Just last weekend I conquered a huge milestone for Madz Design, my very first craft fair. I was so excited to get accepted into Unique LA, but honestly, I had no idea what I was doing. It just so happened that the months leading up to Unique LA where some of the busiest I’ve had work wise. Between moving to LA, settling into a new apartment, and balancing all my freelance clients, I didn’t have much time left to plan this whole thing. About a month before the show (with zero work done for it might I add) I got an email from Unique saying they had upgraded my booth to a 10’x20′ space. AWESOME! Wait…how big is that? Oh my god, that’s double the size. Wait, that’s bigger then my bedroom. No, that’s a LOT bigger then my bedroom. Insert panic attack here…
I now had a ton of space to work with and absolutely no plan. So I hit the internet again for some help. Almost every article I read about building a booth said they had been planning for at least 3-6 months in advance, which needless to say was giving me major anxiety. But somehow, in just one month, I was able to create a successfully branded space I could be proud of. Here is how I did it, and how you can do it too.
1. SET SOME GOALS
Craft fairs are different for everyone. Depending on what you’re selling or if you’ve done this before, your goals might be completely different. For me, it wasn’t about sales or the dollar amount I walked away with. It was about interacting with customers and seeing first hand how they reacted to my products and my brand. As a strictly online seller until this point, my consumer insight was pretty limited. So with that in mind, I knew the display aspect of my booth would be crucial for me. I suggest thinking of what your end goal is. What do you hope to accomplish from this fair? Then, once you’ve decided on that, work backwards.
2. MAKE A GIANT LIST
Okay now for the fun part…lists! There is so much that goes into a craft fair and its easy for some things to slip through the cracks. Instead of making some pretty organized list of what you need to do and when, grab a blank piece of paper and just go crazy. Right down everything you would want to have or do in a perfect world in no particular order. Get all of your ideas out and just fill that paper up. My list included everything from walls, tables, packaging, business cards, flyers, packaging stickers, product supplies, frames, paint, tools, decor items, plants etc. Let your imagination run wild, you can scale it back later.
3. REFINE AND SET SOME DEADLINES
Okay now that you’ve spilled all of your amazing ideas onto paper, it’s time to pull it back and set some deadlines. Is there anything on your list you need to order in advance, like business cards or packaging materials? What will take the longest to do? Re-order your list based on how long it takes to get things done and when it needs to be done by. Then, start knocking things off.
4. PRODUCTS OVER EVERYTHANG
Before you get all hung up on your booth design and what it will look like, focus on your products. Because without those, it doesn’t matter how kick ass your booth is. For my business, I make everything myself. I design, print, and package every single card and art print. I spent the first two weeks doing nothing but making products. How many should you make? Well that’s different for every situation, unfortunately. But I made about 300 cards and 150 prints. I knew I would probably have a lot left over, but better safe then sorry. Plus, I knew I’d sell it all eventually. I tried not to put too much emphasis on my “bestsellers” online, because I knew they might be totally different in person. What people buy when they are using keywords to search for something as opposed to browsing at a fair is completely different. So I tried to be prepared for everything to sell. And I’m glad I did, because there were some unexpected favorites for sure. Also, I’d like to make a special shout out to Amazon Prime, without whom I literally would not be in business. Every time I ran out of paper or envelopes, you were always there for me, for free, in just two business days. XOXO MADZ
5. MOCK THAT SHIT UP
So now that your products are all done, it’s time to focus on your physical space. I had two weeks left before the show, and one of those weeks I was “on vacation” in Chicago for Lollapalooza. Great timing…I know. The first thing I did was create a mockup of my booth. I drew sketches to scale so I could accurately plan what would go where. If you can, look to your apartment first. Do you have any furniture you can repurpose? Luckily I did. So I measured a few of my pieces and added them to my sketch. Think about how many products you want prominently displayed and how. I made a general mockup in photoshop of my booth, but still wasn’t ready to commit to anything yet. So I didn’t. Classic.
6. MARKETING MATERIALS
While I was in Chicago and not really able to do much, I turned my attention to my marketing materials. I needed business cards, and inserts for every order. I knew I wanted to do a big push for Instagram and offer some sort of promotion for people posting pics of my products. So I hit up VistaPrint.com and ordered it in bulk.
7. BUILD THAT BOOTH
With just 7 days left to go, I hadn’t purchased anything yet for my booth. This is the part where you tell me I’m crazy. I know. But hey, it worked. But surprisingly after a trip to Ikea, Blick Art Store, and Home Depot I was all set. Below is a list of what I bought at each store to create my booth.
Blick Art Materials
- White foam boards for the walls
- White Duct tape (and lots of it)
- Velcro tape (to hang the picture shelves)
- Command strips (to hang picture frames)
8. THE FINISHING TOUCHES
Once the structure of your booth is in tact, and your items are placed, it’s time for the final touches. Style your booth so it invites people to take pictures of it. Use plants, props, colors, or whatever works with your brand to really make your booth pop. Feature your best sellers in prominent displays. And last, but not least, make sure the customer can get all the information they need quickly and easily. That means multiple signs of prices everywhere. Make it obvious what your items are being sold for, and if they can get a discount with multiple purchases. Spread your business cards in multiple areas of your booth. Make your products visible and easy to browse. Using a hashtag for Instagram? Make it known and put it in lots of visible places to the consumer. Put all of these together, flash your pearly whites at the customers, and your bound to make great sales.