This past year has been so incredibly busy for The Dreamer Weaver. In addition to making and shipping over 70 orders, I also participated in four different Craft Fairs in the Chicagoland area.
This was not my first time selling my art in person, but the last time I had done something similar I was 17 years old. Ten years later, I have a growing online shop for my art, and a growing local presence.
The main thing I've learned from doing craft fairs is that no matter what, prepare to be unprepared. I can't tell you how many lists I've made and how many times I've double checked my supplies, and still I've forgotten one thing or another.
My first fair of 2016 was at the Evanston Farmers Market in June. This was my first time selling my Dreamcatcher art in person and all things considered, it went fairly well. Looking back, there are so many things I could have done differently. I had spent months planning my setup and making sure I'd have enough inventory. I made signs, bought a tent and weights, borrowed a table and chairs, and made a giant list.
What I failed to do was practice setting up my tent, which proved to be far more difficult than anticipated. I also didn't bring any cash for change or pack any of my supplies the night before. Looking back, I would have definitely done a test run set up for my tent and broght some cash. Luckily, I had an artist next to me that helped me with my tent, and all the cash sales I made required no change. Phew!
After this show, I knew that lists and diagrams weren't going to be enough to prepare me for a Craft Fair. In fact, doing a Craft Fair was the preparation that I needed.
One month later I participated in the Evanston Sidewalk Sale, a two day outdoor event in downtown Evanston. I felt much more prepared this time around, but with no room for a tent, my setup needed to change. This time I purchased a folding table and used my partners C-stand (from her many years in film) to create a hanging display.
This Fair was a ton of fun. This time I got to know my fellow sellers a bit better and learned more about future local events. It was nice to come back for a second day and see familiar faces. Everyone was super friendly and helpful. I can't stress how important it is to be kind to your neighbors at Craft Fairs. If you need to grab some food or use the restroom, they are the ones who will keep an eye on your booth setup for you.
The weather wasn't super cooperative on Saturday. It was cold, cloudy, and a little rainy at times. Fortunately, Sunday was the complete opposite - hot and sunny! That is one thing about outdoor markets that you can never be sure about. It could be the best outdoor fair ever. You could be super prepared, have tons of awesome items to share, and be participating in a huge Craft Fair, and it won't matter if it's thunderstorming all weekend!
In late November, I participated in the Holiday Fair Extravaganza in Skokie, IL. This time I went into overdrive and produced as many pieces as I possibly could. I'd say I had a pretty nice spread! The other artists were all very nice and super talented! It was nice to make some new friends who have been in the craft fair business a bit longer.
Although I didn't even make back my booth fee, the event was still fun and a good practice run for indoor markets. Plus I got some great photos of my setup.
My last show of the season was, in my opinion, the best one so far. Probably because I had a few other shows under my belt, or perhaps because this show was well-marketed and well-attended. I still managed to forget a few of my pieces back home, but I had plenty of product to fill my table space.
This show was a ton of fun. It was my first Juried show (yay!) which means that all of the other artists were top notch. Everyone was super friendly and helpful. Also, the food at this event was amazing. Food truck food is the real deal.
So there you have it! The evolution of my Craft Fair displays this past year. I am super excited for the 2017 season and I can't wait to try out some more Juried events. I'll be sure to report back here with the results!