Thinking about selling your work? Virginia Lindsay, a professional sewist and the successful pattern designer behind Ginger Cake, has some tips for you! The following checklist for prepping to sell at a craft show is taken from her book Sewing to Sell—The Beginner's Guide to Starting a Craft Business. Plus, scroll down to the bottom of the post for a giveaway!
MAKING A PLAN
What will make a difference in your sales is plenty of well-made and useful products. You should start sewing for a show well in advance and make a plan for how much you want to make. If you are not a good planner, you need to really force yourself to change your old habits if you are going to be in a craft show. A professional will give herself plenty of time to sew up enough to make a beautiful display at her show. Below is one idea for a plan that you can modify as needed.
Three Months before the Show
☐ Make a list of what you want to have in your booth. For example, the “To make for show” list has a mix of small and large items, which will give customers a range of choices and prices. Also, the large duffles and pillows will be great attention getters, and the smaller pieces will work for people who love your work but are on a smaller budget. The list is also only a goal and doesn’t have to be met perfectly. Maybe you want to make fewer journal covers and add in some eyeglass holders. Maybe you want to eliminate the wallets and instead add tote bags. This is why you start planning well in advance, so when you make changes, you can adjust easily without having to stay up all night sewing.
One Month before the Show
☐ Start planning out your booth and order business cards if you don’t already have plenty. Also consider ordering a banner with your company name, or figure out how to make your own. Do you need to shop for display items? Can you raid your family’s and friends’ basements to find some creative and fun things to use to display goods? Set a budget and stick to it, but budget enough—if you do it on the cheap, your booth will look, well, cheap.
☐ Consider how people will pay you. It’s best to have a way to accept credit cards. Fortunately, if you can get cell phone reception or Wi-Fi at the venue, you can use a service such as Square, Intuit, or PayPal and swipe credit cards using a card reader on your smartphone. Don’t wait too long to sign up for one of these services; it can take a little while to get your account set up and to receive your card reader.
One Week before the Show
☐ Try to stop sewing and work on your booth, pricing, and signage. Who is going to help you set up and break down? If you have to do it alone, make sure you can carry everything yourself. (This happened to me, and it was really hard to move all that stuff alone.) If you are alone, get or borrow a dolly or a wheeled cart. It is best to have a helper if you can find one. Bribe them with handmade items if needed.
Two Days before the Show
☐ Set up your booth at home so you can make sure you have everything you need.
☐ Get cash so you can make change.
One Day before the Show
☐ Pack up everything, including extra supplies such as tape, safety pins, markers, spot cleaner, needle and thread, and so on. Pack up your car and pack up some snacks and drinks for yourself. Get a good night of sleep.
Day of the Show
☐ Get up early and get to the show location to set up everything. Get ready to smile and talk to people all day. No hiding in the back of your booth or keeping your nose in a book. Sometimes I even set up my stool right out in front so I can chat with people who come to my booth or as they walk by.
Giveaway now closed.