So you took the plunge, applied for that craft fair and got accepted! What a buzz well done!!
Now the times nearing, the buzz is a distant memory fogged over by anxiety and you’re stuck in planning (and by planning, I mean Pinterest procrastination).
I’m not going to list off the physical things you’re going to need to make the event go smoothly as there are a ton of really useful resources on that already (check out the links at the end).
Instead I'm going to give you a congratulatory squeeze and a pep talk of sorts so as well as being physically ready, you're mentally ready to survive and most importantly ENJOY your first ever craft fair.
1. Start Small
Looking at how others do things is a great source of inspiration, as long as you resist the urge to compare your Version #1 with someone else’s Version #101.
Everyone has to start somewhere. I know it’s cliché but if you keep this in mind I promise you it will be easier to feel relaxed about the whole thing.
If this isn’t the first blog post you’ve ever read of craft fair tips then I’m sure you’ll know that tall displays, visible branding and prominent pricing amongst a multitude of other things are all a MUST…
Spoiler: THEY'RE NOT.
They are very helpful tools to make the experience easier for your customer and there’s no doubt that if you can do these things then it’s only going to be a good thing. But equally you DO NOT have to do ANY of these things and please don’t beat yourself up for not doing it ‘right’.
Here’s my first ever craft fair display (when I was trading under my own name rather than Today). I’m a minimal lover but looking back this is pretty basic even by my standards, but at the time I was real proud of it and IT WORKED FOR ME.
The honest truth is that if your products and personality resonate with people they aren’t gonna give a damn if your display isn’t all bells and whistles.
If you finish the fair thinking your stall was lacking something, put it on your list to improve for next time and look forward to getting to test out the difference.
2. Keep It Simple
This is my motto for literally everything in life, but it’s especially useful when preparing for your first craft fair.
You are going to have a lot on your mind in the run up between making sure you have enough stock made, making sure you have all options covered for payments, figuring out logistics of getting there, and a billion other things that are going to be going around your head as you lie in bed at night.
So I really recommend keeping things simple to make your life as easy as possible to begin with.
Don’t decide you need to launch a new range of products to take with you. You really don’t.
Don’t decide to design and make an all singing and dancing display if you already have a load of cool objects at home that would do the trick.
Be resourceful and try make your life as easy as possible so you only have 1 million things to do, not 1 million and 1.
I like to keep things simple by making sure I can carry everything I need by myself (at a struggle).
3. Be Yourself
Oh my god. You do you. Don’t worry about how you think you should act and just be your normal abnormal self. I’ve fallen into the trap of trying to come across professional in the past but my true inner weirdo always leaks out regardless.
People want to buy from people they like and who’re like them, and everyone can sniff out when someone’s not quite showing their true self for whatever reason.
If you love what you do (which you should otherwise why are you doing it?!) it will show when you get talking to people and they’ll feel how important it is to you. Don’t be afraid to show your passion and enthusiasm!
Equally, you don’t have to be the biggest personality in the room to find your people. If you think you’d feel more able to be yourself with someone there to help you out and for you to bounce off, do it!
4. Be Prepared
Sometimes things don’t go the way you hoped they would and it's good to be prepared for that.
Maybe you forget something (me), you have card reader problems (me), you don’t make enough sales to cover the application cost (me), you break down on route and almost miss the fair completely (me).
Just like you have a million things to remember, there are a million things that can (and will) go wrong. But the people you’ll meet and the experiences you’ll have will far outweigh the negatives.
So if something annoying happens, don’t dwell on it and keep going!
One day it will be a funny anecdote to look back on fondly, not the life shaking disaster it feels like at the time.
5. Enjoy It
Would it even be a blog post of tips if I didn’t finish with this?
All your efforts to get yourself to your first ever craft fair where you will be selling your products with pride in person to real life people who believe in what you do... Enjoy it!
Be proud of yourself.
Be open to the experience of the day whatever happens.
Be thankful to every single person who showed interest in your wares, even if they only took a second glance.
Go into the day with only the expectation to enjoy a new experience and anything above and beyond will be a bonus.
I absolutely love trading in person at fairs.
It's up there as my tied favourite thing I do in my business alongside hosting workshops and would you believe it it has been 3 years since my very first fair when I had all the fears and nerves you will have right now! (I know it's been three years because Awesome Merchandise asked me about my first craft fair experience at Northern Craft in this blog post if you fancy reading what words of wisdom I had then).
Thanks so much for reading! I hope you found this useful, now go forth and have an amazing time at your first craft fair!