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My First Craft Show Vendor Experience

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Saturday was The Handmade Marketplace Craft Show–the first time I sold my artwork as a vendor! I’ve been so excited for this for months. I really want to start selling more regularly at events like this, so finally starting and getting enough things together to sell feels amazing.

I’ve been obsessing over the details of being a vendor for ages, so I’d love to share my little experience with you guys for anyone else who might be thinking about it!

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My good friend, Marie, makes beautiful knitwear and jewelry and has done the craft show thing a few times so I thought it would be a great starting point to share a table with her. We split the cost and the table down the middle and helped eachother by covering their side when we needed bathroom or food breaks or wanted to walk around and enjoy the work at the other booths.

Sharing a table made me feel more comfortable about the intimidating first experience. I didn’t have to make enough pieces and displays to fill a whole table by myself and I had the support of someone with more experience. Plus, it was nice to have that little discount with our table fee. There are so many start-up costs–display materials, table cloths, signs, packaging, etc–and I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to sell anything! I had a lower goal to break even! :)

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I’m the kind of person who gets really excited to start something and just throws myself in head first to get it done right. For example, I wanted to start blogging for ages–literally years–but refused to start until I figured out a solid concept and got a decent camera. I believe pretty photos are really important–obviously not necessary, just important–and I didn’t want to start badly when I knew what I needed to start on a good note. Haha, the point of that story being that it’s an analogy for my table display.

I worked on collecting display materials from thrift stores and estate sales for months–you can see some of the originals here! I painted my racks and basket either white or pale pink so they would look uniform and match my aesthetic. I also obsessed over finding the right material for our table cloths. They needed to be functional, but still cute and accurately represent our style from across the room. Turns out this adorable canvas texture fabric is available in at least 4-5 colors at Hobby Lobby! I took everything left on the bolt!

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These paintings were a little experiment that I didn’t really share before the sale. I wanted to create some original pieces to sell that could feel unique and special, but I wanted to keep them simple and small so I could sell them at super affordable prices! I think it’s important to have a wide variety of price points. If someone comes up to your booth and loves what you do, you should make sure they have options and can take something home even if their budget is miniscule.

I painted cute little animals and flowery details onto butcher paper (my favorite paper to use!) that was ripped into organic shapes. I used some cute washi tape to give a collage/scrapbook-y feeling to the pieces and framed them in thrifted frames I cleaned and painted myself. I’m super happy with how they turned out and can’t wait to make more!

The owl and cat found homes on Saturday, but look for the others on my Etsy shop soon! It might be a little hard for me to part with the little set of deer, though. So cute. :)

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Since the sale was so close to Christmas, I just had to sell ornaments! I used a method pretty similar to this one and painted some baked clay ornaments with designs similar to my Christmas cards. I got a little down on myself and pessimistic about these when I was making them, but I ended up selling half of them! Go figure!

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Here’s some detail shots of Marie’s side of the table. She specializes in reversible knitted pieces and makes really cool jewelry with knit beads. I finally got to take home one of her lovely cowls and I’ve barely taken it off since!

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This was our view! It was a really great day with a lovely crowd of talented people. Marie and I were a bit skeptical of our potential for success going into this sale because a lot of the attendees really weren’t our target demographic, but everyone was very friendly, sweet, and complimentary. It was also the first year for this show and it was kind of far out in the county, but we both ended up selling more than we expected to and broke even multiple times over! My goal was just to sell one thing, so I was blown away and really encouraged for future sales!

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All-in-all, it was a fabulous day and a pretty painless first experience! Our only stress was the beginning of the morning when we got lost on the way and then when I spilled ink all over my poor white table cloth and the floor–eep! Don’t worry, I flooded it with water immediately and got it up. I had stained gray hands for the rest of the day, though. Haha.

I’m already hunting for more shows to apply to and my next adventure will be trying to sell at an anime convention artists’ alley! Haha, it’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a nerdy(er) preteen! We’ll see how that goes. :)

Do any of you guys do this sort of thing? Do you want to? What was your first show like? I want to read all about other people’s experience and advice!


  • http://predictionspast.blogspot.ca EErinriinEriErinnEEErinErinrrinErinErin

    Looks like you had such a great time! Thanks for writing about your experience. I have always wanted to sell at a craft fair, but I have never had a craft business large enough to warrant that! I wrote a bit on my blog today about my fears of becoming a fully self employed artist, and when that day comes, you can bet I will be collecting all those little bits and bobs to make my “one day dream” craft fair booth as rad as I can. *sigh*

    –Erin

  • http://bunniesandbows.blogspot.com Amy

    I’m so glad your first experience went so well and it looks like you had a blast!! You really can’t ask for a better first time (tee hee).

    • Michelle

      Thanks, doll! Hehe, so many opportunities for awkward turns of phrase…

  • http://mermaidens.blogspot.com Kailey

    Congratulations Michelle! Your booth looks WONDERFUL! <3

  • http://lynellsartfultrick.com Lynell

    Congrats on your first booth! I’ve been doing comic book conventions going on 4 years now, which I think would be a similar experience to an anime con. Usually several days long. As much fun as doing these sorts of things are, it starts to get exhausting very quickly when you start getting into weekend long events, so my best advice is to get lots of rest, make sure you’re eating well and hydrated, and keep smiling!

    • Michelle

      Thanks, Lynell! Yeah, there are lots of resources to learn about the whole artists-at-conventions thing, so I feel warned. ;) I don’t think I could ever do it too regularly, maybe just a couple times a year, so hopefully I can have time to prepare! I just love the insane, enthusiastic energy of the crowds at nerdy conventions. Everyone is so excited to be around like-minded people and surrounded by things they love. I think it would be infectious and super fun!

  • http://myfriendstaci.com Staci @ My Friend Staci

    Your booth looks fantastic! I’m so glad you had such a great first experience!
    Valerie has sold at Artists’ Alley at Anime Conventions, I would ask her for pointers in regards to that demographic!

    • Michelle

      Thanks, Staci! <3 Ooo, that’s a good point! I need to reconnect with Valerie for sure. :)

  • Janice

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m hoping to venture out into this business very soon. So all of your information is very helpful and encouraging.

    All the best!!!

    • Michelle

      Glad you found it encouraging! I definitely think that if you’re toying with the idea, you should just go for it! You’ll learn the most that way. :)

  • http://www.shealia.com Shealia

    I have ALWAYS wanted to do this! But like you, I also like to take my time and only dip my feet in one tiny toe at a time before I feel ready! So I’ve been reading this great book about this kind of stuff called: “Homemade to Sell” by the people Hello Craft. :) It’s really a good read and compared to some other books like it, it is MUCH more aesthetically pleasing! ;) Since you’ve just finished your first craft show and are already selling on Etsy, you probably know most of what it tells you, but you might still be interested in the finer details because it’s a really good book and super easy to read! :D Anyways, thanks for posting about your first experience! I think it is inspiring for me to get one step closer to my dream of one day selling at craft fairs, if only one more piggy-toe in the pool! lol ;) Thanks again! <3




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