Maker Faire 2011!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

I'm trying to understand what made this fair 130849230842081309482048 times better than any other fair. I think it has everything to do with the people--the attendees & fellow makers, crafters, and innovators. Every participant and attendee came with a pre-existing appreciation and respect for DIY, and came because of this appreciation. It wasn't to find a cool gift for their friend, or a sweet handmade t-shirt. And every vendor was of the highest skill, quality and caliber. It was definitely an honor to be amongst the hundreds of makers & vendors. Really. An honor :)
I knew they expected 80,000 in attendance but honestly, I didn't know what that meant until it was 12:30pm and people were squeezing their way through the aisles. It was awesome!
nearing the bottom of the bin
closing up shop

I had quite a few favorite moments:
  • Met three amazingly clever and chatty kids who wanted to email me their own drawings. Devon, Kalia, and Ian (sorry if I misspelled), I was serious when I said I'd do a drawing exchange! We can be drawing pen pals! Email me :)
  • the little girl who went through each painting telling her mom an improvised tale
  • the clink doppelgangers(!!!!!!):
  • the woman who requested the 'love of my life' tin can card & sent her friend on a mission to distract her girlfriend at a neighboring booth while I made the card
  • kids digging through the trunk in search of the few elephants with eyes
  • Kevin telling customers I had stepped out but that I look like her, pointing to the cardboard sign
  • oh, and this email: "I just wanted to tell you that when I asked my daughter what her favorite part of the Maker Faire was this year she said seeing your work :) It was one of my favorite parts too."
Warm fuzziness all around. I will definitely apply for next year :)

Craft Fair Preparation Demystified! part 5

I think I should rename the series to something else because we've moved past preparation and onto THE REAL DEAL! I completely failed to blog about what happens during a fair while the actual fair was happening because I was so dang tired. But! Here it is!

9. Vending like it ain't no thang
I look terrified but don't be! It's all gravy! :)

There are a few things to remember while vending:
  • Greet your customers. A lot of stores & boutiques even have 'greeter' as a duty & there's a reason for it. It's important to make them feel acknowledged & welcomed to do more than just a glance-and-a-walk-away. And if they do pull that move, don't be discouraged--there's always someone new to talk to!
  • If they decide to hang around, engage! Chat 'em up by asking a question as simple as 'how are you?' or tell them a fun fact about what they're eying. Make it interesting & don't be shy! If they ask how much it is, don't just say the price. Give the product a story so it's personal.
  • Accessibility. When I say accessibility, I mean it to describe your products and YOU! You are the face of your business so make sure you're visible, smiling, and able to easily engage with your customers. You can do this while standing next to your booth, sitting behind, whatever. Just make sure you can be seen. Regarding product, I usually keep display copies in the front and the purchasable items in the back for safe keeping. And when I organize everything, I make sure everything I'll need urgently is immediately close by.
  • Your supportive, visiting friends are important & of course you want to show your appreciation. I learned from experience that it's good to let them in behind the booth and talk to them while keeping an eye on the front of the booth. Friendship crowds are good but not so much if they're blocking access to your booth. Don't worry--your friends will understand.
  • Making the sale. Congratulations! You did it!!! I think it's good to develop a rhythm--deliver the price, package the item, $ transaction, change, thank you & hand off, inventory log. If you have a helper--even better! I tend to handle the verbal/face action while my helper is backstage prepping it all.
here's my helper :)
  • Stay hydrated, sit, take breaks, and eat. It'll be hard to find a moment to eat a complete meal without being interrupted so plan on lots of snacking. Bring fruit, granola, nuts, cookies and chocolate for a lovely pick-me-up. Oh & mints for that after-snacking breath :)
  • Keep a notebook at your post in the event of artist suggestions, notes on customers, custom orders, good stories or suggestions. There's so much happening you probably won't remember unless you jot it down.
  • The last moments of the day are the toughest because you're pooped but try your hardest not to take down early. You never know who will come by in a hurry & with an intent to buy. & when you do pack up, make sure to keep the money on you. You have much more at stake than the starting $100 in change. Take your time to put everything away in an orderly & organized fashion. It'll be a lot easier to unpack when you're home or if you're readying for another fair.
Mmmm... I'm on a roll so I'll finish this series with the final step:

10. Craft Fair Wrap-Up
By this time, your brain is putty. You're exhausted & want nothing more than to veg. To counterattack this impulse, I created a post-craft fair to do list so I don't have to think about the steps. It's all spelled out for me & it's pretty consistent with every fair:
  • unpack supplies & inventory
  • input finances in log
  • check inventory for loss/theft
  • blog/fb/twitter about event
  • update mailing list
  • email follow ups/inquiries
  • email 'nice to meet you' coupon
  • deposit money
  • plus/delta
I usually get this all done the day after the fair. Afterwards I feel a sense of closure and can move on to whatever is next on the plate.

Everything on the list is important but IMO, the most significant is the plus/delta (photo above). Writing out the good & bad very much informs what my intentions are for the next fair, and in some cases, what the next fair will be. Big questions to ask are: do I need to change or add to my inventory in light of how people responded? Do I need to work craft fairs at all? Should I share a booth or have my own next time? Do I need to change my display? Of course, this is all from one fair and it's up to you to test & see if it's an actual trend or simply a fluke.

Overall, as you can see fairs are kiiiind of a big deal. A lot goes into a day or two of vending, but I think it's well worth it especially because it'll tell you more than just a thing or two about what it means to be a business.

Huzzah!!! :)

Here are previous posts part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...