Friday, February 25, 2011

Selling: What are the Goals of Your Display?


(Sorry about the delay since my last blog post. I had the flu, and it has taken a bit of time to get back into the swing of things.)

Before my first market, I scoured the internet for help on how to display my work. Unfortunately each crafter has a different style, needs, and tastes. Some shows require complicated displays, especially if they are outdoors. While reading this, it is important to note that displays are a work in progress. I wake up very early in the morning to attend shows, and I refuse to have any sort of complicated setup, and I must be able to carry everything on my own in one trip (suitcases with wheels are great!). The first step in planning your display is to assess your Goals (other than selling loads of product!). Most of my experience is working with a provided table and nothing else.



Attract Customers

At any show or market, there is a limit before the prospective customer experiences fatigue and craft overload. You need to be clear in your display. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what you should do, but if you have been to craft shows in the past, think of which displays did not work well. Be tidy! Be organized! You only have a few seconds as a customer walks by (possibly distracted by cell phones, children, etc) to get your message across. If there is something on your table that does not clearly speak your message, get rid of it! It’s just clutter. Think about where customer’s will be looking as the walk along your table. Where will they be looking as they approach your table? Take a picture after setting up your table and assess it a few days later. A large sign will also help, as will the color of your setup. I sell toys, so I tend towards bright colors. Is your product more sophisticated? Think about neutral or really deep tones.

In my experience there are two areas of focus. There is a vertical eye line that people will see from a distance. To maximize exposure use shelves, easels, racks, etc. Some people will also use bed risers to raise their tables 6” taller. Since I focus on toys, I try to keep things as close to their level as possible.For customers that are at your table, they are probably looking down (horizontal eye line). Don’t put everything on a shelf, have baskets, plates (I’ve seen people use casserole dishes effectively), business cards, handouts, etc along the front of your table.  Highlight Your Work

Your display should immediately scream what your product is. If I am left wondering about what part is for sale amongst clutter, I’ll just walk away. I’ve seen customers ask vendors about buying parts of their displays! That is definitely not a goal!. I am easily fatigued by displays. Be organized (I know that I’m repeating myself!). A grid pattern, groupings, and empty spaces can be used to guide your customer through your display. You do not need to cover every inch with your work. Take a picture- when you assess your picture, is it easy to see each product? What is the flow of your space? What do you see first when you look at your space? Are you a Jack of All Trades? Think hard about how you will arrange all your different products. Listen to customer comments. Did they not see something that you had on display? Look where your customers eyes go. What are they seeing?

Show your Style

People like to buy artisan goods if they show personality. I like cute, playful, and fun. I have a lime green, bright table cloth. I want kids to play and rearrange. Nothing on my table is breakable. I like to use a chalkboard for messages.

If you can, bring your work with you and demonstrate the process. If that isn’t possible, buy a cheap digital picture frame and load pictures of your process on it. I buy artisan work because I am interested handmade and I want to know about the process. If you make a variety of products, how do they fit together into your cohesive style?


As an artisan, you are branding yourself. Put your name, and contact info everywhere. I use fabric tags, a sign, and business cards. I’m still working on this aspect, and I’ll have another blog post about it at a later date.


Not every show carries liability insurance. Check with your homeowners insurance to see if you are protected if someone is injured by your display. To every show I take a first aid kit, nail file, nail clippers, stapler, tape, and straight pins. One area of focus is your table covering. It should almost come to the floor, but sometime there can be excess cloth on the corners. Use straight pins to pin them back. Straight pins can also be used to pin your sign on the front of your display if you do not have a wall space. Many craft show organizers don’t want you to pin anything on fabric wall that may separate vendors – some clothes pins, or clips will work here.

Also, be warned that kids in strollers can have a strong grip and bring down a display. Or people can trip and bump. I do not put any glass or delicate items on my display. I will sometime put a price list in a picture frame, but I will take out the glass (this also prevents a glare on your information). If you have delicate items on display, make sure they are secure and in the middle of your table.


