Tuesday, 26 November 2013

My Craft Fair Experience

This weekend I had two craft fairs, my first ever! So it was a huge deal, I had fretted for weeks over my stall, how it will look, what I'll be selling, I invested a LOT of money in getting products printed and making sure I had everything I needed.  There are an insane amount of costs when you start thinking about it.  You need labels, bags of different sizes for people to take their purchases away in.  Then I needed to get different packaging to post items that were bought online, all of different sizes to keep the weight down!  The table, cloths, boxes and stands, smaller items to sell to cover the cost of the table.

I must have got through at least two full notebooks with all of my lists!  I hand made little paper items to decorate presents, I got my sewing machine out and made some totebags, my mum even helped me out with knitting some really cute stripy dishcloths and corsages!  It was a lot more work than I ever thought it would be, but I enjoyed every minute so I suppose it wasn't that bad.

After all of that work I felt very prepared, packed the car and set off to the first one on Saturday.  I can't have come crashing down to earth harder than I did that afternoon!  The first fair was in a pub (This should have screamed not worth the risk really), it was free so I thought why not.  I got all set up and was really excited to finally get my work out there and for people to see it, well that would have happened if people had actually come to the fair.  There can only have been 10 people that actually came and looked around in the 3 hours we were there.  To top it off the landlord didn't put the heating on so I was absolutely frozen! We left early and I made a loss with petrol and the raffle prize I gave towards it.

So after a HUGE glass of wine that night I pulled myself back up and told myself tomorrow would be better.  Thankfully it was, for one thing it was warm inside the hall!  I only made enough to cover my stall but the atmosphere was really good and I met some lovely stall holders aswell as the ladies that ran the event, they were all so supportive and quite happy to chat about business tips.

I had a lot of positive feedback but you have to watch out for some customers though, there was one little old lady that pulled some faces at the price of my totebags (I made sure I got a really nice strong heavy canvas cotton so they were really sturdy and would last.  I neatly lined them inside aswell so there were no stitches on show inside), they were £8 for a large one.  Anyway, she bustled off only to come back with her daughter and husband to mutter about them some more.  All right infront of me!  If something like this happens don't take it to heart, there will always be people who aren't happy with something, I just looked the other way and made sure I couldn't hear what they were saying.  I realise some people are good at sewing and can easily make these things themselves, they're not who I'm aiming at.  It's always going to knock you down when someone does something like this, but just ignore it as it won't be very often and for that one little glitch everyone else loved my products.

My highlight has got to be where a little boy, who reminded me a lot of my little 8 year old brother, kept walking past my stall and smiling at me until eventually he just had to say to me that he really liked my notebooks and would love to buy one but didn't have enough money left.  He really liked my Spaceman design and I was so touched I let him have it for a discounted price.  Sometimes if you don't ask you don't get =)  That little boy honestly made my day.

When your in this industry it all feels very personal as it's your designs from your imagination and drawn with your hands so it feels awful when you hear negative comments.  You really have to focus on the positive ones though, everytime you feel a bit upset by one persons views just think back to a time where someone stood out for you and made you feel good about your work.  I sold a set of my Harvest time prints to a lady in America who bought them for her 2 year old grandson for Christmas.  It's such a special feeling that I can't really describe, but this is why I design, so people like that, who really love what I do, can enjoy them as much as I do.

Have you ever had anything like this happen to you? What do you do to lift yourself back up?


  1. I hope your next fairs are a lot better than that pub one! I don't know how I would be able to stand it being freezing cold. You shouldn't listen to that old lady either because for a large tote bag with good materials for £8?! That's a bargain!! If you went to somewhere like New Look or even the higher up shops you would have to probably pay like £15 for something like it.That little boy sounds adorable to!
    Good luck for your next one! and thanks for the advice!

  2. Emma your works looks so good all set up on your stall! Well done for taking the risks it will all pay off. Kx

  3. The stall really does look great, it's so hard to get the right balance - how much you pay for a table, to how much you might actually make on the day! I've got one on Saturday, wish me luck x

    1. Good luck =) I'm sure yours will go great, if not just focus on the positives you get out of it. It makes you feel better, that and a big drink afterwards!

  4. Emma! Thank you so much for writing this - it is perfectly timed for me :) I'm sorry your pub experience wasn't great, what a way to start your craft fair career. I know that feeling exactly as I did a stall last weekend and sold absolutely nothing! I had items as low as £1, and still, not a sausage. It was really demoralising and it's really easy to take that as judgement and start to question everything! It was a hard lesson for me, and one I'm trying (very hard!) to take a lesson from, despite still feeling a bit bruised by it! But I love your positive attitude and I'm so glad you got so much more out of your second one. Your story about the little boy and the notebook and the lady who bought your prints for her grandson - THAT'S exactly it, that's why I do what I do,, too, and those are the people we ought to focus on, not the ones quibbling over prices. I know that my items are all made with love and care and skill in a cosy environment, and that when people buy them, they're also buying the joy I took in making them. Your work is beautiful and it's evident how much joy went into making it. I guess when we put ourselves out there, we have to accept that some people get it, some don't.

    Here's to those who do!

    Best of luck with your next fairs - I'm looking forward to your next review already!

    Take care
    Kellee :)

  5. It can be really hard to judge how well something like a fair is going to go. After a couple of bad experiences I now try to go for fairs where I can see the organisers are actively promoting, either the fair I'm looking at or other events that they have one. I also look at the other sellers that have confirmed to see if its something a bit hobbyist or something more professional. I know your next few fairs will go better because I can see your enthusiasm and hard work .


  6. Hi Emma

    Oh boo! Am so sorry for your day and all that wonderful prep. We have all been there, trust me. When I started out I used to try and make sure that I had two or three things lined up one after another, so when one (or two, or three) bombed i would be forced to get back out there. Keep going, your works are wonderful - you have to endure the really tough shows to get to the really good ones. Drop into my website and feel free to email me if you want some further advice. Don't give up x