Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Craft Fair Preparation

Previously, I blogged about my curiosity about selling handmade items.  It's an idea that has been on my mind for a while.  I dismissed the idea recently, feeling concerned about my son's behavioral issues he exhibited towards the end of our stay in New Hampshire- pledging to myself that he needs me and my attention more than I need to try out selling handmade items.  Well, those behavior problems completely disappeared not long after our return to Colorado (a good lesson for me to keep him in his own space and routine and not be separate from his father for too long).  And I just haven't gotten it out of my mind.... so I decided to sign up for my son's school "Market Day" as a way to try out this idea without diving too deep.

Honestly, it feels almost embarrassing to admit that I am going to try selling handmade items at a craft fair or Etsy.  I feel like there is a bit of stigma attached to this endeavor.  Lots of people have encouraged me that I should "sell my stuff" but they are never fellow sewing/quilting friends.  These friends understand that we are makers for the joy of it and the creative expression, not to the unrefined task of trying to make money.  I do feel like it's a bit of a double standard because so many people that are critical of selling handmade items would jump at the chance to sew for a fabric manufacturer or designer to get free fabric or a little press/notoriety- so we are often motivated by other factors than simple artistic expression.

I think the other reason I feel a bit embarrassed/shy to talk about my efforts to sell handmade items is because I am a bit fearful that it will be a big failure.  This is very new territory for me.  I don't know very much about what will sell the best, how to price my items, what craft fairs are worthwhile, how to best utilize Etsy.....  I have observed IG posts of people bemoaning very disappointing craft fairs and feeling so bereft because they barely made their booth fair back.  It definitely feels safe to just keep making stuff for myself, family, and friends.

I don't like to be a slave to fear.  I think it's worth a shot to give this new adventure a try.  Here are my reasons I would like to sell handmade items:

  • I enjoy making small items that are quick and fun to make.  
  • To my own surprise, I don't mind making the same thing over and over (yet.....?  I realize this might change).  I have already made 25 bibs, 3 zip pouches, a few crayon wallets (that my kids keep stealing for their own) and I am knee-deep in making 20 tissue cozies.  Still smiling.
  • I already have a lot of the materials necessary to make these items.  I have a lot of fabric that may not be my favorite fabric that I am dying to transition into a heirloom quilt but it sure makes a fun zip pouch that I am hoping someone else will enjoy.  A lot of the items I have made already are from scraps.... I have a lot of scraps......  
  • I enjoy making for my friends and family and most people are grateful and kind; but honestly, I definitely get the feeling that people would probably have been just as grateful to receive a gift card or store bought item.  I like making small items- why not try to sell a few instead of gift them to people who don't care?
  • I am hoping to learn how to make a profit and enjoy the earnings.  My sewing habit is not cheap and being able to bring in some money instead of constantly spending it would be a thrill.  I can only imagine my husband's delight if I made my hobby self-sustaining, or, even better- was able to contribute to extras for the kids and so on....

I recently bought a KAM-Snap Setter on Amazon and I am in love!  No more velcro bibs for me!  It is awesome.  I really recommend it.

So I am starting this really slow.  Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?!) I missed a lot of deadlines for most of the local holiday craft shows.  Even if I had prepared better, I wasn't super comfortable with fronting several booth fees all at once anyhow, especially because of my inexperience.  I am committed to my son's school Holiday Market and I hope that that one experience will give me the feedback I need to proceed with an Etsy shop as well as how to prepare for craft fairs next year.  I am on the waiting list for one other fair.  Time is tight and I am realizing that I will have some late nights to prepare, so as not to neglect my family.  I can already say that my "personal" sewing is on the back burner for now but I am okay with that.  We've got a lot of little girl dresses and quilts in this house to tide us over for the next month or so ;)


Harriet Toothfighter said...

Laurie, as your friend, and someone for whom you have sewn things, I would like to state on the record that from you I would almost always prefer something you made yourself. Unless the other option were you buying me some fabric. Or a pastry if I were hungry and we were at a cannoli shop.

So, with that in mind, you rock that selling stuff!

Sarah Fredette said...

I think it's great you're taking these steps towards selling things -- the items you've made me (and I use every day!) are better quality than others I've purchased, and if you enjoy the sewing, then it's great all around. Keep going on this path as long as it makes you happy and fulfilled. (and if you do open an Etsy shop, you better believe that I'll be in line!!!)

Tamie said...

Good luck with your venture. I think your school fair is a great place to feel things out. Love your bibs and crayon holders.

Caitlin said...

"I don't like to be a slave to fear." I love that!! We also love the gifts that you have made and given us--I think about you everyday when I see the quilt on Lanna's bed! Good luck!

Lesley said...

I would love to see a follow up to this post as I have similar feelings about selling my makes

Nicky said...

You address lots of issues here about selling homemade. I love homemade - it is special, but feel that lots of people don't appreciate it - the trick is finding those friends/family or customers that do and will receive it gladly or pay for it when they could have cheaper factory made things.

I think most makers would love to earn good money from making but are resigned to the fact that you don't unless you find the right market or have a celebrity name - both require luck/hard work. Good on you for going for it and wishing you every success.