I went crazy in 2015 for craft fairs. I got a whiff of it and couldn't get enough— the anticipation while prepping, talking to customers and getting real-time feedback, pushing past exhaustion when I got home to unload and count the cash... It was exhilarating to see how much I could make in one weekend.
That year, sales was the only thing I really aimed for at craft fairs. I did everything I could to get those sales: discounts, a very tiring display set-up, hauling all our products in, going to as many events as possible, etc. I assessed the success of each craft fair based on sales alone (and wrote about it).
But I was missing a huge part of the potential of craft fairs.
I've done 3 pop-ups in the last year in addition to the 5 craft fairs (I was definitely very infatuated with the idea of meeting customers and selling in-person, but the excitement has faded a little; it's pretty tiring to prep for the events while I'm working all week and then... work all weekend, haha.) Pop ups are a bit different from craft fairs; pop-ups are usually a day versus a whole weekend, you are one of if not the only small business selling product, and they’ll usually provide tables and/or displays. Way less tiring, but (usually) less revenue, as the customer base isn’t as large as craft fairs.
- Morning Lavender's Pop Up | Aug 30 | San Francisco
- West Elm Pop Up | Dec 19 | Emeryville
- Facebook HQ Pop Up | Feb 4th | Menlo Park
I was asked by Morning Lavender, a bright and fun clothing boutique, to join them in their first ever Nor-Cal pop up last fall. The ladies of Morning Lavender were all so sweet and fun to work with, and the venue called Blu Bungalow in Cow Hollow was amazing. They paired me with a roomy table draped with lace, in front of a nice brick backdrop, and I got to meet a lot of very well-dressed SF ladies all day and chat with them over sips of wine from Bottle Bracket.
I’m very easily excitable, so imagine my reaction when I got an email from West Elm— I'm pretty sure my very loud squeal in the ramen restaurant I was eating in solicited quite a few stares ;) I sold on a holiday Saturday in December, where my forever-Pickles-assistant Jocelyn and I got to dream about our future houses while we chatted with holiday shoppers. We also met really fun dogs.
For this pop-up, I gave away gift tags which definitely drew in customers. The most flattering moments were when shoppers picked up my cards and brought them to the register, thinking they were part of the West Elm brand…!
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!
- SF Etsy's Summer Indie Emporium | May 30-31 | Pier 35
- Renegade San Francisco | Jul 15-17 | Fort Mason
- Brit+CO's Re:Make | Sept 12 | Fort Mason
- Urban Epicurean Festival | Nov 7-8 | Fort Mason
SF Etsy's Indie Holiday Emporium | Nov 28-29 | Pier 35
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.)
• STUFF: What 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!