Useful Resources

* Arts & Business
* Arts & Business Scotland
* Business information & support (Scotland)
* Crafts Council (UK)
* Craft Scotland
* Creative Scotland
* Cultural Enterprise Office (UK)
* Folksy (UK Online marketplace for handmade, shop in £)
* Etsy (One of the biggest online marketplaces for handmade)
* DaWanda (European Online marketplace for handmade, shop in €)
* Information on Self Employment in the UK
* Prince's Trust
* Youth Business Scotland (start-up funding, advice & business mentoring)
* Scottish Enterprise

Help for newbies!

Are you a newbie crafter? Or rather, a crafter who's new to doing craft fairs? Well, fear not - help is at hand in the shape of the Indie Craft Fair Guide!

Following on from an article I spotted a while ago on the Etsy's blog (when it was still known as "The Storque"!), I decided to add a little from my own experiences in the hope that you won't make some of the mistakes I've made ;)

Why do you sell at craft shows vs. other selling venues?

Because I crave the direct link with my customers and it's so much easier to be passionate about what you do in person!

How do you decide what shows to do?

Usually I would visit it before making a decision, ask folks who have done it before and make sure it's something I definitely want to commit to. That way I know a) if my work will fit, b) if it's aiming at my target audience, and c) if it's likely to be worth the fee (e.g. is it well advertised/marketed).

What makes a show a "good show"?

That depends. Sometimes it's not all about the sales, as it can be a bit of a PR excercise - but do remember that this can lead to sales in the future. I also find that shows are an invaluable source of information - especially seasoned crafters who attend shows regularly, and often are nice enough to share a few tips! It's also a great way to get feedback on your products.

For juried shows, how do you know what photos to send?

I would research the kind of image that show wants to project and target my photos specifically. (Sometimes that does involve taking new photos.) It's worth getting help/advice from a professional photographer if you're not confident.

What preparations go into planning for selling at a craft show?

Deciding how much/what to make, what the stall layout will be like, designing signs, organising a price list & cash float, what wrapping/packaging I'll use on the day mailing or emailing contacts to let them know about the show in advance, planning how I'm gonna get my stuff there & back, making sure I have business cards to hand out...obviously making the crafted pieces is pretty important too! I also try to think carefully about what I wear when I'm doing a show, I like to dress up a bit and I think it helps to project a good image for my business.

Do you have a check-list of items to bring? if so, what is on it?

A cash float with change as well as notes, price list, stock (& spare stock!), business cards/flyers, table covering, display 'furniture' (eg wooden boxes, bowls and containers), order book, receipt book, any signs for my table, probably a bottle of water and a packed lunch 'just in case.' I also like to bring along some crafty WIP to keep my hands busy - but not too busy - like a simple piece of knitting.

How much money do you bring for change? What do you keep your money in at shows?

I usually have between £50 and £30, but generally a reasonable amount (a few notes and a mixture of coins) in case people are paying with notes. I keep the float in one of those lockable metal cash boxes.

Do you accept credit cards? Why/why not?

I don't because I often do shows which I wouldn't have access to a power point for (I don't have a machine for taking cards anyhow!) and also because I'm not sure it would be worth my while with the handling fees.

do you accept cheques? Why/why not?

I do accept personal cheques as people don't always have the right amount of cash with them and there isn't always a cash machine near the venue.

What about charging tax?

I know in America sales tax is added on after and varies from state to state but over here in Scotland VAT (value added tax) is a fixed amount (currently 20%) and is usually worked into the price. So I don't really think about it, although I don't actually charge, as you only need register for VAT once your business earnings are over a certain amount per annum. Once you are over the threshold for VAT however you would need to register with HMRC.

If a crafter has a wide price range of items is it smart to bring them all? or stick to a certain price point? Why/why not?

In my experience, it really does pay to have a good range of prices and sizes of items. Some folks are put off by the higher-end pricing and having a few smaller, less expensive items near the front of the stall can make it more approachable.

Do you price each item or have a price list on hand?

I usually have a pre-prepared price list or a little sign for items all the same price. I've found it definitely helps to display the prices as many people will assume your stuff is really expensive and won't ask! Certain items I would individually price in any case.

Do personalized items sell at craft shows? (Do you ever take orders & then send the item to the customer afterwards?)

Some of my designs can be personalised and I like to give people the option to have their favourite combination of colours or whatever - because of this I generally take a shade card to every show. I have indeed taken custom orders at a show and sent the item to the customer after.

What do you use for a table cover? Sign?

I have used fabric tablecloths and paper tablecloths - both have their advantages! Fabric is probably my favourite though as it can look really good and even help to create a mood or theme. As for a sign, it's sometimes nothing more complicated than a piece of cardboard with a printed sign, but I think it does help. More recently, I had fun making some WildCat Designs bunting - it definitely looks cheery with the colourful felt.

how do you display your items?

I like to try different things each time but as a whole, it's important to draw people in with eye-catching items/displays and to vary the height as well. More than once I've stood back and decided something wasn't working then rearranged the display (which can add interest - people sometimes wander over to see what you're doing). Sometimes rearranging halfway through a show can refresh the look of your stall completely, so it can be worth doing. Having a few smaller, less expensive items near the front also seems to help encourage browsing.

Do you bring bags/packing supplies for customers?

My handy supply of carrier bags comes with me to my shows as I think it adds the professional touch when you wrap and present the item(s) nicely, as well as making the purchase a little bit more special for the customer.

How do you transport your items to & from the show?

By car - usually with a little help! Though now that I've passed my driving test, it should make things a little easier :)

Do you need a business license to do a craft show? What about a permit?

In Scotland, if you're self-employed, you're legally required to register with the Inland Revenue and I've found that some shows ask that you have public liability insurance as well. It's not a bad idea as it means you're covered in case anything happens and it's usually not too expensive, especially if you do several shows a year.

Any other advice/ideas?

One valuable piece of advice is to get a trusted friend or relative to help you out so that if you need to leave the stall (for example to go to the toilet, or dash out for a cup of coffee) you know it will be looked after!

It's also important to realise that some people simply won't appreciate the time & hard work which has gone into the production of your items and not to worry too much about what these people say.

...I guess some of the questions are more geared towards US crafters but I've answered them nonetheless!