Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Craft Fair Extraordinaire Feature Interview #14 (Sarita Baby)

Since I love sewing for babies SO much, this seamstress is right up my alley! Sarita Baby creates some of the cutest items for babies, like bibs, quilts, toy tethers, binky clips, and much much more. She uses mostly designer fabrics, which is such a good idea - the prints are recognizable to even those who do not sew themselves. The quality of these nicer fabrics also is great, since the materials hold up after many many washings! Perfect for an item like a bib which you will be washing A LOT!! Sarita Baby uses quite a nice and colorful display. She hangs some items, while folding others in cute baskets with signs on them stating the price and name of the items. Since her prices are very reasonable, this is a great and welcoming idea!

Please read on to learn more about Sarita Baby...

1) Sarah Gaylor/Sarita Baby, I live 30 minutes outside of Toronto, www.saritababy.etsy.com
Flickr Page Here.
See her Facebook Page Here.
Don't miss her items at The Cuddly Bunny Here! She has been a busy lady :) This setup is astonishing! I can't get over it...What an honor!

2) I make modern funky baby accessories out of designer fabrics. The line includes: Bibs, toy tethers, pinafore dresses, quilts, pacifier clips and more.

3) My 1st show was the Heart of Country Craft Show, it was a 3 day event and very successful. I have done some shows that had a very poor turnout which can be hard.

4) My favorite show to date was the Better Baby Expo in Peterborough. There was a lot of people and a lot of advertising done for the show.

5) My least favorite was a show in Lindsat that was at a lodge. (it shall remain nameless) There were no signs, advertising people at the show!!

6) My target audience is young modern moms who are not interested in the disney/cutesy animal baby products. My best sellers would be my bibs and my pinafore dresses.

7) I always put an ad on Kijiji for the city I will be doing a show in (it's free) I put the event of my Facebook page, and my blog. I hand out a lot of business cards at every show and make sure to check out my fan page which is on the card.

8) I am in the process of organizing my first show with another local Mompreneur, Crazy Baby. We are deciding on the venue, advertising, dates. It is a lot of work.

9) Facebook has brought me a lot of business just from my fan page a lone! I lets people see what you are up to and new products. Etsy was where it all started though, I love that website! Flikcr is a great place to put your photos on and people from all over the world can see them, it's amazing.

10) Difference between Art and Craft Show? When I think of an art show I think of painted pictures, sculptures and things of that nature. When I think of a Craft Fair I picture anything and everything handmade.

11) My upcoming shows are: The Kid2Kid Sale this weekend Sunday March 28th in Peterborough, Ont at The Evinrude Centre,
from 10-2, Saturday May 15th ath the Ajax Convention Centre, Ont for the Mom2Mom Sale, The Heart of Country Craft Show in Oshawa, Ont. October 22-24 at the GM Centre, and last The Christmas Craft Show in Oshawa, Ont. Nov 28th at Kinsway College. I am always looking to book more though :)

12) I think the best advice would be is to make it a shopper friendly as possible and show how your item would be used. I am selling Sophie Leashes/Toy tethers and I have them displayed with one around Sophie the giraffe and one around a sippy cup. I sold out at my last show! Display some things at eye level, and at different layers. I am forever tinkering with my display.

13) My advice for doing shows is to have fun and make as many contacts as possible. It will show in future sales.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Craft Fair Extraordinaire Feature Interview #13 (Good Girls Studio)

Today, we will learn a bit more about Johanna Ely from Good Girls Studio! I am pleased to hear that she participates in quite a lot of trunk shows and other fun, fashion-related events. I love the photos from this show: Good Girls Studio @ Durham Art Walk. The table covers are a cute addition too! It is great how the table display tends to always have 2 layers/levels to it. This wonderful artist really considers putting her work into a magical little environment of its own, perfect for a shopper to get lost in!! The vintage jewels, and also the vintage looking displays mesh perfectly together!!! Here is her fun interview:

1.) Please tell us a bit about yourself:
Name/Company Name: Johanna Ely/ Good Girls Studio
General Location if you want: Raleigh NC
Website or Contact Info:http://goodgirlsstudio.com
Her Etsy Page.

2.) What form of art/craft do you make? I am an eco-friendly jewelry designer & I revamp vintage jewelry & found objects into modern one of a kind wearable art.

3.) When did you start vending at Craft Fairs? Were you successful at first? I've been at it for 3 yrs now. My first 2 markets I barely covered my booth fee!

4.) What is/was your favorite Art/Craft Fair you have ever attended/vended at and why?I love selling at the Rock & Shop markets in Raleigh. Beer, bands & shopping...what more could a girl want!/!

