6 ways to not die while selling at craft shows

A couple of shots from the Summer Craft Fair at Two Elephants in Chatsworth, CA.

I've been exploring the world of selling in person recently (recently meaning since last winter, but the 6-months in England sort of put the venture on hold). My set-up has been modest at best currently, but it's still been a joy to meet people who like my work and want it as a part of their lives. Not every in-person selling experience I've had since I started has been a billion percent positive, but there's always some learning to be done here.
Here are a few things about craft fairs I've learned since my 'debut' last September--

Say hello to everyone. EVERYONE.
I'm glad I learned this one early into my first show. You can go ahead and stare into your phone while at your table, but that isn't going to help much (and if you're in a short chair behind the table you'll just end up looking like you're mesmerized with your crotch--not attractive).
With the amount of stuff going on at most every craft show or con you're at, a little human opening goes a long way. I've had responses ranging from 'oh man, hey. this place is crazy!' to appearing relieved that they're not ignored at the venue (both often leading to sales).
If you happen to be situated near the bathroom, take that advice with caution. I recently learned that people don't necessarily like being addressed after taking a crap.

A few lighting fixtures helped with my outdoor night shows--just beware of beeeeeeeees.
Have something to do.
I didn't think this mattered until I went to a show empty-handed. Turns out, many people won't readily assume that you made all of the stuff on your display. Bringing your craft with you to work on goes a long way to get it across (provided of course, your craft is in any way portable).
If you're shy around people, your craft can be the opener.
"What are you working on?" is a great chance to talk a little bit about what exactly you sell.
"How long does this kinda thing take you?" is a chance to explain the labor and love behind your price tag.
In Long Beach, I was working on an Etsy order for someone in England. Letting someone know who the piece is for is really impressive to some people, and open up some good conversation about custom orders.
It's important to make sure to work on something that won't have you too deeply in concentration. Having your head down at your table might deter some customers who would have otherwise been attracted to a smile and eye contact. Lucky for me, I've knit so many things that I can do it while in conversation.

Print clearly.
Guy asks for business card. I pass him one, he squints. Lesson: PRINT BIGGER. Bless small batch production. If I had to print my business cards 250 at a time I would be massively screwed from the get go.

Signage. USE IT.
As much as I love answering questions, hearing someone ask what exactly my scrubbies are or what they're for 10+ times during a show can be exhausting. Especially if the question can be answered with a little sign next to the product.
I'm personally still working on letting someone know what the price of one of my knits is in just the right tone (something along the lines of 'take it or leave it' but...obviously less hostile). Having price tags help let that sale go on a little more smoothly.
Also it's probably a lot less daunting to people interested in your work! An absent pricetag might instill the expectation of an unaffordable product in the mind of your would-be customer. I'd argue that the feeling they can't afford it is still there even if you attempt to quell it with your spoken-word price.

For the love of all things holy, have a helper if you can.
I've been solo-ing all of my shows up until recently, thanks to the kindness of a friend. He helped me set-up and sort out my display. We tag-teamed bathroom breaks. He even reminded me to hydrate and eat before and during the show (something I almost always forget to do on show-days). I was also lucky enough to have him be a happy Bapsicrafts fan as well, so the extra little testimonial helped when informing passersby about my stuff! It's all a win-win-win to have a partner to help when possible. Just be sure to show your appreciation to your kind and caring volunteer.

I'm terrible for this. My expectation when preparing for shows is to forget at least one thing. And when it's food or water for myself, I breathe a sigh of relief because it's not my sign or knits.
Like, sure, you can probably do okay anyway if you're near food trucks with fantastic (and often pricey) meals at the ready. But the food can really be a repellant if you're eating at your table.
With better time management (read: throw the shit in your car the night before so forgetting it in the rush is impossible), you can save a bit of money and have one less reason to have to abandon your table.
Also, with sustenance, you won't die. Not dying surprisingly helps.

Got any tips and lessons of your own? Feel free to share them in the comments!

treasury tuesday -- autumn brown

Next to creating, I absolutely love sharing the beautiful things I see others make. Here are some picks from the nice stuff I've seen around Etsy and the rest of the internet.

