I participated in my first craft fair this weekend. I signed up for this a few months ago – once my hobby started producing so much soap that I could no longer use it all or give it all away to friends and family. Once I decided to turn my hobby into a business, signing up for the craft fair gave me a deadline. By that date, I had to be fully up and running with a business license, insurance, stock, and packaging. And I made it by the deadline! By the date of the show, I was officially open for business.
Here are a few lessons learned from my first craft fair.
- My table design. I had a six foot table that I needed to fill with my products. It needed to look professional and display all my products without looking cluttered or haphazard. My husband and I spent a few hours the weekend before playing around with the table design and when we found one that we thought worked, we took a picture of it so I could replicate it at the fair. I also posted the picture on the Simson Street Soaps Facebook page and Instagram page and asked for feedback. To my delight, most people liked the layout, but I did receive a few suggestions that really helped to improve my table the day of.
- My stock. My goal was to have 100 bars of soap ready and fully cured by the date of the show. I had 92, so I was a little nervous going in that it wouldn’t be enough. I picked a smaller craft fair at a local high school just to get my feet wet. There wasn’t a ton of foot traffic, so the 92 ended up being the perfect number.
- My selection. My original goal was to have 10 different soaps to display. About 6 weeks prior, I decided that was too few and made two extra types of soap that would be ready just in time for the show. The 12 soaps ended up being a good number for the smaller type of show I was at. It was just enough to provide a good selection – most people who bought the soaps looked through several before picking the one(s) they wanted.
- My packaging. I deliberated about packaging for a long time. I did a lot of research. Some soap makers swear by shrink wrapping soap, while others leave the bars completely bare. I decided to go with a cigar band. I wanted people to be able to smell the soaps, but have a place to hold them so they wouldn’t actually be putting their hands all over each bar. In the end, the packaging was perfect. There were 2 other soap makers at this craft fair and both shrink wrapped their soaps. I had several customers tell me that they loved being able to smell each soap before choosing, so they knew exactly what they were buying.
What Didn’t Work:
- My preparation time. I procrastinate. I didn’t finish packaging all my products until the night before. I didn’t load my car until the morning of. Next time, I need to give myself more time to prepare everything.
- Craft show research. Although I wanted my first show to be a smaller craft fair, the one I chose ended up being extremely slow. I did well, considering the low amount of foot traffic. In the future I need to do more research regarding how the shows have done historically to help me better prepare for how busy or slow I will be.
- My selection. I know I said this was something that worked, and it did! But I did still have people asking for soap scents that are fairly common that I didn’t make because I don’t particularly like them myself (i.e. Lavender). I need to branch out and make things that the customer wants, which may not necessarily be what I would want, myself.
- Business cards. I didn’t have any – I really should have brought some. I thought about it before hand and, for some reason, decided not to make/buy any. I had several people ask for a business card/information on my Etsy shop and all I could tell them was to look me up by name on Facebook/Etsy. Next time, I will have these ready.
All in all it was a great experience. I’m excited to see what the next show brings!