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Start a Handmade Business

Lesson 12 of 39

Free Preview: Tips for Craft Shows

Kari Chapin

Start a Handmade Business

Kari Chapin

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Lesson Info

12. Free Preview: Tips for Craft Shows
Great tips for getting in and setting up a profitable table at a craft show.

Lesson Info

Free Preview: Tips for Craft Shows

When you're filling out an application for show the number one thing that show organizers say, if you want your application to stand out is to follow the directions don't just think that you are have got it under control like, oh, they asked for five pictures, but I have ten super ones, so I'm going to go ahead and submit ten follow the directions exactly! They asked you for exactly what they need to help them make a decision, and the easier you could make their job, the better off you are if they have to fight or crawl or dig through your application to get the information that they need it's probably they probably get so many that it's easy to just next next, so follow the directions exactly follow all of answering all the questions thoughtfully if somebody says, what is your artist statement and you don't understand what that means, that's okay, look it up, work on your google mba but do not like just say, don't skip it, this is your chance to really let them know about you. If you ...

don't understand what they're asking me, they're looking up, ask a friend, ask your community or write to them directly and ask for further instructions if you're not able to get an answer somewhere else. And here to all deadlines, when applying to shows these people need to book space, they need to rent table, sometimes chairs, they have a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to put together craft show, so following their deadlines means that they could make the best show for you and your customers. Sometimes you'll be asked to pay a fee with your application and that's normal if you feel like and that's and that's not just to feed to get into the show. So if they say cates craft show is two hundred fifty dollars for two days, that might be a separate fee of them. What it is for you to put in the application, which could be what's pretty standard, like ten dollars, twenty dollars, sometimes to put it in a show fee, so that is pretty normal, and it shouldn't scare you away. When you were putting together your application for the show, you need to have the best product shots possible, particularly if you're in a category that is really saturated. So if you want to get into the show in and sell your jewelry, then you need to think about all of the other people who are submitting to be in the show with your jewelry and you need to do the very best job on your photographs, so if you need to start again or take some over than do what you need to do. If you really want to get into that show, be prepared to answer the artist statement question I feel like that is fairly common. Do you guys get that question a lot when you're filling out applications? Kathy, when you're filling out your you see you did you did were you asked to describe your business or what? Your statement was? Ok, yeah, so have something like that ready to go be thinking about it on dh that is also the description of your business. Sometimes people ask for a photo of your display. How many of you have filled out a credit application where they've said, show me your booth? Yeah, so and you might be thinking, well, I don't have a booth yet build one and your figure it out, it will help you figure out if you really want to go to shows that will help you figure out like, you know, if somebody were to say to me like this's a six foot long table, this is a really mean anything t my brain, I don't know probably doesn't everyone maser but it's, so I can't yeah, that kind of stuff, I need to see it, so you hear that, yeah, like that just doesn't mean anything. To me, I need to actually see the table so if if you are considering applying for a show and they ask for a picture of your boots and you don't have one, build the best approximation that you can put something together in your garage in your yard at your friend's house, whatever it is, how would you make that booth look? And while you wouldn't need to go as far as embroidering, you know your prices on who for something that you're not sure is a sure thing. Do your very best drop. You'll learn a lot of lessons in that process. You'll learn if it's something you want to d'oh something you're really interested in, and if you have enough stuff to do it and you had a dress rehearsal, if you get in and you know you just set up the booth the same way. Yeah, it's easy to dio, but once you have your first show, take pictures don't ever go to a crafts show selling your own stuff and not walk away from that with a picture of you behind your table. When it's full of beautiful without trying to get some pictures of people shopping your table, make sure you document that kind of stuff and then pictures of your display where you're where there's nothing there it's just your display that you could submit with applications so being in a craft show is a really good opportunity to set yourself up to make applying toe other kinds of events easier in the future so when you apply for this show three things can happen what you got in that's great news congratulations gets work boo he had been rejected that's just one more opportunity to learn something different so now you've got a great chance to do something else or what you've been wait listed that can happen sometimes if so many people apply to the show and they need tio put a couple of people on a wait list, so sometimes people aren't going toe pay their booth fees, so if they said like a kate you got in and then all of a sudden you're like, well, I didn't think I would I'm not going to give you two hundred fifty dollars, so then that space opens up that's why somebody's wait listed to fill in those slots or those holes as it happens and you shouldn't take being rejected or being wait listed personally it's if if possible, which I know that sounds really hard, but