My Big Fat Craft Fair FAIL…

Have you ever worked really hard at something, only to have it be a big fat failure?

Yup, that was me this past weekend with my big fat craft fair FAIL.

I had all of these dreams and visions of a semi-successful craft fair, with at the very least only half of my inventory selling. Wanna know how much I sold??? Zip. Nada. Not a ting. Well, unless you count the 2 barrettes that my craft fair partner bought when I wasn’t looking, I think to make me feel better. HA! Now that is a good friend!

Needless to say, I was sooooooooo bummed.

I even had all of these plans to tell you what I learned, a whole week of a possible mini-Series. Yeah, ummmm…that is not going to happen.

That is not to say that I didn’t learn anything though.

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I worked really hard for the two months leading up to it, making all sorts of clothing in my free time. Learning how to ‘assembly line sew’ as I called it. Trying to figure out what clothing would be the fastest to make, in the least amount of time. Going through my fabric stash and seeing what I wanted to stash bust with. Even coming up with some new designs to premier.

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I learned how to take credit cards, made up business cards, even figured out the cheapest route for clothing labels.

I had things for little boys, little girls, even a few things for Mom.

And our set up looked beautiful. (Sure, maybe it wasn’t white tent and carpet beautiful like I first envisioned, but hey – it was our first time out of the gate, and I wasn’t going to invest that kind of money for my very first one!)

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I even made myself a new skirt (which I love!)…

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So what happened?

Well first of all, location location location.

I don’t know if it was because we were a first time vendor or if it was just the luck of the draw. But we were in the WORST location possible. Wanna know how many people stopped by our tent? Maybe 10 at the most. And of those 10 only 2 had kids. Not much of a recipe for success. There was one general location where ALL of the vendors were, and we were not there. The people who organized the Fair wanted to try to make tents all over their property, filtering people through the whole event – but that didn’t happen. People visited the one main location, and didn’t even see us on the other side.

I started to think of things like Celebrity Apprentice and how I could run around to the other part of the craft fair where all of the vendors were located and pass out flyers…if I only had flyers. Or maybe wearing my bustle backpacks over there and starting conversations loudly with people about how I saw this amazing vendor selling them on the other side of the area. Needless to say, I didn’t do any of this. I would have felt like a total tool. But definitely could have been more hard core like that.

But all in all, it was a total blow to the big ole ego. What happened? Wasn’t my stuff good enough? I thought it was all gorgeous. I mean, we did have 10 people stop by – and not one of those 10 people bought anything. They looked, and one person even took a picture of it (I wanted to shoo her away telling her not to steal my ideas – HA!). But no one bought anything. Some looked at the price tag and walked away. But that was it. Was I a total craft fair loser?

I took a look around the rest of the craft fair and realized something else. This wasn’t my target audience. The vendors that were there in the main area were all selling what I like to call ‘chotshke’ items. All items for $2 – $10, with not a lot of quality product.

Is this what people want at a craft fair??? Maybe I was just way off.

These are all thoughts that went through my head, and are still going through my head to tell you the truth.

But there was one extremely GOOD part of the day. And this is the part I am clinging to. When my family showed up…

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My girls got to see their Momma doing something with her talent…working hard outside of being a stay at home Mom.

My daughter Chloe was perhaps my BIGGEST cheerleader. When the girls came to visit, I got the biggest running jump hugs – and they were so happy to see and finally understand what Momma was doing with all of her ‘craft fair items’. Chloe didn’t understand why no one had bought her Momma’s stuff, and kept asking if anyone had bought anything yet. She even tried to sell a barrette to my partner – HA! It just warmed my heart.

And I was also able to turn it into a good lesson for her. I was able to put on a smiley face and explain to her that sometimes it is okay to ‘lose’ – just like in her soccer games, sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. But what is important is how hard we worked or tried.  And she got to see Momma ‘lose’ and be okay with it.

Furthermore, I got to witness just how much my kids love me. To see my daughter being my biggest cheerleader, my goodness I fell in love all over again. My husband supported me, and still supports me 100%. My girls love me unconditionally, and were there cheering me on all the way. And my baby boy was happy to see me home at the end of the day.

And the best part? We got mini dance shows from both of our kids…

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I also learned something about myself.  I learned that my sewing has matured.  I used to be what I called a ‘selfish sewer’, dragging my feet if I had to reproduce something.  This experience has taught me that I have been sewing long enough and made enough clothes, that I am now mature enough to be able to go the next step.  I can make items on demand, I can take custom orders, and I can make the same item over and over again if need be.  I used to hate doing that because I felt it kept me from being creative.  I found I even enjoyed doing it!

So maybe it wasn’t a success in the way the world views it.  But it was a success for my heart, for my family, and for my Spirit.




