There are so many fantastic opportunities to sell your design and craft products at craft and design fairs, markets and selling exhibitions. From small local events to larger high end fairs, taking your creative products to market is a brilliant way to promote your business, meet and build relationships with customers and of course make sales! You can see our selection of 2023 craft and design selling events here.

We asked 3 of the best craft & design event organisers (Sinead Koehler of Crafty Fox, Sally Thomas from Craft in Focus, and Sarah James from Craft Festival) to share their expert tips to get ready for a selling event, to make the most of the opportunity, and what to do during the show!

Crafty Fox Market
Crafty Fox Market

SINEAD Koehler from Crafty Fox Market

Tell us about you and your events and what you have lined up in 2023?

‘I have been running Crafty Fox Market since 2010, hosting markets across London, festival concessions and a creative community.

I started the market originally because I felt there was a lack of community in the the markets I was attending with my handmade jewellery.

I love working with creative businesses and seeing them flourish and grow. I also teach at Central Saint Martins as part of the Culture and Enterprise department and I enjoy bringing examples from the craft scene to my teaching practice. 

Currently we are working towards our spring market weekend at the Crossing in Kings Cross. We’ll be featuring 90 unique makers per day plus creative workshops too. We are also recruiting traders for our festival markets at We Out Here Festival which takes place in Dorset in August. There are several exciting new collaborations on the horizon too for the latter part of the year which we can’t wait to reveal!’

What advice would you give an exhibitor getting ready for a craft event?

Start talking about the event to your audience as early as possible – markets are successful when everyone works together to promote them!

Think about the audience at the event in deciding what to bring and reach out to anyone in your network who has done the event previously to see if they have any tips on what to expect.

It’s a good idea to practice your stall layout in advance so that you arrive at the event ready to set up quickly, rather than spending ages moving things around. If you don’t have a table at home which matches the table at the event, measure out the space on the floor. Make a packing list of all the things you need to bring to the event and order any supplies nice and early. Don’t forget things like a table covering and signage as they can make all the difference to the aesthetic of your stall.’

How would you like to see an exhibitor getting involved in the marketing for the event?

We send all exhibitors the digital artwork for the flyer in advance and we also publish trader listings on our website.

Keep sharing the event details on your social media and also include it in an email newsletter (if you have a mailing list!). Your audience will love to hear from you and they will enjoy an opportunity to come and see your products in person.

You can also cross-promote with other makers taking part – why not pick 10 other makers that you are excited to see from the trader listings and give them a shout-out on your social media? It’s likely that many of them will return the favour. In the week before the event, it’s time to step up the excitement levels and keep posting every day – it all really helps with attendance.’ 

What three things are must haves for an exhibitor to have on their stand?

  1. Bring snacks and drinks to keep you going throughout the day. If you are by yourself, it can be difficult to leave your stall to get food so come prepared as it really helps to keep your energy levels up
  2. Think about whether lights are helpful in selling your product and don’t assume there will be electricity available. We ask exhibitors to bring battery powered lights where possible. 
  3. Charge all your devices in advance, make sure mobile card readers are updated and working correctly and make sure you are ready to take those all important payments.

Can you share one extra piece of advice for an exhibitor showing at a craft & design event?

My final piece of advice is to bring your good energy along! It makes a huge difference to how the day goes when a trader arrives excited and full of positivity rather than being anxious / unwell / hungover / tired etc…

If you are not feeling your best on the day, try to channel positivity by chatting to fellow traders, being positive and enjoying the day as much as possible  – a good supply of chocolate can help too!

Be kind to the organisers if things don’t work out exactly as planned – there’s a LOT of hard work that goes into making events happen and even when we do our very best, occasionally things go wrong – remember, we all want the same end result of a very successful event.’ 

Celebrating Ceramics13
Celebrating Ceramics at Waterperry Gardens

Sally THOMAS from Craft in Focus

Tell us about you & your events, and what you have lined up in 2023?

Craft In Focus has become widely recognised for staging contemporary craft fairs with a stunning and varied choice of professional makers and artists including Desire Jewellery & Silversmithing Fairs (at Chelsea and RHS Garden Wisley), Celebrating Ceramics Festival at Waterperry Gardens and mixed discipline events at RHS Garden Wisley, RHS Garden Hyde Hall and Hever Castle. 

