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Craft show season is once again upon us, providing the perfect venue for Artisans to get out in the public eye and gain some exposure. As more and more individuals are turning their hobby into a small business, this is the time of year where many new businesses have a chance to shine and showcase their products.

Have you ever meticulously planned a vacation, making a list to account for all items needed, yet you still manage to forget a toothbrush? We’ve all been there.

If you Google “craft show checklist” you will find thousands of results including infographics and web links. These all include extensive lists, some printable, that will help you plan everything as far as supplies are concerned. However, today I want to talk about some of the other little things that often slip our mind but are still very important to our success.

The Plan

Start planning early by taking steps to put some policies in place. While it is important to remain professional, keep in mind this isn’t Walmart or some big corporation – it’s a craft fair that is meant to showcase local crafters and artisans. At this point, you do not need to have a store or company policy written out, but you’ll want to keep a few possible scenarios in mind. For example, will you accept returns, and if so, in what timeframe? Will you allow exchanges on unsatisfactory, but non-defective product? Decide your stance on these topics before you are put in a situation where you have to make a decision on the fly.

Use this same concept for any questions the customers may ask about your product. What do you want them to know about what benefits your product has to offer? I am introvert and sometimes fail myself by not speaking on all of my product knowledge. Sure, the soap smells pretty, but I could also educate my customer on how it’s made, the difference between handmade and commercial soap, how different oils give the bar different qualities – the list goes on. Prepare yourself for questions because you will be asked! It is much easier to answer confidently when you have thought of any potential queries prior to the event. Keep in mind that this is all in a conversational discussion – not selling your product. The benefits of your product will sell themselves once your customer is educated.

Back to that introvert thing – doing your first craft show can seem scary or intimidating, but you can do it! Believe in yourself and your craft. While you may look in the mirror and see a person that just happens to make soap, someone else may be looking up to your insight and knowledge as an entrepreneur and seller. Do not sell yourself short. You made it this far! The fact that you got accepted into a craft show is enough reason to be proud.

You will want to get a restful night’s sleep before your first event. Sounds impossible, right? I have a theory and it is this: if you feel well, you do well. Lack of sleep is detrimental to our health and you want to be well-rested for the busy, exciting and perhaps even hectic day ahead of you. If you have difficulty falling asleep, try sipping some decaffeinated tea, relaxing with some lavender or even try a free guided meditation app for your phone.

The Booth

I highly recommend loading your car up the night before the show. Be sure to take enough stock with you to the show and use cardboard boxes to store any excess product underneath your table.

Your booth space should not be overly cluttered or too sparse. Invest in things like a nice tablecloth and anything else for your display that may complement your product line. Prior to the event, I suggest doing a mockup of your booth at home if you have space. Play around with different table layouts and experiment using different elements to add height to your display. Consumers are drawn in by items displayed at eye level.

Make your display stand out! Remain within your allotted booth space and see if the venue has any particular restrictions. It’s no secret that people are drawn to items that are aesthetically pleasing as we covered in our labeling series. Sure, you’ve got a great product, but do you want to compromise the look of your business by displaying it on a wrinkled vinyl tablecloth from the dollar store?

While you are at the show, take note of other crafters’ areas. See how they have decorated their space and how they have their product displayed. Your peers are an invaluable resource. There are also many online forums where crafters can share their tips and photos to help one another. Social media is a great way to network to find these groups and crafters.

In Conclusion

By interacting with your customers face to face, you have the opportunity to establish a connection, build trust and establish your business in your community. What was your first craft show experience like? If you could give a new small business owner one piece of advice to succeed at these venues, what would it be? Drop us a line in the comments below!

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