Monday, November 28, 2011

Defining Success: More Thoughts on My First Craft Show

Happy Monday, dear Readers! I'm back with a little follow up on my first craft fair last Friday. I had so many kind words and good wishes from all of you - I'm sure it made it more of a success! Which brings me to my point - how do you define success? I didn't sell out or make a fortune, but I still consider Friday's fair experience to be a successful one. Here's why:

1. I put my best foot forward.
In the weeks leading up the fair, I did lots of research on successful fair setup and behavior. I put in the hours and made everything I needed to look professional and appealing, including banners, receipts, a catalog and order forms, and of course my trademark tags. I spent time designing my table for maximum appeal, using my grandmother's high chair for added height.
Both of my neighbors (the booths to the right and left of me) have been selling at craft shows for a few years and were impressed with my setup, so I felt good about the time that went into perfecting it.
I used Square to accept credit cards, which I got set up a few weeks in advance. This impressed my buyers, made payments easy, and helped me look and feel more professional.
I followed the advice of experienced craft show sellers and maintained a friendly-but-not-pushy banter with shoppers, engaging people as they walked by without being phony. This sounds straightforward, but was a surprisingly difficult line to toe.
In the end I felt good about how I'd presented myself and my shop (especially compared to other sellers who - understandably - sat around looking bored). I was able to come away knowing that I couldn't have done anything better to increase sales.

2. I had fun.
In all honesty, I'm usually a bundle of nerves about this sort of thing. I'm not a big fan of adrenaline, but boy does it get pumping when I have to make a public appearance. Not this time! I managed to feel pretty cool and collected and unworried, perhaps because I knew I'd set everything up as best I could. This was a huge triumph for me, and helped me to feel like I could do this again.
(I also wonder if my newfound relaxed-ness comes from all the lessons I've been learning this year about letting go. Hmmm.)

I had lovely visits from my parents-in-law and close friends whom we rarely get to see. While Henry was off exploring with them, I chatted with my booth neighbor, Julie, who makes the most charming line of wine accessories. I'm especially fond of these owl wine charms. She was so warm and friendly and happy to share her experience..
On my other side was a huge booth of handsewn things for babies and tots. My favorite was a placemat with chalkboard fabric - it was so fun to watch all the kids come right up and start drawing - they knew exactly who and what it was for!

I also really enjoyed chatting with shoppers. Because I wasn't stressed about whether or not I'd sell much, I was able to be present and have fun engaging with people inan honest way.

Oh, and did I mention I got to pet a reindeer? So fun. The one with littler horns is only an eight-month-old baby!

3. I learned a lot.
I took the time to chat with craft show veterans, noticed what sold and what didn't, and approached the whole day as a learning opportunity. It was interesting and often surprising to see which scarves people were attracted to - in short, pom poms and ruffles!
The biggest lessons I learned were to offer a few cheap items and to choose the fair carefully. Which brings me to . . .

4. I recognized the factors that were out of my control.
As swanky as the set up was, this fair did not attract shoppers. What few shoppers we got were there in the first hour or so - and those were sparse. The rest of the day was packed with families going to and from all the activities the resort was hosting - reindeer,owls,RadioDisney, parade, etc. They all had tiny tots in tow and were not in a shopping mood at all. The hotel had encouraged us to stay late to take advantage of all the traffic, but it was easy to see that not all traffic is created equal. They zipped right by on their way to see Santa.
If I had had lots of cheap things for kids I might have done a little better, but even then that's just not what the people were there for.
It was also a warm, sunny day - not the kind of weather that makes people think, "I need a scarf!"

5. I chose my goals and expectations carefully.
Henry and I had lots of conversations when I started this project and carefully considered its implications. I did not want to take on another project that could end in failure. And while I did want to make money, we decided not to include a financial goal. Instead, we stated the goal as "To make and market one hundred scarves."
I went into this craft show with the expectation of learning something - not with the expectation of selling a lot. I gave it my all - making tons of scarves in the weeks leading up to it and marketing the heck out of it - so I met my goal.

6. I felt really good about the scarves that did sell and the people who bought them.
Because I wasn't stressed about not selling more, I was able to really appreciate the positive selling experience I did have.
My first sale was a surprise gift for a niece.The aunt and her nieces came shopping and the niece fell in love with Scarf 38.
She spent a long time trying it on, comparing it to the others, explaining that it's already cold where she lives in North Carolina, and admiring the colors ("her colors," according to her aunt). As they moved along down the hallway, the aunt darted back and said, "Put this aside - I want to get it for her." Well, you should know me well enough by now to understand that that just made my heart sing! I just love sweet people.

My second sale was to my mother-in-law, who fell for one of my newest favorites - the soft and heathery Scarf 49. (Considering that she gave me the loom and a fair amount of yarn, it was awfully nice of her to buy a scarf, don't you think?)

And the third and last sale was to our friend as a gift for his mom. Henry has known him since middle school and he and his wife are just the sweetest, funniest people with the sweetest, cutest kids. It was a treat to see them and an honor to provide this gift for his mom.
He described his mom as "elegant," so we picked the shimmery, shiny, go-with-everything Scarf 30.

Thanks for all your support and good wishes! I'll be flexing my craft fair muscles again this Saturday at the Iguana Grill from 12-5. See more about the Lake Travis Christmas Bazaar on Facebook!


sucker4acoustic said...

So not surprised #30 sold. It is everyone's favorite! Now... my question is... do you need all your scarves for your fair this Saturday... or will I be able to have one to show off and keep me warm in Boston?

Kelly said...

Yes, Scarf 30 might need a baby sister. :)

Let's definitely get you hooked up with one before Boston!

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