Sunday, March 16, 2008

Craft Markets. Uno.

Last week Jillian made 2 new posts about what she has learned from her new trip into participating in craft markets.

This weekend I attended a Connecticut Etsy Street Team meeting and am starting to prep for the Craftastic spring fling. As I read Jillian's posts, meet people on my team, and get to know the online community as real people some things have become very clear to me. Etsy is FULL of wonderfully talented incredibly skilled people. Some of them are participating in Etsy with an entirely different mindset than I am. Part of that is the difference in life view and part of it is purely what people want to get out of Etsy as an online marketplace. I am also learning that although I think of myself as a newbie to indie craft, I have a lot more experience than many of my team members.

As I am prepping for the last craft market I will be a vending in for a while I thought I would write a multi-post tutorial about what I have learned participating in craft markets over the last 5 years. Remember, I am writing about small venues with less than 12 or so crafters. If you are going balls-to-the-wall and trying your hand at a giant venue with 30 or more vendors, it is a totally different story.

Here is part uno.

When I am planning what I am going to take to a market there are a couple of questions I ask myself. These include:

Who is my target audience? and what is their income and spending level (realistically)?

For me I know most of my work appeals to educated women in the 24-40 age group who more than likely work in the arts, or are pretty crafty and trendy. I like to think of it as the 'BUST' magazine-reading-smarty-pants-market. So I work on developing products that appeal to these women and fit in their spending patterns.

Can I create this product and still make a profit on it?

If the answer is no, then it's time to re-evaluate how I am constructing something, the materials I am using, and how I am charging for the product.

Has this product sold well in the past?

I always bring some items I call my guaranteed sells. These are items that generally cost less than $15, are good gifts, and would appeal to a broad variety of people. If I make something and it proves to be unpopular I will stop making it. No need to waste my time making something that is unpopular, even if I am having a blast making it. Time to add that item to my 'personal crafts only' list. For me- these things include hand dyed yarn, jewelry, and knitted hats. The market is (in my opinion) flooded with these items and I don't need to try to swim in an already crowded pool. side note- I am still trying to get rid of some of these things, so look for them to be marked down like crazy at the spring Craftacular.

So now you have decided on what you are bringing to the market. Now let's talk quantity. In all the markets I have participated in (some holiday, some not) I have almost never sold totally out of anything. Having said that, I usually try to have a good quantity of items. What is a good quantity? Depends. If it is a holiday market- it could be as much as 20 of one item. For a non-holiday market, I try to have a dozen of my best sellers.

Most people (myself included) were totally overwhelmed by their first market. It is a daunting thing to have to go out and chat with people about your work, look them in the face and on occasion, have them ask really dumb, insulting questions. However, when someone is totally thrilled with your work and is willing to give you some of their hard earned money for something you made -it is worth all the time and energy. Trust me.

Next post- How to display your work.

1 comment:

Walk in the Woods said...

Thank you for sharing. While I haven't done a craft fair in many years, I recall (vividly) the effort involved - ALL of it! Including simple business principles - like knowing your target market, or understanding the ideal pre-product-price of a shop or venue. You remind me of how often folks get into a business for the right reason (they LOVE and have PASSION for something), but neglect some basics that actually bolster a sound foundation--to build on!

Thank you for sharing your perspective and experience. Thank you for offering food for thought AND potential growth in good, sustainable and creative efforts!