Where to Begin When Choosing a Show

Makers, this one is for you. How many of you have thought “where do I even start?? How do I find craft shows? How much do I make? What do I even need for set up??”

We absolutely love doing markets. Not only do we get to meet other makers, we get to meet the people who will be wearing our makes. It’s so fun to spend the day with our current work-in-progress while chatting about our favorite hobby. I know so many of you feel the same way. But it can be stressful. The moment you decide to do a show the anxiety starts to creep up. We’re no experts, but we are lifelong learners who want to share some of the things that we’ve found helpful:

How to find and pick the best markets for your makes:

Go Shopping! Check out the market the year before. This one is the most time consuming, obviously. But it’s worth it. In my years of doing shows, its always been best to check a show out in person before applying. You get to see the quality of the other makers, the location (indoor vs. outdoor, lighting, space, flow of traffic all DO matter) and how busy it gets. Use this time to talk to other makers. The number one question I ask is, how’s the show going for you? Is it worth it? Most people will be honest.

Indoor vs. Outdoor: In our opinion an outdoor show is going to give you the best lighting for your products, but you do have to think about the time of year and location you live in. We recently did an outdoor show in September in Northern California. Rainy season was just starting and wouldn't you know, it rained on our first day. Luckily we were under the trees and it boosted our hat and scarf sales. There are some markets that won’t allow tents and others that may provide them to you. Make sure you read through the rules and regulations for all the information. Another option: buy or rent a tent just in case it rains. They are an investment, but very useful! If you live in a cold weather state, your markets will be inside most of the time. Look into lighting options and if they provide any!

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Space: Most shows offer a 10x10 space which is plenty of room for a fiber artist, jewelry designer, potter..really any medium. The bigger the space the more you HAVE to make to fill it! We will have a separate post on layout and design for the show, but here is what our setup looked in this size space.

Use Social Media: Facebook and Instagram are your friends!

  • Facebook: You’ll frequently find local events posted on Facebook a few months ahead of time. Use the event pages to your advantage. I’d scroll through the comments to see what other shoppers are saying and also what other vendors are looking to show their work. While you’re there, follow some maker group to meet others in the community. Our favorites in the crochet world: The hook nook crochet group, TYLC Makers and Make and Do Crochet Crew

  • Instagram is a powerful tool to use to help use connect with other makers. We recommend using this to your advantage. Chat with other makers who have previously done the show. Connect with other makers in your area, but don’t just follow those who make similar products. The worst thing that could happen is there are 8 jewelry or fiber artists. Don't forget to follow local craft shows and makers markets for updates on applications! Our favorite hashtags: #makersmarket #craftshow #fiberarts #crochetcommunity

Juried shows: Participating in a juried show means that everything is typically handmade. Most juried shows will not allow entry to more than a handful of the same type of vendor and you know the quality of the work must be good. These shows typically require a little bit of prep work for the application process but it’s totally worth it.

  • Take quality pictures of your creations. Whether it is a DSLR or a phone camera you want to take a variety of pictures (upclose, on a model, your setup).

  • Set up a social media account so that the jury can see you have a presence and get a feel for your aesthetic

  • Find a way to stand out. Show some originality and creativity!

  • Just a side note: Unjuried shows are not bad, but the distribution of mediums may be unbalanced and there may be a much greater variety of booths (handmade, independent consultants, ect)

Cost: The cost of a market can be anywhere from free to $300+ a day. You have to think about what you are getting for this amount of money. Is it a well known show in a high traffic area that has great advertising? Then it’s totally worth an entry fee, IMHO. There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing a free market but you must think about who your customer is and ask yourself if they will be shopping at the market? One of the most expensive shows I can think of is the Renegade Market. I absolutely love going and exploring all the innovative designs, but after talking to a variety of makers, I know it can be hit or miss. There are SOOO many vendors (hundreds) I almost think it becomes too overwhelming. People want to browse everything before they shop. By the time they are ready to purchase they’ve already forgotten how to even get back to your booth.

Who is your Customer?:

  • Questions to ask yourself:

    • Where do they live?

    • What do they do?

    • Are they married, with kids?

    • Do they work?? What kind of job do they have?

    • What do they like to do on their free time?

    • Would they shop at that festival?

Our customer is female between the ages of 26-45. Working mom who appreciates handmade things and may even dabble in her own creative projects. She lives in a city and loves to travel. Hobbies include skiing, reading, and running with her dogs.

Location: Pay attention to where to show is being held. Remember your customer, do they live in this area? Would they travel there?

Date: A few things to think about:

  • Is there a holiday near by that may encourage shoppers?

    • You’ll find you make your greatest profits during the fall/winter time in preparation for the holidays!

  • Is anything else happening in town that may prevent people from attending the show?

  • Do you have enough time to prepare you stock of goods?

We’d love to hear some of you strategies for finding the best markets in your area!

Stay tuned for the next post about how to figure out what to make and how much!