A Shy Crafter’s Guide to Selling at Craft Fairs

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My first-ever craft fair at the EtsyRain Handmade Holiday Show in Seattle, 11/2012.

This was first published on the School House Craft blog. But with holiday craft shows on the horizon, I thought it would be a great time to re-post (with updated links) for all my shy crafters out there! Enjoy!

With Netflix streaming on my computer, my favorite mug filled with coffee and my messy piles of felt and embroidery thread and yarn around me, I am in my own little cocoon of happy relaxation when I sit down to make my felt creations for my creative business, Catshy Crafts. I can update my social media sites, photograph my work or post a new listing on Etsy, all without leaving my happy place.

But sooner or later, I know, in order for me to have a successful business, to grow my business, I must venture out in the world. Make connections. Meet people (potential customers and collaborators). Show my work. For this (once) painfully shy person, this has always been a challenge for me.

When I had the opportunity to sell at my very first craft fair a few years ago, I couldn’t pass it up (even though it scared me half out of my mind). I knew that vending at a craft fair was the next logical step for my business. It was a chance to sell to a local audience, meet other crafters and yes, overcome some of that shyness that has been hindering me from doing things all my life. How did I do it?

Here are my top five tips for selling at your first craft show (from a shy crafter’s perspective).

  1. Do Your Research. A big part of my anxiety about selling at my very first craft fair was the fear of the unknown. What would my booth look like? Would I sell anything? Would I be able to talk with my customers? How much inventory should I bring? Would it be worth it?

Answering most or all of these big questions beforehand will save you a lot of stress in the end. To find out more information about craft fairs, search the Etsy Blog or start posting questions on the Etsy Forums. You can also try a local meet-up group like Seattle HandmadeKari Chapin’s CreativeLive class (I was an in-studio audience member, a whole other shy-busting experience) has a great segment on a designing booth display. Pinterest is also a great resource for getting ideas about booth displays.

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Fun way to repurpose a muffin tin by Oh Hello Friend. Urban Craft Uprising, Seattle 7/2014.

  1. Prepare Yourself. Armed with your new knowledge about craft fairs, start preparing for the big day as soon as possible. Being prepared is a great way to get over some of your anxiety. Here are a few areas to focus on.
    • Booth Display. Set up a mock booth display in your living room or garage. Measure out your space. Make sure you have ways to display your items in an eye-pleasing way. And don’t forget to carve out a space where you will be sitting or standing. Pinterest is a great place to find inspiration and ideas.
    • Make a checklist of all the things you will need for the big day. Don’t leave anything out. From tables and chairs to money to make change to snacks to signage for your booth, make sure you have everything you need. For a sample checklist of items you may need, check out: https://blog.etsy.com/en/2012/what-to-bring-to-a-craft-fair/
    • Prepare icebreakers or questions you can ask a visitor to your booth. I don’t know about you, but small talk is not one of my strengths. Taking a few minutes to think about some questions or icebreakers for your booth visitors could help alleviate some of that small talk anxiety. After all, she is taking time to visit your booth, make her feel welcome with some friendly conversation. For example, compliment her on something she is wearing OR ask her how she’s likes the craft fair so far. If she is looking at a particular item in your booth, tell her something interesting about the piece or what inspired you. But if your mind goes blank or you get a little tongue-tied, a hello and smile never hurts. And who knows, maybe she is shy too!
wooden tray display at craft show

Some vintage Catshy Crafts designs on display at my first craft show.

  1. Set Goals. Having some goals in mind at the start of fair is a good way to keep you focused and stop you from focusing on how nervous you are. I like to set a few goals for myself that are relatively easy to achieve. This will get the ball rolling and motivate you to accomplish even more.
Queen Anne Artist's Trunk Show, 12/2015

Queen Anne Artist’s Trunk Show, 12/2015

  • For example, one goal could be: sell at my first craft fair. Check! Remember, this is your first craft fair. You get points for doing the prep work and just showing up!
  • Other manageable goals could be:
    • Greet at least 5 people who visit your booth.
    • Introduce yourself to at least 3 other craft vendors.
    • Smile at 5 people who walk by your booth.
    • Of course, you can also have goals of how much you sell, but sometimes that can put extra pressure on you. But if you’re up for the challenge, go for it! But remember, craft fairs are not just a way to make sales. Promoting your shop, meeting potential customers, networking with other crafters and getting out of your comfort zone are just a few of the awesome benefits of craft fair vending.
One of my displays.

One of my displays made of a vintage picture frame and cork board.

