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Research Potential Shows

Lesson 10 from: Secrets of Selling at Craft Fairs: How to Get In, Make Sales, and Grow Your Business

Nicole Stevenson

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Lesson Info

10. Research Potential Shows


Class Trailer



Craft Shows Should be a Part of Your Business


Introduction: How to Have a Successful Craft Show Experience


Why You Should Be Doing Craft Shows


Is Your Business Ready for a Craft Show?


Now is the Time for Craft Shows


Get Your Product Ready


Branding Your Business


Lesson Info

Research Potential Shows

So we're going to talk about the applications and what I was saying is that this always this is a kind of a troublesome area for people they don't know what the jury, what the show, what the producers are looking for and then how to to give it to them. Um, we mentioned this a little bit, but you really want to be applying to the show that's right for you and your brand. So, um, the reasons why people get denied from shows, in my experience applying for the wrong show is in the top five, you know, somebody will submit their application to our show and just in a second, I know is this a vendor that would do well in our show or not? You know, they're either going to do well or they're not, and producers are not trying tio be mean and say we don't want you at our show they want you to be successful because they want you to keep coming back as a vendor, you are their customers. So picking out that show that's right for your brand is super important and the the way that you can do that is th...

rough researching. So when you're researching a craft show, you want teo, revisit your goals and benefits worksheet, and you want to look at what you're hoping to get out of a show and then you want to see if that show fits into what you want to get out of it so I mean we'll just taken obvious one right now travel you know, one of your one of your you know, number one priority is travel you're not going to apply to a show that that's near you you also want to decide if you're ready for a juried show so a jury show means the possibility of rejection and hurt feelings and if you're not ready for that yet it might not be time to apply for a juried show yet there's also going to be a much higher booth fee generally it a jury chokes the jury shows a larger show so you need to be ready to show that money out you need to also be ready to have enough product to make that money back and for all I mean there's usually going to be a lot more customers they're your you don't want to be having an empty booth as we know I really like the idea of attending the show as a customer so the best way to see I think we earlier we talked about it's like everybody puts their best foot forward you know online but when you're there a za customer when you're there seeing with your own eyes you get a really objective point of view so attending it as as a customer and then this might come from me because I'm on the producer side now, but I've also been on the vendor side and both times it's always very frustrating when a show is poorly organized when you get there and they're still marking out spaces you know when you get there and there aren't any spaces marked out and they're like oh just you know grab us, grab a spot you know or you don't get a vendor map ahead of time and then you get there and there then you finally find out oh, I mean wooden jewelry and I'm next to other vendor with what in jewellery and you know she'll produce was gonna do that on purpose you know? It was probably they're dealing with their own set of stuff so you really want to make sure that that show is prepared organized ready for you and then you wanna look att the vendors and the crowd and you want to assess the quantity so are there five hundred vendors? Is your stuff going toe? Stick out are you ready to be that bold yet? You know you imagine let's just say there's a show with one hundred vendors you have to think that they have to bring enough customers there so that every vendor can make back not only their booty but hopefully make a profit I mean that's like hundreds of thousands of dollars probably I can't do that math in my head right now yeah question about assessing is so if they're not in your local area and you can't get there do you have some tips for assessing like if I wanted to do something in chicago are on the east coast or something totally I mean, the first thing is to look at at their website then look at their social media so look at pictures from past shows like for us to be a reasonable block post recap of every show with pictures of the show and then we write about it and then we also have another account like a flicker where you can see like three hundred photos from that show or something a lot a lot more so that's that's a really a really good way to do that I also really like reaching out to other vendors so if you're connected you know you have that community which were building right now use reach out hey, has anybody ever done x y z craft show in des moines? Sze you know, I was my brother lives there and I was thinking about, you know, planning a trip to go visit my brother and then trying to at least pay for my plane ticket by doing the show that happens to be in the same time so that's what that's what I would suggest um and then we'll not kind of brings me to my last point, which is to respectfully connect with vendors at the show were online so if you're going to the show it's totally okay to ask a vendor to say like, hey, I look, I love your stuff this is so cool you having a good experience at this show? I was thinking about applying you don't ask them when their booth is busy, you know you offer something in return by something small in there, booth by a pencil by a card or atleast the very least you want to pay a compliment. So, um, the questions that you want to ask when you're considering applying for a craft show you want teo look at the price point of your products and make sure it fits with the price point of the other products that air there um are you know let's take I want to keep talking about patchwork you, me, my partner and my partner, my show so let's take west coast craft as an example west coast craft is kind of a higher