In honour of the busy maker season that is upon us I’m ready to share with you all some of my secrets to success at craft shows and launch my Craft Show Collection - a collection of 7 patterns you need in your craft show booth this fall!
When I first began Tinderbox in 2012 I had no idea what I was doing and the resources available were limited. I began by selling a simple infinity scarf to friends and family, then on my Etsy shop. Soon I began applying to craft shows and I learned a LOT of lessons the hard way. By my third year of business with Tinderbox I was participating in 12-16 craft shows between Labour Day and Christmas each year and making good enough profits to quit my day job. I hope to help you get there faster, allowing you to learn the easy way (from me) rather than the hard way like I did (from profitless craft shows).
I had one headband that was by far the fan favourite and I sold it almost twice as frequently as any other item in my little booth. Sounds great right? Not necessarily. I had a flat rate for my headbands and my most popular one took me almost twice as long as the others to make and involved seaming (which I hate - notice all my seam-free designs😉). I figured the time spent on headbands on average would be lower but that more intricate pattern was dragging that average way up and lowering my $/crochet hour earnings.
That’s how I discovered by #1 secret to increase my profits: KEEP IT SIMPLE. The simpler the design you use to create your item the faster it is made, the better price you can put on it so your customer is more likely to buy it, the more $$ you are making per crochet hour and per craft show hour. Personally, I found the average customer only wanted to spend up to $40 or $50 per item, which meant I wanted to make the product in one hour or less, since I was also paying for the yarn, the tags, the booth fees, etc. Anything that took longer than an hour would break that $50 price tag and customers would turn away from it.
I set to work designing a line of products I could make it an hour or less, for the most part. I wanted a nice variety of accessories - hats, headbands, scarves and I knew I didn’t want anything to do with seaming. Some products became HOT commodities (Emma Cowl), while others flopped (they who shall remain nameless). Through this trial and error I landed on 7 items that were must haves at every show. Maybe you’re not a designer, or maybe this long, exhausting process is not something you want to go through so I have bundled together for you at a reduced price - available here. Here is a quick snapshot of each of these items and why they were so successful at craft fairs:
Small, medium, and large infinity scarves, aka The Natta Scarf
The Jen Headband
The Jasmine Headband
The Yvette Headband
The Emma Cowl
The Shawna Toque (“Hat” for all you non-Canadians)
The Olivia Beanie
Infinity scarves are an absolute classic. I loved having them in 3 sizes almost as much as my customers did. In my first two years of craft markets I only had two sizes, medium and large, that both looped around the neck twice. I watched as many customers put these scarves on and played with them for a few minutes trying to get them to sit *just right* before taking them off and placing them back on the shelf. Enter: the small infinity scarf! This bad girl only loops around once and there is ZERO playing needed, just plunk it on and it sits perfectly every time. An added bonus: she only took me one skein of yarn and about 35 minutes to make, but to the customers she looked the same as the medium infinity scarf and was easier to manage! Win win!
The Jen and Jasmine headbands joined the Tinderbox crew early on and were fan favourites from the beginning. I have sold 100s of each of these in a wide variety of colours and am certain your customers will love them too! The wonderful thing about these headbands is I made them mostly from the leftover yarn I had from making infinity scarves, therefore maximizing my material usage and helping out that bottom line!
The Yvette headband and Emma cowl were my biggest sellers and were my highest profit margin (shh don’t tell). Here’s why: They’re super bulky so they work up twice as fast AND the buttons are functional - that’s right, they’re not just there to look pretty, they actually work. Functional buttons allow your customer to wrap the headband/cowl around them rather than smooshing it over their head and causing already challenging fall/winter hairstyles to fall flat. The Emma cowl also lies flat across the chest making it easy to zip a coat right over top of it and not drown in scarf. Win, win, win!
No craft show booth would be complete without some hats! Enter: my giant pom pommed girlfriend Shawna, and the slouchy beauty Olivia. Offering both the classic pom had and a slouch hat makes everyone happy so I highly suggest it for your craft show table!
Well, the secret is out! The above designs are craft show success stories. You need not try to figure out what the people want or how to design something to make in a fast enough time to make it worth your while - I did all that work for you and bundled it into one pretty package for $14 Canadian. Bonus: If you sign up to receive my emails you get a 20% off coupon for your first purchase that can be applied to this bundle!
My final tip for craft show success is to PAY YOURSELF! Don’t underprice yourself, don’t sell yourself short. You worked hard to make those pieces so price them according to their worth and YOUR worth! My friend Chantal from Knitatude has a wonderful pricing structure that I live by and I encourage you to use it to price your products. You can’t make your crafty business successful and profitable if you’re only covering the cost of your materials and your booth fees after all!
Thank-you all for reading and for your support of my handmade business! I wish you all the best in your impending busy season!