5.) What was your least favorite Fair to attend/vend at? Why? Don't really have a least favorite but I do NOT like outdoor fairs. Your best bet for rain or 100 degree heat would be if I was working a tent ...always!!! Not even kidding! I've stopped working outdoor festivals!

This plate display is genius!!

6.) Who tends to be your target audience? What tends to be your best selling item(s)? 24-40 yrs. who are vintage hoarders or fashionistas. My best selling items are my Backstabber Collection which feature vintage pocketknives & hearts. There story line is "we were best of friends until you told everyone my secrets " !

7.) Do you ever do marketing for your upcoming shows, or do you leave it to the Show Coordinators? If you do promotions, how do you do them, and do they seem to work well? Do you ever do giveaways at shows? Give out lots of business cards, etc...
I promote any & all events I attend through Facebook, twitter & my blog. The last show I did was a fashion show /fundraiser & I met quite a few FB fans that I hadn't met in person! Never thought of having a giveaway at a show, something to ponder!

8.) Have you ever helped put a show together or run a show? Which one(s)? Not yet (aside from hosting my own home or store trunk shows) but it is a goal of mine for this year!

9.) How have Flickr, Etsy, Facebook, etc helped you expand your crafty business? I've met & made soo many great connections via Etsy & FB. The support of fellow artists means the world to me! It's great to be able to bounce ideas off like minded craftistas!

10.) What do you think the difference is between an Art Show and a Craft Fair? If there is any difference...I personally feel that the major difference is the perception of the words art vs. craft & that gives the buyer a price point in their mind. I personally do terrible at any show labeled "craft" as I have a higher end jewelry line. Most people who go to those shows expect to purchase most items under $20 & my median $ amount is $56. That being said, you all know the saying "opinions are like..." ; ) Just my own 2 cents!

11.) If you wish, please list your upcoming shows for 2010 and beyond.
On the schedule thus far are 2 back to back fashionshows...
CouturEvolution April 16th (put on by the fashion dept. @ UNC) & Redress Raleigh April17th (an eco-friendly fashion show). I'll be selling at the Green Bazaar as part of planet earth day on the 17th as well.

12.) Any words of advice for people who do not think their setup is as good as it could be? What is your most successful layout for a table or booth. Be as general or specific as you want.
It's all what you make of it Let your personality shine. I love the use of vintage props with my jewelry as it compliments the aesthetics of my designs. Use what inspires you & if all else fails, a black tablecloth can be your best friend & let your work shine out & stand alone!

13.) Any closing remarks? Research, research ,research! Don't apply to just any 'ol market/fair. Do your HW first & find out a bit about it. How long have they been around, how do they promote? Get feedback from other vendors who have worked it before. It pays to do this rather than waste your time at an event that no one attends or showing up to an event that isn't for your target market.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Craft Fair Extraordinaire Feature Interview #12 (The Mouse Market)

Today I am featuring someone who has a really good attention for details!! I have no idea how in the world she makes things so small, but she can manipulate clay into looking like ti is fit to eat! She makes foods and pastries in 1/12 scale, which is the size needed to make your dollhouses really come to life! I know that recently on Etsy, many many people are now starting to collect these types of goodies! Dolls and Dollhouse miniatures are really starting to make a comeback in a big way.
Please read below to see how this creative mind thinks and learn more about her thoughts related to craft shows!

1) Mo Tipton/The Mouse Market
Columbia, MO (USA)

2) I create unique polymer clay food and floral jewelry and 1/12 scale dollhouse miniatures.

3) My first craft show was the Beaux Arts Bizarre in Columbia, MO, in November of 2009, and I was pleased with both my sales and customer feedback from that show. It was so much fun to interact with buyers face-to-face and hear about their polymer clay crafting experiences, dollhouse stories, etc.--things that I don't often hear from people buying through my Etsy shop.

4) So far, my favorite craft show was the Indie Craft Revolution in St. Louis, MO, hosted by the St. Louis Craft Mafia. They did such a great job of publicizing the event, so there was a steady stream of shoppers both days, and the mix of artists was phenomenal. It was really fun to be a part of such a talented group of people!

5) If I had to choose a least favorite, I would probably say the Beaux Arts Bizarre, mainly because it seemed that there would have been a much higher shopper turnout if they had arranged other activities, such as live music or a wine bar, and I don't feel that they used the space as well as they could have. I know that there were a handful of rather disappointed vendors who had hoped that a pre-holiday sale would have enjoyed a better turnout.

