Tinderbox

#1 Way to Increase Profits at Craft Shows

Courtney ClarkComment
Screen Shot 2019-09-02 at 6.12.39 PM.png

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!

Happy hooking,

Courtney

10 Things to Make This Spring!

Courtney ClarkComment

Daylight savings has officially cured my winter blues and I am officially feeling inspired by spring! This year will be my first year breaking into the spring/summer designing. I’ve always felt most comfortable creating fall and winter accessories and garments. Life and business, just like spring, are all about growth so here I am stepping out of my comfort zone and designing for the warmer weather ahead!

There is an endless sea of inspiring makers out there who are already crushing the spring designing game. I draw so much creative mojo from the crochet/knit community around me and love to see others’ successes. Below you will find my first warm weather top plus 9 designs by 9 makers who keep me on my designing toes, make me smile, and that have talent that cannot be beat!

When I began contemplating my spring designs I was struck by stripes and unique textures. Sophie, my first ever spring/summer piece, uses a couple simple crochet stitches, worked in way to create a striping and ribbing effect. If you’re a beginner who hasn’t done colour work before, or wants to branch out of the basic stitches then Sophie is for you!

Scoop up Sophie  here .

Scoop up Sophie here.

Two Arrows Crochet - where do I even begin with this woman? Jaylee is my soul sister! We’re both teachers, total goofballs, and share similar tastes in food - not to mention our crochet addiction. She is currently designing some super cute things for the warmer weather and I’m loving every single minute of it. When the new faux fur yarn began trending I was not a fan, but Jaylee’s Gertie vest changed my mind. She mixes it with regular yarn and a unique stitch design that brings the faux fur to a whole new level. This vest is a staple for a crocheters spring wardrobe.

Grab your copy of Gertie  h  er  e .

Grab your copy of Gertie here.

Spring just wouldn’t be spring without a triangle scarf! Tonja from Pink Plumeria Maui inspires me with the beautiful, bold, vibrate colours she uses in her designs. Her Maui Dreams Scarf is high in beautiful texture and possibility. Solid colours, variegated, or stripes - the choice is yours with this beautiful scarf. I am also excited to announce that Tonja and I will be going live together on her instagram @pinkplumeriamaui this Tuesday, March 19th at 5pm PST (8pm EST) to chat all about our crochet businesses, what we’re making now, and answer your questions!

Get your copy of the Maui Dreams Scarf  here

Get your copy of the Maui Dreams Scarf here

Linda from Eleven Handmade is one of the most talented crochet designers when it comes to texture. Her pieces are so unique, when you see them you instantly know they’re hers. She truly thinks outside of the box with her stitching. I currently have her Goldenrod as one of my WIPs, but I am already eyeing her Bruni top for spring. The Bruni top is elegant, feminine, and perfect for layering under a light spring jacket and transitioning into summer.

Get Bruni on your hook  here

Get Bruni on your hook here

Stephanie, Stephanie, Stephanie. This woman defines hustle. Look it up in the dictionary - you will see a picture of @by.stephanie.erin. She first hit my radar when she applied to test for me and since then I cannot get enough of her. This year alone she has designed around half a dozen of her own garments, in addition to testing garments for me and a handful of other designers - all while holding down a full time job and keeping a boyfriend! Wow. Her Double Treble sweater is the perfect piece for spring - the wide neckline will keep you cool but body and sleeves will keep you warm.

Scoop up the Double Treble Sweater  here

Scoop up the Double Treble Sweater here

Made by Hailey Bailey’s pieces are inspired by nature and created with such elegance. I was fortunate to test for Hailey in the past and know her patterns are simple to follow. She offers multiple tips for success and often incorporates customizable components to fit all bodies. I find her colour work absolutely breathtaking and have been swooning over her Oriole Triangle Scarf. Wear it as a scarf, or over your shoulders as a shawl to keep yourself cozy in those cool spring breezes.

Pick up your copy of the Oriole Triangle Scarf  here

Pick up your copy of the Oriole Triangle Scarf here

Mollie from White Owl Crochet Co is probably the smartest person I know. In addition to being crazy smart, she’s also crazy talented at BOTH knit and crochet! I had the pleasure of staying with Mollie in Chicago last year for the Our Maker Life event - she saw grumpy morning Courtney and still chooses to be friends with me so she’s clearly a really great, understanding person! Her designs have a classic elegance about them and her new Cedarbrook Sweater is at the top of my list of things to make this year.

Pick up your Cedarbrook Sweater Pattern  here

Pick up your Cedarbrook Sweater Pattern here

Claire from E’Claire Makery and I are cooking up something special for spring with our girl Stephanie (above) - but that’s a secret for another day! Claire’s designs are fun, playful and often whimsical and those designs bring such brightness to my Instagram feed. She is full of endless positivity and is constantly coming up with unique ways to market her business - did you know she has a podcast? I think her Jumbo Mushroom Amigurumi is a must make for spring because it is absolutely adorable and will definitely bring a smile to your face each time you see it sitting on your living room couch!

Grab your copy of the Jumbo Mushroom Pattern  here

Grab your copy of the Jumbo Mushroom Pattern here

Spring mornings are crisp and cool so it’s a good idea to have a spring inspired beanie on the ready! With Alex has designed the perfect crocheted beanie to keep your ears warm while walking your dog and sipping your morning coffee at the start of your day. The long stitches remind me of early spring flowers breaking through the ground, promising us their beautiful colours in the coming weeks.

Start making your Dandelion Field Beanie  here

Start making your Dandelion Field Beanie here

With the warmer months brings the onset of delicious fresh produce at the Farmer’s Market. I love going to my local market every Saturday and picking from a selection of fresh, local, organic veggies. Simply Made By Erin has designed the perfect bag to take on trips to the market to fill up with local bounty while remaining eco-conscious in not using plastic bags. This bag could also double as a beach bag in the summer! Perfect for transitioning between outdoor activities!

Get your copy of the Market Tote pattern  here

Get your copy of the Market Tote pattern here

I hope you all enjoyed reading about some of my favourite makes for spring! I know my fingers will be busy working up as many of these designs as possible. What are you going to make first? Where do you find your spring inspiration?

Happy hooking,

Courtney