Selling Handmade Beaded Jewelry at Craft Fairs and Jewelry Shows

Polymer Clay Spoon Jewelry

Making Your “Stuff-To-Bring” Checklist In Advance Of The Show:

This weekend I ended up getting ready for a Christmas Craft Fair coming up at a local beer and wine brewery near me. Originally I wasn’t planning to do any craft fairs this season, because I have been so busy launching the new Polymer Clay Tutor Members Library. But a friend asked and the show is small enough that I had the inventory to pull this off.

It will also be a good opportunity for my daughter Willow to sell her dog treats (Willow’s Wonderful Woofies). We are going to share a table. Willow has been selling her handmade W shaped dog biscuits since she was 9 years old. She actually has a pretty good business going now, for a 12 yr old. But that’s a whole ‘nother story.

Since many of you may also be getting ready for upcoming craft fairs, I figured I’d share my “stuff-to-bring” list here at the blog. Hopefully I haven’t forgotten anything!

Inventory: About 2 to 3 times the amount you hope to sell which I figure should be about 10 times the booth fee. Therefore, if it is a small show like this one which has a table fee of only $20, you should bring around $400 to $600 worth of inventory in a range of price points. This is my rule of thumb. Since times are tougher right now, I am going to bring the majority of my stock in lower ticket items like earrings and pendants. I will also bring some niche specific products like wine charms and hand painted wine glasses since this fair is in a wine making facility.

Packaging: Gift bags, boxes, ribbon, etc.

Cashbox: Float (change and small bills), credit card machine with slips and receipt book.

Office Supplies: Pens, pencils, calculator, scissors, stapler, tables, extra price stickers, duct tape, scotch tape, rubber stamp and ink pad.

Marketing Materials: Business cards, extra hang tags and jewelry display cards, brochures, handouts, etc. Also a book to add peoples emails to for a mailing list is a good idea, for letting people know about future events, etc.

Table: Only if you have to bring your own. A tall stool instead of a chair. You want to stay at eye level so you can connect with your customers.

Display Items: Table cloths, racks, baskets, trays, raised over-turned boxes draped with cloth, mirror if selling jewelry, lighting, signage, table cards. Be creative here, it makes a huge difference to your sales.

Snacks: Easy to eat in tiny bites food like trail mix and water.

Beading Tools: Extra clasps, jump rings, wire, wire cutters, chain nose pliers, round nose pliers, extra ear wires, clip-on earring findings, etc. Great for resizing, customizing or fixing jewelry on the spot. Also consider making jewelry, beads or canes at the table. This will get people interested in your process, plus build on your inventory when things are slow.

Sunny Disposition: Nothing is worse than a crabby person manning a booth.

So have I missed anything from this list? If you were selling handmade jewelry at craft fairs and jewelry shows, what else would you bring?

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor


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Comments

  1. Looks as if you thought of everything. Hope you and your daughter have a great show. My daughter, the Gourdqueen, and I use to do shows together; it is alot of fun. Would love to hear more about your daughter’s dog biscuits.
    Bonnie

  2. Hmmmmmm…looks like you have a very complete list here. I would probably want a small fan…those hot flashes can get you anywhere at any time!

    I have painted baked and sold wine and champagne glasses in the past. I’d love to see some of your work. Is there any way that I could see them?

    I saw a picture of Willow baking her Wonderful Woofies on another website…I believe it was your “Look What I Drawed” website. Willow is going far…just like her Momma! :) I hope you both do very well at the fair! I’d love to see pictures of you both selling your wares :)

    Perhaps this would be a good time to remind you of how much I’d love to see a page on your blog where we could all share pictures? You definitely would have my vote on that!!!

    I hope you and Willow have a smashing sell!!!

    :) Cindy

  3. @Bonnie: Willow started making dog biscuits when she was 9 years old to sell to the parents that walked their dogs to school. Some other girl her age had sold some pom pom snowmen and she thought if that girl could have a business so could she! Well the Woofies were a hit and a mom that ran a local butchers shop which sold roasted dog bones, thought her treats would sell nicely there. They did and Willow has been selling them now for 3 years. Even had to hire another mom to help with the baking so she could keep up with the orders!

