lessons learned

I absolutely promise that this is the last post about the ***** craft fair.

It was a very mixed experience which was often quite difficult for me, a natural introvert who is not good at selling herself. Yes, perhaps it would have been better to have stayed at home, but I wanted to push myself and have some contact with buyers, and see what people liked and didn't like.

First things first: I covered the stall fee, and made a small profit too, so that was a huge weight off my mind.

However, I didn't sell as much as I'd hoped, and to be honest I think that had more than a little to do with the standard of the fair and the quality of the other sellers. Apart from a lovely potter called Sylvia, there was not much else there to interest me, and quite a lot else that positively set my teeth on edge. I'm not being snobby here: many stalls were selling stock that they'd quite obviously bought in that was of a very low standard: Power Rangers hats and scarves, metallic fake leather handbags, plastic rucksacks. Not the sort of thing I expected to find at a National Trust property craft fair, but that was my first lesson: always check your craft fair very, very carefully. If they don't vet the sellers, be wary.

My second lesson was about stall design: you need height, and you need to create order. People like to feel in their own little world, and height at the back makes it seem more like a shop. Also, too much busyness confuses the eye. On day two I rearranged everything in rows and blocks and this worked a lot better.

My third lesson is a bit vaguer, but has to do with psychology: I need to learn when to give information, when to gently push, and when to apparently immerse myself in a paperback. Again, not all things that come naturally to an introvert, but which I must work on if I am to be successful in the future.

I came home both days utterly exhausted and rather depressed, but a couple of days of mental recharging has allowed me to regroup and start to feel positive and creative again. The house also feels a lot better after a serious blasting to rid it of dust, dirt, and a million little threads trodden over every carpeted surface.

My next job is to get my online shop up and running, so it's time to put my computer nerd specs on and pull my anorak hood up over my head. Come back soon and see if I've succeeded, or whether I've been eaten alive by html....

More pics on Flickr, if you can face them...


Gretel said...

I have always avoided doing 'real' craft shows for these reasons...I think unless you are going to splash out and go for the really high end shows (way out of my remit at the moment) it's always going to be hit and miss, and there seems to be so much rubbish at them - the word 'craft' seems to be stretched to its limits at the moment. Would be good to see you on Etsy/Folksy...

Frances said...

Hello from a first time reader. I found your site via pg, and I thank her for sending me on the way here.

Your creations are unique, and will find lots of fans.

I also have had craft/art fair experiences in the past that led to post-show introspection. One reason I still do visit (though do not participate in) these shows is in the hope that amongst the not-so-wonderful exhibitors, I will suddenly come upon the pearl. And there usually is at least one in the mix.

Promise to visit you again.


Sue said...

PG - I have always struggled with the word 'craft' and continue to do so despite its trendy reclamation - along with 'nigger' and 'queer' it is now considered hip and cool to craft (it is now apparently a verb as well...)

Twenty years ago we called ourselves artists or makers or artist/makers. I rather like 'maker'.

Frances - thank you for your kind remarks and for popping in. It is good that in life there is usually a pearl to be found somewhere if we look.

Gigibird said...

I’m glad you pushed yourself and did the fair but I’m disappointed for you for having to be the pearl among the swine.
Get your online shops sorted out.

Interesting point about the lay out. Height makes perfect sense to me.

*Marie* said...

Ohhh I was more than 10 days not online!!!
Reading your craft show story makes me feel sad and I can understand you very well!!! I absolutely love the things you make!! Everything is so special, so natural and for me the most importent aspect it is " made with love to make someone else happy"!!!
And you know what ? I can´t wait to klick on your online shop one day:)) .....Take care and big hugs from DK *Marie*

gerfiles said...

A friend, who by following my blog got the (incorrect) impression that I must be short from suffocating in quilts etc., urged me lately to go and sell at a craft market. I´d not mind to give it a try one day (and earn an Euro or two...), but there is a whole bundle of (justified) doubts and hesitations - so I read about your experiences with interest. You make wonderful things - perhaps they´re indeed better sold online -at least they won´t get touched before the get bought; I heard quite a few sad tales from sellers and marketgoers about the way people touch everything and put it back, saying: I like it, but it´s too expensive... Good luck to you!

Sue said...

Thank you so much for your encouragement. Marie, don't be sad! I'm not, just thoughtful and curious. As with most countries I guess there are pockets of interest in good taste and I'm not sure the north west of England is one of them... perhaps I need to go a little further afield... Ger, you are so right about people picking things up and then putting them back, it is not good for the blood pressure!

Jane said...

Oh craft fairs can be dire - you can never tell till you get there and often it is the best work that sell worst.
I now take my knitting - something I can do and talk at the same time; it stops me from getting that "desperate stallholder's" grin but allows me to chat to people (often about the knitting)

Jo said...

Sue, I'm looking forward to you getting your online shop up and running. I'll definitely buy your things as presents, as they're so lovely and such good quality. I admire you for going out there and doing the craft fair (not something I could do.. can't even bring myself to do a car boot), and it seems you learned some valuable lessons, so the experience wasn't a waste of time!

Sue said...

Thanks Jane, I will take my crochet next time to avoid the grin! Jo, I'm working on the shop today, although I keep procrastinating as it's awfully boring. Don't give up hope!