Tuesday, 17 April 2012

My first solo craft fair

Sorry I've been quiet for so long! I am still here, I promise. I submitted my PhD thesis at the end of March, and since then have been catching up with Mog's Togs. However I should now have a bit more time to spend on this blog, although I might have to use some of that updating / rewriting my international postage posts - thanks for that, Royal Mail!!

I just thought I'd share some photos from a craft fair I did on Saturday. I don't normally do craft fairs, for various reasons / excuses...

  1. My collars are so small, it's hard to fill a normal sized stall!
  2. I work full time so my weekends are precious, I don't necessarily want to spend a whole day somewhere random for unknown (potentially small!) reward. 
  3. I have to make a real effort and take a day or two off work to build up enough stock for a fair; again I don't always want to spend my annual leave doing this!  
  4. I think I'm better off concentrating my efforts on pet shows where I can target potential buyers a bit better. (Although, have I actually done a pet show yet or even investigated doing one, of course not!)
For all these reasons, I have only sold at a few fairs, usually sharing a table with my Mum! So when someone contacted me through Etsy to ask if I would be interested in having a stall at her monthly vintage / craft market, the Dandy Lion, which had an animal theme for April, my default answer was no. But after finding out some more info, and seeing that the smallest tables were only £8, I decided to take the plunge. It was up in North London, and we live in Surrey, but the travel would be free as I have a season ticket & tube travelcard. So I thought for a mere £8 outlay, even if I didn't sell a thing I wouldn't be too disappointed. I worked hard to get lots of stock made and took half a day off work on Friday to finish things off.

As well as getting stock ready I had to think about how I'd decorate my stall. I didn't want to spend much on this, so decided to go "home-made" and printed out some signs and bunting. The paper bunting looked great, strung on wool, and added some height to the stall.

I bought a single flat white sheet to cover the table, which meant I could pin the small paper signs (size info, payment etc) in place. I made a tiny corkboard to pin my charms on, out of a photo frame and a sheet of cork from a model railway shop! I ordered Moo business cards with photos of my happy customers on the back. These made a good talking point, some customers asked if they were all my cats!

A mug tree borrowed from friends made a nice upright display for a few collars, and I separated out small and large collars in glass jars, but what about the rest of them? Usually I would just lay the collars out in their packaging, but I decided this time I couldn't be bothered with this (as I store them hanging, which you can't do once they're packaged). Also, I wanted to display them at an angle for best customer viewing... what to do? In the end, I went a bit Blue Peter! I used toilet roll middles with a sheet of printer paper rolled around them and tucked in the ends. The collars looked great clipped around them, and all for free!

As a last touch I wanted a collar model! I searched charity shops for a toy cat but didn't find any of the right size, so in the end I made do with this lovely tiger - so cute, it looked brand new and only cost £1.50! He was a hit with the little kids there, one 4 year old shyly asked his mum if he could buy it with his pocket money, aw.

As well as my collars, I make catnip mice to sell at fairs, as they give something for cat owners to buy if their cats "don't do" collars. They went down well with customers, however the biggest fan of these was the pub's resident cat, who sniffed out the catnip as we were setting up and decided that they should all be hers!

I decided to donate one of the mice to her in the name of peace and quiet and to save the stall from being pulled over. She loved it!

The fair was held in a pub, and to start with it was very quiet, but footfall did increase over the afternoon; although the organiser did say it had been busier in previous weeks - I think the Easter holidays meant family numbers were down. I only sold a few things but I did make my stall cost back and then a little more. I met some other craft and vintage sellers including this guy who makes amazing dog collars!

To be honest I wasn't really fussed about selling so little - I was hardly out of pocket and got to spend the day with my husband who allowed himself to be dragged along for company / moral support - I think the fact the fair was held in a pub may have encouraged him! With a stall cost of only £8 I knew it wasn't going to be crazy busy, so I didn't have high expectations. Also, I got some practice setting up a nice looking stall, and gave out plenty of business cards. It's given me a bit of confidence to go investigate selling at cat shows now, as I think I might be able to fill a larger table with a bit of creative thinking. Best of all, I have a ton of stock now so can relax and not go near my sewing machine for a while, hurrah!


  1. Your stall looks fab - sounds like a lovely day :) and the tiger - so cute (I'd also have been tempted to slip the real life cat in whilst packing up, he's lovely)

    I'm still plucking up courage to do something like that - I hide on the internet and don't *do* real life people!

    1. Hm, well one way to ease yourself in could be to pick a fair with a terrible reputation so hardly anyone actually comes, then you won't have to talk to many people ;-) It is hard talking to random strangers, I'm not a natural at it. My husband was much better, plus he finds it easier to talk up my stuff, I always feel like I'm boasting!