The final eco bundles of 2014 are bubbling away on the stove, two sample felt vessels and a selection of ultra fine merino scarves.
You might be forgiven for thinking that I'm not working on anything in the studio currently, nothing could be further from the truth though. I've a felt sculpture underway, I just won't be publishing pictures of it as I'm felting some sample pieces for Showcase and want to get things worked out in my head before actually sharing any of the photos. There're a lot of website, video and branding details getting sorted out too at the moment and I've made final decisions about the carpet and wall colours for my stand at Creative Island. Peter Martin and his assistant Eamon were here to shoot the video for the new website earlier this week and Patrick McHugh visited the same day also. We're planning a fashion shoot for early in 2015 and he's also designing the website in advance of Showcase, busy times!
I've a few favourite plants at Clasheen that I love to print with, a small climbing rose, blackberries from the lane, oak from the plantation and eucalyptus from the young grove at the back to the house. Here're a few rose related pictures………..
Rose leaves soaking in rusty water
Rose leaves eco printed on silk satin
Rose leaves eco printed on felt
I had a fantastic time at the National Crafts & Design Fair last week, made new friends and came home almost voiceless but thrilled with the sales and response to my work that I achieved over the course of the five days. It was a very intense experience, setting up my stand took me just over ten hours but at the end of the day all the hard work definitely paid off. Several of you have been asking via FB comments and emails would I be happy to share some tips about selling events, for what it’s worth here are some of my thoughts! In no particular order…….
- Be courteous and polite to the organisers, security and parking attendants at all times, you never know when you might need a favour!
- Make friends with your neighbours
- Plan your stand or booth at home but don’t be afraid to make adjustments and major changes once you start to set up, sometimes your position at a fair will make this necessary
- Make sure you utilise all areas of your space when possible (walls, floor, tables etc.) to create a visually pleasing stand, less is more
- Cough up for additional lighting for your stand if this is an option, it pays off!!! Consider an electrical socket too
- I used bed risers to raise my main table and make it more accessible. This also means that for some shows (the Glucksman Gallery being an example) I have space enough for a second table at a lower level protruding out from under the higher, it’s always a good idea to have different heights. In the US you can source bed risers from Wallmart, Bed, Bath & Beyond or similar stores, in Ireland or the UK you can order them from Amazon or even use pieces of pvc pipes which you can cut to height yourself
- Make sure to have clear signage with your name visible from different angles, it’s important for people to be able to find you easily
- Have enough business cards and promotional literature available at the front of your stand to make it easy for visitors to take away and digest later, keep stocking up
- Don’t be tempted to make a whole lot of cheaper priced items just for the show, stick with what you make best and be confident that it will sell, it will if your products are of good quality and priced correctly!
- Have everything priced and keep a record of what you sell
- Don’t be afraid to position a more expensive item to the front of your stand, it won’t put the customers you are looking for off. Remember that there is only a limited market for any individual item and you just need a good through put of visitors to make those sales, don’t blame yourself if there are not enough visitors……..
- …………….. unless you don’t give out any invitations! Do please, please give out all the invitations you are given by the organisers, if you don’t how can you expect other stand holders to do so either??? Remember, you might invite a friend who won’t buy from you but someone else might invite one of their friends and they will be your customer! Think of it as a numbers game, the higher the number of total attendees the better your chance of sales
- Wear smart but comfortable clothes, some fairs can be super hot while others are like an ice box. Think layers and think natural fabrics coupled with flat shoes or boots. By the beginning of the third day at the RDS I was shoe less but wearing a smart top, silk scarf, black trousers and black socks, none of my customers appeared to notice the lack of footwear as the only thing they were looking at was my display!
- Don’t eat or drink on your stand but if you are manning it by yourself all day make sure that you have a supply of easy to eat protein and juice or bottled water that you can snaffle during any quiet moment. Step out of your space at regular intervals to do this and revive yourself with items like dried fruit, nuts, hummus, veg, fruit and good quality chocolate, not eating at all is not a good idea and you’ll only end up exhausting yourself. If you’re lucky enough to have neighbours like my buddies Ariane and John you might even get a couple of cups of coffee brought to you throughout the day, thanks guys!!!
- Sign up for a credit/debit card system (to use with a smart phone) such as Square in the US or SumUp in Ireland, they are worth their weight in gold. As a single female working by myself it was much less stressful walking around at night knowing that I wasn’t lugging large quantities of cash around
- Do make sure that you have enough change at the start of each day. My pricing structure means that my cheapest scarf is €65 and everything is in multiples of 5, as a result I only need 5s, 10s and 20s for my change
- Consider taking names and addresses of every purchaser (ask them first) to add to your event invitation data base, if you don’t already have one start one!
- Consider a sign up sheet for workshops or a newsletter
- Personally I do not like to see anyone sitting in or on their stand. I know that sometimes it’s necessary to have a chair or stool but where possible have this outside the selling space but near enough to be on hand
- Be polite to all the people who visit your stand, don’t prejudge
- Don’t spend all your time socialising or on your phone. Remember that a fair may be one of the only dedicated events during the year with the potential to make a LOT of PROFIT in a short space of time, don’t waste your time missing this opportunity
- Have fun!
I hope this list helps some of you, please remember that they are only my personal thoughts and not to be taken as the absolute gospel. If there was one acronym that sums up my approach it would be KISS, it may be overused but ‘keep it simple stupid’ really does seem to work for me!
Finally for today, I’ve been working like mad on my new website content as part of ongoing Creative Island preparations for Showcase 2015 and yesterday I was printing on a sample of lambs wool.
Oak leaf on lambs wool, the back of the leaf
Oak leaf on lambs wool, the front of the leaf
Tomorrow morning I’ll be participating at Borris Food & Craft Market as per usual, from Christmas however I’ll not be there on such a regular basis. The way my business plan is progressing unfortunately I won’t be able to manage each Friday but the good thing is that my new online shop will be up and running from mid January and the new collection should be available at selected retailers from February onwards!
I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve been invited to facilitate a week long felting workshop at the Geelong Fibre Forum in Australia next year, I’m very excited about the whole thing!!! It’ll be fantastic to catch up with friend Pam de Groot who will also be teaching there in 2015, we’ll be the felting instructors and if you check out the event website you’ll be able to see what I’m teaching plus all the other textile related workshops that will be on offer.
Marlay Craft Fair was very pleasant, super organisers and a nice group of visitors each day. I didn’t manage to take any good photos over the weekend because each room had loads of windows and it was really difficult to deal with the light. I will take plenty of pictures though at the RDS this week. Tomorrow I set up all day and we open to the public at 10am on Wednesday, do call up to me at stand B8 and say hi if you’re re in the area!