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Fair Tips From Vendors To Vendors

It’s officially craft fair season! With that comes tons of prep for the big day. It’s easy for craft fair vendors to put countless hours into the creative process and product preparation but fail to prep themselves in small ways that make the day go by smoothly.

Below, we’ve created a video with tips from some of our seasoned craft fair veterans on how you can set yourself up to have the best event experience possible.

(email blog subscribers, you must click through to view the video)

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

Show Tips From Our Jackalope Artisan Community

With holiday season prep underway, and shows upon shows all just around the corner, we thought it would be a great time to share some tips on how to make the best at any event.

And who better to hear tips from than artisans who have been in your shoes?  Our Jackalope community has a wide array of knowledge and show experience to be shared.  Here are some of the top tips for show day:

1) "Great advice given to me: "Sitters don't sell" I keep a high stool in my booth so I can get off my feet if there's a slow moment, but makes it easy to get up and talk to people." - Wendy Osmundson: Granola Mama's Handmade

The Vintage Grooming Company @ The Jackalope Denver Summer 2016 Fair

The Vintage Grooming Company @ The Jackalope Denver Summer 2016 Fair

2) "Really think about your display! Customers will be drawn into your booth when they can visualize how your product will look in their home. People will notice all of the hard work you put into your product!" - Laura Rodriguez, Beyond and Back Vintage

The Happy Pantry @ Jackalope Pasadena Fall 2015 Fair

The Happy Pantry @ Jackalope Pasadena Fall 2015 Fair

3) "Make sure to bring proper weights - there are great DIY videos on YouTube to make your own. Just the right gust or monsoon can be devastating but with weights... Sooo much less so. 😃 " - Heather DeSimone, Leetie Lovendale

Tumeric and Old Lace Healing Essentials @ Jackalope Denver Summer 2016

Tumeric and Old Lace Healing Essentials @ Jackalope Denver Summer 2016

4) "Smile big and welcome everyone the same way. Don't prequalify your customers. You never know which ones will buy and how much they will spend." - Jennifer Enck, Drinks and Crafts

5) "Bring your craft or something to work on during the show. Customers love to see the work that goes into the products they're shopping for. And you'd be surprised at how many people ask if you make the product!" - Ashley Rutstein, Apparently Ashley

6) "Do a practice set up of your booth ahead of the show. Makes the best use of your space, and saves so much time at setup." 
- Amy Godinez, SnickyB Handmade

7) "1. Do not eat at your booth, it looks unprofessional and people don't want to interrupt your meal so they keep walking. 2. No cell phones, again it's unprofessional and people feel you are too busy to engage with them. You aren't present when on your phone. 3. Don't sit, if you can, stay standing and available during the event. Be ready to engage with a vibe of positivity. 4. If applicable, have dog treats in your booth. We met so many cute furry friends and dog treats were very appreciated by owners and a great way to start a conversation. 5. Price your goods. People really liked our little price tags and table signs. Easy to read information is key" - Jamie Lynn, PrinEle Designs

8) "If you have the option, create a walk-up display vs a walk-in display. For example, vendors who use a table to showcase their products, like a single 6 or 8 foot table, move that table to the front of the booth and stand behind it. People are more likely to stop and browse the items on the table at the front of a booth than they are to walk in to a tent. There's a level of commitment in entering a canopy that not everyone is prepared to make, but taking a look at a table as one walks past or approaches, that's low pressure on the customer."  - Mark Brunner, HumanTreeRobot

Lutume @ Jackalope Pasadena Fall 2015 Fair

Lutume @ Jackalope Pasadena Fall 2015 Fair

9) "It can really be worth it to leave your stuff out, and not start packing up until the show is officially over. Some of my biggest sales have happened at the last minute." - Jennifer Wedgle, WillowSwitch Designs

Laura Ann's Jams @ Jackalope Pasadena Fall 2015

Laura Ann's Jams @ Jackalope Pasadena Fall 2015

10) "Keep energy high! Remember good healthy snacks & water. It will keep your mind clear and a smile on your face. A beautiful booth wont help if you are crabby or sluggish.

Also, CARDS. I can't tell you how many booths I go to that dont have biz cards. You might not close a sale that day but with your card and a good memory of you, they may order online or pass it onto a friend later!" - Laura Ann Masura, Laura Ann's Jams

11) "I have a checklist of essentials that I keep and print it off before each show. It has saved my butt many times. I also keep an "emergency" backpack full of supplies - from paper clips to pens to a hammer and screwdriver." - Cari Ann: Wuve

12) "Utilize vertical space.  Using varying heights is more interesting to the eye and makes it easier to scan your products.  Also try raising your tables up by placing them on bed risers.  This makes it so customers don't have to lean over uncomfortably to shop." - Carmen McNiel Voelpel: Jewelry by McV

13)  "I found it really helpful to have pieces at a lot of different price points.  Sometimes there will be a customer who really likes your work but doesn't have a huge budget.  Likewise, if you have all lower priced items, you're going to have to sell so much more to profit." - Laura Jones Martinez: Line & Dot by Laura Jones Martinez

14) "Be thoughtful of your shoppers and offer small or medium paper bags with handles for their purchases from your booth. Put your name and logo on the bag and it's free advertising as well!" - Rondo Mieczkowski: Coldwater Canyon Provisions

15) "Be kind and courteous to your fellow artists attending the show with you and the organizers, everyone is there at the same place for the same reason, to share our passion with the world!  When you remember that, everything runs smoothly and you will have a good show!" - Jenilyn Bailard: The Painted Ladies

Dotting the I's and Crossing those T's when it comes to Selling at a Craft Fair Legally

Craft Fairs are a blast, a great way to reach a wider demographic and network network network. However, the not so much fun side is making sure everything is legal. Dotting all the I's and crossing those T's when it comes to your licensing, taxes, permits, and insurance needed and required for selling to the public.

1. Licensing: You must register your business as a sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation etc. in order to sell your products to the public legally. This process will provide you with your Employer Identification Number, or EIN, which you will need to file tax returns. The U.S Small Business Administration website is a great resource for more specific information.

2. Taxes: In addition to federal taxes, in most states you will have to file your state taxes as well, which can be done by getting a state sales tax license using your EIN. Some cities have county or municipal sales taxes or require a temporary sales license or permit (next step!) so make sure you know what is required! 

Before going into a show, make sure you know the proper sales tax to charge. To make it easier to sell, a lot of vendors round up to the nearest whole number and tack it onto their product price! Make sure you keep proper records of everything, any expenses, sales info etc. so that you can efficiently report and pay your taxes (typically you can do this monthly, quarterly or annually). 

3. Permits: In addition to the proper licensing, some areas may require a permit in order to sell in that local area or municipality. For instance in Pasadena, they require a Special Event permit. A lot of times the show promotor will provide you with this information. Especially if you are selling food you will most likely have additional permitting and health regulations to abide by. 

4. Insurance:  Although insurance is sometimes not required it is definitely recommended. Just as you would get car insurance or home insurance, it helps protect you and your products if something were to happen. At one of our Jackalope Phoenix events, we had terrible wind, right out of the movie Twister! Unfortunately even though all the tents were weighted, some did not hold and flipped over- either breaking themselves or breaking someone else's tent or products. In this instance, insurance can help you out! We recommend ACT Insurance who has a lot of experience insuring artisans and crafters and you can even do a short term policy.  Some fairs require that you list themselves under "additionally insured" so look out for that! 

As discussed each city and state is different when it comes to their licensing, permits and taxes required. When participating in Jackalope Art & Craft Fair we make sure that you are in the loop with what is required per show. Please visit our Vendor FAQ page for more specific information! 

It is very important that you conduct your business legally. Not only can you get in trouble, but the event can be shut down-which is not good for yourself, the promoter, and your fellow vendors.

Thank you to the following sources for putting this legal jargon into proper words: http://www.fairsandfestivals.net/articles/view/licensing-permits-and-taxes-for-festival-craft-show-and-art-fair-vendors/14504 AND https://www.sba.gov/

Product Photography 101

Our mission with the Jackalope Art & Craft fair is to create an event where the attendees can interact with you and your work and touch, try on, taste, smell etc.   However, outside of the fair setting, when you are being represented online by only a picture, quality product photographs are key to your success.  

polaroid

Whether selling online through sites like Etsy, Shop Envy or your own website or applying to sell at a craft fair or boutique, the product photos are often all that is seen and can make or break that sale or acceptance.  Most of us aren't professional photographers but with a little help, you can become your own awesome product photographer!

The most important part of product photography is to TELL A STORY of not only the item being photographed but the story of your shop as a whole.  Develop a photo styling back pallet with similar background and styling in each photo so the brand feels cohesive.

KEEP PERSPECTIVE when you have products of various sizes by either emphasizing the size via a close up shot or showing multiple perspectives of each item.

Each image in a product listing should show a different facet of the product.  Your can photograph VARIATIONS of the product in color and style & in USE!

There is a wealth of information on the web about how to take great product photos, even with just a smartphone!  Check out these posts from Etsy and Handmadeology:

Make sure you take a lot of photos and then edit & curate them down to tell the best story.  Always put the best one first as the thumbnail!   We are excited to see your product photos when you apply for Jackalope Art & Craft Fair!