The weather here in L.A. hasn't made up it's mind just yet about autumn, but we've been teased with cool (if dry) days lately. Very promising! In the meantime I've been dreaming of warm browns and the smell of earth.
  1. Hand Crocheted Linen Edging, Lace Trim -- beige  by namolio
  2. Stoneware Vase by Living Earth Ceramics
  3. The Park Sloper Senior - wallet & notebook by One Star Leather Goods
  4. The Condyle Pure Wool Wristwarmers in Warm Brown by Bapsicrafts
  5. Cedar Eucalyptus Aftershave. by Craftsman Soap Co.
If you see something beautiful around that you know I'll like, don't hesitate to drop me a comment and let me know.

I'm Alive!

Yes, I'm still alive! It's been a slow recovery, and my knitting been a bit slower but I'm still at it. I'm currently finishing up the last touches for my one-of-a-kind Condyle wristwarmers which will be available in the first week of November online. It's exciting to see these go from the shelf to needles and (soon) in the Etsy shop.
The domino socks for Jason are about 75% done as well too. I think they may be in his hands by Christmas!
I'll write again soon, it's been a real pleasure to read everyone's knitting blog posts this summer/fall and I'm excited to jump back into craft and shop blogging soon. :]

wip: domino socks, and oh, cubital tunnel syndrome!

So I've been bad. Remember that nagging wrist/elbow pain I've been complaining about lately? Turns out it's Cubital Tunnel Syndrome. My ulnar (read:funny bone) nerve has been compressed for so long that it's inflamed. I often can't feel my pinky and ring finger anymore, and sometimes it's meant dropping mugs full of tea from the numbness. GAH.
I can owe this to my fulltime jobs--my day job of digital painting, exacerbated by my 8+ hours a day spent knitting for the shop.
the moonstone/domino vanilla sock Ok, here's how I've been bad. I've been sneaking a few rows in anyway. I know I shouldn't, but I guess the painkillers have made me a little bit brave(You warned me, Michelle, but it's so tempting!). And thanks to that, (my elbow is cursing me) this little sock has grown, just a little bit more. It really can't be that bad anyway, right? Given the right posture, less pressure on my inner elbows and a looser grip it's can't be as bad as it was before. I'm going from 8+ hours to 30 minutes max(punctuated by breaks), that's got to count for something.

On the other hand, I've also been pretty good! Besides following through shop and concept design commitments (with my good friends Ibuprofen and frequent breaks), I've had to practice filling my day with things other than my businesses.

Part 1 of my July reading list, Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, was finally finished. I'm not gonna lie, that book fucked me up. Even from the get-go, when I realized I was going to care about Kath, Tommy and Ruth, I knew I was in for it. If you're down for being devastated, this is definitely the book for you.
What I'm getting through now is Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone. What is known so far is that there are some very complete and relatable female characters(at least for their time) to look forward to, as well as a juicy mystery plot. Beyond that I have no idea what I'm in for, which is exciting.

And tv shows! Hannibal S2 is compelling but often hard to watch, and Stargate SG-1 is UGGGH FANTASTIC. Some more marathons of friend-recommended shows are on the horizon as well. I just have to lock up my WIPs so I'm not tempted to 'make use of my hands' while watching.

Overall, I'm trying to feel pretty optimistic about this RSI. It definitely dispelled my dejection to have learned what I've got before it was any worse. Nerves take annoyingly long to heal, but I'm grateful to know that a behavioral recovery is within my currently weak, numb-pinkied grasp.

Linking up with Ginny's Yarn-Along.

treasury tuesday - birdwatching

Next to creating, I absolutely love sharing the beautiful things I see others make. Here are some picks from the nice stuff I've seen around Etsy and the rest of the internet.

The theme for today: Birds, anatomy, black, white, and gold.
Birdwatching was a favorite pastime when I was a child. I have a small collection of books filled with illustrations of all sorts of birds that you would find around North America. Even today, I have an affinity for the creatures and find inspiration in their anatomy for my sketches every day.
  1. Silk/Cotton Women scarf, Hand painted printed Wings and feathers  by Shovava
  2. Camera Strap dSLR / SLR - Seed Catalog by TheSweetStrap
  3. 4" Huge Raven Skull Belt Buckle White Bronze by Skeletos
  4. Leather Feather Necklace, Metallic Gold Feather Jewelry by LoveAtFirstBlush
  5. Latitude Longitude Sign by Threelittlebirds333
If you see something beautiful around that you know I'll like, don't hesitate to drop me a comment and let me know.
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