  1. Get Support from Your Friends and Family. This one could be a tricky one if you are shy, but trust me it is worth the effort. Ask a friend, spouse/significant other or family member to be your booth buddy for the day or at least a few hours. Having company makes the whole experience a whole lot less scary. Also, remember to tell all your friends and family (as well as your customers and followers) that you are selling at your first craft fair and invite them to visit you! You never know who will stop by.
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My friend Hannah visiting me at Urban Craft Uprising in Seattle, 7/2014.

  1. Reward Yourself. It is important to give yourself a lot of credit for taking this big step. Even non-shy crafters get nervous about selling their work, so the fact that you are doing it despite your shyness is worth celebrating. Yay for you! And don’t wait until the day is over to start celebrating. Every time you achieve one of your goals, take a moment to enjoy your awesomeness! You deserve it.

ADDITIONAL LINKS:

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/catshycrafts/i-love-craft-booths/

Catshy Crafts Blog (my original blog posts about my first craft fair experience):

http://catshycrafts.com/2013/01/10-tips-on-surviving-your-first-craft-show/

http://catshycrafts.com/2013/02/designing-a-craft-booth-display-with-thrifted-finds/

http://catshycrafts.com/2012/11/i-did-it-etsyrain-handmade-holiday-show-2012-recap/

4 Tips to Beat the Fall and Winter Blues

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September days are here. Sweater weather. Back to school. Warm mugs of Earl Grey tea (with a dash of cream and sprinkle of sugar) sipped slowly. And my favorite: turning leaves from verdant greens to golds, oranges and yellows. The first “tokens” of autumn’s arrival are nudges to slow down after the flurry of summer activity.

From Helen Hunt Jackson's poem "September"

From Helen Hunt Jackson’s poem “September”

Out here in the Pacific Northwest, fall also comes with a dramatic shortening of days and lengthening of nights. And of course, a return to overcast and rainy weather. This trifecta can be a recipe for darkened moods and even seasonal affect disorder (SAD).

Today, I am sharing my top 4 personal tips to keep the light shining when Mother Nature is not. (And please, please, please consult with your doctor if you think you have seasonal affect disorder.)

1. Shine your own light.

When I first moved to the Seattle area from ever-sunny Los Angeles, more than a few people recommended getting a light therapy box for my first fall/winter. Being prone to depression, I knew my body would be craving the light come September. At first, it might be strange to bathe your face in blue light, but your body and mind will thank you! Need tips on which light box to get? Check out this article on the Mayo Clinic site. And of course, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor to see if a light box would work for you.

 

2. Go outside and play.

Take a walk around the block. Hike your favorite trail with a friend. Even it’s overcast, not only will you be getting more light than if you remain indoors, you will be moving your body and getting some exercise. Spend at least 30 minutes per day outdoors to reap the benefits. If you can, go outside at noon, when the sun is at its highest. Is it raining? Put on your favorite pair of rain boots, grab an umbrella and slosh through the rain. After a quick trek in the rain, returning to your warm home or apartment will feel even better!

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3. Celebrate a fall tradition.

My favorite thing about fall are the changing leaves. The colors. The shedding of leaves. Even raking leaves is something I look forward too. Another added bonus? I take some of my best photographs during fall! My daughters loves throwing the leaves and jumping in piles of leaves. That’s when I get joyful and natural photos – no stiff smiles or poses. What is one thing you LOVE about fall? Is it planning your Halloween costume? Your favorite drink returning to your favorite cafe? Cozying up to a warm fire? Focus on the joy of the season. Don’t really love anything about fall? Well, now’s a good time to discover one!

 

 

4. Be still.

Meditation and mindfulness practices are wonderful to do anytime of the year. And the benefits are awesome! Reduced stress and anxiety, increased sense of inner peace and improved overall health are some of the proven rewards of being still. From Transcendental Meditation (which is what I practice) to guided meditation to mindfulness to yoga, slowing down and getting centered is a great way to reconnect with your body and mind. And fall is a great time to pick up the practice.

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Bringing some serenity to your home.

Finding the Time to Finish Your Craft Projects

Hello lovelies!

I have a special post for you today! I know that many of you lovelies are crafters yourselves as well as handmade lovers. But that finding time to finish your own creative projects can be a difficult proposition, especially as we transition into fall — full of back-to-school preparation and activities. I hope this helps you carve out the time to finish those craft projects that light you up and bring you joy. Because isn’t that the purpose of life? Enjoy!