And now I just need to take the next step.  Do I try another Craft Fair at perhaps a different location, do I visit local children’s boutiques, or do I go for the Etsy route.  



We shall see.  Lord knows I have the inventory – HA!



Thanks so much for stopping by, and for your support.



And until next time…Happy Sewing.

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Jess

Jess Abbott the Sewing Rabbit is the founder and creative director behind the me sew crazy blog, as well as SewSet.com, 5 & 10 Designs, GNO Events, and co-editor of STYLO. She resides in Virginia Beach with her husband and 3 children.
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Comments

  1. says

    How disappointing for you and unfair of the organisers to put you where they did. It’s great that you’ve been able to take so many positives out of it. I spent days making lots of chocolate truffles to sell at my son’s pre-school Christmas fair. I only sold 3 boxes and they were all sympathy buys. I definitely wasn’t selling to the right market either. Your set up did look gorgeous and the clothes you made are beautiful. I sew far too slowly to even consider making to sell. I am sure it would sell well at the right craft fair or on Etsy. Best of luck with whatever you decide.

  2. says

    Aw, you had me tearing up there reading about how wonderful and supportive your family are! My 5.5 year old son was asking me about an item I made the other day (he was watching me take photos of it) and when I explained that it was for sale he said, “Mummy people will buy lots of it and give you lots of money.” His belief in me was worth more than any sale I could ever make. You should be proud of yourself. Getting all that stock ready is a lot of work, especially when you have little kids. I too am thinking about etsy, it’s hard to work out how to sell your craft/sewing when there is so much of it out there but you love making stuff so much that you just have to give it a go! Best of luck and treasure those memories of your gorgeous girls :)

  3. says

    Aww sweetie, that sucks :( I must say you have an absolute TON of stock though, to sell half you’d have done really well!

    My sister and I had a similar craft fair fail at our first one, we made a £12 loss overall I think!

    We’ve come to realise though that although no one will ever be able to get rich or even barely make a living doing craft fairs, they are really fun (at the right one) and a great day out. We have an indoor one that we do that we came home from feeling like we’d had a good day out as we’d laughed so much and had a great time with the other stall holders.

    You might do better to find a regular craft market, maybe once a month where people know they can find you and you can build up a customer base. Never de-value your friends and family, it’s easy to see sales to them not being proper sales but in all direct sales opportunities you’re encouraged to use your own personal network. Don’t be afraid to tell your friends and family what you have made, show them pictures, samples and they in turn will tell others. They’ll be your biggest fans and your biggest asset when it comes to selling.

    Chin up and get straight back out into as many fairs as you can. You’re set up now and each future one will not take much preparation, try to keep all of your supplies together to make it easier for yourself so you can just turn up on the day and everything’s ready. Take it from me, storing a ton of stock is no laughing matter, get out there and get it sold!

    p.s. your stall looks amazing!!

    p.p.s. I’ve also found it’s useful to get friendly with other stall holders and ask which fairs they’ve had success at. We booked one really expensive fair as it was the ‘biggest and best’ only to find out that 9 out of 10 stall holders we asked on the day were there for the first time. And we didn’t do well ourselves. If other stall holders are not returning then the organiser didn’t do a great job of promoting it or their stalls (which is what you pay your fee for right?) so don’t go there. Go where the regulars are going back to time and again.

    p.p.p.s. sorry for going on, don’t give up! xx

  4. says

    THANK YOU so much for sharing this – I’ve done the very same thing and wondered what’s wrong with me and what I make. What you make is so beautiful, you’ll find your market!

  5. says

    Yes, your stuff is amazing and you will succeed at this. And you are so right about location-it is half the battle, and you just get the luck of the draw most times.

    Loving those little bloomers with the ruffle! Are those your original pattern? Darling!

    Hope you have much better luck next time. (At least it wasn’t raining!!)

  6. says

    oh sweetie! not sure what to make of it either. a friend of mine had the same experience with a craft fair she did. not one sale and her stuff was beautiful as well. lots of quilted goodies and such. her problem was location as well. your attitude is perfect though. we learn from everything in life and what your children saw you doing is far more important then big sales! yes, im sure it would have been great to sell out and really im still shocked you didnt, but dont give up. try again…somewhere else:) you would be killer on etsy though. your stuff is amazing!!! so with all that said, i hope you know that we love you even more for all your honesty. so…how many bustle bags do you have? im willing to buy some. really i am. just let me know if your ready to sell them or not.

    oh the booth looked amazing by the way! loved the layout and it was much larger then i thought it was going to be.

