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Crafting Heroes Interview with Georgia Hadley; Co-founder of Craft Revolution, Owner of August Lately, & Crafty Mom!

Woo Hoo! Here is another fabulous Crafting Heroes Interview hot off the press. I am really loving these interviews. Like you, I am finding them so inspiring and full of great advice on how to run my own business. For those of you who don’t yet know, I asked the lovely readers of my other blog to vote for their favourite Crafting Heroes and LOADS of them responded, it was great! There are more wonderful Crafting Heroes interviews in the pipeline and this one is no exception…

This time the I’m featuring the lovely Georgia Hadley. Lots of you will already know and love Georgia as a co-writer of the FLIPPING AMAZING Craft Revolution – a site that supports and informs indie craft makers and shoppers alike. I have big respect for Craft Revolution because it was so informative in helping me start up my own craft business. Georgia also makes the most beautiful bags and tasteful jewelry in her pretty shop August Lately. On browsing her shop it’s evident that she applies much of the sound business advice that she shares on Craft Revolution to her own business practices. Georgia lives in Vermont, with Husband and 2 boys. In our interview Georgia shares with us her experiences of starting up and running her Craft Business.

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Georgia – one of the original founders of the brilliant Craft Revolution, and owner of the yummy shop August Lately.

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CraftBoom!: How long have you been in craft business?

Georgia: I have been in the craft business since 2003.

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CraftBoom!: Where/how do you sell your items, and do you work from home?

Georgia: We live in an old farmhouse in Vermont, and my studio is located in the biggest, brightest room in the house. I sell my work primarily online and through retail stores. I have done some shows, but it’s just not my thing.

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CraftBoom!: What made/inspired you to go into craft business, and what were you doing before?

Georgia: When my youngest son was born, I quickly realized that my life was too hectic trying to juggle my work schedule with the schedules of a school-age child and a newborn, so I decided to stay home and try to find a way to earn an income from home. I began designing and selling jewelry at that time, and branched out to sewing handbags and accessories in 2005. Before my decision to stay home, I worked first as a counsellor and then as an assistant manager at a private home for the mentally ill for seven years. The staff and residents there were guests at my wedding, and I am still very close to them all.

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One of Georgia’s lovely bags; I love the professional looking photography.

CraftBoom!: How did you finance the start-up of your business?

Georgia: My husband had just changed fields at the time, and I wasn’t working, so things were very tight at first. I already had supplies from designing as a hobby, so I budgeted a very small amount of our personal money for start-up that included necessary office items and a website program. (There was no etsy when I started!) Over time, I invested more money into supplies and some marketing. You could say I took the slow and steady approach.

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CraftBoom!: How do you decide what you are going to sell?

Georgia: As far as designing goes, I make what appeals to my own personal style. Since I offer design-your-own items, I have to be able to replicate a bag’s shape with a high level of consistency. I normally don’t add a product to my line until I’ve gotten to where I know it well, and can put it together in a reasonable amount of time.

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CraftBoom! When did you realise that your craft business had real potential?

Georgia: When I started to get wholesale inquiries from people that wanted to sell my products in their own stores, I knew that I had reached an important crossroads in my business. I could grow my business as quickly or as slowly as I wanted to. I no longer had to wonder if there would be enough demand for my products, and I had control over how much or how little my business grew. This gave me a tremendous sense of security and allowed me to feel much freer on the creative side of things.

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Autumn Hues Cluster Earrings – if I could make jewelry like this I would be able to sell it, I’d have to keep it all!

CraftBoom!: What things do you do to market your business?

Georgia: In the beginning, I submitted my website to as many directories as I could find. I also worked to set up link exchanges with other websites whose visitors might be interested in my work. Now, when I have a special promotion or a new product, I make sure to submit to blogs. I also purchase ads, both online and in print. Now that my youngest son is in preschool (and will be in kindergarten next year) I have stepped-up my marketing plan to include submitting to magazines.

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CraftBoom!: What things do you know now that you wish you knew from the beginning?

Georgia: I’m basically self-taught in every aspect of this business, so there are many, many things that I wish I had known starting out! However, I would have to say that a very big problem I had in the beginning is that I was so enamoured with owning my own craft business that I could justify almost any purchase because it was “for the business”. I sunk a lot of money into custom printed packaging and other things that were not really necessary, and didn’t contribute to my business’ growth. Now, when I contemplate any major purchase for my business, I spend a lot of time thinking about how it will benefit my bottom line, and if there is a better way the money could be spent.

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CraftBoom!: What do you love most about running your own craft business, and what do you like least?

