I received an email from Polly last week that sounded like a really fun challenge and a great post to share! Here it is:
Help! Any ideas for a background to display lighted crafts at a craft show?
Now, I’m assuming that the biggest issue you are facing comes from ugly cords showing when you display your crafts. Depending on the type of craft you’re displaying, (whether it’s hung, or a small item on a surface), you’re going to need some different things. The first thing that came to mind for me was a pegboard like this one:
Open House – Design Files
It’s a very easy material to work with and allows you to attach hangers or shelves, depending on what you need. If the peg holes are too small to slip the cord through, just drill a bigger hole and you’re good to go! You can also decorate your peg board with some yarn in a cross stitch pattern.
By Guest Blogger Bethan Davies from The Craft Star
The Internet has opened up a world of new possibilities for crafters to market their goods. In order to get top dollar for your handmade crafts, there are several steps you should take to find the perfect selling venue and prepare your items for sale.
Baby It’s Cold Outside Wine Glasses – Get Your Own at The Craft Star
Selecting the Right Marketplace
Several alternatives exist when it comes to online selling. The most popular selling venues are auction websites, internet storefront sites and personally-created websites. Online auction sites like eBay put your items in front of millions of potential buyers, but the site is already crowded with thousands of handmade items, making it hard for the items of an individual seller to stand out. Many sellers find that sites such as etsy, which allow a crafter to set up a customized storefront, work well for their particular items. The third option, creating an individual website, requires additional effort on the part of the seller but permits a personalized approach to selling.
Copper Butterfly Bracelet – Get Yours at The Craft Star
Prices and Profitability
The next step to selling online is making sure that the goods you offer will be profitable. The total cost of materials, transportation and time spent crafting the items must be considered as well as any fees associated with the particular selling venue. A comparison of similar items offered by other sellers online is a great way to tell if the prices you must charge in order to make a profit are competitive. It is also helpful to watch these similar items to see if they actually sell within a reasonable time.
Mini Donut Soap – Find it at The Craft Star
Preparing accurate, detailed descriptions of items is critical to helping them sell. For example, listings should never be simply worded as “red sweater, size medium,” but should instead include selling points that are unique to your item along with the actual measurements of the item in both English and metric units. High-quality pictures accompanying each description also help catch the eye of potential buyers and can sometimes be all the sales pitch you need.
It’s Hip to be Square Glass Bowl – Buy it at The Craft Star
Knowing exactly how many items you need to make to meet demand can be tricky. If an item turns out to be extremely popular, demand can quickly outstrip your ability to supply the item. On the other hand, some items turn out to be unpopular, and you don’t want to be left with a large quantity of unsold inventory. As with price comparisons, demand for your items can be gauged by looking at similar items currently selling online. If you are marketing an item that has additional features or that is completely unique, however, you may be on your own when determining the demand. In that case it is best to adopt a watch and wait attitude by producing items only as quickly as they are sold. A seller must also consider whether to accept pre-orders or only sell inventory as it is produced. Some sales may be missed by adopting this policy, but doing so can keep an individual crafter from getting swamped with backorders or left with unsold inventory.
About the Author:
|Accounts Payable:||money you owe for goods or services received|
|Accounts Receivable:||money owed to your business for goods or services delivered|
|Back Order:||items not shipped in an order may be sent at a later date to buyer|
|Break-Even:||point where business is not making or losing money; total revenue equals total expenses|
|Budget:||financial plan to control spending|
|CCD:||Certified Craft Designer|
|COD Account:||Cash or check on delivery, payment is due upon receipt from a common carrier|
|Common Carrier:||Transportation service or company that will deliver supplies; example is UPS|
|Cost of Good Sold:||direct cost to business owner of items that will in turn be sold to consumer|
|CPD:||Certified Professional Demonstrator|
|Dealer Minimum:||also called minimum order; lowest quantity of an item/items that must be purchased or the lowest dollar amount that must be spent to place an order with a supplier|
|Distributor:||middleman that markets and sells to retailers|
|Gross Price:||price of product before discounts, deductions, or allowances|
|Invoice:||itemized statement from supplier/vendor stating charges for merchandise|
|Manufacturer:||business that makes product(s) from raw materials|
|Net Price:||actual price paid for products/supplies after deductions, discounts, allowances are subtracted.|
|Open Account:||credit extended to a business for a specific billing period|
|Purchase Order:||record of agreement made with supplier from buyer|
|Retailer:||business that sells directly to the consumer|
|Stock Keeping Unit (SKU):||unit assigned to an product/item usually designated with bar code for inventory control|
|Terms of Sale:||the conditions concerning who can purchase goods and payment of purchase.|
|Trade Association:||an organization of businesses in the same line of work promoting common interests|
|Trade Publication:||printed material intended for trade only consumption|
|Trade Show:||a gathering of individuals and business in a common industry to display, educate, and sell products/services to other members within the common industry|
|Sales Representative:||person who sells a product(s) usually in a specific geographic area for a commission; company reps work for a specific manufacturer/distributor and independents rep more than one line|
|Wholesaler:||business that sells to others for resale|
As professional crafters, many of us spend time traveling for business. Personal safety should always be on the traveler’s mind. It’s important to listen to your inner instincts. We all want to be polite and helpful, but when in an unfamiliar place, it may not be practical to be overly friendly with strangers. Don’t forget to pack your common sense when getting ready to hit the road. Here are some tips from Travel and Leisure Magazine and the American Automobile Association.
