I wrote a post a while ago about 13 Things We Learned From Our First Craft Fair. While our booth did not really fail at the fair, it was far from a success – monetarily. But I would call it a success since after all, failures teach lessons of value, and of immense more permanent value at that.
“Failure is success in progress.” ― Albert Einstein
First is a quick recap of that earlier post which highlights what we learned, followed by how we applied those the next time around (along with further lessons we learned in between).
How Failures Teach Lessons of Value
First Lessons Learned From that Craft Fair
Not 13, I know! You can check out the original post for more details.
Before the Event:
- Listen – to participants (here, the Girl Scouts themselves)
- Plan – for all the things you will need (for the items themselves, for setting up the booth). Planning and getting this done ahead saves frustration and money.
- Practice – your sales pitch, describing your product, answers to potential questions
- Organize – Have all the things needed in place (your products including decor to pretty up your booth, craft fair related paperwork, a schedule among participants so everyone knows what they are doing, payment details, and more)
During the Event:
- Display – Arrive early so you have time to setup and scan the fair for other interesting booths, to say hello to fellow fair-ees(!?). Plus, knowing where the restrooms are is always good info!
- Be Prepared – Ensure you have ample change to pay for those who bring cash, options for those who choose to pay otherwise (checks or credit cards), snacks for participants (and neighbors too), and be prepared for any unexpected events.
- Interact – Get to know those in neighboring booths as you sell. It helps pass the time, and you can advertise for each other too!
- Have Fun – Have fun being a part of the fair! Ensure participants have time to enjoy the fair and explore.
After the Event:
- Discuss – What was great, what was fun, what could have been better, etc?
- Celebrate – No matter what, you did it! So this calls for a celebration
“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” ― Henry Ford
Lessons Applied (and Learned)
Listen to the Participants
The next craft fair rolled around in no time. While the girls were no longer interested in making slime, they were ready to try out other things. I had recently seen these cute little lotion bars a friend makes (and she continues to make artisan soaps and lotions and more. I am sharing her website here simply because I know she makes wonderful products; you can order them for yourself at NivedaSoaps). When I asked the girls if they wanted to try making those, they were excited. I asked them – “Would you rather make something else?” After a brainstorming session of ideas and a couple of meetings, we ended up at – lotion bars.
Do you want to try to make them yourself in anticipation of the dryer season ahead? Check out this post where my dd teaches how to make them!
The timing of the fair also helped making this decision easier. It was in early December, so people would definitely enjoy having a homemade natural lotion product handy. Plus, it was mess-free too!
Once we had our product for the Craft Fair, the girls had another brainstorming session to finalize how many bars they would need to make, the types of bars (scents/colors/sizes), and how they would want to package them. They then planned a budget and decided to use the money from cookie sales for the costs. With this finalized, I ordered all the items well in advance, allowing time to research for the best quality products at the best prices.
Next up was the actual making. My dd was in charge of teaching how to make these bars after we did a trial run at home. The others learned the process and picked up all the items they needed to make their share of the bars at home. Since we had ordered a set of essential oil bottles, each girl picked different oils rather than try splitting each one evenly.
These bars are so straightforward to make that each family completed making them within a few days; and asked if we still had the raw materials to make more!!
So we had everything packed and ready to sell well in advance!
Just days before the fair, I had to travel to India (this was in November 2018, so pre-pre-today!) suddenly. Since I had the paperwork & was the point person between the fair and our troop, I had to make arrangements so others could take over. But this taught me that I should have included a back-up person right from the start. This would have made such transitions easier, especially in times when your mind is elsewhere.
But coutless meetings and previous experience prepared all of us for this unexpected change.
Remember that Cuteness Counts
Cute looking lotion bars (we could have simply bought plain molds to save some money) as well cute packaging and optional gift bags lead to more sales!
Since we ordered them all in bulk, our costs were low. As a bonus, the cute boxes for the lotion bars as well as the gift bags ensured our setup was easy to plan.
So remember – cuteness counts!!
And of course, we
- remembered to carry extra change
- have lotion bars of at least three different types to appeal to different people plus two different sizes as well; this helped get more customers
- used the Square app to enable those who wanted to use credit cards.
“You can’t let your failures define you. You have to let your failures teach you.” ― Barack Obama
And Now, the End of This Post
Note that I am in no way a seasoned craft fair veteran, but I did learn my lessons from what did not work as expected. And while craft fairs are not in the immediate future currently, I will put these lessons to better use the next time around. And I will remember these words:
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” ― Thomas A. Edison
And dear reader, what about you? Do you have any tips or advice to offer for any future craft fairs? Or share any lessons you learned from a failure?