2015 Craft Fair Compendium

Clearly I am failing at blogging on a regular basis, but I am very happy to finally be writing about my craft fair experience in 2015! I embarrassingly did not know about the existence of craft fairs before this past year (there are so many in SF but my secret about being 1 hour south of THE City is that I am incredibly lazy about driving and parking, so most weekends I'd rather watch The Office in my bed than drive up), but I did 5 in 2015 and learned so much!

Craft fairs:
  1. SF Etsy's Summer Indie Emporium  |  May 30-31  |  Pier 35
  2. Renegade San Francisco  |  Jul 15-17  |  Fort Mason 
  3. Brit+CO's Re:Make  |  Sept 12  |  Fort Mason
  4. Urban Epicurean Festival  |  Nov 7-8  | Fort Mason
  5. SF Etsy's Indie Holiday Emporium  | Nov 28-29  | Pier 35

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Each craft fair gave me a very different experience, so I've decided to write about each of them, in hopes it will be helpful for future vendors to decide which to sell at. Here's my format:


• SITE:  About venue, booth assignments, and event layout. 
 SELLERS: There's definitely a maker "type" for each of these events. (But PS, hope it's clear I am definitely generalizing.)
 STUFFWhat kind of products are sold at each craft fair. 
 SHOPPERS: The general type of people that visit the event- again, generalizing. 
 SOLD: I'm going to be very transparent and open and share how much I made at each of these craft fairs, by using a reference base amount of "X". I'm sure revenue at craft fairs is different for every seller, depending on what items they brought, how seasonal their products are, etc. 
• SUMMARY: A summary of my thoughts.
​ 
Here we gooooo!


1. SF Etsy's Summer Indie Emporium  |  May 30-31  |  Pier 35

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I forgot how I heard about my first craft fair, but I was so happy to have SF etsy host my first one! I loved it a lot, and the experience was so fun and I learned so much.

  • SITE: Depending on where your booth is, it can be crazy cold, even in May- it's an old warehouse which means it's drafty and full of wind tunnels. Bring lots of layers! No wifi, but service works fine for card readers.
  • SELLERS: Super, super kind bunch. Most sellers are part of SF Etsy, which is an incredibly supportive and open community, so it was fun meeting other vendors. There were around 80 vendors.*
  • STUFF: There's a lot of variety in what is sold- repurposed items, embroidery, SF memorbilia, unique sports fan attire, etc. Check out SF Etsy's Instagram to see just how diverse the products sold are.  
  • SHOPPERS: The shoppers are lots of tourists, as it's right next to touristy areas, so my SF print did really well. Target your items for tourists. This is also a great fair for people who love more traditional handmade items.  There were 30k+ visitors.
  • SOLD: It wasn't a super crowded craft fair but I did quite well, because my items was unique among all the vendors. The SF Etsy team does a great job of curating variety in the products sold. I made 6"x". 
  • SUMMARY: SF Etsy gave me a great first craft fair experience. I loved my first meeting my customers face to face for the first time! My set-up was a bit messy but I was happy how it turned out for my first craft fair. This year the Spring Emporium is only one day, and they are providing all tables, so it'll be an interesting shift...


​2. Renegade San Francisco  |  Jul 15-17  |  Fort Mason 
I was SO thrilled to be a part of Renegade- it is arguably the most well known craft fair in the area, and I had been rejected the first time I applied 6 months prior. I loved being a part of it, and seeing all the amazing artists there that traveled from so far to sell their goods in SF. ​

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  • SITE:  2015 was the first year Renegade decided to span the event across two buildings in Fort Mason: the Festival Pavillon and the Hearbst Pavillon, so they could fit more vendors. Both the buildings are gorgeous, with huge windows that let in great light. It was quite warm in the Hearbst Pavillon because of the larger glass windows trapping in heat.
  • SELLERSSellers are super hip. Refer to Renegade's blog and see the makers featured there. Be prepared to talk about waxed canvas and single-origin coffee beans. A lot of vendors come from other states which made conversation really interesting! There were a total of 500+ vendors split in two buildings. (I am guesstimating. I don' actually know the number.)
  • STUFF: Bring your hipster, PNW-loving friends and clear your kitchen table to take some nice IG shots of whatever products you buy. Every product sold at ANY Renegade is beautifully, thoughtfully crafted, and comes from beautiful studio spaces and men with man-buns (though, are man buns out now?). 
  • SHOPPERS: The shoppers are a younger crowd than most of the other craft fairs I went to; again, look at Renegade's blog or Instagram. 
  • SOLD: Renegade brings tons and tons of people, especially because of their awesome marketing, existing followers, and the beautiful weather that weekend. With that said, I was disappointed by my sales. I thought since this craft fair was bigger and brought more people than SF Etsy's, I'd have a higher sales volume, but I learned that bigger craft fair= more competition. I made 5"X". 
  • SUMMARY: This craft fair was amazing to shop around and talk to vendors from all over the country. All the items are so beautifully made, and Renegade does a great job with site layout. However, I thought the two building idea was only good in theory, because many shoppers didn't make it through both buildings and it added the competition for all the vendors. A  lot of vendors gave them this feedback and  I think for their winter one it was only in one building. 


