Tag Archives: craft fair

Update 11/1/2012

Fall is my busy time of year. All of my big craft shows are in the fall. It leaves me with little time for anything else and as such I have neglected my blog. Never fear, I am still here and still plugging away at my art.

I finished my giant bowl just in time for the Artist Supporting ARC show last week. I think it turned out pretty well.

copyright 2012 Christina Kester

I’m currently working on upping my holiday ornament stock for upcoming shows. I have the SUNY Plattsburgh Craft show this weekend. It is one of the bigger shows in the area and was a good venue for me last year.  Here are some recent magnets, ornaments and a square bowl in progress.

 

In my spare time, I have also been working on my digital painting skills.  One of my goals for improvement earlier this year was to work on more dynamic figures and backgrounds. The following two sketches are a start to that.  For the first, I referenced stock photos by Chonastock on Deviant art for the pose. The second sketch was inspired by Brom.

copyright 2012 Christina Kester

 

copyright 2012 Christina Kester

 

Obvious Outdoor Event Lessons

I did my first outdoor Farmer’s Market today in Keene, NY and I learned some lessons about outdoor venues… lessons that should have been obvious in hindsight.

First, it is windy outside. If you have a tent anchor it. Luckily, mine was adequately anchored for the light wind we had today. My display, however, was not. I work with wood. Wood is actually pretty light. Some of my bowls took flight. None were damaged, thankfully.  The other problem with my display was with the metal grid I use to hang some of my pieces from.

A gust knocked it over. One of my pieces was damaged. I potentially lost customers because I had to fix my display.

My first idea to fix the problem was to put the walls to my tent up. This worked for a while, but it was insanely hot. Again I potentially lost customers, because no one wanted to stay long enough to browse. Even with the walls, the display was knocked over again.

My final attempt to fix the problem was to stabilize the grid. I don’t think it looked as good. If I had thought of it earlier I would have rearranged my entire display around it.

Now I just need to figure out a more stable way to display my bowls outside. .

New Work 11-13-2011

I’ve been busy creating some wonderful new pieces for my upcoming shows.  This weekend I am at the SUNY Plattsburgh Art and Craft show.  Here’s a peek at a few of my new items…

copyright Christina Kester 2011

copyright Christina Kester 2011

copyright Christina Kester 2011

copyright Christina Kester 2011

 

Craft Fairs

I now have two small craft fairs under my belt. While that does not make me an expert by any stretch of the imagination, I did learn a few valuable things from my experience. Before my shows, I did some online research on what to bring with me and how to stage my display.  For my checklist, I used a list by Bazaar Bizarre and adapted it to my needs. It is important to keep in mind that the fairs I went to were small, local events. If you were going to a bigger festival, you would probably need more things.

  • Information and directions to the craft fair – For Applefest, I needed to find the person who ran the festival to see where to set up. For Colors of Fall, I was given a map and my spot was marked.
  • Inventory – I brought everything I have to both events. I highly recommend bringing more than you think you will need. It can be hard to gauge how much you will sell, particularly if it is your first show in that venue. At the smaller fairs I went to, I learned that I need to have more lower priced items and fewer higher priced items. I brought a portfolio of work I had sold to Colors of Fall. The people who were really interested in my work would take the time to look through it.
  • Inventory List/Price List – All of my items had prices clearly visible, however they were not affixed to the items. It was nice to have a list of prices so that I could make sure the tag was next to the right piece if someone had set it down in a different spot after picking it up to look at it. Having a complete inventory list will also help you keep track of what you have sold. I marked an item as sold immediately on my inventory list.
  • Change –  For the small fairs I went to, I had $100 in $5’s and $1’s. I kept it in a locked cash box. Some people like cash aprons or cash bags better because it is easier to take it with you if you have to leave your booth for any reason.
  • Display – This was something I put a lot of thought into. Your table (or tent) is the first thing your potential customers are going to see. Make sure that you cover your table with a cloth at the very least. I also added some seasonal elements (leaves and gourds). Don’t forget your sign. You want people to know who you are. Here are some pictures of my display. There are a few things I want to do differently next time, but it isn’t a bad start.
  • Helper – For me, this was important. I really wanted the moral support for my first show. And having someone around to mind your table/booth while you go to the restroom is a life saver. Here are some pics of my awesome helpers.