6) My food jewelry pieces seem to attract girls and women between the ages of 10 and 30, and the dollhouse miniatures appeal to collectors of all ages. As for my most popular pieces, I suppose my pretzel earrings and cupcake accessories have both been hot sellers, but the trends seem to change constantly, and the most popular item in my shop is rarely the same item at a show, and it varies from one week to the next.

7) I have always tried to promote my upcoming shows as much as possible by emailing everyone I know, blogging about it, putting up flyers, Twittering, etc., and while I'm at the show, I always give out plenty of business cards. If the show coordinators have put together a goodie bag, I also try to contribute something to that, and I've started giving out coupons for my Etsy shop to show customers.

8) I have not had the opportunity to put together a show yet.

9) Etsy has been a great way for me to get my work out there, although it has taken quite a bit of effort to make sure that my shop doesn't get lost in the sea of fantastic sellers, and I'm still figuring out new ways to promote my work. Listing new items regularly and Twittering about those items seems to draw a lot of visitors to my shop, and my Flickr galleries have turned out to be one of the best marketing tools available. My stats show a number of visitors coming either to my website or my Etsy shop from Flickr, so I always make a point to post new items in my galleries.

So far, I haven't taken the Facebook plunge, and I'll likely hold out as long as possible. I spend so much time online as it is, listing new items, uploading photos to Flickr, blogging, etc., which, while these things are important, they also represent time that I'm not making new pieces, and I can't imagine adding one more online thing that I have to attend to regularly. All the promotion in the world isn't going to help me if I don't have new pieces to sell, so I have to draw the line somewhere.

I have also experimented with paid advertising on blogs, and the cheaper ads available through Project Wonderful have generated a good amount of visits, but I'm not sure that I will be paying for more expensive ad space on popular blogs in the near future. While those ads have drawn a decent amount of visitors to my shop, it wasn't an overwhelming number, so I might be better off spending less money on a greater diversity of Project Wonderful ads.

10) It seems that many of the craft shows offer more reasonable booth fees, and their application process is a little less stringent than the art shows, which is not to say that they don't attract top quality artists, but they seem to be a little more flexible. I've certainly been discouraged to apply to a few art shows by their incredibly steep fees and the lengthy, overly specific application requirements, which, while I'm sure they have good reasons, sometimes seem a little silly (i.e. sending an application in a padded envelope with precise dimensions--is that really necessary?).

11) The most current listing of my upcoming shows can be found on my shop/shows page: themousemarket.com/shop-2/

12) I am constantly tweaking my booth set up, and I learn something new at every show. I think one of the main pieces of advice that could be applied to most types of wares is to make sure that your booth layout makes it easy to pick up items for a closer look (unless your stuff is super expensive, in which case that might not be a good idea!). My first booth layout looked cute, but it was a pain for shoppers to remove the jewelry from the displays, especially if one hand was already laden with bags, so I keep modifying the set up to ensure that everything looks neat and tidy, but people can easily grab stuff to hold earrings up to their face, to try on a bracelet, etc. (Which reminds of another tip for clothing or accessory artists: Bring a mirror!)

I also think that it's important is to have your prices neatly and clearly displayed. When I'm shopping, I sometimes don't like to ask how much something is for fear that if it's too high for my budget and I don't buy it, the artist will think that I don't feel their stuff is worth the price. In a similar vein, having neatly printed, eye-catching signs that give less talkative customers information about your items can be helpful. The number one question I get at shows is, "Do you actually make these?" and when people find out that everything is handmade, not only are they more impressed, but they're more apt to buy.

Don't assume that your customers know anything about your work. Try to think about your pieces as you might if you were seeing them for the first time, and enlist the help of friends if necessary. Come up with a list of questions you would want to know about your work (i.e. what is it made out of, is it machine washable, etc.), and consider turning the most important questions into signs without cluttering up your booth with every possible question and answer. That way, if a buyer is shy, they're still getting the most pertinent details in order to make an informed purchase. At the very least, you should be ready to answer those questions should someone ask.

Last but not least, a tip from my friend Lisa of satsumabug.etsy.com: Pay attention to traffic flow! One of the biggest challenges I face with my booth set up, which is one single banquet table, is how to direct shoppers to different parts of the table so that more people can browse my booth simultaneously. It's not possible to solve this problem 100%, but if all of your items that require more time to take in, such as highly detailed pieces, things that require trying on, or your mailing list sign up, are focused in one area, you might see curious shoppers giving up and moving on if they can't find any elbow room. It will take experimentation, but play around with different layouts, try setting up satellite tables or displays, anything that will give shoppers more spots to spread out and browse.