I promise you as possible it either means that you could have done a tighter job of filling out your application there was too many other people in that category, so the organizer's felt like they just couldn't have fifty booths of cat meds when there's only going to be one hundred fifty one's there to begin with so there's a lot of reasons that you could have been asked to apply again at another time are wait listed and since they're unlikely to say we didn't pick you because your work stinks then don't let your mind go there first because it could be any number of reasons if you're if you've applied to the same show over and over again and you've gotten in each time you need to put us much effort into the fifth time you apply as you did to the first time that you apply don't assume like of got it made because I do that show all the time and these people know me and they understand my work you need to put your best effort forward all the time because there's so many people entering our marketplace I mean all of you guys now have thousands more competitors who are learning from us today during this course that you know so you always have to put your best handmade foot forward and sometimes you might not get in on the fifth time not because you didn't put effort into it but because they're looking for new faces so I mean it's happened to me where I thought I was in forever you know and then they need to do a little refresh, you know? I mean you can't expect them as business people as well toe always have the same people at the same craft fair year after year after year yes, that's right? So it's just it's, not ever an automatic, you have to always work for it and you don't want the show to stay the same year after year after year because that's, when people stop coming that some people are like what's don't need to do that again this spring, you know? Yeah, I present to you there's a new vendors there in a long time. I'll go again and later in the year. So you know, you want the show organizers to do that every once in a while, but sometimes that hits a little bit closer to home than your then you're anticipating so inventory to craft show this sort of a tricky one only you can decide how much to bring and I get letters all the time that say, what is the formula? What is the magic number of inventory that I should bring? It's it's really it's really up to you and I'll say to one person who I know does shows all over the country. Do you have a formula and they'll say what? I just bring everything I have available or I can ask somebody else you have a formula and they'll say yes if approximately ten thousand people are coming, I don't anticipate that two percent of those people are going to buy for me so it takes the average person five times to walk around the booth twelve minutes and I'm like, I need to bring seventeen thousand dollars worth of stuff my brain will never work that way way I would totally be like whatever whatever's around this what I'll bring so when general rule of thumb and it's not and I reasoned hesitate to say rule about one school of thought one suggestion one loose based structure if you want is to just bring enough to cover your booth c seven to ten times so if you're lucy was one hundred dollars bring a thousand dollars worth of inventory and hoped to sell seven hundred it's really up to you and no nobody's ever going to teo give you anything that there's no there's no magic number is basically what I'm trying to say, but if you want some kind of guidelines, you can find something that you're comfortable with um let's see so tips for craft shows please take credit cards over and over and over again you'll get more sales if you could take credit cards agree agree say yes yeah ok next next time say it state with a life way probably to capture your customer information just because one show is great or just because one show doesn't do great doesn't mean you shouldn't try again. We talked about that a little bit earlier with jordan's question take a lot of photos of your booth don't let that pass by and be prepared and then prepare some more every show I've ever done I've been up until like minute I'm supposed to get in my car to drive to the show the night before and that's really not the way to be your kid managed to avoid that, but so we just have a few minutes left as anybody else have a question or a great tip that we scepter didn't get teo yes, of course there are a lots and lots of questions still, but for the the fact that we are running out of time, we'd love to hear from you, kate here, maybe from both of you on since you both are at so many craft shows. What? What are your top tips for your top five tips apps on creating an awesome craft booth and also how to engage with people so because those air definitely two different different topics, but to sum up the what you've just taught us, um okay, so I would say number one for me is just have a vision um don't show up in a craft fair and be like, I don't know what I'm goingto do with all this stuff, like make sure you know, if you sell for different things, you have a place in your booth for all those four things, and you have a really good place and it's, you know, well thought out, I would say, um, branding across all levels. So anything from your business card to the overall look of the booth, your sign, ege, even containment. Um, your booth kind of just is like, a snapshot of your business and who you are. We say at anthropology that the windows, they're kind of like the cover of a magazine. So the first look at your booth is the cover of your magazine and not everyone's going to come in and look at all the pages, but you want as many people to do that as possible. So you want to have a really nice cover? Um, I think sign image in general, making it really easy for people, tio explore your boobs and to answer any question they have ahead of time. How much is that? What is it? You know, if it's really hard for it to tell what it is, rose lee's business is a great example of that it's called shower art so even if you're not really sure what shower it is, that's one thing you don't have to say to her is like what's it called because