If you follow my facebook page you might remember that I was attending a craft fair this month. I admit, I’ve struggled with the idea of what angle to write about my most recent craft fair. I’m aware that a bright and positive description of a very successful day is probably what most potential customers would like to read, but taking the viewpoint of the maker, the person whose soul is on display on the table in front of them, the hard worker who’s spent many nights before this, working until the early hours:
I’ve decided to be honest.
It wasn’t my day.
It was a beautiful day and everyone was in high spirits. The weather was lovely and there was just a tiny hint of Christmas in the air (perfect for people wanting to get started on their Christmas shopping).
I’ve exhibited at craft fairs before and prepared well.
– A large selection of handmade pieces in varying colours and with varying prices.
– Buckets full of change for that one person who will always turn up with a £50 note
– Everything priced with clearly written tags
– An optional “Custom Order” form for extra orders to be made and then delivered if the customer required more than what I had on the stall on the day
– And a warm and friendly smile on my face!
I even put out some sneaky chocolates for anyone who wanted, and to also demonstrate how perfect my crocheted bowls were for Christmas sweety bowls!
Whether it was too early for Christmas, or perhaps people just weren’t interested in crocheted baubles, bowls, blankets and cute placemat and coaster sets. Either way, it was a bit of a crushing day.
Admittedly, it started out lovely! My very fist customer was a wonderful lady who “Ooohed” and “Arred” over my baubles and egg cosies and then went on to tell me that I was severely under pricing my work. She insisted on paying me well over the listed price for 2 Christmas baubles and told me to hike the prices. Unfortunately, customer wise, it all went downhill from there.
But I’m not writing this to grumble or to put anyone off of craft fairs and displaying your work. I think the important thing is to then consider how to make the experience work for you.
Firstly, talk! To the passers-by and to your fellow crafters. If there’s one thing I am immensely proud of whenever I talk to a fellow maker (be it online or face to face) is the phenomenal amount of respect we all have for each other. I guess in a sense, we are all there competing for the same customers, but it never feels like that. Even those working with the same materials are wonderful to talk to. I talked to some very talented and experienced makers that day, took some wonderful advice, and discovered a new medium that I would LOVE to try! I shall be putting a silver clay working course on my Christmas list – just in case you’re reading this Santa!
And after an entire day of what feels like utter rejection, make sure you feel it. To some it’s seen as weakness, but I feel that it’s important to express how you’re feeling. Especially when it’s something so close to your heart. Cry, scream, whatever you need to do (without inflicting violence of course!) just to get it out of your system, or else it could sit there and stay with you for far too long.
And the one other piece of advice I’d give for what feels like the end of all good things, and what I’ve personally found to be the most helpful – take some time to do the things you love. Be “just you” again for a while. Go back to the beginning to where you found your inspiration. Why do you do what you do? And then draw. For the love of all things holy, draw and brain storm and sketch and express yourself. Create a plan of action, then next step forward.
Everyone has a bad day.
It’s probably only possible to say in hindsight, but don’t let the mood control the experience. Learn from it and evolve from it.