T&A #3: Arts Festival Prep And Organization

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Time for another T&A post, and more craft advice.

Out of curiosity, did your summer start a little slower than usual, then suddenly pick up pace? That’s what it seems to being doing on this end. Everything’s strewn across the bed and I’m hastily trying to sort out stuff like interview question notes from pajamas, in my own little prep for being at the Arts Festivals. (It always seems to happen this way every year…) Mom’s in the, “Don’t play around, get ready and be serious” mode, and I’m frazzled-ly  trying to successfully mastering her demeanor. Yay. So all in all, this post may sound a tad rushed. Apologies in advance.

On a completely different note: Congratulations to Olive for posting CB’s official 50th post yesterday! ~Huge round of applause, fireworks and fancy jazz music~ Looking forward to many more awesome posts to come, and fantastic collaboration with friends and fellow crafters! Also, a very special thanks to all you folks out there visiting this site. Hello to those who have just arrived, and welcome to the CB community! 😀

Alright! Now that you’ve gone over the pros and cons of Arts Festival participation in the last T&A post, it’s time to figure out what to do next, and get everything in order. The last bullet-point list seemed a bit squished together, so I’ll put this one in paragraph form, in relative order of the process:

Do. Your. Research. When you hear the words “craft fair” or “arts festival,” maybe some kind of specific list comes to mind. In reality, what falls under those ‘simple’ descriptions can be any number of events with any number of themes. Make sure you research what kind of festival or fair it is, and go through as detailed a description of the event as possible. One time, I was looking for a high-end doll collectors’ event to showcase my work, and almost signed up for a paper doll convention. Don’t do that. Find the festival you know you’ll have the most fun joining, that’s most relevant to your own work, with prime attendance and people you’ll be on good terms with. (Hard to gauge on paper or on the web, so if you’re familiar with the festival you want to be part of, stick to that.) From there, break down the application process…

Go through the rules and regulations of participating. Get to the application form as soon as possible. Once you’ve made sure the deadline hasn’t passed, thoroughly scrutinize every detail of the form. Make sure you’re the right age, have the right items for sale, have the right kind of tent that won’t protrude onto the street… stuff like that. Policies will change over time, so you must make sure the items you’re selling don’t violate any of the rules stated in the application. If possible, go to the physical location where the applications are processed, and talk with the people running the event, or those who know a good deal about it.

Find a craft fair that’s a reasonable distance away. Anything between three blocks and five miles is fairly reasonable. If it’s a lot further, seriously consider how much time and energy will have to be put into transporting everything and everyone (don’t forget to factor in the people going with you!), loading and unloading, and so on. You’ll also have to add in transport costs to your overarching expense scale. Additionally, if there’s more than one festival in the area, and you think you’re ready to handle a huge crowd of customers at different times, then go for it. Sign up for a couple different ones and see how it goes. However, if some events are too small or too far away, they may not be worth it. It’s not possible to participate in everything. Get the most out of the events you’ll enjoy the most.

Do. Not. Procrastinate. Pace yourself on time. The closer it gets to the day itself, the more time will be your enemy. You may think you have plenty of time a month or two away, or even two weeks away, but for the most part that’s wishful thinking. If the event is in July, start in January. Especially if you’re a student, you’ll have to cram in craft intervals between semester studies, and studies always come first. Compare festival prep with academia: do your homework, plan out your time accordingly, create a wall calendar with how much should be made and ready by when, etc. Good time management is key to healthy participation.

Organize items by inventory lists. Everyone will have different methods of categorization, but stick with one you’re most familiar with; or the one that will be most useful for keeping track of everything you make. Create a little account book; it is especially important to place value on everything, to determine how much profit you’re expected to make, assuming x number of items sell. If others are helping you make or move everything, give them at least a special commission. They deserve it.

Maintain quantity and quality. Determine how many items you should make early on (usually at least five times the amount you think will be sold), and don’t shortcut quality. Before the Big Day, inspect as many items as you can to ensure you didn’t hastily make them. From a customer’s standpoint, use one of the items as a prototype to test durability, and how much it should withstand.

Figure out transport early on. Regardless of how many items you’ve made, if you have a general idea of how much space will be needed, experiment with different ways to compartmentalize your things. Again, don’t forget the people who will be traveling with you… always leave extra room for them, and all the supplies and equipment that will be going along.

Go to the place itself beforehand. If the final location is a short drive away–or even better, walking distance–don’t hesitate to go there and see the place for yourself. Look for geographical landmarks and notable features of the place. Find the spots that are sunnier and shadier, and map out how far the food stalls will be from your designated booth area. (The last part is important if you’re in need of a snack. Conversely, if you have food allergies, you’ll want to stay as far away from the area as possible.)

Gather the necessary furniture and equipment. Merchandise isn’t the only thing you’ll have to bring along. Tables, chairs, tents and other things are oftentimes not provided. Once the items you made are in check, get all the exterior supplies ready and at hand. Store everything in the same place for ease of access on the day itself. (A detailed list of things you should always bring along will be in a future post.)

Design decorative displays to accompany the booth. Essentially, this is up to your creativity and imagination. Though there are still a few things to keep in mind: have a banner or two, if allowed, that showcases the name of your brand and product. The overarching title should not be too generalized, and should succinctly reflect who you are and what you do. Prices should be easy to distinguish and associate with the respective items, among other things.

Check the weather forecast in advance of the morning itself. This is a biggie. It gauges how much you should bring to protect your merchandise, and how well you have to shelter everything. Bring at least 3 umbrellas, even if there’s only a 10% chance of downpour. Make sure there’s enough tarp or fabric to cover everything, and enough rain jackets for you and everyone else.

Don’t be afraid to seek help or guidance. If you’re stuck somewhere and are apprehensive of asking for help, ask anyway and see what comes out of it. Chances are you will have conflicting views and opinions, but listen anyway and see what you can learn from others. It never hurts to ask; most times you’ll realize how much insight will be crucial to preparing.

Okay, I think that’s about it! If anything else comes to mind, I’ll update this post, as it is in no way “fixed” or anything. There will be another T&A post designated to guiding you through the actual process of being there and selling your items, and one before that with an ideal list of things you should bring along; and one before that with advice on having the right disposition when participating. Stay tuned for those, coming next week!

For those of you who have experience getting ready for craft fairs, how do you prepare? What do you like most/least about the process? Are there certain techniques you’ve learned over the years that help you be ready and stay calm? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below! 🙂

Now for a very long car ride ahead. Enter some kind of road trip theme song. Talk to you all soon, and happy crafting!~

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