Yesterday, my student and friend Paula mentioned that she will be a vendor in the Junior League Holiday Market in her city. Holiday markets held by women’s groups like Junior League are the ideal opportunity for a fledgling crafts person to grow her handmade business because:
- These are women who are out and about mingling with other women who will see your work.
- Most of them have disposable income.
- You’ll build repeat customers or collectors.
- If you make jewelry or other wearable art, your work will be seen by other women who are your ideal clients because these women tend to go to a lot of upscale social events
- If your crafts are home decor items, the women who purchase your work at the holiday market are likely to have luncheons and dinner parties so their friends will see and admire your work.
- You’ll feel proud about making a difference because these are philanthropic women who hold fundraisers for important causes.
You may pay a hefty booth fee so be sure to take advantage of every opportunity to leverage the connections you make.
Make sure everyone who stops by your booth, whether they purchase or not, knows how to contact you. They may not have someone in mind right that moment to buy your products for but when they think of someone later who your work is perfect for, you’ll have a sale.
Put a photo of your most popular work on your business card. It’s easy to forget why you picked up someone’s card but the picture will remind them of who you are and what you make.
Let everyone know that you are happy to do a trunk show or home party for their friends and that you are available to do a fundraiser for any other organizations they are involved in.
As always, put your work in the hands of the admirer. When you notice someone looking at a particular piece, rather than ask “is there something you’d like to see?”, simply hand it to them. If you make jewelry, scarves or other wearable art, keep a mirror in your booth and invite and encourage attendees to try things on. Engage them in conversation about how your pieces are created and where your inspiration comes from. The longer they spend in your space, the more likely it is that they will purchase.
The difference between a handcrafted piece and mass produced items is the human-ness of handmade so make sure attendees know you as a person and get to touch your work. Make it a goal to put a piece of your work in the hands of everyone who stops by your booth.
And most important, smile. Be your friendly, wonderful, artsy self.
Terri Belford has been self-employed for more than 30 years and been on all sides of the art and handmade craft business as an artist, gallery owner and consultant to artists and crafts people. You can follow her on Twitter @craftbizcoach and Facebook. And follow her blog for more craft business articles.