Blog

Jackalope Arts blog - vendor tips, art & craft fair information and updates #jackalopeartfair

Tips For Your Small Business

We wanted to provide some insight on how to better build and grow your small business by sharing some of our favorite advise as well as some from our own Jackalope Vendor Community! Here are some tips we gathered:

“I’ve always been inspired by the quote “Success is never final and failure is never fatal. It’s the courage that counts.” (Rumored to be from Winston Churchill, perhaps) It’s the perfect example of the struggle business owners face as they put their passion into the forefront and strive for success, sometimes stumbling along the way.” - Sara Diederich with Jackalope Arts.

“Branding is important. It’s how people will pick you out of a line up and remember who you are. Make sure you have a consistent aesthetic when designing your brand and advertising.” - Dena with Fiber Relics

“Sometimes you may be underestimated, especially being a woman entrepreneur, but remain confident and strong. I always like to remember that I will prove my naysayers wrong!” - Melissa with Jackalope Arts

“Social media is your best friend!” - Chesa with Ramblin’ Woman Silver

 Ramblin’ Woman Silver at Jackalope Denver

Ramblin’ Woman Silver at Jackalope Denver

“It can be easy to fall into the trap of constantly working hard but don't neglect your wellness during your business adventure. Take time for yourself and reflect on your achievements and the things about your business that make you happy.”
- Holly with The Watercolor Naturalist

“Don't sweat the small stuff, you will make mistakes but that is all part of the process to make your business better. Also, you may never feel "ready" to launch your business or launch a new product or service but do it anyway. There will never be "the right time.” You will learn as you go!” - Kynsi with Kompass Apparel

“Be kind to yourself. Ask for help when you need it.” - Angela with Cute Laces

 Cute Laces at Jackalope Pasadena

Cute Laces at Jackalope Pasadena

“Remember that your business and products will never appeal to everyone… but that’s perfectly okay. Focus on daily self improvement in yourself, your business, and the quality of the products and services you provide. It’s okay to receive constructive criticism from others, but no matter what they say, never, ever, for any reason.. undervalue yourself, your work or your TIME. Understand that as artisans, our passion and dedication to our respective crafts are priceless and admirable.. and that your work and your time are worth something. As long as you’re creating the best products/services you can produce, seeking improvements, and researching your market thoroughly, the right customers and crowds will come.”
- Rachel with Atelier Emi

“Take time to decide what you're business is going to be. When I decided it was time to leave the commercial textile world, I took over a year to work on designs and product before I started selling. It's important to have a well thought out product. Also, decide how large you want your business to be. Are you interested in growing it to include wholesale business to stores, are you able to keep up with supply and demand if you choose this route? If you decide to do wholesale to retailers, research this. Make sure you understand how selling wholesale to retailers works. Or, do you want to do as I have done. I decided to keep my business a very small boutique size business where I do shows/fairs like Jackalope Indie Artisan Fair throughout the year and also have my product at several small boutiques around California on consignment. - Donnett with DishRagStudio

 Dishragstudio

Dishragstudio

“Spreadsheets will become your best friend, it is important to remain organized and notate everything. It makes staying on top of deadlines possible, especially as you grow and things expand.” - Melissa with Jackalope Arts

 Melissa Shipley and Sara Diederich, Founders of Jackalope Arts

Melissa Shipley and Sara Diederich, Founders of Jackalope Arts

“Like most folks all of this started as an on-the-side thing I was doing in addition to a well paying full-time job. Once I realized it was going well - money was coming in and it seemed to have potential - I started thinking about quitting the day job and going full time. However, the good thing I did was to sit down with a friend who is really good with numbers.

She had me come up with my true "monthly nut" - an honest accounting every regular bill I had: mortgage payment, power, groceries, gas, etc
Once I had that we looked at exactly how much I would have to sell in order just to make that "nut"  which was sobering. And then, almost more importantly, we also broke down exactly how much product I would have to make (not sell - just make) to meet that financial goal.

I realized that I needed to raise my prices.  I realized I needed to streamline how and what I made because it actually wasn't physically possible for me to single-handedly produce enough product (let alone sell it).  I realized I needed more sales avenues - online, wholesale etc.

It wasn't necessarily a "fun" series of realizations but it was incredibly valuable.”

- David with Cheltenham Road

 Cheltenham Road at Jackalope Summer Nights

Cheltenham Road at Jackalope Summer Nights

“Fake it until you make it. The thing that many people don’t realize is that you don’t have to be an expert in your field before you start your business. A lot of this stuff is learned and earned over years of actually doing it.” -Sara Diederich, Jackalope Arts

Find A Fair That Fits Your Vibe

As you start to dip your toes into events, you'll find that many cities have a sea of choices.  It's your job to weed through events and determine which ones are a good fit for you.  