  7. says

    Oh Jessica! I can only imagine how disappointed you felt! I thought your booth looked lovely and it looks like you had a lot of wonderful items for sale! It can be so frustrating being in the handmade business. Etsy is a wonderful outlet for us to sell our creative works, but even that can be tough with so many talented people selling on there. I’ve often been down in the dumps wondering why my shop isn’t more successful when I think I make great things :)

    If I were you, I definitely wouldn’t give up. You are too talented for that. Give Etsy a try. With your blog readership and facebook subscribers, you already have a big audience to help spread the word! And what a blessing to have a supportive family…you got me teared up reading about them! My hubby & kiddos and parents keep me going too.

    I appreciate your willingness to share your experience, even though it wasn’t what you had hoped. We, your readers, think you are awesome!

  8. says

    I’m so sorry it didn’t go well for you… you were definitely not at the right fair! Your products look gorgeous. I haven’t tried a market stall yet, but have been thinking about it…. just need to find the time to sew enough stock to sell.
    I’ve just started up my Etsy store… I’ve had 2 customers, one being my mother in law & the other one of my followers… both custom orders.
    It won’t hurt to give Etsy a try.. it’s quite easy to set up & you have a good following here on your blog that might bring some customers your way ;-)

  9. says

    Try, Try Again! I had the same thing happen to me my first craft fair! The location at the fair wasn’t great, and the items other people were selling weren’t even handmade. I tried the same craft fair (they do it twice a year) and had a much better turn out! Keep your chin up! Your items are beautiful!

  10. says

    Oh, Jessica, that sucks! My first craft fair was the same. I had made appliqued onesies and little twirly skirts. Oh, and I had appliqued about a hundred pillowcases with all sorts of cute things that I thought people would love. I didn’t sell a thing of what I’d sewn. And we had lots of traffic all day. By the end of the day I was ready to yell, “If you come in my tent and say HOW CUTE! more than once THEN YOU HAVE TO BUY SOMETHING!!!!” :)

    The next fair I spent months making these beautiful wire wrapped jewelry pieces. Never sold a one of them. You know what did sell? These $5 necklaces made from cracked marbles. I could make about a hundred of them in an hour. So great for making a profit, but so depressing that anything I had made that required skill didn’t sell at all.

    I do think craft fairs can be hard. Either hit or miss. They can be really fun, though.

    I have no good advice, sorry! Since you have so much inventory, I think local children’s boutiques would be good. Although selling something wholesale doesn’t make you as much money, it does help you sell stock and it’s nice to find out what sells when it’s in the exact right venue.

    And as far as Etsy, I’d spend time on Etsy looking at people that sell stuff like yours and see how they’re doing. And see how many of them there are. It took me a LONG time to find a nitch on Etsy. But now it does work well for me.

    I think your booth was beautiful!

  11. says

    This is an awesome post. Really well written, really well thought out. Just. Like. Your BOOTH! I am awed and amazed at the professionalism that is your booth. You did a GREAT job putting it together, and I’m really impressed. I’ve been doing the local craft fair market for about a year, and I will tell you that you hit the nail on the head regarding location AND the target market. You sell boutique worthy items, and need to get into a higher end/indie craft show. It doesn’t hurt (I think) to have an Etsy shop, but Etsy is SO diluted with product it can be hard to get sales without sending potential customers to competitors. You’ll have to let us know if you do go to a local boutique and sell through them – I have thought of doing this and worry that selling at “wholesale” prices will not make it worth my time. But it is true – your items are beautiful and belong in higher-end markets.

    And those dance moves are fantastic!

  12. says

    That is really a disappointment that it wasn’t more successful. I had the exact same experience at my first craft fair. I sold only one item and I left feeling very discouraged. I’m in the same spot right now trying to decide if I should try another fair. I also felt my problem was location as well as wrong audience. I’m looking into a more “artsy” fair for next time. I hope you stick with it. You have such beautiful items that I would certainly think will sell with the right audience.

  13. says

    Oh No! I was hoping that your post about the craft show would be about how wonderful it went.:( Reminds me of the one time I attempted to sell hair bows, crayon rolls, and burp cloths at our elementary school’s Santa’s Workshop (mini craft show). Some of the teachers took pity on me and bought a couple of things but it was far from a rousing success. I swore off doing craft shows after that!

    In VB, I’d say your best bet would be trying the local boutiques and some of the larger craft shows. I think the convention center down by the beach does a spring show and then there’s the Christmas one held at the Kempsville Rec Center. You have a great eye for design and some really nice items…don’t give up!:)

  14. says

    Sorry things didn’t work out better, but how sweet is your family!? I think it’s great you took the time to explain that things don’t always work out to your daughter. And I LOVE the skirt you wore. Pretty sure I couldn’t have passed by your booth without buying anything!