Georgia: I absolutely love being my own boss. Maybe it’s because I’m a first-born, maybe it’s because I’m a Leo, I don’t know! But I definitely know that I am not good at being told what to do. I also love that my income is not limited by what someone else thinks I’m worth, or how many hours I can spend working for them. The worst part, I’d have to say, is all of the hours I spend alone with my sewing machine. I’m a social person and it does feel lonely at times. It’s also difficult to have my studio in my house, because it is very tempting to go work on a looming order when I’m really supposed to be spending the evening with my husband and two boys.

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CraftBoom!: What advice would you give to newbies who want to start their own craft business?

Georgia: The first thing I would say is, unless you have a large source of funding that you can afford to lose, start slow. Don’t quit a steady, full-time job with benefits to start a craft business. Spend some time getting to really experience what crafting as a business really is like, because I promise, it isn’t always fun! Then take small steps toward full time, if that’s what you desire. Some people find that part time is really all they want out of their business, so that it can stay fun and not feel too much like “real work”. Success is what you define, and it means different things for different people.

The second thing I would say is not to expect success to come over night. Yes, some designers do happen to hit on a design that people go crazy for and instantly find themselves on every blog out there, but that is by no means the norm. Most of us spend years slowly growing our businesses before we begin to see any real profit or notoriety, and that’s okay! We have to remember that even though we are doing what we love, it is still a business, and all businesses need time to establish themselves before they become truly successful.

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CraftBoom!: Are you satisfied with the income that your craft business brings?

Georgia: I am very satisfied with it! I have always felt that if I was going to sell my work, I needed to be making a fair wage. I structure my pricing so that the item is within fair market value and allows me to make a decent amount of money from it. If I can’t meet those two conditions, I don’t sell the item.

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CraftBoom!: What are your plans for future growth?

Georgia: Like a true entrepreneur, I’m one of those people that are always dreaming, and always have at least a couple of irons in the fire. As far as my business goes, I’m kicking wholesale into high gear by adding a sales rep and I’ve also hired a fabric cutter and hope to find some sewers to help meet the increased demand. I’m also working on a book and considering publishing some of my own sewing patterns.

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Design your own Mini Messenger Bag in your own choice of fabrics.

Thank you so much for your open and informative interview Georgia, keep up the good work with your August Lately (well done for doing the wholesale thing and hiring more folks, hopefully that will free up more time for you and your family!), and inspiring people to shop and make indie with Craft Revolution. Best of luck with everything you do. :)

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How to name your Craft Items in your Craft Business

Not long ago I received an email from Myam who had an interesting question; she wanted to know how I went about naming my products and patterns in my shop. She asked: “Is it enough to describe what the thing (toy, dress, bag, etc) is for? Is this process actually easy…” she went to say: “In my case, I have designed bags and I’m stumped on the names to give them. I have this idea to name them after my favorite fiction characters. For instance, I would have “Pippi’s Thing-Finding Bag” or “Contrary Mary’s Gardening Bag.” Is this a wise idea…?

Personally I think those names are pretty cool, but the quick answer to Myam’s question is that it really depends on the flavour of her shop. The bag names are cute, girly, and charming, so if Myam’s products are whimsical and charming, as is her website than, yes the names are quite suitable. That’s the quick answer, but there are a few other things worth considering when naming our craft products and that’s I’m going to look at in this post. Getting your product names right is actually quite important for increasing your sales, especially on the web (more about that later). Before I start have a look at one of my bags and then have a quick look at the home page of my shop (note how it looks, and note the names of a few of the other products).


This is a bag that I made last year; it got sold real quick :)

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Before I tell you the name of the bag, I’ll list some DOs and DON’TS that I applied when naming my bag:

DO:

  1. make part the title of your product somewhat descriptive of your item – this can be the function, the shape, or the material used etc. in the item. For instance: ……….clutch bag, …………candelabra, …………….choker necklace, ………………shawl, Mohair…………, etc. This helps the customer to quickly identify what the product is best suited for. As humans we usually feel happier and more positive towards something when we have an understanding of it; we are more likely to move on to the next thing if we don’t.
  2. make part of the title of your product suit the flavour of your shop – this can be the era in which your items take inspiration from (vintage, punk, 70’s disco etc.), or the craft trend/process (zakka, felting, paper craft). For instance: Debbie’s disco baby……, Aunt Emma’s…….., Fluffy felted……. Naming your items in this way will make them more distinctive to your own shop and will make your items easier to understand.
  3. bear in mind the age of the customer that you want to attract. I know it’s very tempting to want to try and please everyone, but as any business studies text will tell you this just isn’t possible (whole books have been written on the subject of segmenting your market, I’ll try and cover this in another post because it’s important). So for instance if you think that the main bulk of your customers are cash strapped students you would price your items according to their budgets and the same goes for your product names, you would make them appeal to the cash strapped students!
  4. use a touch of humor, but only if it suits and best not to over do it. I used a bit of humor in the name of this craft item because the part of description had some humor in it too. If you can make your customer chuckle (with you!) it’s a good thing because they are more likely to have positive feelings toward your products.
  5. use other moods/feelings such as charm, solemnity, fun, dreamyness, etc. if it suits the flavour of your products and shop. For instance if you sold ceramics inspired by nature, or burlesque inspired accessories, or vintage textiles have a little fun and make that clear in your product names. It will add add cohesiveness to your collection of items, it will help customers understand your products, and it will make your shop ‘look tidy’.
  6. **UPDATE** Laura kindly sent in this important tip : “If you’re going to use names of characters from literature, you need to make sure that the stories are old enough that they’re no longer copyrighted. You wouldn’t want to end up getting sued by a writer or writer’s estate. (I am not a lawyer; obviously check with one if you’ve got a specific concern.)”
  7. be consistent with all of your names. Whichever rules you use with your product names try to apply those rules to all of your products.

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Don’t

  1. make your product names non-descriptive. I don’t think names like “Hannah Bag”, “Black and White Mountain Print”, or “Wool Scarf” are very helpful to customers. Names like these don’t really grab you, they don’t help the customer understand the product, and they evoke no emotion either (ideally you want you customer to experience positive feelings to your products). Yes, the customer could just read more about your product in the product description, but remember when searching for items on the web you don’t always get to see product descriptions. In a web search what you are presented with its the title of the item, so if the title doesn’t grab you, you aren’t likely to click on the search… So do you see that if a customer was searching for “Shoulder bag” on Etsy, or Google, the name “Hannah Bag” becomes pretty helpful. What are the chances that someone would be looking for a “Hannah Bag” in a search unless they knew about you because you are a famous bag designer already (your day will come, along with mine hopefully!)
  2. make your titles too long. Whilst being descriptive, they should still be punchy and to the point.

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and now back to my bag… I called it “Old Romantic Shoulder/Clutch” because:

  • The fabric was romantic looking vintage inspired fabric, the fabric looks both old and romantic. “Old Romantic” is a play on words. I was hoping that customers would like the play on words and that the title would evoke feelings of gentle romance, summer strolls, and girly clothes…
  • I put ‘Shoulder/clutch’ in the title because that is intended use of the bag, and straight away you get a sense of how large the bag is without having to read the measurements (anything that helps a customer to quickly understand a item is a good thing).

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Further Reading:

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Do you name your craft items using any of these methods? How do you name your craft items? :)

Etsy as your Craft Business – this week’s fave Etsy shops.

Most of us will already know that Etsy is a wonderful resource for newbies who want to go into craft business for the first time, and many sellers have made a great success of selling through Etsy alone. Etsy shops are easy to set up, attractive, easy to use, they attract lots of customers, and best of all there is heaps of help and support for sellers.

Here is my weekly round-up of my 3 fave Etsy shops. Every week I review 3 Etsy shops from a Craft Business point of view rather than just commenting on yumminess of the products that are sold. This means I will be looking things like:

  • the photography
  • the product descriptions
  • the mix of products
  • and signs of marketing activity such as other websites or blogs

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This week’s Etsy Faves…

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Fresh Cupcakes by Robin’s Jewelry Box

Etsy Shop Name & Type: Robin’s Jewelry Box

Website/Blog: None

CraftBoom! says: “I found this shop via Joanna Bags. In this shop you’ll find scrummy miniatures of cute cakes, sweets, and cups of coffee to wear as pins of necklaces. The work is highly detailed, charming and very unique. This uniqueness is a very good selling point. The photography is nice and clear and the backgrounds are all very similar which makes the shop look tidy, and the products distinctive to her shop. The product descriptions are also clear and informative, and the method of packing is also outlined which is again helpful. As for other marketing activity Robin lists (on her shop front) the other places on the web in which her shop has been featured which is great for adding integrity and exclusivity to her products.

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The Snail Jockey Print – by The Black Apple

Seller Name: Emily

Etsy Shop Name: The Black Apple

Website/Blog: Inside a Black Apple

CraftBoom! says: “Emily’s art is so dreamy. Looking at it makes me feel transported… Her photography is clear and helpfully she provides both close and wide views of her art. I also like the way that her product descriptions are a little personal, for example for a print she might state where the inspiration came from. This is good for giving ‘life’ to a product, which in a way adds value to the product. As for other marketing activity emily writes a beautiful looking blog.

