Thank you so much everyone for your comments regarding this piece. I have loved reading every one of them and I’m learning a lot from all of your experiences. I really don’t want or want you to feel disillusioned with craft fair’s as I think there’s something terribly British about them. I love the feeling of hope you get in the days running up to a craft fair and I’m just holding out for the satisfaction after a successful fair. It really is such a shame that the public feel they are buying into a ‘trend’ by buying handmade looking products on the high-street but we’ve just got to keep working hard at selling our story of quality and unique British handmade products.
    Please do keep commenting as like I said I am learning lots from your experiences and don’t be afraid to come and say ‘Hello’ on twitter :)

  28. Alice says:

    I organise Handmade Winchester, and our whole ethos is that all our sellers are designer/makers, and that we make the event as cost effective as possible to enable our stallholders to have a successful experience.
    I also sell at other events, including the Winchester Art Market, and as someone said earlier on, you can do you very best with organising, or taking part, and making your stall look great, however, you can take a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink!
    I do think that the whole market/fair is quite saturated at the moment, but if you find what works for you, stick with it!

  29. LittleMacDesigns says:

    I have a regular stall at an ‘indoor market’ come bootfair and quite often people comment on my items….upcycled welsh blankets made into cushions and hearts etc. But no-one seems to want to part with the cash, i thought it was because I am in a small welsh town, but reading this I can see that others have had similar experiences. I also make my own cards but someone else at the market charges £1 for 3 homemade cards or £1 for 6 smaller ones….I cannot even begin to compete with these prices.

    The two fairs I have attended have been very poorly attended and i did’nt even cover the cost of my stall. I am beginning to think that it is not worth the effort.

  30. I agree with a lot of comments and would like to add a couple of my own. I don’t sell at craft fairs but I do offer a distraction for children who can paint pottery with me while their adults can browse in peace and I promote my business that way.

    A lot of people who have stalls at craft fairs in my area seem to be retired and do not maybe look on what they do as a business. They do not seem to think they might like to let people know they are going to be at a particular venue, the organisers sometimes have flyers you can hand out.

    I always advertise where I am going to be through Facebook, Twitter and my website whether or not the organisers seem to have things undercontrol, because every little helps. I know we pay for our stands but if we also put a little into promoting the event we might all benefit from faithful followers who might like to buy something they saw you with last time, but didn’t buy it and now don’t know necessarily how to find you.

    Sorry if this is rambling but interesting subject. I found you via Twitter by the way.

  31. Jo Turner says:

    Have just spent time reading and agreeing with all the comments, I have tried various types of craft fairs and even attending the same fair on a yearly basis the visitor attendance and sales can vary hugely. Last year I had a go at a local primery school xmas shopping evening, which I’d heard had been a big success the previous year – however the evening came, about 20 stalls set up, all excited about the possibility of a good, friendly, hopefully profitable evening… Hardly any customers turned-up! Any odd sale that evening came from other stall holders and a very embarrased organiser. Although all the hard work in the run up seems like wasted time it does make you take stock of your products and practice displaying and I got to meet some other local crafters and made new freinds and contacts.

    I also agree with comments made by others, that they see stall holders attending a slow craft fair seem to think it’s ok to pack away early, I really don’t like this – Even in a really poor fair I stay to the end (unless the organiser has told all it’s ok to go early, which has happend once) It puts visitors off when they look thru the door/marquee entrance to see the odd stall packing away, they assume the fair is over and quite often walk away without even looking. If you’ve agreed to have a stall you should be set up and open for buisness for the advertised times.

    I do enjoy craft fairs, even thought the cost of having your stall, insurance, travel etc puts a downer on the experience, it is a way of promoting your work, as only the person putting their heart & soul into making something can explain it to potential customers!

    We all need to promote handmade, handcrafted, buy british. Keep up the good work crafty people!

  32. Its been lovely to read all these comments and find myself nodding to all of them. I did my first craft fair about 16 months ago and didn’t sell a thing with hardly any footfall and I left deflated and wondering why I had even been convinced by family and friends that my crafts were worth anything to anybody.
    However, I refuse to be deflated long so I attempted another one and had a marvellous day, I got such lovely feedback on my dolls and toys and hardly a person walked past without pausing to smile and say how sweet and lovely they were, even if it wasn’t something they were particularly interested in,and my first sale made me want to cartwheel down the hall (even tho my cartwheeling days are long gone). How nice to be able to make people smile, even if they don’t buy!
    I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t purely by trying one and seeing how it goes. I’ve found a lovely market in Cirencester where I now have a regular spot on the first Saturday of each month – I think this helps with repeat business as they know where to find you but I know not all fairs are held regularly like this, but I do other events as its always good to try different places.
    Doing your craft while you sit is helpful if you can, as previous posts have said, people are always more interested if they can see it being made which validates they are handmade and often take a very long time! Course they like to know how to do thing so they can have a go but we make diffiult things look easy so they may be back to buy it realising its not as easy as they think!
    The biggest thing for me with the fairs is networking, I had such good, friendly advice when I first started that it was the main reason I did a second fair in the first place and I have made many friends over the last 18 months that I now catch up with regularly, they are a brilliant source of information about other fairs.
    Thanks for all these posts, its been a really interesting subject!

  33. I hand make quirky jewellery for a career. So for me getting the right craft fair is essential! After 1 year of basically trying every type of fair, I have it down to a bit of a fine art. Being in Northern Ireland it can be very difficult to make money at craft fairs. There have been so many badly run fairs that they have given other “craft fairs” a bad name. Basically people don’t want to go to them because they don’t want to see the tat. Well thats what I think! The funny thing is sometimes it’s the tat stalls that are the only ones selling!

    I sell at shopping centres. I rent a promotional space I set up my stand to look more like a shop than a stand and cross my fingers to get sales. I believe that how your stand looks is very important. Invest in your display. It does make a difference.

    Also look at the product you are selling. I know other jewellers that do well at school fairs. I just don’t. My jewellery is young and fun but its not suitable for children therefore theres no point trying to market at such fairs. People assume to quickly that it would be for children and then are but off the price if its over a few pounds.

    Business cards and flyers are important I think. I want people to feel that I am running a reputable business. Also if they have problems with the jewellery then they can contact me about it. It makes a difference.

    You get to learn what suits you best. Shopping centres don’t work for some crafters. Before you book a fair look at the cost. Location, where is it? Is there going to be a natural footfall, not just people who are purposely coming to the fair. Who is organising it? Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask crafters who have booked the fair before if it was a regular one.

    The ones that I have been most disappointed with are the Charity ones. You can’t complain because its for charity. You are often asked to donate a gift for a raffle as well as pay for your table.

    Good luck and don’t give up!

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