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We have some great news to share.
We’re joining forces with our good friends at Bearwood Pantry (two of us Muthas are actually founder members of Bearwood Pantry so that’s how good the friendship is!) to put on a very special event in September. We’re calling this creative collaboration The Crafty Pantry Food Festival – see what we did there?
With two successful food festivals behind them, The Pantry are once again inviting local food producers, cake makers, bakers and chefs to set up stalls in and around the Bearwood Baptist Church on Bearwood Road. This time however, the annual Food Festival will have a crafty twist. We’ll be providing craft stalls and childrens’ workshops alongside the tasty treats.
Once again, the Food Festival will be celebrating Bearwood’s diverse community and championing great quality food in all price ranges with a variety of stalls offering cuisine from around the world as well as homegrown local honey producers and jam and chutney makers. Organisations including Bearwood Allotments and Smethwick Foodbank will also be raising awareness of food related issues affecting local people.
Something new for 2016 is travelling book shop ‘How Brave is The Wren’ which stocks beautifully crafted illustrated stories and picture books for the young and young at heart. The Wren’s bespoke caravan shop will be pitching up on Bearwood Road ready to inspire young minds. Indoors the crafts on offer range from jewellery to crochet from some of our favourite makers and even a kids’ corner where talented youngsters will be selling their handmade products (our kids have been badgering us for years to make this happen!)
The Bearwood Crafty Pantry Food Festival takes place in and around Bearwood Road and Bearwood Baptist Church Hall, Rawlings Road, B66 4HA, from 11.00am until 4pm on Saturday 17th September 2016.
We’ll update this site with more info as the big day approaches.
I wanted to share some thoughts on stall design and display for anyone doing a craft fair this Christmas. It can be the difference between good sales and no sales, drawing customers in and encouraging them to spend money, or ensuring they walk swiftly on by.
Over the years I’ve championed handmade like crazy, pointing out the love and care, craftsmanship and time that goes into each product. But to be honest, I was so busy pointing out the differences that I sort of forgot that for many buyers there is no difference. Of course, some actively seek out handmade and the chance to buy something unique, but many just see a craft fair as another shopping opportunity.
And so, you need to give your customers something they’re used to. Slick or edgy, retro or contemporary, whatever style you adopt, you need to try and recreate a good shopping experience. Just like the shops! But on a table, or in a booth! We’re not talking pound shops and supermarkets obviously. Think independent boutiques, department stores, cool chains. No easy feat, but it is achievable. You’re only working with a small space. And you are a creative, imaginative, artist, remember?
A good place to start is by doing your own research. Check out craft stalls on Pinterest or look for images on the web. Go to your favourite shops and work out the tricks they use. Visit some local craft fairs and see what others are doing.
Done that? Next up then. I don’t believe that throwing a cloth at a table and dumping your products down is ever going to make you great sales and I’m sure you don’t either. But it can be really hard to come up with a stunning display that will work for you and your products, draw customers in and entice them to buy. You probably won’t achieve the perfect display first time no matter how much effort you put in, and it will be a thing that evolves and changes over time, like your product range probably.
This is my starting point. Always. Before I think about table cloths, props, lighting and signage. I want cohesion. I want to create a little world where my products can sit happily, like they’re at home! I want people to get a feeling for me and my collection of handmade pieces. No matter how small a business you are, even if you just make a few things to sell at a Christmas fair once a year, you can do this too.
So ask yourself these 3 simple questions:
One knitter is pretty much similar to another, in terms of what they offer. I know as artists we don’t want to think like that, but the same goes for many crafts….it’s the personality of the maker and product that singles them out. Your display should be brimming with that personality.
This is where you start to stand out from the crowd. You might use only recycled or sustainable materials, or expensive gemstones, you might aim to make your products cheaply so that they’re affordable to everyone or you might seek out the most hard to find materials for true uniqueness. Your values should shine through in your display, complimenting your products.
Know your market and what appeals to them. What message do you want to convey to those particular people? No point being too cool for school if you make traditional handbags for ladies who lunch. This is where looking at successful brands can help. You and your products are never going to appeal to everyone, but over time you’ll probably notice a ‘type’ of customer who goes crazy for what you make. You’d be crazy not to think about them when designing your display.
In answering these questions you should gain a bit of clarity, in terms of the ‘feel’ of your stand/booth/table and what you should be aiming for. The good thing is that this exercise will also work for the design and style of your website, blog, business cards, etc. So begin now and then you can get started on the look. If you’re the sort of person that writes lists, do that. If you’d rather create a mood board, or start pinning, go for it. Good luck!
The first fair is almost here. Yay! More info on all of the wonderful stallholders at this first fair on our Facebook event page. Can’t wait. Christmas starts here!Read More
You’ve decided to have a go at doing a craft fair. Awesome! You can have a lot of fun at craft fairs and there’s money to be made, whether you’re just trying to support your
addiction hobby or you want to earn a regular income from your artistic talents. BUT. Craft fairs can be hellish. Seriously.
First, you’ll spend weeks handcrafting a beautiful range of products, individually pricing everything with handmade labels, buying props and a new tablecloth for your stall. You’ll wake up at dawn on a Saturday morning, find your way to a chilly church hall, nervously set up, drink down a cup of coffee, before the doors open and….noone comes! You stand there all day as just a handful of people turn up for a mooch, you sell nothing, all the other stall holders spend the day moaning, and you eventually go home drained and despondent and down the cost of a stall, swearing never to do a craft fair again.
And this isn’t even the worst that can happen. You could end up at a great fair, well attended by people with money to spend and still not make any sales! A disaster for your purse and your self-esteem.