  15. says

    I know what you mean, I tried my first craft fair last summer and didn’t sell a thing. I was so disappointed because it felt like all the work and time I had put into everything was for nothing, but now I have items I can sell on Etsy (or wherever I choose) and I did learn a lot from the experience itself – how to decorate a booth, what other sellers did that I could do differently in the future, etc. Just take it as a learning experience and try again! You’re so talented, don’t give up!

  16. says

    Ahhh, I’m so sorry that it didn’t turn out better. I believe 100% that it was location and target audience. I still cannot figure out how/why anyone expects to pay little to nothing for a quality handmade item. I’ve considered doing craft fairs…or farmer’s markets, but haven’t had the guts to do it yet. Thanks so much for the info. I’d love to hear what you did to get ready to accept credit cards, and a bit more about your branding (labels, bus. cards, signage, etc.). Look at what you were able to accomplish, all of that gorgeous inventory.

  17. says

    Let me start by saying I LOVE the skirt you made yourself to wear! I’ve done several shows and swear I’m going to make me something to wear to them and have yet to do so.

    Don’t give up!!!! If everyone based their craft fair experience on one event, then craft fairs would be a thing of the past. I’ve done fairs on and off for several years now. Some years doing none and some doing several. They are always hit and miss. Even the ones that we have been to where we’ve had a great booth location and our set-up looked good. We could do well this yeat at an event and do the same even next year in the same spot and do poorly. You inventory and workmanship is awesome!!! Someone will buy when you get the right customer in the right location.

    As for esty, I have an etsy shop and love it. No, we are not making millions on it but for doing it part time it is worth it. I recommend giving it a try.

    Did you get Square or the new Paypal app to take credit cards? We currently don’t do that but if we do any shows this year we will certainly invest in one of those.

    Good luck in whatever you choose to do…

  18. says

    I think it was the location, try again
    you could also make some itens for 5 to 10 dollars to attract more people and have other itens that could coordinate with it, have as well business cards and a way for people to contact you after the fair, maybe they don’t have the money to buy something at your stand at the time but they can come back in a later day to buy it
    ask some friends to pass by, stands with people viewing itens , talking with the owner attracts more clients, they will want to check , is just the green monster inside of every one
    you vould as well have a portfolio by hand, just a notebook with pictures of itens that you made, you can leave it open, that way people can order itens that you don’t have in the stand at the time
    success next time

  19. says

    you could also try vending direct to the mothers at home, put some flyers on supermarket and shops in the neighbourhood, the mom could call you saying what she is looking for , you give the range of price, if she want you can make an appoinment and bring to her home a selection of clothes to choose or make like a tupperware party but of children’s clothes
    is the way pleople used to do business

  20. says

    I’ve had that happen before too! I’m terrified to ever do another craft fair because of it. Your stuff is so cute though, you just need the right (or AN) audience! I hope you didn’t have to pay for that crappy location!

  21. says

    That has happened to me several times! What a beautiful set up you have! I am so jealous of your displays and items! Don’t give up. Your talent is way too amazing to not have a successful time at some better location or fair for you!

  22. says

    For all of the festivals I’ve been to, a lot of the really successful sellers had repeat buyers. People really get to know vendors after years of buying from them. Etsyy is prob a good idea, but I’d keep at it, you’ll have people falling in love with your superior product.

  23. says

    noooo! after seeing your awesome previews i was sure you’d sell PLENTY of stuff, because everything you made was great! had to be the venue, location within the fair, etc., because there’s no way it was your product. i hope you’re able to get yourself on etsy (or to another craft fair) and sell the dickens out of what you made. thanks also for sharing this, it was brave of you!

  24. says

    Couple of things. I have been doing craft shows for 3 years now and sadly sometimes this happens. Don’t give up!
    I have a fairly regular rule about applying/signing up for shows that I have attended as a shopper before. That will give you an idea of the audience,layout and if you see 10 booths that all sell your style of items. There are shows out there that require all items to be handmade. These can be great shows too.

    Keep going! All that info is important to know and you grow as a business if you keep after it!

  25. says

    Oh no! I just had the same experience this past weekend as well. I bombed at the craft fair I signed up for, and didn’t make my table fee back, which was huge disappointment. There were two major factors involved. 1. It was Mothers Day weekend, so no one was shopping for children’s clothing. 2. It was the first beautiful weekend, and the craft fair was indoors. I felt disappointed, frustrated and embarrassed. I considered giving up, but then I remembered why I do this. Because I love it. It is my creative outlet. A way to express myself, and share a piece of myself with the rest of the world. I think you make adorable clothing, and hit the nail on the head with location, and target market. If it had been a different fair, with a better set up, I’m positive you would have done very well. I’m on Etsy, but I don’t get much traffic. It is very saturated, and I just don’t have the time to market myself, but I do find it handy to send people to that find me at markets. Good luck!