and show in my opinion. So you know, if if I put my leaving, I got rid of it, so if my weeding was one hundred dollars there that would fit in with the other things that were there one hundred dollars weaving a patchwork might not go so well we have a different a different crowd that comes so you want to think and not to say that my weaving isn't worth one hundred dollars, and we get this a lot with jewelry. So andi, I know we have definitely a few jewelry makers in our audience and probably online too seven's a lot with jewelry because people will make their jewelry out of like twenty four karat gold or this or this rare precious gemstone and it's three hundred dollars that's great! It should be three hundred dollars, but I'm telling you that nobody that walks into blah, blah, blah show is going to buy that. So making sure that that's a that's a good fit and like I said, the producers want you to succeed our vendor my vendors are my customers and I want them to keep coming back and if they don't do well at the show, they're not coming back. I just lost my customer, so I work for our vendors and that's what I try to do a good job for you, I try to do a job for everyone. You also want to think about the aesthetic of the show itself, so you know, when we talked about your branding and you know what's going on with your business, you want that show to fit your branding you know, we talked about all those things that reflect your brand those aspects of your business to reflect your brand, the shows you sell at are one of them for example, you mentioned the renaissance fair so somebody with low let's just say the girl that makes that necklace what's her name delusions of grandeur I think asteroid endeavor that's what it is so astra endeavor that is a very, very modern, you know, kind of thing she would not do well, the ones at the renaissance fair, yeah, they they wouldn't have her there, whereas you just said you you did well there, right? No, didn't I haven't tried to renaissance fair because they're not gonna let my stuff in because it's very obviously manufactured with modern methods. Yeah, I don't I don't feel like your stuff would be would be talking to go to dick in terms like no dickens fair isn't going allowing it could not be made in their tauron your people. And the other thing is, people don't know your business. I have so many vendors supply to patch where in fact, my my mom keeps saying, I just met this girl and she's applied the patchwork six times and she's never got it and I'm like what's her stuff and she'll say it's, blah, blah, blah and I'm like do you see anything like that at patchwork like I'm telling you right now the reason we didn't let her in is because she would not sell she would not do well, you know producer should have your best interest in mind you also want to think about if there are too many other similar products you know, are there five hundred other weaving vendors there or are you the only one you want to make sure that that show fits your aesthetic but not everything is the same as your stuff you don't want to be? Oh yeah there's another succulent in a goopy gobber or whatever, you know, like those little I don't know where that came from, but you know another thing that's, you know, very popular right now are plants and succulents and air plants and family mobiles and all that kind of stuff, so you need to have yours be different enough so they stand out in that sea of other succulents. You also want to think about what the producers expect of you. So as we're talking about like from our online audience is saying like, you know, these kind of interesting expectations from producers like you have to give us twenty percent you have to do this, you know, you need to do that some shows I expect you to sell tickets to the show you know like they say ok it's cost this much money you just send sell ten tickets that are ten dollars each so can you do you have the time to do that is that something that you want to dedicate your time too so um at at our show we expect our vendors to do a lot of promotion so we make it as easy as possible we send them postcards we have all the links set up because we know that they're busy you guys are busy people decide what you want to spend your time on is that the kind of show that's right for you? Another thing is reading that fake use so maybe there is something they expect of you that you don't know about that actually happened to me where I was required to have a flame retardant tent which I did not have and there was actually like the fire inspector was there was there to check yeah so then it's like okay sorry dude you're out the booth fee and you know you got to go you don't have the special tent so really taking it seriously you also want to think about if your product's fits within the show's guidelines um definitely had people lie on their applications before so and say that something was handmade um when it wasn't um it's not cool you know so you don't want to do that you will never be able to remake that relationship with that producer once you once you lie they will remember you trust me um you you know, one of the other things that we get a lot is people doing like sensi candles and things like that which are things that they're not that they're not making um you don't ifyou're a hand maker you don't want to be next to that kind of booth probably you know you want to be with other people that air in your genre in your world and then like I mentioned earlier you want to consider about if the show is like professional they're well organized do they return emails on time? Are they jerky? You know, maybe you don't mind dealing with jerky people I d'oh I don't like dealing with jerky people, so once somebody like doesn't respond to my email twice or something it's like by I'm done you know, like I'm not going to hunt you down so it just depends on what's what's important to you having an active online presence is very important for a craft show you want them, you go onto their facebook and they haven't posted for a year what's up what are you doing? You know they're expecting you to keep up on your social media and they can't even do it so you really want to make sure that there and then they're engaged with their audience you know that it's going to