 

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Arts and crafts and DIY projects are amazing creative outlets that allow you to escape the pressures of daily life, whether it be your job or personal circumstances. Although not everyone would consider themselves crafty or artistically inclined, it’s been reported in the American Journal of Health that there is a strong relationship between visual arts activities and reductions in stress, anxiety and distress, thereby increasing positive emotions and keeping negative ones at a minimum. Channeling your inner creativity is almost therapeutic, thus if you ever have a day or two to spare, try taking up a new craft.

 

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But the problem in starting a new project—for experienced crafters, enthusiasts and those taking up art for the first time—is dedicating time to it, making the full commitment. For some of us, we have to actually pencil “creativity hour” into our busy schedules. Life gets in the way, and sometimes we can’t help but put off project completion. So many distractions are in our midst, so it’s always interesting when you find ways to combat things that can cause you to procrastinate. An infographic entitled ‘Improving Concentration and Focus’ states, “Social media, endless advertising, the insanity of the modern news cycle and the stresses of managing life day to day all seem to compete for our focus, with no obvious victor on the horizon.” Thus, it’s not surprising that procrastination is in everyone’s blood.

feltcolors_CatshyCrafts

While we may never have complete control of what happens throughout the day, week or month, there are little things we can do here and there to ensure that we allocate some of our time to finish sewing that sweater, handcrafting jewelry, or building that birdhouse.

 

  1. Create a schedule.

  2. Organize your workspace

    • Other than time, mustering up the motivation to get your project done can also be difficult. Because we are visual creatures, a tried and tested way to inspire productivity is by creating and organizing an area for your crafts, complete with supplies so that all you have to do is sit in your space and create.
  3. Break down the project in small steps

    • It goes without saying that you shouldn’t start something new when you haven’t finished the project before, but it happens to the best of us, as we overwhelm ourselves with too much in a short amount of time. Take some advice from Decor by the Seashore and break things down into lots of steps; it will help you gain a sense of accomplishment and progress, even if you only do one or two per week.

 

Thanks for visiting my blog today lovelies!

I hope you have a joyful and creative day!

West Elm + Catshy Crafts (together again!)

Hello lovelies!

I can’t believe summer is almost over!  For me, August was my busiest month ever. At the beginning of the month, I moved out of my family home of 7 years and moved into a new cozier place with my girls. After a week of moving and getting the house ready for sale, I then took a much-needed, week-long vacation back home to Long Island, NY.

Feeling joyful to be on vacation with my family!

Returning to a condo full of moving boxes was quite overwhelming, especially after such a relaxing vacation!

But I am now slowly settling into my new condo and getting used to its little quirks and perks: pitter patter of footsteps from my upstairs neighbors and the inviting pool and hot tub just steps from my front door. I am thankful for this chance to make a new home for me and my daughters – decorating it, organizing it and filling it with good memories.

And of course, back-to-school preparations are well are under way as my daughters get ready to return to school (2nd grade and 6th grade). My oldest is in middle school this year! When did that happen?

POP-UP at WEST ELM SEATTLE

To cap off the month, I will have my second pop-up shop scheduled at West Elm Seattle (2201 Westlake Avenue, Seattle) on Saturday.

Nestled among the modern furnishings and super-cute home accessories, I will set up my collection of meditating animal art, which was featured in the Seattle Times earlier this month. (Still pinching myself over that bit of good press! Thank you so much for your support and well wishes!)

Catshy Crafts at West Elm Seattle

Can’t make the pop-up? My new line of meditating hoops are now also available on my Etsy shop.

As always, thanks so much your love and support!

Meditate on the cuteness: New Line of Hoop Art

A deer, fox and hedgehog walk into a bar. No, make that a meditation room. Wait, what?

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I am so excited to introduce a new line of felt embroidery hoop art inspired by my latest “hobby” a.k.a. de-stressing practice a.k.a. sanity saver…. meditation.

Earlier this summer, I signed up for a 4-day class in transcendental meditation. My new practice has given me peace and serenity and a way to take a break during my hectic summer days.

I already had some “sleepy” animals (fox and bunny) (and clouds) in my Etsy shop. But the more I looked at them, I thought to myself, these creatures look so serene. Kinda like how I feel when I meditate!

So I decided to add a few more animals to my menagerie (hello dear! hiya hedgie!), but instead of seeing them as sleepy, I re-imagined them as meditating zen-loving beings.

meditating-deer-catshy

I “debuted” them at my pop-up shop at West Elm Seattle, but now I am offering them in my Etsy shop!

For local folks, they will be available at The Handmade Showroom in downtown Seattle later this month.

And… they even got a mention in today’s Sunday Seattle Times!

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Hope you like them!

Click here to shop the brand-new collection!