Craft Ideas to Sell – how to prepare for craft fairs

So you’ve mastered your chosen craft and now you’re wondering how to come up with great craft ideas to sell in online stores or at craft fairs? The trick is in coming up with cost-effective craft ideas that you can make quickly, and setting the right price for your customers.

 First, a Cautionary Note…

Wait, stop! Put down that needle and thread, don’t touch the sugarpaste, DROP THE CHAINSAW! Before you make dozens and dozens of your favourite crafty project ask yourself one thing… is this MY design? If you are following instructions from a website or book you need to know that the copyright probably belongs to the original designer-maker and, while it’s fine for you to make the items for yourself, or as gifts for friends and family, you are not allowed to copy their designs to sell. By all means use these designs and techniques as inspiration but always make sure that when coming up with craft ideas to sell, they are your own, unique designs.

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Craft Ideas to Sell

Now, on to the good stuff… I can’t profess to being an expert on coming up with great craft ideas or selling at craft fairs, but I do know someone who is – author of The Busy Girl’s Guide to Sewing, Carrie Maclennan, and she has some great advice on how to plan cost-efficient designs and how to prepare for your first day of sales.


Cost It Up

Craft ideas to sell - selling craft designsIf you have craft ideas to sell, and are considering unleashing your debut collection on a craft fair audience, make sure you’ve done your cost calculations well in advance. Unlike when you’re crafting for fun, you must take note of the costs of making your products in order that you can price them correctly.

First, calculate exactly how much it costs to make each craft design – think about yarn, needles, fabric, zips, labeling, packaging – every single little thing. If you work with reclaimed supplies, don’t factor them in as ‘zero’ outlay. How much would those materials cost if you were buying them new? Then, think about costing your time. It’s fairly pointless in the crafty sphere to think about working for a typical ‘hourly rate’. Instead, think about this: if you were to pay a seamstress to make your product, how much would you pay her per finished item?

Once you have a complete costing for each of your products, double it. Then, double it again to arrive at your proposed retail price. Tweak up or down as you see fit, keeping the concept of ‘perceived value’ in mind.


Keep Calm and Craft On

Some helpful hints for a smooth lead-up to your first craft fair…

  •  Practice setting up your stall ahead of event day… Play around with effective positioning and make sure everything fits. When you’ve decided on the perfect layout, make a little sketch of it and pop it into your craft fair kit, ready for event day.
  • You don’t need to invest in expensive banners to create exciting branding for your craft stall. With a little imagination you can produce great results with beautiful handwritten labels and price tags. Ensure that your business name features visibly on your stall so that customers will be able to recognize you and your work when they spot you next time.
  • Remember to tell your friends, family and colleagues that you are taking up a stall at the craft fair. They will want to show their support and even if they don’t all buy from you, the hustle and bustle emanating from your stall will attract attention, potentially drawing more custom.
  • Gauging how much stock to take along is a notoriously tricky aspect, but I suggest you try the following tactic. First, calculate the total amount of sales you need to make to cover your costs (travel, stall fee, parking etc.). Then, decide on a realistic target that, if met, you would leave feeling thoroughly pleased with. Always make sure you have enough stock to allow you to reach that target.
  • Think about your customer-service approach. No one likes a pushy sales person, but making eye contact with your visitors and offering a warm smile or a polite, ‘hello’ will never cause objection. Engage your customers in conversation and offer snippets of information about your craft. Craft fair shoppers tend to be loyal shoppers – so get to know them and make a good impression!


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