3. Brit+CO's Re:Make  |  Sept 12  |  Fort Mason
Re:Make was day 2 of Brit+CO's annual maker's conference, which I also attended on Friday. The whole two day event was to inspire creativity in anyone and everyone. The event so well planned, executed, and inspiring. The craft fair, or "festival," as Brit+CO called it, was on Saturday, day 2 of the event.

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  • ​​SITEBoth days took place at Fort Mason's Festival Pavilion, which I found out through Renegade that it is a staple craft fair building. Brit + CO designed it to be a very interactive event, with lots of DIY's, free goodies from big names, and even a stage from up and coming artists to perform. With that said, I was right behind the stage lights which meant weird, neon vibes that bummed me out from missing the natural light through the windows.  They had nice couches for everyone and a maker's tent to rest too, which was a really nice touch for the vendors. 
  • SELLERS: Brit+ CO did a great job of getting a variety of vendors, and had some REALLY cool tech makers there as well. They also had big-named vendors giving out free things, like Hallmark, Izzie Soda, Hershey's, etc. There were around 100 booths there. (I am guesstimating. I don't actually know the number.)
  • STUFF: Lots of free stuff from big name vendors, and a good variety of products there. The free interactive booths they had, like drawing or stamping totes or making necklaces were really cool to see. 
  • SHOPPERS: The event is geared towards DIY-lovers and creatives. Lots of children and families also went because it wasn't only a shopping event.
  • SOLD: Through the 1 day event, I sold 3"X". I had a lot of competition from Hallmark who were literally giving out free cards and stamps to mail them out! I wish I had been notified of that beforehand- I would have reconsidered vendoring.
  • SUMMARY: I really liked the two day event Brit+CO hosted. Friday was great to connect with other creatives and hear from some big(ish) names and Saturday was such a fun day open to the public. I didn't like that the event was only 1 day to sell, however- all DIY booths and the stage and vendor booths took so much effort to set up- I'm sure the team had their reasons, but I wish they had spanned the even to 2 days.


4. Urban Epicurean Festival  |  Nov 7-8  | Fort Mason

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  • ​​SITELayout is much like Renegade, utilizing Festival Pavillon to its full potential- and they had great, thematic banners across the ceiling as well. It was a little dreary because the weather was beginning to get chilly and the sun set so early.
  • SELLERS: The impression I got from this craft fair was that it was more craft-y and less hipster-y than Renegade.
  • STUFF: They concentrate on food in their craft fairs as well, instead of just physical goods, which is fun! Lots of yummy foods. And they had a cool tote for the first couple of hundred shoppers, which was fun.  
  • SHOPPERS: The event was very empty, so I didn't really get a feel for the shoppers. 
  • SOLD:  This was my worst craft fair by far. I made 2.5"X" over 2 days, and I had a full booth which meant expensive booth fees!
  • SUMMARY: I was really excited for this event- I had heard so many good things about it before. However, I was extremely underwhelmed. I can't tell you if it was the date (too early for holiday shopping?), the branding (first year changing their name) , or their marketing (not enough?), or some other factor I can't identify, but I was really disappointed by the turnout and know many fellow vendors were as well. Sad :( But hopefully they address these issues for next year! 


5. SF Etsy's Indie Holiday Emporium  | Nov 28-29  | Pier 35

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  • ​​SITE: If Pier 35 was cold in May, I knew it was going to be freezing in late November! I wore lots of layers and a scarf. The lighting and warehouse-y feel makes it quite dreary, but all the holiday cheer from people around and the vendor's products made really wonderful. It was CRAZY crowded, which made it warmer and the site a lot more cramped. 
  • SELLERS: SF Etsy's team is, again, great at getting really diverse people and products out. Didn't get a chance to chat much with other sellers because it was so busy.
  • STUFF: Lots and lots of people buying holiday gifts! Like the May fair, good for people who like unique, more traditional handmade items (scarves, embroidery, customized hats, etc)
  • SHOPPERS: Lots of people holiday shopping, lots of tourists, and lots of grumpy shoppers because of the 20-30 minute line they had to wait in to get in ;) They were nice when they weren't complaining about the line, though haha.
  • SOLD:  BEST craft fair. Did 11"X".... SO crazy. I ran out of cards the first day and had to drive back home to South Bay to bring nearly all my inventory! I ran out the next day of some cards, too!
  • SUMMARY: This was my best craft fair experience of the year- it was really non-stop for me, and I LOVED sharing a booth with Maddie from Foggy Day Studio. Cards and knitted goods made our booth dynamic and she made it fun :) I think SF Etsy is really relationship-oriented, organized, and just puts on a really good show that a lot of people enjoy. From a vendor's perspective, the 40k+ people who RSVP'd on FB was amazing- so many sales! But from a shopper's perspective, it was crazy due to the line outside to get in. 

​Next blog posts ideas regarding craft fairs (which is TBD if I'll actually write about them, ha):

  • Costs
  • Things to bring
  • Day-of advice 


​Happy Friday! Have lovely weekends. 

Tags: craft fairs

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