Festivals are a great way to sell your creations and meet new people! Art and craft festivals are a lot of work, but worth it for the exposure you get and the great people you meet. Here are a few steps to preparing for a show and having a great time.
The very first thing you have to consider when thinking about participating in a festival is “Do I have enough stuff to sell?” Booth sizes average about 10 feet x 10 feet, so if you only have a couple dozen very small items, it’s just not enough to fill a booth, however with big items like paintings and sculptures, you may only need 8-12. If the answer is yes, that’s great- you’re well on your way. If it’s no, then you need to get busy making more stuff.
So you’ve got your merchandise, now to find a festival. I suggest starting small and local. First of all, you won’t have to spend as much money to participate and you’ll be able to invite all your friends and family for support and encouragement. When you apply to enter a festival, make sure you do it well before the deadline, pay the fee on time, and follow all the rules of the festival as to what sort of items are allowed and how much space you have. Check with your local government or small business administration about all taxes and permits you need before participating in a show. In some states you’ll need to register with the state in order to collect sales tax, and you may need to file self-employment taxes.
Creating a Great Display
Your display can make or break your festival experience. Your display presents your creation to the world so you want it to look it’s best. Here are some very simple rules to follow in creating a display.
1. Keep it neat. You don’t want your customers to be digging through piles of stuff, keep it organized so they can find what they need easily.
2. Use varying heights. To make your display more visually interesting display some items higher than others. If possible hang some of your items. You can buy acrylic or wooden risers, build them yourself out of wood, use found objects like wooden boxes, or even sturdy cardboard boxes covered with pretty fabric.
3. Color coordinate. Group similar colors together and when choosing colors for your table cloths make sure they don’t clash with your projects. Neutral colors are always good, my creations feature lots of blues and greens so I use table cloths in those colors.
4. Bring extras. Bring more items than you plan to display, that way when some sell you can fill in the bare spots.
You’re there…now what?
Chances are the festival has dozens of booths to tempt visitors. You need to make yours stand out from the crowd.
1. Never leave your booth unattended.
2. Keep organized. Have one station for people to buy your work at and keep all your business stuff there. Stow empty boxes and extra merchandise out of sight.
3. Bring lots of business cards. Make sure as many people as possible who come through your booth get a business card, if you have brochures make sure they get those too. Some people just can’t make up their mind the day of a show whether they want to buy something so make sure they are able to contact you later.
4. Have a Guestbook. Have visitors sign your guestbook if they want you to contact them about future shows or to be added to your mailing list.
5. Have a canopy. Never rely on the weather at an outdoor festival. The weather is rarely reliable and you do not want to be scrambling to cover your stuff if it rains. Even if it doesn’t rain you’ll appreciate the shade on a hot day.
6. Have a sign. You really need some sort of sign that is visible to people walking by. It doesn’t have to be expensive, plenty of places can print a vinyl banner for you fairly inexpensively or you could paint your own.
7. If you sell jewelry or other wearable items always have a mirror available so customer can see how your jewelry looks on them.
8. Consider working on some small projects while at the show. People love to see how stuff is made. Just make sure it’s something easily put down when a customer wants to buy something.
9. Wear a nametag. You’re creative; make it pretty but let people know whom you are and what creations you’re responsible for.
10. If possible wear your creations. If you create jewelry or clothing this is easy, if not consider having shirts printed with photos of your work.