be worth what we're talking about right now is a larger juries show, not a small we'll take a little percentage here in their show, we're talking about a show that you're going to spend a lot of money on. We're talking about a show that you're going to spend a lot of time preparing for. We're talking about a show where you're going to make your booth display top notch. Totally awesome. Those producers need to be working hard for you, too, so you want to think about the reputation of the show? So are do people say like, I love this show, you know, fellow vendors like, what are people saying on their facebook page? What are people commenting on their instagram? You know, our what do your peers think? Yeah, and, uh, reading comments and all my reviews, like comments on facebook or the yelp reviews and stuff I think it's a good idea to dio, but I also think you need to take it with a grain of salt because you look through it's like ten great comments, one native one take that into consideration or ten negatives one great, so really think about that you also want to consider the reputation with vendors and the customers, yeah. So I just had a recent experience with this where there's a big music festival that I really have looked really great it looks really great but this is the first year of them doing it and the movie was really high for three days but my phone call wasn't returned my email wasn't returned when I had just clarifying question and something said no don't do it after a couple of shows that weren't so successful for me I would say last year one of my rules my steadfast rules is that I have to have attended the show you know before and check things out and but this one I was willing to take a chance because like the lineup was so great the artists are great that are going to be there but after those two experiences of the e mail and the phone call I just in the way I can't do it they're not respecting your time so why should you respect there's you know warm fuzzy to a street do you know anybody that did that show? Well this is the first year of them doing what right has happened it's in july so I'm going to go and I'm going to go check it out but and maybe next year maybe I'll just miss out this year but it was just too much money for me tio put into the to the event and not have to be successful so yeah when before I started doing patchwork with my partner delilah I wass just selling a shows and like I said I said yes to everything so I sold it all kinds of shows and I was living in l a so there were a lot of kind of sample sale type shows were like it be like seven jeans one offs you know, booth and like like grilled like designer he stuff and I just didn't feel like the producers had any respect for the vendors you know, I don't really know how to explain it except I didn't feel cared for I didn't feel appreciated and I was their customer and that was definitely a reason why I wanted to be on that side so that I could appreciate my vendors you know? It was very important to walk around and beat a hasty easy how's it going you know when I see you when I see you with a show um so yeah, considering the show's reputation yeah, bring it on I just want to say it makes a huge difference to has a vendor to be able to have your question it's answer if something's bills on the floor to be able to say, oh, what do I do? I like to have those people around there is a great staff that you guys have a patchwork in some of the other events have been too you know, it's really helpful when you have people, it makes you feel more at ease as a vendor to feel care for. So it is important you put a lot into it, we should producer should present much into it, too, you know? It really is important. We talked about this a little bit. Is it a jury show? So you want to consider if it's a jury show, there are some shows where you have to apply, but there's no jury it's just whoever applies first gets in so that's kind of like a good, like baby step into a juried show yourself to do an application, but just get it in early and you're in those shows, you know don't tend to only have handmade stuff, they're not curated, you know, they're not handpicked the way these larger shows that we're talking about are on there great for getting experience, you know, they can also be great for making some extra cash. Great for building that customer list. Great for building your social media audience. Your newsletter list there are so many great things that you can get out of aa smaller show out of a non juried show, they're prototypes, yeah, exactly feedback on prototypes, the benefits of craft shows air just endless and we talked about the booth fees so that's definitely something that you have to consider and it's not just the fee it's can you afford to make the product that's going to end up making that time and that money profitable for you okay boom is a booth fee a good fit for my budget so like we said two days show three days show like what stacy was saying that's a big investment you better have gone to that show known somebody who's done that show and really know that you're going to make that back you know, a seven hundred dollar booth fee is a lot to us you know that is that that that can make or break your month tossing that into the trash so you really maybe it's not too everybody here but um and you want to think about that fiend relation to your goal list that you know six hundred dollars feet is totally worth it if they're bringing in that much traffic you know, if your goals are you know to build your mailing listen to make money and their brain in tons and tons of traffic great, you know, totally worth it uh how do you feel about people that want to share a booth? Is that like we're gonna talk about that? Okay, yeah I feel like it's a case by case situation hey, we'll sit we'll talk about that later but you know, I don't have a yes or no answer for that I'm going to kind of go go through points about sharing a booth. I think sometimes it's it works really well sometimes it does not, so I kind of have like a criteria like do you want to share booth? Ask yourself these questions that's gonna kind of like I have for everything have a system for everything uh, shows that have higher fees should offer more you know, those people they should