  26. says

    Thank you for sharing your craft fair. I’ve tried at fairs for various items to sell and not had close to the success I dreamed I’d have. It’s a hard thing to see all that work under stressful deadlines just be lugged back home. The good thing is that there are people out there who appreciate quality, homemade items and I just know you are going to sell your items like hotcakes when you find your niche. I wish you all the best and (even though I only know you through blogging) I’m proud of you for trying!

  27. says

    Oh no!! I’m so sorry! Your family, attitude, and items are beautiful!!!!! :) My first (and only) craft fair was like that but I didn’t have awesome stuff like you. I think it would be worth a try at a local boutique or etsy or big cartel or other online vendor.

  28. says

    That is so disappointing, Jessica! Don’t give up. I read through all these comments and there is some great advice! It wouldn’t hurt to start up an etsy or big cartel shop, and do some other craft fairs too! You have all that AMAZING inventory, so why not? Don’t give up, you’re awesome!

  29. says

    Oh, a bad location is the WORST! You are in a really good position, now, in terms of stock, and your booth looked wonderful and inviting. I did shows for years in the magical 1970′s. My suggestion is to become a detective. Go to some local shows as a customer, stop and visit with vendors and ask them whether that show is worthwhile for them. See how many people are actually there, and then look at their hands. Are they carrying bags (purchases)? See if there is a local listing of craft shows and fairs, juried and unjuried, in your area. Those vendors you meet that have a totally different craft will not be in direct competition with you, so they may be more forthcoming. Notice if customers are buying low price items, or if they are deliberating over $100 items….and talk, talk, talk to everyone you can! I do hope you can find a list of shows, with such info as cost to participate, whether you need to send slides or photos (which you already have!), how soon you need to apply, how many customers are expected, etc. Your stuff is gorgeous — so you do not want to go to anything that involves a flea market, in any location of the show, and you do not want to attend anything that also has rides or a carnival…I am thankful that you do realize, Jessica, that you are at least 75% there! It was an annoying glitch, but not a deal-breaker!

  30. says

    Thank you so much for sharing… I am about to take the plunge myself and trying to prepare everything to attend a few craft faires this summer… And I am already preparing for failure. It’s good to know that even if it does happen it won’t be the end of the world :)
    I’m sure you will do great whatever direction you choose to take!

  31. says

    Girl – your stuff looks AWESOME!!!!! You should be proud of yourself! Seriously! It’s tricky but you have to find the right craft fairs. Look for “handmade fairs” and events instead of crafts. Some of them are called crafts fairs and they are filled with knick knacks and no handmade stuff at all.

    If you aim for the shows with handmade sellers people come in the anticipation of shopping and paying the price for quality handmade goods. It’s sucky that so many people go to these things and don’t buy anything or are only looking for some $2 trinket. We need to embrace handmade so don’t give up. Keep going. You will find the right show and you’re gonna rock it!!!! i wish I could have come I would have bought a ton!

    xoxoxoxox

    Please don’t give up! Write me….we can chat :)

  32. says

    Oh Jessica!! I’m so sorry!! I have done a few craft fairs and I know how frustrating it can be when it’s a fail! :( I don’t have any brilliant advice – it sounds like it was just not a good fair/location for you.
    I know your items where amazing, so don’t question yourself. I can’t wait to hear what you’re going to do next!
    Also – I have to say I loved how upbeat you were about it – the photos of the kiddos were so fun and I loved that you were able to share your great attitude with them!

  33. says

    I feel for you I had a similar experience! Target audience was my problem. I make merino wool kids clothes and have had lots of success selling on facebook and felt (our New Zealand alternative to etsy), but felt so let down when I went to my first craft fair a couple of months ago. I think the best thing is to have an attitude like you have about it being a learning curve. I sold heaps of my stuff since online, and I intend to go to other markets but to think carefully about the ones I do go to! It really isn’t a nice feeling to be so excited about how well you are going to do and then just be completely bummed out! Keep your head up and keep going!

  34. says

    I am shocked! Your stuff was sooooo cute AND I loved the set up. I cannot imagine how tough that was for you.

    We all love you here!

  35. says

    I think I would have cried, but your attitude is great.
    My advice for what it’s worth is to find a co-op artisan shop. We have one in our mall and it’s awesome. Artists can sell their wares in a mall store without having to pay the full monthly lease. It’s divided up among all the artists.
    good luck!

  36. says

    Oh Jessica!

    How do I understand you. I have gone through that route last weekend as well and it did not go too well either.