We have a strict selection process ensuring only the best makers are selected and ensuring that there is no imported, bought in or mass-produced work shown.  We have a loyal following of visitors with our spring event at Wisley attracting the largest attendance for any UK craft fair.    

What advice would you give an exhibitor getting ready for a craft event?

Read everything the organiser sends you in advance.

Ensure you know where you are going when you arrive on site (and at what time) – set up times are often staggered by the organiser to allow time for all exhibitors to get in to unload.  Make allowances for possible traffic delays.  Make sure you allow enough time to unload and set up. Know your stand number

Have a packing list and tick off as your pack your vehicle.

Know what you’re getting in terms of stand size, shell scheme, etc.

Plan your stand ensuring you have lighting, height to your display, place for storing & wrapping, etc, a backdrop to your stand/work, graphics.  And make sure it all fits in the stand space you have been allocated!

Have a broad range of products in terms of price and clearly label prices or have a ‘prices from…’ sign.

Make sure you’re ready for when the show opens to the public.

Collect customer details during the show so you can follow up.

Smile and maintain a positive and friendly disposition!

Don’t sit reading a paper or on your phone.

Don’t rely on the organiser to do all the marketing – they inform people about the event but nobody will know you’re at the event unless you tell them!  Use social media, email marketing, your website, postal mailings and tell people at other events you may be showing at beforehand.

How would you like to see an exhibitor getting involved in the marketing?

We’d love for all exhibitors to give out leaflets at other events or post them out to their customers, shout about their participation at the event on social media (before and during), email their customers and share our own social media posts. 

Word of mouth works so well and it’s lovely to hear exhibitors telling visitors about our other events and the venues.’

What three things are must haves for an exhibitor to have on their stand during a show?

  1. A reliable method of taking payments (tested before the event).
  2. Good lights no matter what and where the venue, fairy lights will not do.
  3. Clear pricing. If customers can’t see the price they assume it’s expensive and if they are not confident they would rather go without than ask. It has to be easy for people to buy so they don’t have to think too hard so that you catch those impulse sales.

Can you share one extra piece of advice for an exhibitor showing at a craft & design event?

Make friends with your neighbours first thing! Start off on a happy relationship with them and it makes the whole show easier! If you’re on your own they can watch your stand whilst you pop to the toilet or grab some food, and you can do the same for them.’

Craft Festival Cheltenham March22 Brett Payne Stand
Craft Festival Cheltenham. Brett Payne Silverware

Sarah James from Craft Festival

What events have you got coming up this year?

‘2023 is proving to be a particularly busy year. We have Craft Festival in Cheltenham in March and again in November. Craft Festival Bovey Tracey is in June and Nourish Festival on September 9th. Applications are open for Cheltenham in November and Nourish Festival.’

What advice would you give an exhibitor getting ready for a craft event?

‘Visit other craft fairs and see how others are doing it and plan your stand in advance.

Setting up can be very busy and stressful, so lay out your stand in advance, take pictures and copy it on the day. You can still move things around, but it will help you calm your nerves on the day.’

How would you like to see an exhibitor getting involved in the marketing for an event?

‘There are huge benefits of promoting yourself ahead of an event. Telling your subscribers via email is an absolute essential. I email our people multiple times, but your customers want to hear from you. The more you do for yourself, the better the outcome will be for you. 

Instagram works very well for makers, but don’t forget Facebook. Many of our older visitors are still very active on Facebook so make sure you give that platform equal attention.

We give some tickets to each exhibitor, and we suggest that, unless they have specific clients/collectors that will use the tickets, set up a giveaway.

I think it’s best to try and encourage people to join your mailing list, rather than increase followers on Instagram. Basically, your mailing list belongs to you, your Instagram followers do not.’

What three things are must haves for an exhibitor to have on their stand during a show?

  1. A socket to charge your card machine/phone/ipad.
  2. An illustrated business card.
  3. A notebook to gather names for your VIP mailing list.’

Can you share one extra piece of advice for an exhibitor showing at a craft & design event?

‘Don’t burn out! Your best customer might arrive on the third day of an event. Our events are huge fun, you make life-long friends and it’s hard not to stay up late and enjoy the experience. But please pace yourself and make sure you plan 1-2 days off immediately after the event to rest and then you can hit the order books with gusto.’

Thank you Sinead, Sally & Sarah for your expert advice to make the most of selling craft & design events! If you have got any tips or advice for other creatives, or you have a question about how to sell more at craft and design events then post them in the comments box below.

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