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Illicit by Samantha Sultana, Ostrich and Swarovski Crystal Cameo Garter - by Samantha Sultana

Etsy Shop Name: Samantha Sultana

Website/Blog: None

CraftBoom! says: “Samantha specializes in vintage glamour puss sleepwear and cheeky accessories, and she has pop stars among her clients. She very clearly states that all of her items are handmade using high end materials so it is clear that these items are luxury and that this is reflected in the prices (which I think are still reasonable). Her photography is clear and it’s also very stylized which really suits the flavour of her shop and it successfully increases the perceived value of her items. What is also nice is that Samantha injects a little cheek into her product descriptions for example ” This gorgeous swarovski embellished & trimmed cameo garter will stop traffic!….So get yourself one & never have to wait in the rain to hail a cab again.” which again really suits the flavour of her shop. As for other marketing activity Samantha very recently was featured on the radio and she provides a transcript on her shop announcement.

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Would you like a quick and easy (and popular) addition/alternative to selling in Etsy? Read about it in my post here.

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Do you have a fave Etsy shop that you’d like put under the spotlight? If so please comment on this post to let me know. :)

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Being a Full-time Mother & Craft-Lover by Akhila

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One of Akhila’s yummy bags.  See more of her designs here. 

Shop: here.

Blog: blog

Akhila says “Hi Lisa, Thanks for inviting me and others to – hopefully – share some inspiration to other craft lovers in similar situation as me. This is my contribution;

Having always loved to create things, I was thrilled when the inspiration and need to do so came back about a year ago. I say came back because since our first son was born in June -04 and our second son just 15 months later, I found myself in kind of a daze from sleepless nights and no – absolute NO time for myself.

But as the energy slowly started to come back so did also the need to create – and by “accident” I made my first handbag. I so loved it, so I started to browse the internet for bag-making material and stumbled over U-Handbag. What a dream to find that I could actually get what ever needed to make professionally looking bags.

From that I started to play with the idea that maybe I could combine my love for sewing and hopefully slowly starting to build some source of income around my family.

I decided to give it a try and set up my very own web-site which I launched just a few months ago. After shopping around I finally went ahead and signed up with MrSite, which gave me the opportunity to build my own web-site and give me control to change it, add products etc whenever and wherever I want. I don’t want to pretend I build my site on a lunch-break as the adverts say (maybe because I don’t have any lunch-breaks as a mum) but I have managed to set up my site by myself, and I feel quite pleased about that,

As I keep coming back to the lack of time I have as a full-time mum, I here want to share my “strategy” to get any work done:

  • I try to get the necessary house work done before putting the kids to bed, so I don’t need to waste any of my valuable time with those boring tasks when the house is quiet.
  • After having read the good-night story and tucked the boys in, I do give myself some time to sit down and collapse – sorry I mean re-charge my batteries (as I tend to be quite tired this time of the evening).
  • And then set a time – for me normally 8pm to start “work”. This gives me at least 2 hours with my passion.

I also do give myself some evenings “off” as well without feeling guilty for not doing anything. (CraftBoom: very good idea too!)

Good luck all you crafty mothers and fathers out there.

Akhila”
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Thanks for that Akhila! What great tips! Mums are already wonderful at multi-tasking, but it’s great to have an insight as to how you (as a maker of really lovely bags) manages her time as a busy Mum.  Best of luck with your shop.

If you’d like some groovy exposure for your site and you have some Craft Business wisdom that you could share with us, click here for more details ;)

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Etsy as your Craft Business – this week’s fave Etsy shops.

Most of us will already know that Etsy is a wonderful resource for newbies who want to go into craft business for the first time, and many sellers have made a great success of selling through Etsy alone. Etsy shops are easy to set up, attractive, easy to use, they attract lots of customers, and best of all there is heaps of help and support for sellers.

Here is my weekly round-up of my 3 fave Etsy shops. Every week I review 3 Etsy shops from a Craft Business point of view rather than just commenting on yumminess of the products that are sold. This means I will be looking things like:

  • the photography
  • the product descriptions
  • the mix of products
  • and signs of marketing activity such as other websites or blogs

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This week’s Etsy Faves…

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Kup Kup carries treasures by Kup Kup Land

Etsy Shop Name & Type: Kup Kup Land. Felt Items

Website/Blog: Kup Kup Land blog

CraftBoom! says: “I found this shop via Craft & Found. In this shop you’ll find lots of sweet, and kooky felt whimsey. There are ‘prints’ stationery, pin cushions and accessories all made from felt. The work is detailed, charming and very unique. This uniqueness is a very good selling point. The photography is nice and clear and the seller provides several views of the items which is always helpful. The product descriptions are also clear and informative, and the method of packing is also outlined which is again helpful. As for other marketing activity this has a cute blog, and you can view her delightful flickr.