she's told you in the name of that business, I think, as faras engaging with customers you, khun do some research on to what people are looking for it the show so you can turn your conversations into customers or potential customers, whether they buy from you or not into, like, do some detective work, say, what have you bought today? And people will tell you I bought this for my nephew. So now you know, two things on ty's air shopping at the show, and they're buying gifts for kids and they're buying gifts for boys. So you I can get that kind of information from people and people love to show you what they've bought, so you can sort of tell what's popular with people at the show from them answering that question, or you can always say, like, did you make this? People love to talk about that kind of thing, so ask them questions that do double duty for you, that's something I'm really interested and like getting the maximum out of out of any effort that I make, so ask questions that help you learn about this show. The shopper what they're buying and who they're buying for and if they buy something from you great and if they walk on that's ok you just got some valuable market research so so you win even in a time your way um and I think just one more thing be prepared for something to go wrong even if it doesn't go if he doesn't go wrong fabulous you know you're set for the day but be prepared for you know it to be really windy in this to fall over or you know, like I mean I spent hours and hours making this like all paper backdrop for something and the crafter that was that was super when the right on the water and everything was just blowing everywhere and it's like you know it's over take it down and have a good attitude about it and smile and make sure people don't know that you're really frustrated because I was really frustrated and it's it's not their problem but you know every time a craft fair is going toe present some sort of crazy challenge for you and just kind of try and take it as it comes you really want to thank kate erin for coming up here erin I think it's so brave tio bring all your stuff and let us let us give you tips and advice and thank you for coming from amsterdam here I wish like living in amsterdam but but you know what? You were there on saturday and now I want you here in seattle so thank you so much I really appreciate it and if there's any anything else, I think let's let's talk about we've got one more subject that we want to dive farther into just really briefly I mean, this is really like people skills I know a lot of people in business they may be shy or they're not they're just not outgoing and so how much of your personality is a reflection of your worker if you're maybe let's put it this way if you don't have good people skills and your crafter, then how do you at a crime maybe should are for you if you're not a bring a person or you bring a friend who can help you yeah, you really need someone else to do your talking you know that about yourself and you can plan for that go right ahead if you're not going to be comfortable engaging with strangers are hearing people comment about your work if you're a very delicate, sensitive soul and it's perhaps craft shows air are not for you because people forget that you are right there and emotionally attached to stuff because you could go to any big box store and be like this just feels flimsy and then you would walk on by and target does not start crying they're not so so people can forget because of how they are every every day, so if you're if you're not good with people and you can get some help and might be that craft shows are right for you, which is fine because a cz your business grows, you might grow out of craft shows, you might decide to travel more there it's not the only way to do it, it's just one of the ways that we all start out, but if it doesn't sound appealing to you, it doesn't mean that your business will be more or less successful by any stretch of the imagination. Okay, thank you we just that we get that question a lot really important. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I think if you have, like, a husband or partner, someone who wants to, like, get in on the thing with you and you're the creator and that person is the marketer, what a wonderful world do you have, you know, because you guys both get to dio what you're good at, but, you know, there's wholesaling two stores they're selling on fc, is there there's things that are, you know, kind of that there's a curtain between even the customer that might be better if you're just really, really painfully shy and crop shows aren't required, none of this is required just you know something that well, some of it is required but thiss that being in a crash show isn't isn't required it's just one thing that people are really interested in fantastic. Well thank you what I see up there on the board that you have some homework for you I over here I want all of you to really spend tonight thinking about why you want to own a handmade business I'd like you to start considering your intentions and goals um I want you to really think about what you're afraid of and how you could begin to fix it and who is your ideal customer? What kind of branding here you're going to create for your ideal customer? And then I want you to participate on social media even after we shut down for the night so that you could really work on building your community and if you have the workbook there's actually there's actually some action items and listen here. And so I've suggested whether I think you should you know, whether you could think about doing it this week or within the next two weeks or what I think is an ongoing thing that you need to think about like revisiting your intentions and goals that's something that's ongoing, not just something you'll work on during our course, so this is just sort of an overview of the work we accomplished today it went so fast, that it's. Interesting to look back and be like, oh, yeah, oh, yeah, oh, yeah, but that was just this morning, you know, but them, yeah, so keep going. You need to take the action to propel your business forward.