Want to make sure neither of the above scenarios happen to you? In this post, I want to share some of my tips for success at craft fairs with a list of things to consider before you even hand over any stall fees. And even if you have parted with your cash and have a few fairs already booked, there’s still some useful stuff here for you – especially if you’re a newbie.
First of all it’s worth thinking about your reasons for doing a fair. Is your goal chiefly to makes sales, or are you looking for feedback on products? Are you just hoping to use your first fair to gain experience or are you trying to make a name for yourself and keen to make lots of new contacts? Knowing your reasons for doing the fair will make choosing the right one a lot easier.
This is probably the most important piece of advice I can give. Do your research. Go on, make a database! Attend some potential events first. Are they busy? Are people buying? What sort of crafts are represented? Will you have lots of competition or is there a gap that you can fill? What is the standard like and do the prices compare to yours? You also need to think about how much a stall costs, the application process and the logistics. If you can’t get to a fair in advance ask as many people as you can for recommendations. Join social networks relating to craft fairs. Research is key. It will save you money and time in the long-run.
When you plan anything you need to think about logistics, right? Once you’ve found your perfect fair check your diary – do the dates fit in with your schedule? Make a note of the application deadline. Make sure you have time to make enough stock. Do the organisers require proof of insurance cover or a license? Will you need help on the day? Transport available? Is someone going to help you with setting up? Who will carry the heavy stuff? What happens when you need the toilet? What about the kids or the dog – do you have someone to mind them while you’re out all day? Remember pulling out or not turning up at the last minute will only give you a bad reputation. So check everything before you apply.
Sharing a stall can be great, You split the stall fee, you don’t need as much stock, you have someone to chat to throughout the day, help with setting up, you can cover each other at lunchtime or when you need the loo. I’d advise finding someone you get on well with. And ideally someone with a product range and style that compliments your own. This will make designing your stall display a lot easier.
Just like a job application, take this seriously. Not all fairs are juried, but however the fair is organised you need to read the instructions for applying and make sure you meet deadlines. Include photos if requested, descriptions of your work, and full contact details. Some organisers work on a first come basis, so it’s worth contacting them in advance to find out when they will be calling for submissions. For over-subscribed events or high-profile design lead fairs there will be a lot of competition. Spend time getting really great photos. Provide links to your website or facebook page. Explain why you’re keen on this particular fair. And please be nice. As an organiser of an over-subscribed fair, believe me, it makes a difference. Suggest you can help with promotion, say that you’ve attended previous fairs and give some positive feedback. And don’t miss the deadline!
What will you sell and at what price? It’s a good idea to have some lower priced items within your range. That way, someone who loves your work but isn’t able to spend on a pricier item might just buy a small token as a way of buying into your ‘brand’ and supporting you. Have you tested your products on family and friends? Be aware these people love you and they might not always be truthful. Try and garner honest opinions from people you trust before committing to expensive materials or tools. How much stock to take to a fair can be tricky. As a general rule I take three times the amount I expect to sell. Pricing is the hardest job for many craft sellers. I’ll post separately on that in the future.
It is really important to create a style, a mini world that represents you and your product. Think about your shopping experience. Where do you like to shop? Can you borrow anything from those environments? Lighting can play a big role. Try and get the feel right, matching your products to your display, be it modern, fresh, minimal, homely, warm or funky. Do you want people to touch your work? It might be an idea to place your most precious or delicate items at the back of your stall beyond the reach of sticky fingers! Or keep small, expensive items behind glass. Also consider whether you’ll be sitting or standing. You’ll need space for your stock book, cash, wrapping materials and extra stock. Can you make uses of wall space? The biggest tip I can give here though is, practise. Find out the measurements of the stall and practise setting up your display.
That’s all for now. Good luck!
It was lovely to see so many familiar faces and new ones at the Midland last night. I lost count of the number of people who came up and said “thank you so much for bringing the Tapestry back – I’ve really missed it!”
There were, as always, some amazing WIPs on the go, from Jo-ann’s beautifully delicate cross stitch
To Collette’s designs for a future mosaic house number
and Michelle’s detailled wire wrapped pendant, just waiting for a gemstone!
We introduced our neighbours to the concept of Craftivism, and some of the projects currently underway. #fortheloveof is a lovely simple project which sees fabric hearts embellished to demonstrate what it is you love, so you can literally wear your heart on your sleeve.
We talked to lots of people about their passions, and gave away lots of handouts to encourage people to look into what the craftivist collective do. If you want to find out more, check out their website.
Our next Tapestry is Monday 26th October – it will be here sooner than you think! Can’t wait!Read More
Have you applied for the Bearwood Handmade Christmas fairs yet? Thought it would be timely and useful to offer some advice for anyone applying for fairs and events at the moment. Whether it’s a smaller curated affair or high profile juried job, here are some of my top tips:
Hope these tips are of some use – good luck with all the fairs you apply for this year. And remember, the closing date for Bearwood Handmade is Friday 2nd October. Get that application in now!Read More
We received a lot of disappointed messages when we announced that we were ending the Bearwood Tapestry monthly meet-ups. So it’s with some excitement that we’re positively giddy to announce the Return of The Tap! And somewhat suitably our new home will be in The Midland, Bearwood’s newest (only?) entrant in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide 2016.
Come join us Crafty Muthas as we knit and natter, sew and socialise. Bring something you are working on or just come along and chat to others and get inspired by the creative folks in Bearwood over a pint.
When: Last Monday of the month (starting Mon 28th September) from 8pm
Where: The Midland, 526-528 Bearwood Road, Smethwick, West Midlands, B66 4BE