Some of My Displays

Every component, except the easel, fits in my medium sized suitcase! I haven’t done this in these displays, but I should put a cloth over the shelves (as in the picture at the top of this post) so that customers are not distracted by the space below the shelves. My display is not fancy nor is it expensive, but my products are highlighted, and customers easily gage what I am about.

exhibition park 2010 (4) Acadia 2010 (2) SDC11870

Friday, February 11, 2011

Weekly Update (2011.02.11)

  New Products
    I have also been expanding my line of key chains/charms. I began creating these items as a special request for party favours. Bulk pricing is available on orders of 10+ items. Colours are customizable. New this week is a little sheep. I also have available monkeys, flowers, hearts, pigs, and music notes.
    SDC16819 SDC16722 SDC16656
    Many people do not know this, but as I perfect my patterns, I self-publish them. They are usually up for sale in my Etsy shop, but if you are local (HRM, Nova Scotia) and prefer not to be charged in US dollars, you can send me a message anytime. If you would like an electronic copy I can send a PayPal invoice, or we can meet at the Historic Halifax Market on Saturdays (I can also print the pattern for pick up as well). Newly available: Thomas Turtle. Currently 15 patterns are available.
    Thomas Turtlecarrot greys Maude & Mona Mermaid 

    Geeks versus Nerds

      Last night, I went out to Jokers (Spring Garden Rd) for a Geeks Versus Nerds Debate. I absolutely love this crowd (most of whom I hadn’t seen since Hal-Con. A most wonderful person who is traveling to Scotland tonight wanted a Nelson doll to take along. I wasn’t sure which colour she wanted, so I took the ones I had on hand – and I’m happy to have done so as 3 more Nelson’s found a home last night. Other highlights of the night were the debate intros by PigMonkey (very funny!) and the great animated debaters, especially “Charlie Brown”…and Bobba Fett defeated Batman as the ultimate badass.
      SDC16802 SDC16015


        I’ve received some fantastic feedback from my last two blog posts: 5 Tips for ETSY Sellers and 11 Tips for Selling Your Crafts at a Market or Show, and even had both of them posted as Featured Posts on The Hive! For anyone crafty (from yarn workers to photographers, to writers), The Hive is a collective of artisans who share their works, interests, and all things crafty through message boards and groups. There are even shows and online meetings. If you are interest in joining, click here. I belong to a few different groups: Amgurumi Designers, Amigurumi Makers, Home Based Arts & Crafts Business, and Your Craft Business. These blog posts that show up on The Silver Hook automatically post there as well. And my last two posts were mostly geared towards them and the 902 Hustler Etsy Team an ETSY group from Nova Scotian artisans.

        Have a wonderful weekend! I will be at the Historic Farmers’ Market Saturday.

        Tuesday, February 8, 2011

        5 Tips for ETSY Sellers

        While craft shows/markets provide the bulk of my sales, having an Etsy (or Artfire, or eBay) store is important. It is a source of sales, provides a wealth of support, and increases my credibility. Before The Silver Hook, my Etsy web address was on every business card ( One of my goals for 2011 is to increase my Etsy revenues. I am not an Etsy expert, but I have been doing quite a bit of research lately, and here are some of the new things I have learned.
        • Location! When setting up your Etsy profile, there is a space for location. Put in your specific city, state/province, and country. Do you live in a small town, or belong to a region? Add a semi-colon and add that information as well. People like to search for local things. If you were looking for something local, what search terms would you look for? That’s what needs to be in this space. For example, I live in Halifax; Nova Scotia; Canada, but I am also from HRM (Halifax Regional Municipality), and Halifax touches borders with may other cities within a very small distance (few minutes drive). I also include these in my location description. And don’t forget any abbreviations as well!
        Map picture
        • Shop Info Under the shop appearance, there is a space for writing the shop name – but don’t stop there. You can still write more and it will help in Search Engine results. Write a brief description and be sure to use any key words to describe your work. This is the blurb that will be at the top of your browser when people go to your site. Also be sure to fill in your shop policies. Need help getting started?Check out your favourite shops, and see what works for them.
        • Relist/Updating The Etsy default for searches is by “most recent”. I know that whenever I do a search, I may only look at the first 3-10 pages. Do not put all your listing up on one day. Spread them out! How often a new listing should be added, depends on your category. Some categories are very hot, and need multiple listings/day, other categories get by with a couple a week. Also if your work can fit in multiple categories, (for me, crocheting, dolls & miniatures, toys), when listing I chose different categories depending on the day. That way your are more likely to be found by someone browsing by category. ETSY spans the globe. Don’t always renew at the same time. Spread it out. I know updating is the bane of many sellers, and I know of artisans who have closed their Etsy shops because it required so much attention. I choose to view it as a challenge. My customers want to seen new, exciting, and innovative designs. I need to make them. Having regular new items, and relisting often is my motivation!