- Leave a complete itinerary with a family member or trusted friend. Include when you leave, how to reach you in an emergency, and when you’ll be home.
- Get a good night sleep the day before your travel starts. Avoid caffeine, junk food, and alcohol when traveling. Drink plenty of water. Pack any regular medications. Take extra care with yourself to stay healthy and alert.
- Pack only items you absolutely need. If you travel frequently have a toiletries bag that can stay packed and in your suitcase. Coordinate clothes so that only one jacket, skirt, or pants are needed for short trips. Select clothing colors that don’t need special shoes or accessories.
- Give yourself plenty of time to arrive, settle in, and get ready for business. If possible, ship large or heavy items to your destination.
- Bring along a magazine, book, portable craft, cassettes, puzzles, and other materials to keep you occupied during travel if you get bored easily.
- Know as much as you can about your destination. Get maps, ask for directions, and ask blunt questions, “Is this area safe?” Pay attention to your surroundings, you can turn a corner in a city and be in the wrong place.
- Observe the people around you. If you notice someone who looks out of place or seems to be watching you, stay alert.
- If attending a convention, trade show, or other event that requires a nametag or badge, remove the badge when outside the activities. Nametags tell the world you’re from out of town and can make you a target of crime.
- The same can be said of walking around with a map or tourist brochures.
- Never leave belongings unattended. This is the easiest target for thieves. Keep your luggage, brief case, laptop computer, and purse close at hand.
- Keep your car maintenance up-to-date. Check tires, belts, and oil before a long trip. Have jumper cables, emergency equipment and a first aid kit in the trunk.
- Always lock car doors whether you ‘re inside or outside your car. When in unknown areas keep windows rolled up. Car-jackers and thefts can easily reach into an open window at stoplights, stop signs, or busy streets where traffic is slow.
- Keep luggage, valuables, boxes, and other items that might be stolen in the truck.
- Avoid isolated gas stations in unfamiliar neighborhoods. At night use stations that are well light. Never wait until the tank is almost empty to get gas.
- If you travel frequently join AAA or another organization to get assistance on the road. It might be a good investment to lease or purchase a cellar or portable phone.
- Get tickets in advance to take advantage of discounts and to avoid an all booked flight. Try to book a seat over the wing or in front of the plane for a quieter flight. Sign up for frequent flyer programs. Arrive at the airport at least 1 hour early.
- Pack carry-on luggage to avoid delays in picking up checked luggage or lost luggage. However, do not over pack a carry on.
- If possible on long flights get out of your seat and walk the aisle.
- Never give out personal information like your destination on a plane; you don’t know who might over hear the information.
At the Hotel
- When checking in to a hotel/motel your room number should never be repeated out loud, if it is ask for a new room. Your room number should be written down by the hotel clerk and handed to you. Don’t display the key in public (by the pool or on a restaurant table) because it is easy for a thief to grab it.
- Don’t leave your hotel door propped open even for a short period of time like to run down the hall to get ice. Always deadbolt and chain the door when inside. Don’t open the door to strangers even if they claim they are from hotel maintenance or housekeeping, call the front desk first. Avoid inviting anyone into your hotel room, isn’t not the place for businesses and meet new business contacts in a public area.
- Don’t assume your hotel door is closing and locking behind you as you enter or exit the room. Make sure it is shut and locked.
- Don’t leave the clean room sign on your door, call housekeeping for room cleaning. The sign is advertising your absence. Leave the TV or radio on low volume when out to make it seem like the room is occupied.
- Park in a well light and fenced parking lot. If leaving at night feel free to ask the hotel for an escort to your car. Use valet parking if accessible. Always ask the hotel for an escort to your room if you feel uncomfortable or don’t want to walk to your room or car alone.
- Take valuables to the front desk for safe keeping in a safety box. Keep suitcases locked in your room. Don’t leave money, jewelry, or other valuables out in the open in your room.
Especially for Women Traveling Alone
- Women make up about 40% of the business traveling population. Women tend to use more hotel services like room service, pay for view movies, and the gift shop because they tend not to go out as much as men at night for safety reasons. Women should always feel free to ask for security when traveling, you’re not asking for “special” services.
