Saturday, 2 May 2009

Portobello Craft Fair - May 2nd 2009

I have survived to craft another day!  I'm back home now, exhausted, with a much needed cup of tea, and can reflect on today's craft fair... .

First of all, travelling on the buses with all my 'stuff' worked out fine (with Marc's help - thank you so much!) and we made it to the venue just after 9am to set up for the fair starting at 10am.  It took me a full hour to set up (shaky hands not helping!) and I was feeling pretty nervous.

Here I am working the 'scared rabbit' look.  I'm wearing a craft fair vendor apron that I made with a great pattern from downthestreet on Etsy - and it was really useful today, with lots of helpful pockets and a zip compartment for money.
It took about 3 hours for my hands to stop shaking!!

So, by 10am I had pretty much finished setting up, and the layout worked really well (thanks again for the advice everyone!).  I felt I had enough height but not too much, and all the colours looked pretty against the black background.

Then the doors opened, and the crowds flooded in eager with anticipation!!  Um, well, not quite, but there was a steady flow (sometimes more of a trickle) of people, and I actually found that the 6 hours passed pretty quickly.

I had folded a lot of origami cranes, and had them sitting around on the table - they were a big hit with all the children that passed by, and I gave them away to anyone who wanted one - cute wee chiyogami paper cranes are hard to resist! (Portobello's crane population has increased exponentially tonight!)

I also decided to work on some kumihimo braiding at my table, partly to soothe my shaking hands, but also because I thought people would be interested to see an unusual craft, and to see how I make some of my items.  The braiding got a lot of interest - the repetitive movements seemed to hypnotise a few people (!) - with lots of older visitors reminiscing about 'rats' tails' and 'french knitting' that their mothers taught them when they were little.

In situ!

I had a good table position not too near the doors, and I was surrounded on either side by very friendly fellow crafters, who also helped me to feel more at ease.

Deciding 'how to sell' is always difficult.  I didn't take 'The Apprentice' route (I'm really not that hungry for a sale :P ), and my approach was to let people take their time and not to pressure them - doing the braiding was a good conversation starter and people naturally took an interest in it.

I found it really fascinating to see how different people approached my table - and there were all sorts.  Some just walked straight past without even a glance.  Others gave a cursory look, others came and looked closely at my items.  Of those, some people were incredibly delicate and careful, gently touching the necklaces and putting them back in exactly the same place, whereas others poked and prodded and left items all over the place!  It was also fascinating to hear the comments people were making, either to each other or directly to me.  I've never heard so many different nuances of the word 'unusual'!  Pretty much everyone who looked at my items used that word - some with a wrinkle of the nose and 'hmm, yes, that's, um.... unusual' and others seemed to love the colours and textures and gave a pleasing 'ooh how unusual! '.  I also got some pretty frank constructive criticism from a few people which was interesting, and helped me to see my necklaces in a different way, giving me some ideas for how to develop in the future.

In general though I would say the response was positive, with people particularly liking the round brooches and kumihimo bracelets.  It was also really nice when a few friends popped in for moral support (thanks guys!).  My wee Moo business cards also went down a treat - lots and lots of people took one, so hopefully they will be encouraged to check out my online shop, my Flickr, or even my blog (hello there!).

So, down to sales.  Well, Alan Sugar would be showing me the door - but I did manage to achieve my goal of at least making back the table fee for the event.  There didn't seem to be much buying or selling happening for anyone all day, so I didn't feel too bad that I hadn't managed to sell everything!
All in all, I would say the day fulfilled my expectations - it was really interesting to hear people's comments, and to have the experience of selling face-to-face.  I have to say having my Etsy shop feels a lot easier now in comparison!  I did find it all quite nerve-wracking, but I'm sure that would get better if I did it again.  All the Edinburgh craft fairs are fully booked for jewellery for the rest of the year though - so maybe I'll give it another go in 2010!


Ellen said...

Your apron and your table look fantastic, and it sounds like a positive experience even if you didn't sell as much as you hoped.

Guzzisue said...

sounds like you gained some experience and will try it again, well done, stall looks great :-)

The crafty Kaeru said...

Thank you both :)

Yes, it was definitely a positive experience, and I'm glad I took the plunge!

K x