Christmas markets and craft fairs!
I have done a few markets now, the first being a primary school Christmas fair. The only way I can describe my first experience is cold and long! You always have to be there really early, so as to unload your bursting at the seams small car, then transform a table into a pop up shop. This was all done outside on a very cold December Saturday. Then stand there for 6-9 hours. This sounds easy right, anything done for long periods of time is challenging overtime.
Parents and children came in their droves, but all had a quick glance and then rushed straight for the arts and crafts activities. Most people just bring loose change, they were not there to shop, their children were there to see their friends and play, parents to see fellow mum and dads. having a less rushed chat. I did sell a few items and to my surprise the most expensive ones; Liberty patchwork cushions and scarfs mainly. I did get lots of compliments, people liked my products, just not the right forum for them I concluded. By the end of a very long day I was exhausted and cold, this is when the clear up begins and the car is filled again.
After this first experience I vowed never again.
I must learn to listen to myself more.
Hand made Fair
Obviously time heals, as my next experience was a full weekend exhibiting at the; Hand made fair. Surely a bigger better fair would improve my chances of selling? Well I had my own sign, slightly smaller space for an extortionate price, this did shock me as the exhibition is targeted at small businesses. I purchased lots of display materials; coat stand, children’s tailors dummy, tiered shelving and I did several weekends of sewing in preparation. 3 days selling and I didn’t as much as cover my costs. What did I learn? Well everyone was selling fabric, products either really expensive or under £5, but mostly kits. I gave out loads of my business cards and met lots of people interested in my product. So I got my business name out there and gained several new followers on social media. Not a complete waste of time.
I decided to go away and create my own kits, including all materials needed, paper patterns and instructions included. I went back the following year and tried again. Again just about covering my costs. At this stage I had started to work part-time, to spend more time; teaching at more craft fairs developing my ideas, and my website.
So this year, I decided not to do the Handmade fair again, I did feel sad about this, as it’s such an amazing show. Instead I decided to focus on my teaching. This year I have taught at the country living fair, the knitting and stitching show, the women’s institute and the GBSBee.
Crouch End Christmas Market
I have no teaching in December so decided to try the Crouch End Christmas market. I vowed this time I would not spend any money, just sell my stock, make with what materials I had, nothing more.
I applied for an outdoor stall and this was passed on to the indoor market as outdoor spaces were full. Initially I thought this would be better, warmer if anything. How wrong was I.
The Hall gave a lovely atmosphere although several large holes in the ceiling above. Carol singers opened the fair and crowds came. As the day went on it was evident that we were missing the passing trade being inside. Lots of people passing the outdoor market didn’t venture as far as us, or even knew we were there. Being inside was colder than out, as we had no sun. It was freezing. If anyone is thinking of doing a market stall, make sure you take a hot water bottle, wear wool socks and lots of layers. My stall was next to a lovely lady called Samantha from The Vintage Letter Lady! She and I talked all day she sold lots of her brilliant Scrabble picture gifts, thevintageletterlady.com/. The perfect Christmas gift. I on the other hand sold a couple of my London bags, some small Christmas tree kits and stockings. Again just about covering my costs. I did however give out loads of my sewing workshop flyers. People showed a real interest in these.
So what have I learnt? I know I wasn’t alone in the lack of sales, everyone was struggling. People who visit fairs tend not to spend, maybe £5 here or there, or if something really captures their attention they will spend more.
Basically it was an obvious lesson for me and something that I was realising anyway….Stick to my teaching!
When I make products it’s always with my teaching/workshops in mind. I make for myself; to broaden my own sewing skills and to increase my wardrobe cheaply. I also make simple things that can help improve people’s sewing skills and give people confidence whilst doing so. I love working with Liberty fabrics and I like making fabric containers, cushions and bags. My new workshops start at the end of January at the arts depot. book here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/advanced-sewing-workshop-tickets-39629115752?aff=erelexpmlt
It’s always good to get your product out there, but not if it’s cold. Don’t get me wrong all the shows I have done have been lovely, organised well and I have met some lovely people. I do sell my products on http://etsy.com/shop/ItsSewSimpleShop and on my website, here they are very popular. It’s just not for me?
Teaching adults and children privately is my aim for 2018. Onwards and upwards! I will be teaching at the next knitting and stitching show, so please book a workshops here www.theknittingandstitchingshow.com/spring/