- Many hotels have floors designed for women traveling alone; ask when you make your reservation. When you’re making the reservations ask what measures the hotel takes for security.
- Avoid staying on a ground floor or in a room that is exposed to general traffic. If possible ask for a room close to the elevator so you don’t have a long walk to your room.
- It is usually more secure at a smaller hotel than larger ones. A simple rubber doorstop will add security to a hotel door. Pack one and use it from the inside of your room.
- Never hesitate to ask the hotel staff for an escort to your room or parking lot. Ask the staff for directions to destinations rather than asking strangers on the street.
- Avoid flashy jewelry even if it is costume jewelry. Pack shoes that are comfortable and easy to walk or run in. Act like you know where you are going, if you look confused or unsure you are a perfect target for a thief.
On the Home Front
- Have someone who will pick-up your mail, newspapers, and deliveries instead of canceling through the post office or newspaper office. No need to let strangers know you’re out of town. For longer trips consider having a friend house or apartment sit for you.
- Invest in timers for lights within your home. Set them at odd intervals during the evening and night. Leave your heater or air conditioning unit running. Burglars feel the windows to see if the home is too hot or cold for the weather to see if a home is unoccupied.
- If using an answering machine never give your personal name or mention the fact that you are unavailable or out of town until such and such a date. Instead, use a message that indicates you are on another line and will return the call as soon as possible. Let the phone ring as long as possible (2-4 rings) before the machine picks up. Don’t leave the machine is plain view of windows.
- On long trips away from home have a friend move your vehicle occasionally, take out the trash, open a drape or curtain slightly in a front window, or any other activity that would indicate that the home is occupied.
- You may feel silly wearing protective wear, but your eyes, skin, and lungs will thank you. When using any supplies that states use in a well-ventilated area–wear a dust and filter mask that covers your nose and mouth. Also wear when sanding and cutting with power saws. The fine dust particles are bad for your lungs. Wear goggles when working at close contact with spray paints and power tools. Also don’t forget the rubber gloves when working with chemicals, dyes, and other products that can irritate skin.
- Work in a circle: Have items you use all the time including your tools like scissors in the front part of the circle within easy reach. Other items can fill in the circle. This set-up is less stressful and not as exhausting as having to hunt down the items you need.
- Storage of supplies is always a problem– store up, down, here and there, but NEVER on the floor. It’s an accident waiting to happen and very frustrating.
- Always get up every hour (when sitting for a long time) and stretch–your legs, neck, back, and arms.
- Lighting is very important–even if you have to make an investment in new fixtures and bulbs. Avoid eyestrain and mistakes (especially when matching colors) with good lighting. Mother Nature is best so if possible set-up near a sunny window.
- Never completely relax when using power tools or anything that uses electricity. Mistakes and accidents happen when we take these tools for granted.
- If it smells…it’s probably not good for your respiratory system. Buy non-toxic glues, paints, and sprays. Unscrew the lid of a liquid and smell for fumes. No room is ventilated well enough for some of these products.
- Rotary scissors are wonderful to relieve hand and wrist stress, but buy one with a retractable blade. Always replace the cover of sharp, pointed tools to avoid accidents.
Displaying your craft items is an important part of your selling plan. When you walk into your favorite gift shop do you find the items for sale just laying on tabletops and placed here and there on shelves? More than likely, your gift shop spends time creating interesting displays that will catch your eye and hopefully open your pocketbook. You need to do the same for your customers!
- Create a theme in your display and you will create a mood for your buyers. If you sew or quilt use an old sewing machine as a prop and scatter a few buttons around your work. Seasonal displays catch the buyers’ eye and remind them there are gifts to buy. If you sell ornaments, then decorate a tree.
- Never assume the potential buyer understands how to use your product. Use signs to explain your product or show examples of how the product is used. A sign should be simple and easy to read. If you sell plant sticks or pokes, display them in a pot of real flowers. If you sell eyeglass cases show several of the cases with glasses sticking out.
- Use color with flair. Coordinate or contrast color within a display. Don’t let your items blend into the background or get lost in the display. And at the same time don’t let a color overwhelm the display. The eye is attracted to yellow and red, which mean to most of us that we should be paying attention.
- Change you display frequently. Move items around and changes props. Regular customers get “bored” if they see the same display each time they shop. You don’t have to make drastic changes, but move items around to create a new look.
- Step back from your display and look at it from the customer’s point of view. Does the display catch your eye and invite you in to buy? What catches your eye first? Are there any items you didn’t notice at all? Ask a few friends to give you feedback on your displays and then use that knowledge to better your display.Displaying your crafts at a home party, outdoor craft show or in a craft mall doesn’t have to be a complicated process, but it is one that should get some of your creativity. Think of a craft display as your way of creating your own little shop for your craft items. Make it a shop that customers want to return to often!