    All the questions you ask yourself I did as well. Marketing to the right audience is important. Location is extremely important too and pricing as well but you don’t want to sell your high quality produce for a cheap price just because you want to sell! I wouldn’t do that. What I say to myself is that the right client for your product will come by, will love the product and will pay the right price for it.

    In the meantime we make things because we love to create and next craft fair is going to be much better.

    Flyers are always good, as well as giving out business cards. Some clients might not need the product there and then but they can always contact you at a later stage.

    And try all the other routes…. boutiques….etsy….etc….And good luck to us!

    Emma
    Littlehandsdreams

  37. says

    I’m sorry it didn’t go better, that’s horrible that they didn’t have a better set up so everybody got the traffic! It’s good to see you’re getting so much advice from people who have been there and done that, I wish I had something useful to add but I don’t.

  38. says

    Awwww Jessica!! I can only imagine how disappointing it must have felt after all that work you put in, but you are FAAAR from failing. Your set up looks fantastic! And I know that you will have plenty of successes from here on out. I really really appreciate you being up front about your experience! I think we need to know that EVERYONE experiences minor set backs and that it’s ok. THANK YOU!!! YOU ARE AMAZING! -Cherie

  39. says

    What a bummer to have so little traffic, but your work is BEAUTIFUL and you should be nothing but proud of yourself for accomplishing all of that…WOW! I think you need to list it all on Big Cartel and let all of your followers have at it! :)

  40. says

    Trust yourself and know that you have mad skills. Once you find your target audience you won’t be to keep enough stock due to the demand. Keep going and don’t give up.

  41. says

    Get that junk online!!!! haha! That’s your audience… you sure are “famous” and people know you make cute stuff… I know I’d buy it! that or BOUTIQUEs. Craft fairs just can be so weird and sometimes people just want crap stuff like at a thrift store!

  42. says

    I’m sorry it was a fail. I would have went crazy in your booth! What a wonderful mom you are to turn it into a beautiful lesson for your kids! You should be so proud of yourself! I sure am. Have a great night

  43. says

    Having been through very similar experiences. I can sympathize with how disappointing this sort of experience can be. I do have some suggestions to pass on to you.

    First, make sure you do your research, what kind of crowd will be there? I did a show that was in a great neighbourhood, the show had been going for many years. However, I didn’t think to check who lived in this neighbourhood. I ended up trying to sell children’s items to retired couples and parents of spoiled dogs. Yikes!
    Second, register as early as possible. Often, returning vendors get the prime spaces, followed by who signs up first. It’s likely that if you signed up less than 3 months before, you won’t get a good place. I looked into a few shows that filled up 6-8 months before the show was scheduled.
    Third, when you work a show, talk to other vendors, find out what shows they recommend and which shows they say to stay away from. Ask how long they have been doing shows. Share business cards with them. Get out there and network.
    Please e-mail me if you have any questions.

  44. says

    HOW FRUSTRATING to have your first attempt end like this! But I’m glad there were still some bright moments in the whole process. I have been to handmade craft fairs (probably like you had expected but didn’t get) before where hand-sewn lovelies like what you had to offer would have been flying off the racks. Maybe a more sophisticated audience next time? Good luck and get back on the horse! :)

  45. says

    Oh, Jessica, I am sorry to hear that! The things you create are hands down amazing, so don’t get discouraged. I have never tried a craft fair, but did some home parties. It is dissapointing when things you create don’t sell (I still have some leftovers), I felt like I could have used the fabric for something else. I just admire that you put yourself out there. You go girl!

  46. says

    I could copy and paste this post for several of my craft fair attempts! It’s so discouraging when you put all that work into it and then see no reward at all… actually, you see a loss since you had to buy the materials, put in the time and pay the entry fee. I’ve found that fairs are total failures for me as far as actually selling anything goes. The people who are drawn to them aren’t likely to buy anything, and what they do buy, they’re looking for garage sale type prices. I have seen great success, though, at shows that either have a strong reputation within the community and offer special pre-sales where people have to buy tickets for first chance at buying things. Also, shows connected with a well established boutique or shop in town tend to be very successful. Both of these have a set clientele who come, and they are the people who either can’t make things themselves, or they don’t have the time and see the value in spending the money one what you’ve made. You should also definitely check out children’s boutiques in your town. I know that the one in my town that I’ve looked into likes to buy things up front rather than have to worry about payments as items sell. They do like to buy it at a “wholesale” price, so it’s a matter of whether or not what you would want for your items would then be affordable at twice that price. I say go for Etsy too! You have a great following here and could probably get business quickly!

