Cat Fight! Craft Fight? Online Selling vs. Craft Fairs

Hi Friends! Renae from Rich Mom Business and I had a fight the other day over what was a better way to sell handmade items. I think craft fairs and craft booths are better and she thinks selling online is a better plan…

…you can see the other half of our disagreement on her channel. All kidding aside Renae is a brilliant businesswoman and a wonderful resource for anyone who wants to start or improve their handmade business online. I still lean more toward the brick and mortar method for selling tangible goods. Actually, on that front I stopped by the Schoolhouse Antiques Mall to drop off some product and pay my rent for February thinking there is no way I could have sold anything let alone enough to make rent and the owner gave me money, I made a profit! Woohoo! And the funny thing was that is was all done with handmade greeting card sales. Every sale! That will motivate me to package all the cards I have in my craft room! My plan is to sell my physical products in a shop or craft fair but my digital product online. What do you think? Craft fair or Online? Let me know in the comments! Happy crafting!

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Scrunched Organza Flower Tutorial!

Howdy friends! Today I am going to share a fun and easy project with you. And I mean EASY! I had seen beautiful organza flowers in boutiques  and thought boy, I bet they are really time consuming to make. I was also worried that it was a hit-or-miss type of craft. I knew making these involved using a flame to singe organza fabric but I could not believe that it is this quick and easy, not to mention fun! So if you know any little girls, own a hair-bow business or sell your stuff at craft fairs you are going to want to try this, especially considering that they only cost about 25 cents to make (using supplies from Papermart that is) and they sell for $8-$16 bucks! Don’t believe me? Check ETSY! This craft is not for children, we will be using a candle to curl the fabric. Watch the video to see how.

I recommend you have a clear work surface and you wear short sleeves when making this project. Be sure to put the candle out when you are done with the heating the fabric bit, I know how easy it is to get distracted when creating, let’s be safe out there!

Supplies available for cheap at Papermart:

Organza Fabric (60″ wide fabric, 10 yards for $10.40, 25 yards for $17.33 or save a couple bucks a bolt if you are placing a large order!)

Glitter (99 cents a tube, yay for cheap thrills!)

Organza Ribbon

Hair Clips (I used the 3 1/8″ but there are other sizes available, bags of 100 are $4.75-$8.80, that’s only 5 to 9 cents a barrette!)

Fabric Flowers (I used them on the pink hair clip)

Other: Hot glue gun and sticks, buttons or brads and other embellishments you might want to add such as beads. You can also attach the flowers to inexpensive headbands if you don’t want a barrette.

I think these would also make wonderful party favors or baby shower gifts (make a headband with soft fold-over elastic BUT never leave a baby unattended with a headband on) or even a wonderful surprise for your daughters or granddaughters. I have a few flowers left over that I think will be lovely on a scrapbook page, oh, you could even make them smaller to go on cards! This is an idea with potential and I do hope you give it a whirl! Thanks for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!

Ahhhh, I can relax now -or- Christmas craft fair done!

Hmm, I couldn’t quite decide on a title for tonight’s blog post. I love doing craft fairs and preparing for them but there is a span of about a week before it happens that I am a complete stressed out lunatic. When the power was out for 4 hours yesterday I could have had a psychotic break but instead I decided to sit in my living room with the wood stove on and knock out a few more watercolor cards (and film them as tutorials, hey my camera was freshly charged LOL, they are up on my YouTube channel) rather than throw a nutty. Cuz really, what would a tantrum have solved? I changed my craft fair booth up a bit going with an “L” shaped table and using all of my booth as “shoppable space” rather than hiding behind a table. I really like it more this way. I filmed a video showing how I set up and share tips for craft fair sellers:

What do you think? OK, you are probably wondering how the show went…

…it was S-L-O-W! But, that’s OK, the people who came were ready to shop (it’s 12 days till Christmas you know!) and I was prepared for the slowness by having my watercolors and blank cards so I could create custom cards on the spot. I also found that it drew people into my booth that might have been shy about coming over, what can I say I’m quite a spectacle to behold! LOL did I mention there was juggling?