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you evaluate potential events:

What's the event's target demographic?  Different events lend themselves to different audiences, so you want to make sure you find one that aligns with who you are as a brand. There is a distinction between Fine Arts, Arts & Crafts, and Flea Markets so what a show calls themselves can also be a good indicator. 

 Jackalope Pasadena

Jackalope Pasadena

What does the event's marketing look like?
You don't need to reach out to the event manager to answer this question.  It can be as easy as a quick google search of the event, can you see if and where the event has been featured.  Who is covering the event can be a big indicator on who is coming. After all, they should be marketing to their target demographic. 

What other types of artisans participate in the event?  Can you find an artisan roster from past events?  Or perhaps a quick scroll through the event's social media can show you photos. This will give you a good look into what people are shopping for when they come to these events and what is selling successfully. Look out for how they curate the event and make sure not one category is overly saturated. If you can visit the event in person first, that can help too! 

 Jackalope Denver

Jackalope Denver

What is the average price point for an artisan selling? We always recommend featuring a variety of price points to attract a wider demographic. However if the event has an average price point of $5 and your lowest priced piece is $250, well that may not be a good fit. 

Does the event have qualification parameters?   And do you fit into those parameters?  Is the show for handmade artisans only?  Is it juried?  Does anyone who pays a fee get in?  These are important things to consider before you send in an application.  It will also give you an idea of the quality of work that is expected. 

 No, not this kind of Jury! 

No, not this kind of Jury! 

How To Successfully Sell Custom Work

Customized products personalized for your customer can be a huge draw. However, they can also be hard to sell.  Here are some tips our Jackalope team has outlined to help you turn your custom work into sales.

Keep it simple

This might sound counterintuitive at first, but less custom options = less decisions to be made by the customer before ordering.  This can really help you retain interest for a larger base.  So many people can get overwhelmed with options, that they just give up entirely.  Don't let your products be so personalized, that your customer can't make a decision quickly and easily.

1*J0pExrYZmq_FFl0v3WTvtw.jpeg

Provide Examples

People are visual. If you offer different font or color options, show them.  That way people can see what the color will actually look like. Are you an illustrator with customizations of different subject matters? Show a range of subjects in your examples so potential buyers can know what to expect.

Take your custom options into consideration when setting up your online shop. Make it easy for people to navigate. You can provide drop down boxes, and try to think ahead of any mistakes someone may make when inputting their order.  Sometimes you need to be specific. It can also help to create a few different listings instead of one listing with a million options.

 The Navigator Handmade created a separate listing for each different jewelry piece and then it's customizable from there. 

The Navigator Handmade created a separate listing for each different jewelry piece and then it's customizable from there. 

Promote  

Make sure people are aware that they can customize a piece from you. A lot of times people are too shy to ask and because of this you may miss out on a possible opportunity. If you are doing a fair, make sure you have signage letting shoppers know that this is an option! When promoting use the word custom, personalized, or made to order in your product title, it also adds an element of exclusivity to your product. 

 Folding Hands Art at Jackalope Denver

Folding Hands Art at Jackalope Denver

Set Expectations 

Does going custom increase the price? Notate that. How do returns or exchanges work? Also make sure you outline your timeline.  How long will it take for someone to receive their purchase? Make sure you are communicating with your customer throughout the process.  Sending them an image or sketch of the product before it is finalized can help with any possible issues and makes them feel that they are being included in the process! 

 Peyote Coyote offers custom pet portrait necklaces and she clearly outlines her process: "This is a collaborative process— we begin with a sketch and will communicate with you throughout to ensure you are in love with your portrait. Please allow 4—6 weeks for delivery (holidays may require additional time). Need it faster? Send us a note with your order. We are happy to accommodate rush orders ♥️.

Peyote Coyote offers custom pet portrait necklaces and she clearly outlines her process: "This is a collaborative process— we begin with a sketch and will communicate with you throughout to ensure you are in love with your portrait. Please allow 4—6 weeks for delivery (holidays may require additional time). Need it faster? Send us a note with your order. We are happy to accommodate rush orders ♥️.

Going custom can be a lot of fun.  Just make sure it doesn't negatively impact your sales by making ordering too confusing or cumbersome. We hope these tips help to drive you forward in this new route. 

What Shoppers Should Expect From You

Surely you've heard the expression to treat your booth as a pop up brick and mortar when preparing and creating a successful booth display. If you haven't, we invite you to read The Perfect Booth Display up on our blog.  In a sea of booths, it is important to find a way to stand out.  

Your booth display is your first impression to shoppers. However, your impression doesn't stop building there.  Just as you would expect from walking into a retail store, shoppers expect certain behaviors and experiences.   You would not want to find trash laying around, or to not be greeted or offered help. For reference, we have put together a list of some common mistakes that can be made and things that you should keep in mind when selling at events. 

1. Keep your booth tidy.  As we mentioned above, it is not attractive to have trash or clutter while shoppers are trying to get a feel for your product. Your booth should reflect your brand in both how it looks and feels.  Make sure you take pride in your work. Have a cohesive display and signage, price tags marked, sufficient product on hand etc. 

Amanda, owner of Mindfulnest and Jackalope Pasadena juror notes; "For me, having a vision with a complete story, your shop will evolve, but your passion needs to tell a story, retail is sight, smell and sound. People remember experiences more than things."

 Great booth display by League of Crafty Canines at Jackalope Pasadena. 

Great booth display by League of Crafty Canines at Jackalope Pasadena. 

2. Acknowledge your customer.  No ones likes to be ignored. In fact, in a survey by Sunshine Artist, when asked if the artist talks to you, does that make you more likely to buy something?  83% answered that they like to be talked to...so speak up! It does not mean you have to be obsessive about it but be attentive and anticipate questions. 

Screen Shot 2018-08-13 at 1.51.07 PM.png

3. Put your phone down! it is not professional nor polite to be on your phone when someone is shopping at your booth. 

 Yes Cocktail Co serving up great customer service at Jackalope Summer Nights

Yes Cocktail Co serving up great customer service at Jackalope Summer Nights

4. Don't Whine. Having a horrible day, or did your significant other do something to really make you angry? Keep it to yourself.  Shoppers do not want to hear your complaining while shopping. Especially if you are having a bad sales day, do not let that affect your ability to sell your product. There is nothing worse than hearing someone complain how slow it is, while there are customers shopping your booth and being ignored. 

5. Have business cards.  This helps to build up your client base post show. It's also super helpful when someone likes your work but can't commit to purchasing it right away.  This way they have a way to get in touch with you and hopefully buy later. Or, if the purchase was a gift, the receiver should have a way of knowing who made their gift. Furthermore, make sure your contact information is correct and current.  Shoppers shouldn't go home to a website that isn't working if they want to browse your site at home.

 Sweets Indeed rocking it at Jackalope Pasadena

Sweets Indeed rocking it at Jackalope Pasadena

6. Take Credit Cards and have Change. In today's age, it is best to have a way to accept credit cards since many shoppers do not carry a lot of cash. On the other hand, If you have someone that wants to pay with cash, make sure you have change so you don't have to turn them away. 

7. Do not pack up early!!  This not only effects your ability to make sales but also your booth neighbors. Having you pack up early (even a half hour early) gives the impression that the fair is over and shoppers will begin to leave. Some of the best sales have happened with 5 minutes left. Target or Nordstroms don't close early, so why should you? 

We hope these tips help as you prepare for your next fair. And if you want to read more vendor tips we have more tips and tricks up on our blog!

Is Wholesale For You? What you Need to Know

Thinking about taking the plunge into wholesale but do not know where to start? We did some research and we hope what we found will help guide you to see if wholesale is a good fit for you.

To begin, let's establish what wholesale means. Wholesale is the selling of goods in large quantities to be retailed by others. One of the awesome benefits in doing wholesale is that you gain broader exposure than you would by just selling on your own. Does a storefront want to sell your soaps, or jewelry?  Just think of that extra foot traffic and exposure that will generate. It can also mean more consistent paychecks. If the store is a great fit, they will want to come back and reorder from you again and again.

 Jojo's Sriracha for sale at Period Six Studio in Golden, Colorado 

Jojo's Sriracha for sale at Period Six Studio in Golden, Colorado 

However, offering wholesale can take a lot of time and effort, so there are some things you should look into before taking the plunge. When you think of wholesale pricing, you think of producing more product and offering it at a lower price. Stores will want to buy your product at a lower cost then you would directly sell it to a consumer, because they also need to make a profit in return. Helen Rice, owner of “Willow; an artisan's boutique” in Littleton, Colorado offers the following piece of advice:

"The first and foremost issue artists should think about is pricing.  Depending on your product, there is a tricky balance between getting paid adequately for your time and materials, and calculating the potential retail price that the market will bear.  Most retailers will look to double their wholesale cost (or more if they are trying to cover their freight expense to get the product). If they feel the market in their area cannot support the calculated retail price, they will not take the chance.  If you are looking for that 'pricing' sweet spot, you might consider starting a little lower on your wholesale pricing, and pushing it up until you reach that optimum price point. You'll quickly know if you've pushed it too far. If your creation is too labor intensive, you might want to considers ways to reduce the labor without compromising the end result."

 Helen Rice, owner of "Willow, an artisans boutique" in Littleton Colorado

Helen Rice, owner of "Willow, an artisans boutique" in Littleton Colorado

To see if a lower price point is doable, you can start by making a list of all of your expenses. Some things you can look into to possibly cut costs in addition to reducing your labor, is to see if you can source better priced materials or decide if there is a different way you can be packaging your product to save time and energy.

When looking into pricing you will want to consider your minimum quantities. You will need to set a minimum opening order and then your minimum reorder when working with your buyers. Your minimum reorder is usually lower than your opening order.  Is there a certain amount you need to make in order to turn profit or for it to be worth your time? Also consider how your items will be displayed. How many pieces would you prefer to have on display at a given time to create an impression? Consider doing a mock setup to get an idea of a potential product display.

Once you have set your pricing, you will need to create a line sheet. This is a document that provides buyers all the information needed to make a purchase. You should include the name of your product, item number, wholesale price, maybe a suggested retail price, and any order minimums or size/color limitations. To go along with your line sheet, think about your product photography and product catalog. Clear product photos on a white background is industry standard. Your catalog can be more in depth then your line sheet with product descriptions. This is a great first impression on your products and your brand. See below for some line sheet examples.

Finally, you will want to establish policies. Take into account how these products will get to the store. Are you mailing them?  Who pays for shipping? Think about your turnaround time. You want to be reasonable but also respect your buyer. What happens if something breaks? Create policies to support your product and make sure they are clear on your line sheet. Ideally you want to create a lasting relationship to help make ordering, billing, and shipping an easy process with all involved parties.

Offering wholesale is a great way to increase revenue if done right and if all of this appeals to you, then wholesale could be for you! If you think you are there, start by reaching out to stores that you think appeal to your customer base. Remember, you want your potential buyer to be happy and to successfully sell your product, so make sure they are a fit for yourself and your brand.

Meet Pasadena Juror: Gloria Prins, Owner of Belle's Nest

IMG_3622 (1) 2.jpg

Q: Tell us a little about yourself & your background in the arts & crafts world: 
As a young girl, growing up in Los Angeles, I found influence in my family trips to Mexico. I have distinct memories of cobblestone streets lined with quaint shops of many flavors. My cross-cultural background blessed me with a tasteful fusion for crafts. From then on, handmade artisan work became my mission and my passion. 

Q: What / who is your biggest inspiration?
My father is a superhero. Manuel endured more than my naivety could handle at the time. He ventured from Mexico to America, with no knowledge of English, and eventually came to own his own body shop in Culver City. I thank him and my mom for supporting my decisions to conquer the risks that I took to get me to where I am today. 

Q: How did you get into your position in the arts & crafts world?
Roughly 25 years ago I owned a shop in Old Town Pasadena, before the resurgence, when it was primarily mom and pop. Dusk lasted about 9 years. After that I worked for my dad, raised three dorky boys, and opened my treasure, Belle’s Nest. 

belles_slider crop-INT.jpg

Q: Tell us about a few favorites of yours: 
Soozee Woods and Tracy Chamberlin from Ramona Paloma Tiles are an all time favorite. They are both an absolute joy to work with—their tiles reflect the warmth in their personalities.

Q: What do you love most about the handmade movement?
I love that social media and wonderful events, like Jackalope, allow a myriad of creatives to expose their work. For me, connecting with my customers is the best feeling ever. 

Q: What is the most important feature in an artist's application for you? 
I need to make sure that my vision stays on track.  Above all, I look for well made, original and unique creations. 

Q: What are you most looking forward to in being a part of the Jackalope Arts jury?  
It's such a pleasure to be part of something that helps the handmade community. It's gratifying in so many ways for me because I've had experience in all aspects of this process. 

 Q: Where can we find out more about you? 
You can visit me on Instagram and my brick and mortar shop in Sierra Madre, or you can visit me online as well.

Belle's Nest: 55 N Baldwin Ave, Sierra Madre, CA 91024
Web: https://bellesnest.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bellesnest/ 

belles_slider-south.jpg