be promoted pants off of it. Your email should be returned within twenty four hours. You should feel taken care of. You should feel loved as a customer of those producers. You should feel it. Yeah, people think I'm crazy because I returned emails within twenty four hours and I'm like, what do other people do? You know, you know that there's something going on with me if I'm not getting back your email right away, you also want to think about it the venue in the sea you season is a good fit for you. So this isn't just about the weather in the climate of where the show is so off, the show is in the winter and it's outdoors are you ready for a possible outdoor rainy show experience is that are you gonna be okay with that? But you want to think about your products so let's say that you make this is one of our vendors, stella neptune. So let's say that you make sweaters and her spurs having meat out of cashmere, so spring show and they're long safe, not the best fit for her, you know, so she needs to concentrate her holiday her winter on doing shows spring maybe is about building wholesale spring maybe is about building inventory, coming up with new products or maybe if she doesn't like we'll sell you sex crash shows she travels in the spring to places where it's cold in the spring, you know, there you go, australia. Yeah, that would be awesome or somebody please take me in australia right now. I think we're going to talk about this benefits and goals work she which we talk, which we talked about earlier, which is one of our bonus materials. This is what we'll just return to this for just a second, because this is what you're thinking about when you're picking that show, you're thinking about those goals that you have is this show going to be the show to meet them? Okay, remember, I talked about breaking the rules, so here we go and then all those rules I had just breaking when you need teo, so this is a picture of my booth at this was like three years ago okay I had all this stock left over I was done with my business I was just doing this other stuff but I had all this stock there was a farmer's market two blocks away from my house the booth he was like thirty bucks it was for four hours I would get home at like one o'clock and have the whole rest of the day to work which I love doing so it was awesome but this show did broke all those things that I talked about about what you should be doing but it was close to home it was a short show I made money I got rid of my stock I I was new to this area so I was able tto you know grow customers for another part of my business which was teaching that I wanted to focus on you like oh this is so cool what you know what I actually teach a class on sewing if you're interested I'm teaching it next week it blah blah blah and also I knew that I didn't know anybody so it was like fun to meet to meet people she was in my community like what stacy was saying the booth he was just like pop done you know so cheap they had no expectations somebody what so ever nothing I do is show up with thirty bucks or thirty five bucks however much it wass s o that was that was really nice and I didn't expect much either, you know, I was just like well, if I sell like five shirts that's five shirts less than are sitting in my you know, storage area so your goals right now may change in a month they're always changing as you as you change as your personal life changes as your business changes special set of circumstance circumstances is out of town shows so out of town shows are always going to be costing you more because you need to travel there you don't know somebody there you need to pay for accommodations or you to stay with somebody and maybe you're paying in your comfort thought being not being where you'd like it too because you're sleeping on a fold out couch but there are a lot of great ways that you can reduce those costs sharing travel sharing, you know, hotel room with a fellow vendor reaching out and staying with another vendor that is all that is already in that area, you know, we had way let in a very, very, very small percentage of vendors that aren't from the area to our show and one of them was from new york happened be coming to l a and, you know, wanted to sell it or show great she's like I don't want to shoot my table I don't want to do this as a producer I want peace but I was like hey did is anybody to be super sweet and lend you know debbie from glitter limes a table and boom everybody came in that community happened she showed up borrowed a table borrowed a tent made a new friend you know and then somebody does that and you're like have some adorable hearings you know it's just it's definitely possible to do out of town shows without spending a lot of money I like to plan them based on where I know somebody or where I want to go hame really into going to portland right now when's the next show in portland you know, like let's let's do it who lives there um much like I was talking about with debbie our vendor you need to adjust your booth set up so her normal setup was like much more complicated she's like okay, I got to go down to table set up this this is what I have to do for this she still kept it branded it still looked really nice but it was not as intense as her regular one this way we've talked a lot about wholesale here now I want to teach a wholesale class I would just love I want all the same people here online and in the studio so wholesale seeking wholesale accounts is a great way to you know utilize that out of town time you research the stores in the area you go in there, check out start building raise ships. I would go right when I got there and then you go, you go back again, you keep notes. No snow snow snows notes you keep track of all of this stuff because believe me, you think I'll remember the name of the store and a month later, like oh, now I finally made line sheets. I should send it to that store. I have no idea what that store was called. Uh, and then, of course, this is just basic human knowledge. You book your travel early to save money. They're about a question about did a few out of town shows, like sharing my epic craft show experience, and I noticed that in some locations, like I did something's in the midwest and I felt ah, a big amount of pressure to