  • Business cards – Customers may want an easy way to find you again.  I went through a couple hundred at the very small fairs I went to, so bring a lot.
  • Receipt book – I didn’t actually use the one I brought, but I really want to use it next time especially with the larger purchases.
  • Cell phone – Always a good idea to have
  • Packing materials and bags –  I used the paper that my unfinished bowls were shipped in to wrap purchases. For bags, I used ones I kept from the grocery store.
  • Snacks and water – To help keep your energy up
  • Miscellaneous supplies –  Pens, paper, tape, sewing kit etc.
  • Business license and tax permits – It is the law. Make sure you are conforming to it.
  • Camera – It is a good idea to take a picture of your display for future reference and for marketing
  • Portfolio –  If you have room on your table, it is nice to bring a portfolio or even just a photo album of work you previously sold or didn’t bring with you.
  • Craft Supplies – Work on your craft during downtime… besides the fact that people are curious and may ask you about it, it keeps you busy.
So far my experiences have been positive. One of the fairs was not high in sales, but was full of information. I learned which of my designs seem to be the most popular and what price range people were more likely to buy.  I hope my next craft fair in Tupper Lake, NY on October 15th proves to be a good one. 
Cheers and good luck in your own artistic endeavors.

Thoughts from a Meeting with the SBA and New Work

A couple of weeks ago I had a meeting with someone from the local Small Business Administration (SBA). I got a lot out of the meeting and would recommend that any artist who is having trouble with or just needs some advice on the business side of art give it a try. My meeting was specifically about writing a business plan. It is something you have to do if you want to get funding, but my goal  is to be able to provide myself with a road map with some clear goals.

I went in concerned that I was crazy to want to dive into a full-fledged craft business in a rocky economy. One of the first things that the counselor told me was that the art and craft market is a little different from other sales markets. In part, this is because people buy the connection with the artist as much as they are buying a unique item. So one suggestion she gave me is to make myself, not just my product, stand out.  A bad economy is not necessarily a bad time to start a craft business.  Planning and hard work can make it viable.

Another suggestion the counselor gave me was to go over my prices carefully.  She said artists and crafters tend to undervalue their time. I am certainly guilty of not tracking my time very well. It can be difficult to do when balancing working at home and caring for an exuberant young child. But I have started recording the time I sit down to work and the time I get up, even if only for a moment. It has been an eye opener.

Finally, the counselor gave me some great general advice on craft fairs. She said that each craft fair is a different market. What sells at one may not sell at another even if they are close geographically. It can take some trial and error to figure out what to bring to each fair. She also suggested bringing a portfolio of my work that includes items that I have sold or that I didn’t include in the fair. With this customers can see the full range of what I can do. If I advertise that I take commissions and do custom work, I may be able to get more sales.

My first craft fair is coming up soon (Applefest in Peru,NY on Sept 17 and 18). I hope that I can use what I have learned and make it a successful and enjoyable experience.

*****

As for new work, I have a lot of it. Here is a sample of some of my most recent.

copyright Christina Kester 2011

 

copyright Christina Kester 2011

 

copyright Christina Kester 2011

New Work 8-16-2011

Here are some of my latest pieces. They will be posted for sale in my Art Fire store soon. The box is made of pine and is one that I got from a supplier. The pendants are maple from a tree a friend cut down. The experience cutting and sanding them was fun. I am hoping to get some other woods from local sources to turn into pendants.

copyright 2011 Christina Kester

 

copyright 2011 Christina Kester

 

I have also been working on updating my main website. I haven’t used it in quite some time, but it still gets pretty high on Google’s list when you search for me. It just wont do to have an out of date website anymore. I am also scouring the area for small local craft fairs to show my wares.  I’ve applied for one in Glens Falls, NY in September. I’ll post more details as I get them.

Cheers