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Lollipop Forest 3 pocket wallet – by Glass Beach

Seller Name: Maia

Etsy Shop Name: Glass Beach

Website/Blog: Glass Beach blog

CraftBoom! says: “Maia makes yummy wallets and bags from well chosen fabrics. Her accessories are all photographed against a plain background and the photos are all a similar size. This makes the shop look clean, tidy and organized (this way your attention is focused on her bags and wallets and nothing else). There are also multiple views of each item which is also helpful. The product descriptions are also clear and informative, with all dimensions outlined. I’m impressed with Maia’s marketing activity, a list of where her products have appeared (including Adorn!) can be found on her blog.

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Red and Aqua Platypus – by Two Little Banshees

Seller Name: Kate

Etsy Shop Name: Two Little Banshees

Website/Blog: Two Little Banshees blog

CraftBoom! says: “Kate makes absolutely delightful child friendly hand sewn soft toys and she also makes yummy bags. Her items are all photographed clearly and she provides several views of her items. It’s easy to see that great care has been taken in the construction of her items and that she has used good quality materials. The product descriptions are also clear and informative. As for other marketing activity Kate has a lovely blog in which she talks about her personal goings on and her craft.

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Would you like a quick and easy (and popular) addition/alternative to selling in Etsy? Read about it in my post here.

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Do you have a fave Etsy shop that you’d like put under the spotlight? If so please comment on this post to let me know. :)

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10 Essentials to bring to the craft fair

I been told by quite of a few of you that you are going to sell some of your craft items at a Christmas fair. This is great especially as Christmas is one of THE most lucrative times of the year for selling in markets. In the run-up to Christmas people are in the mood to buy and they are often visiting the markets with the intention to buy (rather than just ‘window’ shopping).  Christmas fairs attract large amounts of visitors as the markets are dressed in a festive way, jolly music is playing, and the smell of mulled wine and Christmas cake add to the atmosphere.

Here is a list of items that I used to bring the Craft Market where I had my own stall:

  1. Change in bills and coins – which I stored in a market stall holders apron (which I sewed myself – in fact I ended up selling 30 of these aprons to other traders because I made my apron pretty and I made it from dotty oil cloth…just a thought).
  2. Flask of hot choccy, or coffee. Tasty pack lunch and snacks – you could of course leave your stall to buy your lunch from a shop, but I always thought that leaving your stall was not ideal, even with another trader watching the stall for you.
  3. Fold-up chair and cushion - cushion is important, believe me! Happy bum = happy trader.
  4. Stationery – pens, scissors, bull-dog clips, strong tape, cleaning cloth, rubber bands, string, stapler, plastic bag for rubbish, lighting (if not supplied by the market) bags for customers to carry their items, and a note pad (for recording sales and for making notes, I also made notes about things like observations about customer behavior, what seems to be popular, idea for selling new items etc.)
  5. Marketing materials – business cards (placed in attractive box), small signs (i.e to advertise the material content, or special offer, etc.) a large sign displaying your company name and logo, with website, and contact details to put in front of your table.
  6. Extra inventory to re-stock your table - I always thought it was best to have a well stocked but not full looking table. It’s best to re-stock you table rather than put everything you have for sale on display (or it might look as if you have loads to sell, but it isn’t selling!)
  7. Bring some WIPs - that way you can sit and make stuff during quiet moments. Passers by like to see the artist at work because it gives your handmade items more credibility. I thought that making more craft to sell looked better than reading a newspaper or a book.
  8. Stall Decorations - it’s a nice idea to pretty up your stall; it will set your stall apart from other stalls and it will add warmth and personality to you and your products. Choose a few (too many and you’ll create clutter) props that relate in some way to your craft items.
  9. Stall accessories – lighting and multi adapters (if not supplied by the market. If you can have a spotlight or two than you should because a well-lit stall attracts passers-by and your products will look better in the light), lots of big sprung clips (great for keeping awnings, and table cloths under control) a tablecloth, and if necessary fabric for a roof and walls, or a tent (I’d keep it plain so the focus will be fully on your products and not on the patterned cloth), table, display racks or shelves as necessary.
  10. Personals - headache pills, plasters, hand cream, tissues, seasonal clothing (hat, mittens, scarf, etc.) camera to take cools shots of your table (to put on your crafty blog of course!)

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The first place in which I sold my crafts, Greenwich, in London. There is where it all began for me…

Have fun at the fair! :)