Class Description

Most artists and crafters are easily inspired to create new work, but getting inspired to build a business that shares that work with the world can sound like a much more daunting prospect. Kari Chapin, author of The Handmade Marketplace and Grow Your Handmade Business, is ready to teach you everything you need to know to break into the online marketplace and share your work with the world.

Kari will help you determine the online sales venue that’s best suited to your handmade goods. You’ll learn about the pros and cons of both selling through an existing online marketplace (like Supermarket or Etsy®) and setting up your own independently-operated website. You’ll also develop the optimal marketing strategy for sharing your products with the world, from social media to blogging to branding and packaging. Kari will cover essential best practices for running a successful crafting business, including confidently setting price points, creating media kids, acting as your own publicist, and much more.

No matter what you make, this course will give you the confidence to see the things you have to offer as uniquely valuable to customers, the inspiration to take your work to new heights, and the foundation you need to ensure your business’s success.



Kari Chapin's course, Start a Handmade Business, was a game-changer for me. Her content was presented in such an accessible, engaging, easy-to-digest, and oftentimes hilarious way. At the same time, she did not sugar-coat things. Having a handmade business is a job and requires work. I love that she emphasized that fact. Not only did she give the nut and bolts of how to start a handmade business but spent a lot of time on the emotional component of being an artist trying to sell her work. Her guests (Skype and in-studio) were well-chosen and showed the rapport she has with her community. This showed that she lives what she teaches. The interaction with the studio audience and online community was integral to the course because it showed real-life examples of business owners at varying stages in their career. (I was so lucky to be one of the studio audience members. I will forever be grateful for this opportunity!) This class was a comprehensive look at handmade businesses that everyone from fledgling businesses to more established businesses can benefit from. I highly recommend this course! Thank you Kari for sharing your mind-blowing wisdom and warm and fuzzy heart with us! And thank you CreativeLive for having this awesome resource for the creative community! --Cathy Pascual,


Well, it's been a few days since the course and I am still pumped. Kari said a few things in particular that I needed to hear and I'm so grateful for that. I have been involved in the facebook group she put together and I am so happy about that. It's an awesome resource and my fellow creatives have been very helpful and encouraging. I totally recommend this course to any creative entrepreneur at any stage in their journey. Plus she is cute, funny and has just the right amount of snarkiness. I so enjoyed it!

a Creativelive Student

I loved this course with Kari Chapin! Her wealth of information delivered with such an honest and funny voice was refreshing and inspiring. I have accomplished things in the last few days that have languished on my to-do list for a year or more, largely due to this class. Kari is very down-to-earth and just plain adorable! I highly recommend this course for anyone creative who has or wants to have their own business.