        • Etsy Support! Sign up for the emails or the RSS feed from Etsy through their blog (click here). They will send you a so much help and information. Some of the recent highlights include which tags are trending popular (i.e. what key words are people looking for). They also put out weekly seller help with different weekly goals, such as improving listing titles, using tags, pictures, marketing, and writing a business plan.

        • Get the Word Out There! If you work on the first four of this list, you’ve made a great start. But you also need to think outside of the Etsy platform. Share your website ( everywhere. Post it on relevant blogs, link to it on your Etsy descriptions, share it on Facebook, and post it on places like Kijiji and Craigslist, and put it on your business cards.

        • Patience! Every market has busy and slow phases. For me, the first few months of the new year are very slow, both online and at markets. It can be discouraging, but I try to think of it as time to build stock, innovate, and to build business relationships.  The profitability of your business is directly linked to how much time you put in to it in researching, learning, developing, marketing, and crafting. And enjoy the time you have to spend on other hobbies. I like baking and in the past month, I’ve been trying to perfect my recipe for whole wheat bread. It’s easy to spend every waking (and sometimes sleeping) thought thinking about your business – but life is about balance.

        Friday, February 4, 2011

        11 Tips for Selling Your Crafts at a Market or Show

        Recently I have been participating on a discussion thread on Ravelry (an online forum for yarn artisans). A fellow amigurumi maker asking for advise on starting to sell her creations. The first show, market, or fair can be intimidating! I can vividly remember the first time I went to the Dartmouth Farmers’ Market. I had baby clothes, afghans, toys, and a bit of other items. My table cloth was too small for the table, and my set up was awful. But I went in with an open mind and was not afraid to change. In my community, baby clothes and afghans would not bring in a fair price, but I really liked making the toys. I remember that it was a little dragon to a wonderful toddler, Mia, that was my first sale. Below are two picture of my table set up (left 2007, right 2009)
        Table setup August 2008 exhibition park xmas (1)

        Here are a few of the things that I have learned about selling at the market:
        1. Jump in. No amount of advice can prepare you for your first selling adventure.
        2. Be open minded. Sure you may love what you make, but being realistic is important. You need to be flexible and match your products to your market.
        3. Smile! If you look miserable, people won’t want to be around you…or your product! Look like you love your work. Let it show on the outside. You need to show your love before someone else will love your product.
        4. Take a picture of your table/booth. Review it later to see where you can make improvements.
        5. Bring business cards! You are trying to build trust with your future clients – they need to know that you are reachable.
        6. See someone wearing a great hat? Compliments – they can make someone feel good and associate you and your products as a positive experience
        7. Patience! It takes time. Don’t be discouraged on your first outing. Keep it up!
        8. Build friendships with other vendors – they have great tips and may recommend you to one of their regular clients.
        9. Display prices clearly. People don’t always want to ask.
        10. Price your items what they are worth! People judge quality based on price. To read more, click here!
        11. Be attentive! You are representing your business. Playing on your phone, reading a book, or even sleeping (I’ve seen it happen!) will encourage theft.  I like to bring a little crocheting with me to the market. Keeps me busy, and draws attention.
        12. Wear a name tag. Again, you are building relationships. You need to be approachable.

        Tuesday, February 1, 2011

        Six Word Story Etsy Challenge

        How would you describe yourself or your work if you could only use six words to describe your story? That is a question and challenge posted on Etsy. Those who know me, know that I am chatty, but paring down a story to just six words can really bring focus to the core of a person or business. I suppose it is similar to when selecting tags for a post or listing. Time is not stagnant, and I’m sure that my six words will need to be revised, but I think it is a neat challenge. To read more about the post, click here!

        I began with jotting down the first adjectives that came to mind: folk art, amigurumi, artisan, handmade, durable, yarn, imagination, original, functional….hmm…harder than I thought it would be! Okay, maybe I should just stick some words together. I can be very analytical trying to come up with the perfect flow, but for this I wanted to be less thoughtful. How do I view The Silver Hook?

        “Creator of whimsical, functional, yarn toys”

        How about looking in the mirror? How do I view myself?

        “Persevering analytical and creative sensitive woman”

        winged unicorn (7)