adjust my pricing, like maybe my prices could be supported in a city like san francisco or chicago, but in, like, some of these smaller towns, do you think that that's okay, I did do it, but I wonder how you what your thought is you I say never adjust your faces, but I can totally understand because the cost of living is different in different places, so you definitely have to take that into consideration and think okay, are these people going to be able to afford my stuff if you want to do what you did if you're like, for me, if I was already going somewhere and happen to be a side thing, but still, I mean, that person has a friend that losing california that's seize your thing, and then they tell that person I got it for thirty dollars, why is a forty dollars here? You know, I just again, I just showed you a thing about how I like to break rules, but I wouldn't I wouldn't have just adjust my pricing when you say sick the whole cell accounts. So for instance, if I wanted to stand and I know and I want to go down there and book takes down the call who the buyer is and say, hey, look, I'm going to get the patchwork show come down, check out my is that what you're saying that way, or I wouldn't do that. What I would do is make a list of looking online, there's a lot of like, really cool city guys, sunset magazine always does them the block designs sponge has a great, like city guide siri's so looking on, they're making I love I love spreadsheets, okay, me spreadsheet with the name of the shop where it is and I would just keep a running list of those shops you never know so your friend just decides she's going to get married in utah oh my gosh I'm in salt lake already know three shops I want to go to I visit the shop first and I like I said I tried to start that in person relationship so I would go in there happen to be your lucky make jewelry it's very easy to be wearing your jewelry when you walk in there and make a friend okay um I think we have a bonus material yeah, just to reiterate this that you see on your screen at home is the craft show list. Pdf on this actually right here includes craft shows all across the country which is really cool yeah there's even some international ones you think canada is on there so and uh yeah, so it's and I recommend that you do this and add your own to it you know, like what we're talking about these things doesn't mean all these shows are right for you. This just means easier shows you can look at and then you add them to your personal shia nicole you've actually taken a lot of time I know to actually put this together I'm everyone and yeah, several pages, which is amazing yeah one thing I started doing was just tio I did it myself was just to keep a note of all the events that were coming around because they generally happened the same time each year, so as they would come along. Man, I miss that bear I missed that just started making a list for the next year to be able to go back in and visit or maybe participate if, you know, visited the year before, you're totally on my leg preparation organization trip because that's what I did and I think we even have I maybe I don't know if it's a bonus material material or an example, but that's what I d'oh, I have vendors like email me and be like, oh my gosh, I totally like it wasn't paying attention to my emails, and I missed the deadline. Can you open up a spot? And I'm like, I won't say what they say, but so anyway, so then you wantto create that your craft show evaluation work she so you figure out which are the things that are important to you. Does this fit? Yes, no, or maybe that helps you decide if you should apply. I feel like maybe somebody out there is thinking, yeah, this seems like a lot of work to do a craft show it is, but that's how you're successful at it this is how you figure out your own criterion this how you figure out where you're gonna play, so you're not wasting your time and wasting your money photos showing realized, oh, my god, there's like fifty other people doing laser cut jewelry. Yeah, or everything here is, like, way classier than mine or everything here is junk here than mine, or these don't look like my kind of customers. Yeah, you know, like, walk in there like, does this person look like they would buy? My stuff is what they're wearing, something that my ideal costume remember, we made that ideal customer profile somebody something my ideal customer would wear? Do you find it most shows air only annual? Or do some shows bi annual? Or do they do him seasonally, like it feels like you missed the deadline on one and then it's like, ah, whole year before you enjoyed again, I was just wondering, is there? Is there a pattern to that? Most of the larger jury shows that I'm aware of are twice a year, so people usually do, like like a holiday type show, and then, like a spring or summer show, so that's important to keep in mind, and then we will talk about this, but applications usually are released two to three months before so this evaluation like I said you want to decide which criteria is important to you and then create your own work sheet I mean these are examples of some questions like you know I'm really big on professional and organized is just going to get there and know where I'm supposed to go and know what I'm supposed to do is my booth going to be there you know what's up I would be really big on a jury show for me because I know that they're goingto bring in the customers or you know whatever it is that you decide and then you fill out so this is stacey this is what my version of your thing so this is what like my potential craft should work she would be so here it's the name of the craft show the location the show day the general application period how much it is application fee any special show requirements like that fire retardant ten or whatever and then I would list like the pros and the columns in the notes uh just however you know however you want to do it however is going to keep it in check for you if it was a show that I was repeating I would probably like also keep track of how much money I made at the show before you know and also some other criteria that we're going to explore at the end when we talk about what did you after? A show, and how to evaluate, like, was the show awesome or not?