  47. says

    Craft Fairs are a funny thing. My Mother and I did 3 last year making these felt playhouses that go over card tables. We compared our products to what was selling on etsy so the first one everyone thought they were cute but we were way more expensive than anything anyone else was selling. The second one we lowered our prices, handed out about 150 cards and flyers and sold nothing, but on a side note I had a lady track me down a few weeks later and bought one from there. The 3rd one was a total on the whim thing and we ended up lower our prices once again and we did sell 3 of the houses we had already made and we got a couple of custom orders out of it. Talking with other crafters, at least in this area, we live in Missouri, craft fairs don’t do as well in the spring as they do in the fall/winter when people are ready to buy for the holidays. So maybe you can just keep your stuff and try another one in the fall/winter. I think Nov is a great month because everyone has Xmas on their minds. We are doing 2 more this fall and we are trying to add a few inexpensive items to make, it seems people will think nothing to drop under $50 but anything priced over that and they seem to hesitate. Location is a must, we lucked out in all of our shows and had great locations. Good luck and keep trying.

  48. says

    Location, location, location. If so few people came to your booth, you can’t blame yourself for the sales. While I don’t go to these things looking to spend a lot of money, I sure do get some more expensive things if they appeal to me. Your stuff appeals to me. Even as a sewer, I buy things that are a bit more time consuming that I want to do such as anything with ruffles!

    Timing is important, too. Backpacks before school, etc. I also agree with those who say it’s good to make quick inexpensive things. And, last, I often buy things as simple as tiny blankets if the fabric is unusual.

    Love your skirt–you looked awesome!

  49. says

    Hugs to you! That totally stinks! I can’t believe it. I can’t even imagine how hard you worked making all that stuff. Your booth looked so cute too :) If I was there I would have purchased stuff fo’ sho!
    Glad you could turn it into something positive! You made very good points.
    Thanks for sharing even though it was a fail.
    Many Blessings!!

  50. says

    So sorry about all of your frustrations (and I’m glad things are looking up from your latest post!). I can imagine how hard that was to deal with!! Your items look gorgeous! It definitely sounds like you were selling at the wrong place. I recently made a bustle backpack for my daughter and get compliments almost every time I take it somewhere! So know your items and hard work are being appreciated from afar. Also, I LOVE the skirt you made for yourself. It looks fabulous on you! Good luck with your next move.

  51. says

    Oh Jessica, I had the same thing happen to me last year! I did one craft fair, sold 1 item and quit! I turned to ebay to sell off the rest of my stock, gradually gave away all the rest as baby shower gifts. Craft fairs just aren’t for me i guess.

  52. says

    I’m so sorry! I think you are amazing, and your work is gorgeous. I hope you find another outlet that works for you, because I know there are MANY people who love to support “handmade.”

  53. says

    I love following your blog and seeing your fabulous creations. I really enjoy your design point of view and sense of humor. What a beautiful, insightful story you shared today!! I think most of us have a tendency to ask “what’s wrong with me” and leave it there. Instead, you discovered sooooo many things that are RIGHT about you. Blessings to you and your beautiful family … they are lucky to have YOU and we are, too! Thanks for sharing your talent, your spirit and all that is YOU in your blog!!

  54. says

    I love this post as it is so inspiring. You took a leap of faith, to tried something new and you worked really hard to do it. And when things didn’t turn out like you had planned, you still learned a great lesson. I love the the girls were trying to help you sell….lol! You know how truly talented you are and when you set out to do something, you will do it. Now, I wish you were back here in NY so you could teach me….lol! I think you should do an Etsy, we would all love to buy your creations!

  55. says

    My business counselor said I should ask boutiques where they go to find new lines and then seek those fairs/markets out. Also, they did not recommend consignment as the business will have nothing invested to make them want to sell your product. Good job on the brochure with your pricing though, that will be very helpful. If you do another fair-have a sign that says “Dealers Wanted”. Email me if you would like more info tootie.bugs@yahoo

  56. says

    I just want to give you a big hug. I’m sorry you had a bad day. You are so inspiring with how you are handling it and using it to teach your children. You are a great mother!

    You knock my socks off with how skilled a sewer you are too. I think you are fabulous! :)

  57. says

    I didn’t read all the comments cause there was a lot! But I just wanted to say that I love your stuff! And your girls are so adorable!! I just got a sewing machine (a couple months ago) and I’m so excited to make stuff with it and when I ran across your blog I feel like it was meant to be! You have the kind of stuff that I would like to make someday! So thank you for posting and putting yourself out there! I’ll be stalking your blog like crazY now! :) Also I have a friend that does craft shows and she never does very good at them but her Etsy site and Facebook page are almost too much for her to keep up with! She’s very talented, I think people just don’t want to spend that much up front!

