Monday, September 20, 2010

(16) Fantastic Toys

Craft Fair Extraordinaire Feature Interview #16!

I am so impressed with this crafter. He has some absolutely stunning, stuffed creatures. He has such a whimsical aesthetic too. I was luck enough to get a bit of his time, and learn a lot about his work and how he prepares for shows, both indoor and out. Once you see this bright, colorful setup, you will probably be re-thinking your whole display! I know I am :)

1.) Please tell us a bit about yourself:
Name/Company Name:
Timothy Haugen/Fantastic Toys
General Location:
Website or Contact Info:
His Flickr Site.
2.) What form of art/craft do you make?
I'm a toymaker. I design kawaii inspired paper printable toys and soft toys.

3.) When did you start vending at Craft Fairs? Were you successful at first?
Craftstravaganza 2007 was my first show. It was one of my most successful shows to date.

4.) What is/was your favorite Art/Craft Fair you have ever attended/vended at and why?
My first craft fair I vended at was my favorite. My head was spinning from all the nice comments and gifts I received from other vendors. I couldn't sleep at all after the show. A representative from Etsy was there to film the event. I was filmed demonstrating a quick needle felting tutorial. The demo was later available on Etsy to watch which was really cool.

5.) What was your least favorite Fair to attend/vend at? Why?
My least favorite fairs are the ones where the feature the same artists year after year and none of them inspire me. If I can find one artist that I like, the fair was worth going to. The worst fair I vended at was the one I lost my tent to high winds. After that I decided no more outdoor shows. :(

6.) Who tends to be your target audience? What tends to be your best selling item(s)?
My best buyers are people who love and appreciate all things CUTE. Although after doing craft shows I found out that my toys appeal to a much broader demographic then I thought. Young children go bananas over my toys and grandparents often consider purchasing my soft toys as baby gifts.
Buyers have learned to spend less with the current economy. As a result I've developed a lot of items under $10.00. These items seem to sell better than the higher priced items.

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'm pretty bad about promoting my shows. In the past I've posted photos on flickr and mentioned it on my blog. I've never had a giveaway at my shows. I prefer to do those on my blog. I usually have a giveaway for the holiday season to promote my Christmas Collection. I've given away thousands of business cards at shows and surprisingly I don't get many sales because of it. For me online sales have always been better than local craft shows.

8.) Have you ever helped put a show together or run a show? Which one(s)?
I've thought about organizing a local plush show but I just don't have the time to put into it.

9.) How have Flickr, Etsy, Facebook, etc helped you expand your crafty business?
Without Etsy I'm positive I wouldn't have half of the sales I've made today. Etsy is truly the best thing ever to happen to crafters. Without it I wouldn't have collectors from around the world. Both Flickr and Etsy have been great to expose my work to a much broader audience then I ever expected. In the past year I have put a lot of focus on my blog. Blogs are great because they're easy to customize and add new info daily. I've added tutorials to my blog to gain exposure for crafting as well as my toys. I find Facebook and Twitter boring so I don't spend that much time there.

10.) What do you think the difference is between an Art Show and a Craft Fair? If there is any difference...
I think there is a big difference. I've participated at both and I prefer the Indie Craft Fairs. The buyers at those shows seem to get my work and appreciate it more. The art shows tend to focus on the fine arts: painting, pottery and photography. None of which I have any interest in. I find the artists at indie shows to be more creative. The work at those shows are usually more fun and whimsical.

11.) If you wish, please list your upcoming shows for 2010 and beyond.

Textile Center Holiday Show and Sale
November 1 - December 30
Textile Center, Minneapolis, MN

Peggy's Holiday Boutique
November 6-14
Roseville Skating Center, Roseville MN

HandmadeMN Market
Saturday November 20, 10 am - 6 pm
Ballentine VFW, Minneapolis, MN

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.
The best advice for setting up a booth is to go to a fair and look around at what others are doing and ask questions. I find that most artists are more than willing to give advice and help you out. I don't think any layout is specifically better than the other. I used to think the U shaped layout was the best but at the last show I did I went with a V layout. Because I wanted to display less I found the V layout showed off my work a little better. No two booths are the same and different layouts work better for different items. You wouldn't display pottery the same way you would paintings. Every artist displays and decorates their booth according to their personal preferences and personality. Your booth will not appeal to everyone that walks by. It really depends on weather or not they have the same aesthetic as you. Just be yourself.

No comments: