Getting ready for The London Artisan Summer Event
Earlier this year I became a member of Designers/Makers which is an agency for contemporary design, they offer their members business advice, selling events, PR and opportunities to develop their brand. Each year they collaborate with The London Artisan which is a curated marketplace held quarterly at The Old Truman Brewery in East London. Their summer edition takes place on Sat 21st – Sun 22nd of July and I am very excited to be taking part.
Getting ready for these type of events requires a lot of organisation and preparation before-hand to ensure that everything runs smoothly, so in this post I am going to share with you how I get ready for my craft fairs to help you plan for your next event. First I start with a 10-point checklist:
Craft Fair Checklist
- Promotional material (business cards & postcards)
- Visual display (photographs, jewellery plinths, table cloth etc.)
- Payment options
- Mailing list/comments book
- Promoting the event
- Invite a friend
- Have fun and dress to impress
How Much Stock Should I Bring?
This question is always a tricky one especially if you are new to selling at craft fairs, the questions I try to consider to work this out are:
1. How much stock do I have already?
2. How much time do I have to make new stock?
3. How much space do I have to layout my products?
4. What are my most popular pieces?
5. Have any of my customers requested any particular jewellery to try/buy at the event?
6. When I layout all my jewellery does the space look cohesive and enticing or disconnected and sparse?
7. What was the footfall like at previous event that I visited?
After answering all the questions above I make a list of all the stock I intend to bring or make and set aside time to hit my stock target, taking into consideration that items will sell online in the interim. I always try to visit a prior event hosted by the same event company before I book to trade at their craft fair to get an idea of the footfall, are people browsing or shopping, do the stall holders look happy or bored (this is usually a good indication to how well the day is going for them lol!) Ultimately it is all a guessing game as you will never know who will turn up on the day and what they are looking to buy, so I always take enough stock to fill my space and have a few spare pieces to top it up throughout the day. It is better to sell out and take orders from customers then to make way too much stock and have to take most of it back home.
Promotional material is very important as it a small piece of your brand that a customer can take away with them for free, it should represent your brand visually and contain your contact details and social media handles so that the person can easily get in touch with you and/or follow you on Instagram or Facebook etc. I like to have business cards and postcards as they serve slightly different functions in my opinion, a business card is usually kept in a wallet and is pulled out when needed, it is small enough to slide in your pocket and doesn’t feel awkward to carry around. A postcard on the other hand can act as a small piece of art and get stuck on a fridge or pin-board and has a higher chance of being seen more frequently at a later date, so consider the image carefully, does it stand out, can people clearly see it represents your brand? The downside of postcards sometimes can be that people can find them too big to carry around if they don’t have a bag, but this is rare, so I like to bring both so I’m covered 🙂
My most recent batch of postcards and business cards I ordered online from printed.com and they were printed on recycled 350gsm paper which I think came out really smart and has the added bonus of being eco-friendly. When ordering business cards and postcards I have discovered that its best the order small runs, say 50 – 200 of each style, this way you can choose two or three different styles and if you change your contact details or create a new collection that you want to show off your not stuck with 1000+ out of date postcards.
Other great promotional materials include stickers, badges and pens these are low cost items that you can use to promote your brand and if you have a bigger budget why not consider t-shirts or tote bags you can check out a company called Awesome Merchandise for lots more ideas.
This is by far my favourite part of an event, creating my own little pop-up shop for the weekend, is such a fun way to introduce my jewellery to a new audience. However there are a few basics that you must cover to ensure your space stands out from the crowd. When visiting The London Artisan event in March I must say that the displays were collectively very impressive, you could see that all the designers had put a lot of effort into their visual display. So to ensure that my space has everything I need for my display I have created a list of essentials to include in my set-up:
- Table cloth(s)
- Jewellery stands
- Pricing labels
- Large photographic images
- Props to style the space
- Lighting & extension lead
When setting up a space I like to try to create the same feel as my online shop so people can experience the essence of the brands lifestyle, so as well as my jewellery I will be bringing along some plants and props to enhance the modern tribal vibe to the space. Another important thing to remember is a trolley to transport your things to and from the venue from your car if you have large or heavy items. Another important thing especially for jewellery is additional lighting as it will help potential customers see your items better if your pieces are lit well especially in the evening. If you do bring lighting always check with the event company that this is allowed and always bring an extension lead as you will not know where the nearest sockets will be until you are allocated your space. I always set-up my space at home to see how it works and make any necessary tweaks before the event. I take a few photos on my phone of the set-up so on the day I am calm and know exactly where everything goes, it is a bit OCD but event days are very hectic, there will be lots of people setting up and you will be racing against the clock to put everything in its place before the doors open to the public.
Most people do not carry around a lot of cash anymore and if they do it is usually under £50, so it is very important that I have a way for customers to pay by card. I have an i-zettle account which I am going to use for card payments at the event, I can upload all my products onto the app before the event and it will keep track of all my stock and sales, allow customers to pay by card or cash and email them a receipt after the transaction. I really like how easy the software is to use I simply plug in the card reader to my iPhone or iPad and the transactions fees are really low which is great. I will also bring along a sign that lets customers know that I accept card payments.
Packaging is a very important part of the sales process, if something is packaged beautifully it adds to the overall customer experience. I plan to bring jewellery boxes, tissue paper, paper bags and canvas bags to wrap items and will add a business card inside the bag for every customer. Two of my favourite packaging companies are Morplan and APL Packaging I have used them a lot throughout the years and always experience great customer service and quality products from them both. This year I have introduced eco-friendly packaging to some of my products and I found a great company online called eco-craft where I was able to purchase bio-degradable clear bags to package my notebooks. I love the fact that I can protect my items for my customers with the knowledge that after it has done its job it is not going to end up floating in the sea somewhere.
Clear signage is a very important part of your stand at an event, sometimes events like to keep these uniform and will make these for you however most events I have been to you usually need to bring your own. In the past I have used vinyl banners which are pretty effective, a large poster in a frame would also work well and I have even seen some signs painted on wood and laser cut from acrylic. It really depends on your brands style so choose a sign that compliments your brands aesthetic, if possible bring two, a large one to go at the back of your stand and a smaller one to sit on your table.
Mailing List and Comments Book
I like to bring along a book for customers to leave their details and for this event I am also going to bring a box for people to drop their business cards as well as it can be a great way to keep in touch with press and other businesses that visit the event. Your mailing list is one of your most valuable parts of your business so do not miss out on the opportunity to grow yours.
Promoting the Event
As an independent designer/maker is is vital that you do not skip this stage, especially if you are an online company like me, customers love to see your products in real life and love to meet the maker. Never solely depend on the event company to promote the event, of course they should and will promote it to their contacts but you must always do your own promotions to enhance the success of your experience at the event. Prior to an event I will promote in the following ways:
- Send invites to mailing list (I filter my contact list to the country location of event to make it as relevant as possible).
- Promote on all your social media channels running up to the event – its FREE
- Create an event page on Facebook – you can join mine here 🙂
- Include in your monthly newsletter if you have one
- Include in your Snapchat or Instagram stories on the day of your event – this is great way to show real-time footage to your audience especially if your tag your location
- Document your event – film your visual display, take photos of you interacting with your customers, this is all great content to use as promo for your next event or blog post
Invite a Friend
Working on a stand all weekend is hard work and you will need to eat and use the bathroom so invite a friend or family member along to either spend the whole day with you or a few friends to pop in and see you throughout the day this way you will be able to pop away without leaving your stand unattended and eat away from your stand. It is not a good look to be sitting behind you table with a burger in your mouth when a potential customer comes over to enquire about a product. If none of your friends or family are available then always introduce yourself to your neighbors as soon as you arrive at the event, you will be stand buddies for the day and can watch each others stand if necessary.
Have Fun and Dress to Impress
You have done all the hard work so now its time to have some fun, what are you are going to wear, more often than not your fashion style will be echoed in your brand but remember that you are an extension of your display so dress to impress. What we wear and how we look says a lot to passers-by, if you sell vintage clothes but are dressed in Topshop this will give a conflicting message to potential customers if you are not wearing your products why should they? Select your outfit before the event, go for comfortable shoes as you will most likely be standing all day, wear layers so that you can adjust for cold/warm weather and choose clothes that match your brands colour palette so that you look right at home amongst your space. The most important part of your outfit is your smile, it makes you more approachable and people will instantly feel more comfortable to come over and check out all your lovely creations.
If you are in London next month please save the date of The London Artisan in your diary (Sat/Sun 21-22 July Time: 11-6pm) and you can follow my jewellery journey via my Instagram page (@elishafrancis)
I hope you have found some of this useful, if you have any questions or tips about preparing for your next event please leave a comment below
Until next week