  58. says

    Oh, I’m feeling all of the disappointment you did that day, re-living some of my experiences. You’ve gotten some really great advice here though :) Ive attended a few over the last year and I can say that once you find the right level of fair for your clientele it gets easier. I’ve had numerous people see me at multiple fairs which establishes a great deal of trust and they tend to order from me later on if they do not purchase anything at the fair. I hand out lots of business cards, even to people without children, they always have a friend or family member with kids :) I also offer free shipping on custom orders placed at the show, it gives them a reason to commit right then and there. Make a variety (cost-wise) of items. Don’t feel the need to discount your stuff, just try to make a few low cost items. I think sometimes people are discouraged and afraid to come in, if they see items they have a general idea of the cost and are OK with, I think they’re more likely to come in. I know the problem you had was traffic, I’ve been there too :( Paid $300 for a show and barely made back the fee. I paid for a premium spot but didn’t get it and ended up on the outskirts where we had a LOT less exposure. I tend to ask my friends and family now which shows they have attended and which they like, this has done really well for me. Don’t be discouraged, they won’t all end this way. You did nothing wrong. Just pick yourself up, dust off and try again! :)

  59. Donna says

    After three hours at a craft show yesterday, and selling only two items (to my neice), I really felt discouraged. This morning I entered the query “my craft items don’t sell” into my search box on the internet and came across your story and the comments following it. Now I don’t feel so “alone” – I am convinced that my items are saleable, as I have sold many by word of mouth, but the craft sales were very disappointing. I am now in a better frame of mind, after reading similar experiences that others have had and, particularly, benefitting from your attitude about your craft show experience. Thank you!

  60. says

    Don’t despair dear. I had my first art show of acrylics and pastels. I worked feverishly all week to produce work to sell. My husband was kind enough to rig up 2×4′s in such a way that we would not have to put nails in the brick backdrop which wasn’t allowed. This was in doors. I also had a sign for consignment work to take orders. I was all nervous the day of the sale. Guess what I sold? Nada. I felt like a complete failure too and deflated. People tell me I do beautiful work but I believe I’m in the wrong location (blue color town) for people to pay what I wanted for my time on the artwork. I have since learned you need to visit lots of shows to see what sells where. You also have to have things in different price ranges, look people in the eye and be friendly. It sounds to me that it was your location more than anything. It also sounded like people didn’t want to pay more than $10 for anything. How about a sign that says: American Made By Yours Truly. Don’t give up, find out which are the most popular shows. How about a home party with a small gift if you bring a friend. Use the same strategies that the big companies for home parties. Best wishes!

  61. Cindy says

    I’ve been in that position a couple of times with my mom. We occasionally get this big idea that we’ll do a show and we pick the wrong one or the wrong year or the wrong weekend when something else big is happening in another part of town. lol

  62. Lexie says

    Just wondering if you ever tried again?…. I hope you didn’t give up. The stuff you made was beautiful!

  63. CJ says

    Just came across your blog… My first experience at a craft fair was exactly the same as yours! Thanks for sharing! ;)

  64. HEather says

    Thanks for the blog and all of the comments. I’m a sewer,too. I did my first craft fair yesterday. It rained. I sold a couple of dresses and 3 bows, but I spent way more than I made. I’m very disappointed. It’s good to know I’m not alone, though.

  65. Mary says

    Thank you soooo much for sharing! I had the same experience and I just feel like hiding! I was so excited and now people keep asking how it went and I am humiliated! I am glad to know it is not just me! It has been 4 days now and when this horrible feeling subsides MAYBE I will try again.

  66. Kim says

    I really enjoyed your blog about ur experience of ur first craft show. A lot of people don’t do very well the first one. They just don’t tell people. I commend u on being honest. That wasn’t fair of the organizer to do that to u. That’s what concessions boot he’s are really good for, cause it is a necessity . And u should have some cheap and all ranges of priced stuff. And they love embellishments. Find something(1 or 2 thing that sets u apart from everyone else. Focus on what makes u unique. I’m a crafter and a show goer. Never ever let people take photos! Post it. Mad bright fun stuff in front. ( red hats love show, like them think fun and bright, eye catcher unique. Just to draw them in so they will look at the rest of your stuff. U we’ll do better each time it trial and error.

  67. Freddie says

    Thank you for sharing you story..I had the same experience as you…but I called it a learning experience…..keep up the good work and I know that you will be a success….

  68. Elaine C says

    You put into words what I experienced this very weekend. At the end of the day I asked the same questions about my items, my display, whether to do it again, Etsy….. Thanks for your story. I know I have great items, I just have to find the right audience to appreciate them.

  69. says

    Your booth and work is awesome. I always invite some of my own clients, offer them a small discount. Home shows work well for me when I can book one. Try getting together with other crafters and do your own event near a busy corner. The most important thing I believe is building a client list and using it. I do art shows and yes you have to build your reputation. You have what it takes for sure. If I can help, email me.

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