This might seem like a no-brainer, but actually fairs might actually not work for you (at this stage).
The positives – fairs are a great way to:
- have face-to-face contact with potential and existing clients
- get feedback about your products or services
- to research the market you work in and compare yourself with ‘the competition’
- increase your visibility and profile to consumers, trade and press
- improve your credibility, but only … if you select the right one and promote your participation
- network not just with potential buyers, press, manufacturers, agents and peers
- to let people know that you are looking for an (international) agent or distributor, or welcome private commissions – Just put a note on your stand!
- invite existing contacts, potential and ex-clients to come and see you again
- to have a deadline to get your work done – especially when you just have graduated participating in a show might help you to plan and structure your time better
- to build your confidence in yourself and your work
- and last but not least: a great place to get clients and sell your work!
- you do need to have some money to exhibit: to create your products, your stand, for accommodation, transport, electricity, insurance, marketing, …
- fairs are very hard work with long hours on your feet, days on end (leave the high heels at home!), sometimes outside or in very cold or very hot and smelly venues (Anybody remember Chelsea Crafts Fair in the Old Town Hall?!)
- they will take you out of your comfort zone (but that also could be a positive, couldn’t it?!)
Are you brave enough to take part in a craft or design fair?
The big thing that many first time exhibitors underestimate is the power of visitor comments on all aspects of your work, stand and even you. And if this is negative, then that hurts. It hurts, because you are showing work that you created yourself, and it feels very personal.
That’s the reason why many designers and crafts people never present their work at a trade show as they are too afraid (in their mind) for what feedback they will get.
Do you let your worries rule and let the saboteur voices in your head telling you ‘it will not work’? Or do you dare to go out there and really learn from all the feedback that you will get?
Also … design and craft fairs come in a whole range of sizes. Start with a smaller one and see how it goes!
TOP TIP: You don’t actually need to have a stand to make the most of a trade fair. Especially with the major international trade fairs that attract lots of trade, you can make appointments with people at the fair to show your work or portfolio, without necessarily having a stand.
Do you want to sell wholesale? Can you afford to sell wholesale? Can you deliver the goods?
If you take part in a trade show then you firstly need to make sure that your prices stack up.
As a rule of thumb: If you double your cost price, then you get your whole sale price. If you double the whole sale price then you get the retail price.
So if it cost you to produce your products £20, then you sell them to retailers at £40, and they will sell them to the public for £80.
Would anybody buy your products at that price? If not, then you might have to consider that for now you want to focus mostly on selling directly yourself (through consumer fairs, online or open studios).
Also, you need to be sure that you can actually fulfill trade orders, which are often larger orders. Do you have the money to actually make them, especially if you get paid 60 or 90 days after you have delivered them?
You can read a more detailed blog about different ways to price your work.
Also, especially with trade fairs, it is very likely that trade buyers wait a couple of years before they actually start buying from you as they want to see if you survive and have a reliable, stable business. Often only after 3 years will they start purchasing. Can you afford to show year after year with limited sales?
Do you want to know more about how to identify and select the best crafts show or design fair for you, or do you want The Design Trust list of recommended UK and international design and craft fairs?
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