Sunday, 27 November 2016

Local Christmas Fair

I have been attending the Headley Christmas Fair for years, small local event but worth doing normally, this year? an unmitigated disarrster. Lovely atmosphere, music playing, laughter, chatter but no sales to write home about. Have I reached the end of the road for this event? I think so. A shame but must not let my heart rule my business head.

Talking to another regular we notice that a lot of new stallholders, now that is okay but sadly without the Arford and Liphook WI, who bring in a lot of members, the sales were way down. Too many cake stalls, stalls selling things cheap which made my prices seem expensive. I may ask questions next year and mention to Jo that without the WI and the Lions it is lacking a certain something.

Couple of photos and a case of hunt the customers:

Time to move on and only one more event for me to do, then I can pack away until the New Year. Fingers crossed the Home and Vintage Brocante fairs better for the stallholders, if like the last two should be good, plus all in all not bad for advertising myself and my product line

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Until next week  by which time we should have our Christmas tree and decorations up, such big kids but just love Christmas.

Have fun

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Craft Fairs and Expectations

I have been doing fairs for more years than I care to remember, stopped doing them then started again. We all have expectations as to what our craft fairs should produce and the rule of thumb is 10 times the rent. So if the rent is £30 you hope to make £300. Now in reality that has never happened to me or to others I have talked to. 

On a positive note you also have to factor in advertising, a fair is your form of advertising and by handing out business cards you may get repeat or new business via your website.

I use postcards with product images not just small business cards, as these can be lost in bags, thrown away when they get home or if not enough info the customer may not remember what it was you did. The secret is to make it as easy as possible for a customer to look at your card and have a memory jog.

Advertise the event yourself on Facebook and your site, newsletters, notice in your car etc. I do not expect the organiser to do it all for me as I may live in a different area and can reach a wider audience.

Your stall should also be well laid out, worth practising first at home, pricing clear (though you will still get asked 'how much is this'). Be ready in case someone asks for a special order, have an order book with you and explain clearly what you expect from them ie, full payment up front, postage costs etc. Sometimes with fair orders I waive the postage fee but that is up to you. I just feel they have made the effort to visit, pay to come in and place an order, all part of my customer service.

Make your stall as enticing as possible, adding props, lights etc. This is your one chance to make a lasting memory to the visitors. Remember your 1 or 2 or 3 day event is your shop front for that time. Customers may not visit that event again but make sure they remember you and your products.

At my last event, Brocante at the Cathedral, a lady rushed up to my stall, so pleased I was there as she had bought from me at the Grayswood Brocante. She spent some more money with me and said she would come again to Grayswood in December. This made me feel happy as to have a customer that follows you is brilliant, that they love what you do. She even brought her Mum with her and she bought as well.

I was told that my stall was memorable as so pretty and pink. I do tend to make in pink, white and ivory, some say this is limiting my customer base but remember reading some time ago to make your website cohesive. Not too many random colours try to keep to a uniform palette. This way you build a customer base round the colours you use and the products on the website mix and match.
These are mine with an occasional hint of duck egg and grey

I have used random colours before but since following this rule have had far more compliments and at Guildford had an elderly gentleman, whose wife had bought from me, said 'Do you make this all yourself' my reply was yes and he said 'it is all wonderful such pretty colours, I could stand here for hours just looking'. These type of comments mean a lot to me as so good to be appreciated.

So are fairs worth it? well they are a cheap form of advertising, as we all know that can be a horrendous bill. Customers get to meet you the maker and feel the cloth, so to speak. Weigh that up and then decide was the event worth it or not. Some are not as I think all down to the customers. I love meeting up with other business women, have a chat, swap ideas, hear about good fairs and those to avoid.

Best practise smile and look as if you want to be there, talk about what you make with passion.

A new venue this week for Handmade Monday Sum of Their Stories

Until next week, have fun

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Book Review - The Natural World of Needle Felting

The Natural World of Needle Felting by Fi Oberon

I have been asked to review this book, this is a subject I have never had a go at but always wanted to so perfect and animals could not be better.

A hard cover book, always makes a book feel better and the photography by Brent Darby is beautiful, so enticing to continue through the pages learning how to make these wonderful animals and birds.

The contents are broken down into easy to read sections:

Nature and Nurture about the author growing up and her love of wildlife

Tools, Equipment and Techniques covering the wool (had no idea so many wools and what each can do). Needles, equipment such as felting blocks how to go about structure from a basic shape. How to sculpt, adding colour, textures, character and wire work.

A special section to me was creating sets to place your animals into, this adds dimension to the item made and natural sets look so good. This covers things such as trees, shells and more.

Farmland Traditional farmyard animals such as chickens, cows, a beautiful swallow with her nest and chicks, the sheepdog, sheep and rabbits. 

Polar Region from polar bears, reindeer (would look brilliant in a Christmas scene and penguins who does not love these cute little fellows.

Uplands more the creatures we are used to goats, fox, hedgehog, snail loved by little boys, the sweetest little dormouse in a conker shell am going to have a go with this one, squirrel and owl

Coast Love this section as all things to do with the sea remind me of times spent in Devon when a child. To make from this section a starfish love the instruction as to how to make the lumps on the body, seagull and an oyster catcher.

I would highly recommend this book for needle felting beginners and advanced alike as inspirational, well done Fi.

How about adding to your Christmas list available from 

Thank you Jessica for giving me this opportunity to review a delightful book.

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