Wednesday, October 20, 2010

To Be or Not To Be...That's Easy!

So here is my latest, a Breast Cancer Awareness Charm Bracelet. At first I wasn't going to make it because I didn't want to take advantage of the situation to make a profit. Then I thought, I friggin nuts!!! I have an opportunity to raise awareness AND raise money to donate. I would be crazy and selfish NOT to do this. Yesterday I made my first one and am very pleased with the results and I am completely gratified that I am doing something to fight breast cancer.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tips for a Successful Craft Booth Display, from a Buyer’s Perspective.

     Although I am a seller, I am a consumer of handcrafted items as well so I can tell you what I look for when I’m out shopping the fairs and also what I steer clear of.

     First things first, let’s stop referring to it as a craft booth, and start calling it a ‘boutique’ or ‘shop’. Ahhhh, now, don’t you feel better already? Good, let’s continue. The truth is anyone and everyone can have a craft booth but it takes effort and creativity to have a boutique or shop. There’s a lot of time and energy that goes into a good display of your wares, and believe me, your customers will notice. After all, don’t you notice a really good looking shop at a fair? Don’t you think to yourself, wow, this person is successful and confident about what they are selling? Me too.

     One other thing I want to point out aside from the list is to create your shop to reflect who you are and what you like. The minute you start thinking about what other people will think, or if they will approve or disapprove, is the minute you start to stifle your creativity. The more you tailor your space to your liking, the more confident you will be in it! The more confident you feel, the more confident you look; the more confident you look, the more approachable you seem; the more approachable you seem, the more customers will want to come in and browse. How many times have you been teetering on the decision to buy something and then made up your mind to buy it because the seller is super nice? I know I have, on plenty of occasions. So, the point here is to own your space and love it. Own it! After all, you are the one that has to manage it all day. HA!

     So here is a short list of tips to help you get your shop looking fabulous. I’ve used my experience from both sides of the table to compile some do’s and don’ts that will hopefully steer you in the right direction, if you are in fact going the wrong way, lol!

1. Look like you care.
     Don’t show up with your baseball cap, poncho pullover, and sidelines lounge chair (complete with dual cup holder). That is tacky with a capital T, seriously. I can understand the poncho pullover if you are doing an outside show but you can get my drift about the chair that only allows you to sit head level with your tables. If this is how you run your business in public I don’t even want to imagine the lack of effort that actually goes into your product. You don’t want to send this message. You don’t have to pull out your Sunday best but at least knock the dust off your good shoes, style your hair (if applicable), and invest in a bar stool.

2. Add some depth and character.
     Give height to your table. This gives dimension by adding layers. I don’t know how many booths I pass up because their jewelry or goods are laying down flush with the table. ZZzzZZZzzz!! Give your booth personality and make it different than the average craft booth. You want to think ‘eye level’ when you are giving height. Not everything has to be eye level but a few things should be if possible. This not only makes things visible to your customers but also “fills out” the space. This is as easy as looking around your house for things to borrow for your booth for the day. You don’t have to spend ridiculous amounts of money on new things. You can if you want, that rocks, but most people gearing up for a show want to make money and spend as little as possible. To give you an example of using things from around the house; in my booth I use an old fireplace screen (perfect for hanging things!) and a small bookshelf with three cubes that I normally use in my craft room. I bought a cute little display shelf at an antique show for $3 and an old window shudder for $5. Voila! My shop has “walls”! You can also use things like crates turned on their side or even turned all the way upside down. If the box is ugly, cover it with something. Start keeping your eye open for things that you can use to give your shop height and depth, this is a must. Be careful not to overload on layers of dimension though, this can cause your shop to look chaotic.

     Set a tone. And once you’ve set that tone, tie everything into it. Setting a tone should not be confused with setting a theme. Setting a tone gives a feeling whereas setting a theme gives an experience. Make sense? How many times have you gone into a shop and felt warm and cozy? I also want you to think about how many times you’ve gone into a shop and felt gross and unwelcome. So the question to ask yourself is what you want your customers to feel like when they enter your boutique or shop. Do you want them to feel like they are buying from some fly by night operation or do you want them to feel like they have just entered an extension of your home? Or maybe if you are selling business supplies you want to make them confident in your products so you can display signs like, “So&So Business, Helping You Get Your Job Done for ___ Years”. Jewelry is easy because you can set whatever tone you want. Light a non-perfumy candle, bring some small accent table lamps, lay down a rug; whatever you choose to do, be creative and use your imagination.

