Often running a resilient macrame business as an artist in the UK requires multiple revenue streams with most UK artists managing online shops, running workshops and selling items at local craft fares. Being at the centre of a craft based business generateing income this way is a lot of fun but also creates opportunities to gain a wide range of clients and develops a great foundation for business growth and security.
But, are craft fairs hard to get into?
Are they worthwhile?
And how do you get started?
I often get asked for advice from artist who have set up their online shops and are doing quite well but are now looking to diversify their offer by starting up on the craft fair "scene". To answer these queries I decided to ask one of my fellow UK makers Tara Phipps, who has recently done her first craft fair, to offer her first hand insights, top tips and craft fair ideas...
Who is Tara?
I asked Tara to give a bit of information into her personal life, art and business. Heres what she had to say
"I have always been a very creative person, I look for new
crafts all the time and love learning new things. I found macrame whilst searching for my next craft project and I instantly feel in love , I’ve not been able to stop since!Macrame is such a beautifully simple yet complex craft. There are so many different knots and designs to explore it never gets old, which is why I love it.
Day to day...
I work full time and attend college part time so my time for macrame is very limited but it is important for me to keep my creative mind active. I create mainly at the weekends and during the evenings if I find the time. For me the great thing about this craft is being able to pick it up quickly, it is so easy to do once you’ve learnt the basic knots. You don’t need loads of different materials either which is great if you are lacking in space, all you need is some rope and a dowel and you can create something so beautiful!I’ve been doing this for just over a year now and I have only scratched the surface of what I can create from it! "
You can find more of Tara's work on her Etsy shop
After a year of mastering her craft and learning form her online store sales what sells and at what price, Tara decided to take the plunge and start investigating craft fairs. I asked her to complie advice for someone who hasn't a clue where to begin and that was straight to the point, non nonsense top information!
Over to Tara ...
Craft fair do's and don'ts
Macrame is such a beautiful craft to enjoy and there are endless design possibilities, it is very easy to end up with so many beautiful pieces that you have to start giving them to friends or family!
Or if like me you do end up with so many beautiful macramé wall hangings and plant hangers you might want to think about selling some at a craft fair. Below I have listed a few of my top tips of want to do, what not to do and things to remember to ensure your craft fair goes smoothly
DO find the right craft fair for you
There are so many craft fairs to choose from out there! For your first fair you might want to keep it local. The website I first used to find fairs is called Stall finder.
Once you decide on a stall you will need to apply, most small local fairs have a very low stall fee so it is affordable for first timers.
2. DO research stall ideas
You will want your stall to stand out and draw people in, be sure to research examples of stalls to see what works well. Then create yours and practice setting up at home first so you know how it will look on the day.
3. DON’T forget Public Liability Insurance
I know this sounds a little scary if you are just looking to do your first little craft fair but most fairs won’t accept you if you don't have insurance. It is not expensive at all and it will cover you incase something happens.
4. DO think about your signage and price tags
It is important to have a clear sign with your business name so customers can see it from a distance. You also need to ensure you have clear pricing, this can be a larger price sign if you have many items of the same price or you can make smaller price tags for each item if the price varies. Customers won’t want to ask how much something is will be put of buying if they have to ask.
5. DON’T forget to make an inventory
This is an important step as you will need to keep track of everything you’ve sold, this information will not only give you insight into how much you’ve made but also which items were the most popular. Whilst it is important to enjoy making the things you love, you don’t want to spend too much time making items that don't sell. For example I love creating large macrame wall hangings but unfortunately they do not sell half as well as the plant hangers.
6. DO think about investing in a card machine
It might seem daunting to spend money buying a card machine but they are more affordable than you might think, Izettle are extremely affordable and user friendly! It will set you back only £29 and customers are more likely to pay by card as less people carry cash around with them now. It is also contactless! You can also monitor your inventory very easily as you can add each item to the easy to use app.
If you decide to opt for cash only make sure you have a float as you will need lots of change!
7. DO give yourself plenty of time to set up
Get to the venue in good time and start setting up right away. Once I’ve set up my stall I always take a step back and view my stall from a distance as this is how your customers will initially see it. If you need to make any changes you can, don’t be afraid to have a look around at other stalls to see how they have set up as this might give you some new ideas.
8. DO talk to your fellow stallholders - and customers!
The craft community are super friendly! Everyone I’ve met are more than happy to chat and give pointers on how to improve your stall or selling technique. You can make some great contacts this way and find out about other fairs.
Once the fair gets going make sure you engage with your customers, be friendly, smile and make eye contact. A simple ‘hello how is your day’ is a perfect why to strike up a conversation. Hard selling at craft fairs does not work and it is more likely to scare customers away!
9. DON’T worry if you don't sell anything on your first fair!
I sold nothing at my first fair and I was initially very disappointed. However I did learn a lot and I met some great people who gave me fantastic advise! I started at a very small local fair and unfortunately these fairs don’t tend to have much footfall. Which is why step 1 on this list is very important. Starting small is the best way to test the waters, and then you can move on to bigger fairs with a larger footfall. Also fairs tend to become more lucrative around Christmas time as people want to buy something unique for their loved ones.
Make sure you hand out business cards to everyone that stops at your stall so they have the opportunity to have a look when they get home!
10. DO have fun!
I know it is very easy to get nervous when doing something new for the first time. I was extremely nervous as I am very shy but once you get there, you’ve set up and you’ve got yourself a cup of tea, you can relax and let the day flow!
Find out more
Tara's beautiful work and photography is available on her Etsy Shop here -
Feeling Inspired ?
Tara Uses United Knots Super Soft 3ply yarns in all sizes
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