I have had a week or two to recover from exhibiting at the Handmade Fair this September, don't underestimate the energy it takes to exhibit at a big show! I really don't know how people do this over and over again each weekend during the busier seasons. It is a lot of fun but still! I thought I would share a few more pictures here as I know its of interest to other makers and creative folk alike.
So here is my stand, I didn't paint or wallpaper it here because it seemed fine to go with white in the marquee. I'm still drawn to the rustic and natural style of presenting as it seems to be the best way to fit my nature theme and from feedback appeals to most of my customers. And here are my neighbours for the long weekend, Squiggle and Dot who sell craft packs for kids, and Kathryn Croxson - getting to know the other business owners is definitely one of the perks.
It was great too that Kirsty Allsop stopped by to take a look. She is friendly and has great presence though I don't think we would last very long as friends if we talked about politics but thats another story....!
Some of the Makers I've met this time and previously include Jane Kent who makes pretty inspiration fabric messages; Kathryn Croxson whose beautiful patterns are made into home furnishings and fabulous kimonos, Pippi and Me Ceramics makes sleek, minimal ceramics. Squiggle, Dot and Squeeze with lovely craft packs and the sweetest Fairies from Knapwell Wood. I believe!
If you are a potential visitor, there are lots of creative workshops and talks to attend, and materials and kits to buy for your crafting exploits. There is phenomenal, interesting food, both street and tasty things you wouldn't know about otherwise (unicorn sherbet, toffee vodka, coal cheddar, mandarin and thyme chocolate, raspberry gin...) There are two huge market places (where I was) where you can buy products from makers and meet and talk to them. This is my favourite part of this fair, meeting people who have bought from me in the past, people who follow me on instagram, people who just like to say hi! It really makes it the most joyful experience so thanks to all of you who made it over. It does get busy though, so much so that I missed visiting some of my other maker friends stands (at least when they were there!) who exhibit such as the lovely Nicola Hanrahan who is a brilliant illustrator and Edie Rose Ashley who is delightful and paints beautiful floral paintings.
If you're a potential exhibitor, here is the lowdown.
Yes, it is expensive. and yes, many people I spoke to were really disappointed with their sales and won't be returning. You have to sell so much to be able to cover the cost of the stand, even a tiny one like mine. You have to pay a helluva lot for wifi, electricity and lighting if you want it too (you don't need the lighting though, its very light in the marquees). Many people also have to hire help, a van and stay in a hotel or b&b. I did alright in the end in terms of sales, but it was fabulous as I say for meeting my customers and followers, meeting and sharing tips and ideas with other makers, getting new subscribers for my mailing list - running a giveaway is a great idea for creating a buzz - and just the social aspect in general as some friends came too (thanks for the free tickets Handmade Fair!). So it is not just about sales but marketing and PR. I did find the time of year a little awkward, right after my daughter went back to school so no time to prepare for my own life re-starting after summer, but I have to say it is also a good way for me to re-energise and kick start the season with a bang! Just one week later might have made all the difference though.
So I hope that was useful. Did you visit the fair and did you like it? Do you think you would like to? Did you exhibit? Let me know your thoughts.