     One other thing worth mentioning is the necessity of a table skirt, because really? I don’t want to see the boxes your shop came in. You can get a cheap plastic one from Party City for like $7 in a variety of colors…for the meantime. But if you plan on doing shows for a while, you might want to invest in a really nice cloth table skirt made out of drape material. I’m sure you can commission someone on Etsy or ArtFire to make one for you, or there’s always e-bay. The point? Get a table skirt, no excuses.

3. Don’t be THAT guy…
     …who hounds customers or isn’t anywhere around. Believe it or not, you are a part of your display! If you are popping out every time I even glance at something to tell me all about it, I’m gone. If I want to know, I’ll ask, K? On the flip side of that, don’t be scarce. There’s nothing worse than wanting to ask something and can’t find the artist or seller. I guess…just be available. I’ve found that I like when I can go into a shop and browse without being watched (that’s creepy), if I’m still there after a few minutes I like to be reassured that there is someone there to answer any questions. A simple, “I’m right here if you have any questions” will do just fine. And then I like to be left alone again. I don’t need to be reassured again.
Another pet peeve of mine worth mentioning is sellers who will work on something like rearrange or straighten a display right next to where I’m shopping. Unless something has fallen, I’m sure it can wait.

4. Don’t use ploys!
     Customers can usually see right through the bullshit. At least I can. Nothing will send a customer running in the opposite direction faster than if they think they are being taken advantage of, believe me. Be honest with your marketing and your customers and you will never go wrong. The minute you start selling your products to people who don’t really want them, the less rewarding it is as an artisan, and you can take that to the bank! If people want to buy your wares, they will buy them. If you are offering a drawing to win something in your shop, that’s rad! Offering giveaways and drawings unrelated to your products just to get traffic is, well, crap.

5. Use Signs and Pricing
     Make sure everything is marked clearly with a price tag and a description if needed. If you are not going to take the time to price it, I’m not going to take the time to ask. If you have things that cost different prices, you need to mark everything individually. Don’t make me read a chart, or do some crazy color coding match-up game. If something is $14.99 make a darn tag for it, really! I don’t want to feel obligated to buy something by asking how much it is. If you are a seller who does this on purpose, shame on you (and read Tip 4 again).

     You can use signs to create price groups! People love to have choices while shopping. I will make a b-line to a “Clearance” or “50% off” sign. If you have several items under $10, put them in a group and label it, “Items under $10”. If everything in your shop is under $20, display that in a sign somewhere. Do you take credit or debit? You’d better be posting that somewhere, preferably somewhere close to the “entrance” and somewhere else on your back table.

     Signs give people choices, but too many signs can make a person feel bombarded with advertising, which customers also hate. I’d say one 6’ table should have 2-3 signs max! Anything more and your customer will wonder which way they are supposed to look, get overwhelmed, and go for a quieter shop.

I hope these tips have helped you in some way. I just thought I’d share my experiences as a seller, but mostly as a buyer at craft shows to help you be successful as you take your show on the road. Please add any comments or additional tips.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Craft Table? No no...Boutique!

 So I am getting ready for Bazaar and Fair season. My first show isn’t until November 6th so I have plenty of time to get everything set up but probably not enough time to make everything I want, as usual. I’ve turned my spare bedroom (notice box spring >.<) into my craft booth, which this year I am calling my "boutique". When I set it up before the show, I'm not scrambling to make everything look good because I already know how it's going to look! It's also very inspiring to walk into a room and see your shop all laid out on display.

 I can already tell my biggest obstacle is to not put too many knickknacks on my tables. I love using cute little things to show off my jewelry but for one it starts to look cluttered, two the customers have trouble deciphering what’s for sale and what’s not, and three…damn it, I knew there was a third point…oh well.

I’m using an old fireplace screen to give my boutique height. I can display my earrings here easily and use hooks if I want to display or hang a necklace. I need to spray paint the top and give it some personality because gold is just not my thang, especially 1980’s gold chrome…bleh! But it’s totally awesome that I get to upcycle it AND it looks great with seasonal decorations draped along the top.

To match the height of the fireplace screen, I’m using a cubby style shelf. Here I will be able to “showcase” my favorite or Sale items. I plan on making each cubby a different color scheme. I can use colored scrapbook sheets to serve as the back wall of these cubby holes. Hopefully this will be just enough ‘pop’ at eye level to get some second glances. This is just the beginning...

kung-fu grip

Meanwhile I am also trying to come up with better ways of showing off my bracelets but ti is incredibly difficult to stick my arm into a box with a narrow(er) opening and get my arm at just the right angle whilst taking a picture using a stack of 2x4s as a tripod. This one turned out ok and I can crop but still...meh. What's with the kung-fu grip?