13) It seems obvious, but judging by the number of artists who don't do this, perhaps it's not: Smile and look friendly! Say "hello" to people as they wander past your booth. You'd be surprised how many shoppers will stop and browse simply because you're the first or only person who has greeted them.

Don't hide behind your booth with a book, or worse, with a bored scowl on your face. People who go to craft shows with the intention of spending money often do so because they have an interest in supporting artists, because they like to know where their purchases are coming from, because they want a personalized shopping experience that big box stores can't provide--you get the idea. It seems that people are more apt to buy from someone whom they feel a connection with, however small, and if they enjoy talking with you, they're likely to spend more per sale. Striking a balance between being friendly/available and pushy/overbearing is important, and it sometimes helps to bring a friend along to give you constructive pointers on your selling technique.

Making yourself available to your customers also means that you get to supply them with personalized answers to the questions previously mentioned, answers that help your customers see how much time and talent goes into each piece and gives them more reasons to buy from you! It also helps to have little stories about your various pieces, perhaps what inspired you to make the piece, any specific techniques that you use, for whom it might make a good gift, etc.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Craft Fair Extraordinaire Feature Interview #11 (Sweet Plum Vintage)

Today, after much waiting (which I am very sorry about!!!), I am proud to present Sweet Plum Vintage. It is fun to see her progression of her show setup through the images she graced me with! I love how colorful her items are, and I also love the great variation of goods that she offers.

Sweet Plum Vintage offers super cute, one of a kind jewelry like earrings, fancy necklaces, and the like, adorned and embellished with beautiful vintage buttons and reclaimed vintage pieces. These pieces are all statement pieces, and if you wore one to a party or to work, all the girls would have to comment how cute you look, and ask where you got your goodies!! My favorite item in her shop right now are the Lucky You Vintage Button Earrings, which are cute blue/periwinkle earrings with little mushrooms and lucky horseshoes on them!! I don't know where she finds such amazing vintage pieces, but she sure has an eye for details and color!!

Lucky for us, Cara would like to offer a 20% discount to blog readers in her shop! Anyone who mentions the Craft-Friendly Blog during their first purchase at SweetPlumVintage on Etsy will receive 20% Off their first purchase!! How great is that!Please make a comment in "Note to Seller". Hurry over to her shop!!

Here is her fun interview!!

1.) Please tell us a bit about yourself:
Name/Company Name: Sweet Plum Vintage
General Location if you want: Ann Arbor, MI
Website or Contact Info: www.sweetplumvintage.com
tel: 650.814.7796
email: sweetplumvintage@gmail.com

2.) What form of art/craft do you make?
Whimsical handcrafted vintage and antique button jewelry

3.) When did you start vending at Craft Fairs? Were you successful at first?
I first started selling at fairs in 2009 (only in the past year) and I would say that my sales have been hit or miss. I think a lot of it at first is making sure you have great branding, great presentation, and good price points and style that market to your target audience. I'm constantly designing new products and fairs are a great testing ground to see what speaks to people.

4.) What is/was your favorite Art/Craft Fair you have ever attended/vended at and why?
Thusfar, my favorite Fair was the Saratoga Art & Wine Festival in Saratoga, CA. It is one of the smaller ones that I have done, but it was in my previous hometown on our little Main Street, close to home and around people I love.

5.) What was your least favorite Fair to attend/vend at? Why?
I would also say the Saratoga Art & Wine Festival was also my least favorite, because it is such a small town, and it doesn't attract a wide audience. Also, the audience didn't really fit my target audience. It's really important that they are a match. I did the San Francisco Union Street Eco-Urban Festival which was a much better match, targeted at young, well-to-do urbanites with a passion for all things "green".

6.) Who tends to be your target audience? What tends to be your best selling item(s)?
I would say my target audience is women with a whimsical, playful sense of style between the ages of 25 and 60 who like to invest in one-of-a kind pieces. My best-selling items are my new "Bubble" Fabric Vintage Button Necklaces and my vintage button rings.

7.) Do you ever do marketing for your upcoming shows, or do you leave it to the Show Coordinators? If you do promotions, how do you do them, and do they seem to work well? Do you ever do giveaways at shows? Give out lots of business cards, etc...

You are your best marketer. I think it's really important to ask if there are opportunities with Show coordinators for marketing, but to rely on yourself to generate the major marketing campaign for the show. I usually do a give away at my shows whereby when you sign up to receive my monthly newsletter, you are entered to win a piece of jewelry. I also make postcards with my story on them, and the vision of my company, and of course hand out tons of business cards! I'm in the process of working with a great web design firm to create my new website and a new logo, and plan on printing new stickers, t-shirts, and other fun marketing materials.