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So I thought that I would offer some  more tips for those of you selling (or wanting to sell) at craft fairs:

  1. If you make jewelry, clothes or knits wear them! I got a commission to make a wrap like I was wearing for a lady, she even paid me half up front! It may seem obvious what items will look like on but you will have more buyers if you wear it! “hmmm, this is a necklace but good heavens, what will I do with it?” I am not kidding.
  2. Demonstrate a product. I brought my watercolors, a waterbrush and blank cards along in case it was slow. I painted cards on demand and people who might have walked on by stopped to watch. I also juggled which caught the eye of another vendor who snuck over to grab a set of juggling balls for her grandson. She never would have seen them otherwise!
  3. Act like you are happy to be there! Nobody wants to buy from a sourpuss. Be friendly but not stalky. Let them know you are here to help or explain anything to them. Also get to know your neighbor because you can keep an eye on each other’s booths if you need to grab a cup of coffee or go pee..and you will need to go pee after all of that coffee!
  4. Price everything. People won’t ask. Just price it.
  5. Speaking of pricing charge a fair price, you work hard at your craft, it probably is not going to make you rich but you should at least earn minimum wage for your labor. Rather than discounting a $5 pair of earrings to $3 offer 3 pair for $10 or $5 each. That way your best customers get the best deal and no one feels ripped off.  I feel the same way about offering slashed prices at the end of the day (unless it is perishable) because how would you feel if you paid full price and then walked by a booth and they were selling it cheaper to someone else? Next time that person will wait til the end of the day to buy. My prices are the same at 9am as they are at closing. I saw people giving away their stuff at the end of the day! You need to value your work and charge for your time, you are worth it.
  6. Upcycle items for display. Buying fancy displays cut into your profits and if you are a first timer it will put you into the red. Use crates and suitcases that can be used as storage and display. Build tables from saw horses and hollow doors (nobody will know after you put on a table cloth!) and use boxes and baskets to make your table tidy! Old picture frames make great displays, you can staple wire mesh to the back or add foam core to make a pin board display. You can even glue clothespins to the backing board to clip cards and stuff up on! My standing display racks were throw-aways from a local store, keep those eyes peeled when you see a shop changing displays! They might give you the old one or sell it cheap!

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I bet the question that you all are too polite to ask is how much did I sell? Well, we are friends so I’ll tell you:  about $220, I say about because my 3 kids were hitting me up for cash throughout the day hahaha! I not going to complain, it was good considering the low turnout for the show, with a strong turnout I reckon I would have tripled it but you just never know, factors like it being so close to Christmas, the frigid coldness today and a snowstorm on the horizon for tonight may have pushed people to go to town to hit the big stores rather than a leisurely craft fair shopping day. Still it beats staying home and making nothing! 😀 I had a hunch it would be slow and I’m glad I brought my watercolors. I had a fun day and so did the shoppers and the kids who came to see Santa and partake of the candy buffet and other activities. Go into a craft fair with a positive attitude and you will do well no matter how much you sell! Thanks for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!

Marketing Monday: Cash from your crafts!

I’m sure if you are reading this blog you are a fantastic crafter who likes saving money on their addiction…er, I mean..hobby.  Well how about making some money at it too? There are lots of places you can sell your wares. Here are some ideas:

Craft shows: This is the first place that comes to mind for most people. If you can produce a large quantity of stuff for a reasonable price AND you have good people skills give it a try. Generally you pay $10-$50 per table and you can arrange it any way you like. If it is an outdoor show you will also be responsible for providing a tent and your own displays (walls, tables and such). Here are my tips for success:

  1. Bring a few “to die for” pieces to draw in the crowd, these would be the the showpiece necklace that took 40 hours to make with a price tag to match. This may not sell but when people see the quality and value of your work they will purchase your earrings and bracelets.
  2. Don’t sell your self short, if it took 5 hours to paint a painting let the price reflect that, you are a small business…not a charity. But you can have nice prints or note-cards made of the painting and sell them for less.
  3. Have business cards ready and put your contact info on all of your price tags. An email address is fine, no need to have strangers know where you live unless you rent studio space that is open to the public.
  4. Demo it! I sell way more cards and painting if someone sees me “at work” plus it beaks the ice if you or your customers are shy about talking about the art. It also brings in a crowd, a plus if the show is slow. You may even get people interested in classes!
  5. Research your shows. If one charges $50 it should be well advertised, certain shows bring in a more upscale crowd that will pay  a fair price for quality work..then you have the “plastic canvas” shows.
  6. Go to craft shows. See what booths do well and which ones don’t. see how the vendors act, how they display and what they sell. sometimes it’s all about the sizzle!
  7. Don’t just sit there! Act like you are having a great time and you want to be there, no one like a sour puss sitting there like a bump on a log. Be excited about your art and others will too. In fact Don’t sit! Take the chair away if you have to, unless you are demoing and need to sit but be doing SOMETHING!

Booth rentals: If you don’t like to “sell” and chat up your work you can rent a booth, stock it and as Ron Ronco says “set it and forget it!” This is great if you have a lot of stuff and no time to work a booth. I rented space in an antiques mall and it worked very well for me. I prefer a strait out rental, you pay a monthly rent plus a small (5%) commission and they handle sales tax and the business stuff for you. You can also join a co-op where you pay a monthly fee and have to work at the shop a couple times a month. Before you go this route make sure you follow these steps:

  1. Research, how is the foot traffic in this store. How many customers come through a day? Do they advertise? Will my art sell here?
  2. Talk to other vendors. How long have them been there? How much do they sell? they probably won’t say how much in $$ but may tell you how many items sold.
  3. Do you make enough stuff to keep the booth stocked?
  4. Can you afford the rent? How long are you willing to keep the booth if nothing sells?
  5. Do you have the time? You need to add new items and move stuff around in your booth to keep it fresh on a weekly basis for optimum sales.
  6. Where in to shop is you booth located? I rented two booths in the same shop. one was 8’x8′ in the middle of the floor. I had freestanding walls, shelves and a table to display my paintings, cards and jewelry. Everyone who came into the store passes by my booth at least once and my stuff sold very well. I closed that booth 2 weeks before my twins were born then reopened one a couple years later in that same shop. The shop’s sales and traffic had increased but the spot I rented was tucked away on the 3rd floor. I saved a few dollars by taking that spot but hardly anyone schlepped up the stairs to see! Many months I didn’t sell enough to pay the booths rent. Location, location, location!

Consignment Shops: If you answered “no” to a couple of the questions above consider consining you work. Consignment shops display your work and if it sells will keep a percentage, often 50%, of the sale price. You can negotiate this percentage though. If having your work in their shop bring them business they should lower their cut.  If you work had been published in a craft magazine, if you have a blog and advertise that shop there ask for a better rate. Once your name gets around you can set your consignment rates. I will not consign my work if  I don’t get to keep 75% of the sale. The upside to this is that if nothing sells you aren’t out any cash. The downside is they decide where your stuff goes in the shop. It may not be their priority to “talk it up” and display it well.

Free promotion: If you have a friend with a store whether it be a pet shop or a hardware store ask if you can put a basket of cards on the counter. You’d be surprised how much you can sell this way and they probably won’t charge you a dime. You can also ask you favorite local craft shop to display some small works for sale, after all the more $$ you make the more you can spend there!

Have Friends be your sales people: I have a friend who is a nurse and I gave her a earring/necklace set for her birthday. She wore it to work and colleagues asked her where she got it. She offered to bring some of my jewelry in to sell. She sold 35 pairs of earrings that week! I put my contact info on a card and attached the earring to the card and slipped each pair into baseball card page protectors in a 3 ring binder and sent them to work with her, she sold out the first day and asked me to bring more down to the hospital!

Good luck in selling your crafts and if you have tips to share leave a comment. I’d love to see your ideas!

Next Monday we’ll talk about selling crafts online.

Till next time, Happy Crafting!

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