Class Materials

Free Downloads

Craft Show Secrets Syllabus.pdf

Bonus with Purchase

Craft Show Readiness Checklist
Craft Show Timeline Checklist
Profit and Loss Worksheet With Examples
Packing Checklist
Craft Show List
Benefits and Goals Worksheet
Branding Worksheet
Post Craft Show Checklist
Craft Show Application Checklist
Brand Mood Board Exercise

Ratings and Reviews


It was an awesome experience. I learned so much from Nicole. She is entertaining and so knowledgeable that I feel I left the show with soooooo much info. I loved being in the studio audience, I met so many great people, crafters and new friends I feel we all became one big support for each other. I am putting to good use everything I learned. I look forward to coming back to Creative Live for another learning experience. Craft Show Secrets taught me all the ins/outs of craft shows ...I'm excited for my next craft show. Time to Create!!!

Lisa Jones

Great Class! Full of practical information + tools about how to REALLY succeed doing shows. I have attended many a craft show and found an enormous amount of useful tips. I especially loved the bonus material! Thank you Nicole and Creative Live for keeping it real + FUN!!

a Creativelive Student

I've been growing my business successfully online for the last six years, but hadn't shown my work in person for a decade. As a refresher, I took Nicole's craft show class to be sure that I made the most of the time I would have in front of my customers. Because of the preparedness and mindset that I gained from Nicole's teaching, my show was a huge success. My interactions with the customers, producers, and other vendors were genuine and joyful, building a stronger foundation for future business and relationships. This course took the worry and stress off my shoulders so I could enjoy the opportunity that I had. Thanks, Nicole! Tamara Kraft Pithitude

Student Work