My first few shows were done in conjunction with an eco-friendly company, FairTribe, who sell eco-friendly clothing and accessories that pairs well with my jewelry. It was mutually beneficial for both of us. This can be a great way to go, because as long as your target market is the same, your booth will likely attract more people (with more merchandise), and cost you a lot less (fees can be very expensive!).

8.) Have you ever helped put a show together or run a show? Which one(s)?
No, but I was thinking about doing one in my hometown of Ann Arbor and joining forces with some of the fabulous local jewelry artists and some local chocolatiers and wineries for a night of art, food, and wine.

9.) How have Flickr, Etsy, Facebook, etc helped you expand your crafty business?
I started with Etsy to see if I though I could really make a go of being a jewelry artist. Now that I am becoming more confident with my skills, and more aware of my target audience and where I want to go, I am working on creating a site separate from Etsy to distinguish myself a bit more. Etsy is wonderful in that it allows everyone to post all their creations, but it doesn't allow you to interact with your customers in all the ways you might want to as a professional artist. For example, there is no where to have a portfolio, to adequately market to potential wholesalers or retailers interested in consignment, and so on and so forth.

Flikr has been great as a way for me to show my portfolio to the web world and in particular to Flikr groups that focus on jewelry, buttons, and jewelry marketing and PR. In fact, I met the writer of this blog on Flikr and was asked to be featured! You can post pictures to your own Flikr account as well as to these groups for more directed advertising. It is also a nice way to quickly browse through other people's work and get inspired! It is very heavily populated though, so you really have to make sure you tag your items well, take great pictures, and join groups that would be interested in what you have to offer so that they will take the time to look at your art.

Facebook has been a great avenue to connect with Fans, get their opinion on new ideas, offer special sales and promote all facets of my business: workshops, recent press, interesting "behind the scenes" tidbits and pictures of work that has been put into various retail locations among other things.

10.) What do you think the difference is between an Art Show and a Craft Fair? If there is any difference...
I think there are many differences between the two. First of all, the type of work they are looking for: craft fairs tend to populate with artists with a "folksie", "down home" kind of feel, while Art shows are looking for work that is very refined. I'm wouldn't dare say that one is more "art" than the other, I just think they have a different feel to them. I also think they attract a different demographic. I would say that in general Art shows tend to attract an older, wealthier crowd than craft fairs, and I think it is because of the price point and the style.

Also as an artist, the application process is very different. Art Show jury members are looking for very "professional", uncluttered, clean photographs that center on the work of art itself. All of the photographs in the set you apply with should flow together. They expect to see a booth shot, without anyone it it, that clearly shows 3 sides of the tent and set-up you would have. From what I understand the booth should really highlight your work, and be clean to the eye.

I think the application process is different for craft fairs. Some people might say they are less competitive. In a certain way they are. I think they are interested in not only the work, but the context you put it in. It seems there is some more leniency on the background in photos, and booths can be a bit more eccentric and colorful.

11.) If you wish, please list your upcoming shows for 2010 and beyond. I have applied to many and am waiting to hear back! Cross your fingers!

12.) Any words of advice for people who do not think their setup is as good as it could be? What is your most successful layout for a table or booth. Be as general or specific as you want.
I would say, whatever you do, make sure it is the pieces at your booth that you are highlighting. You art should be the centerpiece, not the stuff around it, though done in the right way props and the like can be used to augment the story your art is telling.

I would also say it's nice to do something a bit different. For some reason the white and black velvet busts get really boring to me. I've seen countless booths with tons of these lined up with beaded jewelry on them, and I don't remember them. I like to see something a bit different. They now make really cool wood and linen busts in all kinds of natural tones which I personally love. I would invest in good lighting and good, clear, signage so that people can easily spot you out of a crowd of tables and will remember you. Don't expect yourself to have the perfect booth the first go around. I have plans for a completely different booth set up for the next time I am in a fair or a show.

13.) Any closing remarks?

The most important piece of wisdom that I got recently from my aunt, a professional photographer, was to remember that you are not your art. Remembering that I do many things in my life, not just my art, is really important, and that if someone rejects my art, they have not rejected me. When I remember this, it's easier for me to put my work out there, get advice and feedback (positive and negative) and improve. I hope for everyone out there trying to make a living from their art that have the courage and humbleness to keep putting there work out there-because it truly is a gift!