    @Deirdre: Thank you! I read about this formula once and thought I’d look back on my experiences to see if it fit and it did. Makes it a little easier for planning. Sometimes you’ll do better, sometimes worse, but it’s a good benchmark!

    @Cindy E.: I would like to put up a page to where everyone can show their stuff. It’s definitely on my to do list. I’d love to see your painted glasses… bet they’re great!

  4. @Pearl – thanks for adding to the list :-)

    @Anna if you are referring to Cindy E.’s pictures, I haven’t set up a public photo gallery yet. If you are referring to pictures of my work, the best place to see what I do is right here at the blog. Just go to the home page and keep scrolling down. All of the posts have pictures and many of them are of the jewelry I make.

  5. Cindy,

    I wasn’t clear about which ‘Cindy’ Anna was referring to either…glad I wasn’t the only one. She probably means YOUR work, but if you meant mine, Anna, I have just published my blog, and you can see it if you click on my name above this post. I am really looking forward to when we can post our pictures here so we can easily share all of the wonderful things that Cindy is teaching us…don’t worry, Cindy…we are being patient! :):):) We KNOW you have had TONS to do, and we appreciate you soooooooooo much!!!

    Hugs to you,

    Cindy E.

  6. Cindy Erickson Caneword

    CindyE – Thanks for the reminder about the photo gallery idea. I just realized I haven’t posted any of the photos you emailed to me a while back. So here is one of your cane project pics. If you like, you can follow the above link by my name to see a picture that Anna Sabina submitted the other day. It’s a photo of her Mokume Gane Christmas ornament.

  7. Wow, Cindy…it is both strange and fun all at the same time to see something that I did here on YOUR blog!!! Thanks so much for starting this. The above butterfly cane was one of my very first tries at cane making :) Hopefully, I am getting better…but that cane WAS fun to make!!! I am learning all the time, and thanks to you, Cindy, I will just get better at this! This is soooo cool!!! I will go and look at Sabina’s Christmas ornament now!!!

    :) Cindy E.

  8. Cindy and Doug,

    Your combined efforts and products marked a turning point for me to the better as a major life improvement. I cannot thank both of you enough and am in your debt. It means the world to me that you both are so professional, caring and supportive.

    I wish you both the very best that life has to offer. May your business and reputations prosper and grow with daily blessings from me. Every day, each morning, I cannot wait to rise, grab a coffee, and read the latest blog and all the comments. It has been a long time since I have felt that type of motivation and excitement. Each daily blog post, comment and video get better and better, and it is so amazing and enjoyable to watch and participate!

    I especially appreciate the fact that you both strive so hard to always give credit to those whose ideas and techniques you choose to modify and transform as well. Every link on your site is an adventure, LOL!

    I wish you both and Willow and Fisher a wonderful Christmas season and a fabulous 2010! Mine will be because of you all.

    Fondly always,
    Jocelyn

  9. Doug and I thank you so much Jocelyn, for your very kind words. It is such a delight to have you as part of the community. We wish for you, a wonderful holiday season too. Blessings!

  10. Terrific ideas here! When I get enough inventory, I want to do something like this, also. (I’ll have to add a recliner to my booth for my back — how well would that go over?) Actually, I’d have to have a helper, to “watch shop” when I needed to go lay down somewhere, but my goal is to be able to try this sometime.

    Cindy E.’s suggestion about the small fan is a good one. (I carry one of those everywhere, anyway!) It made me think about adding an extension cord and/or a surge strip, for the fan and maybe for even a small task light for making those on-the-spot jewelry changes~

    Thanks for the great post, Cindy. You always have so many fantastic tips and ideas!

  11. Sigh… times still are really tough out there… I just did my “real” first booth sale (I’ve done a few sales at my church bazaar, but that’s to people I know, so this is different)… I sold ONE bead (in two days) to a lady who wanted to use it for a project. Now, mind you, the other vendors were not doing well either and complaining that this event was very poorly advertised (it was a rock concert/ beer thing/ craft faire). There were not that many people attending as a lot of people were attending a Fall festival in the neighboring town that was well established and known. This is the first time they’ve done this festival so no one was expecting it. I realize now that it is very risky to sell at a first time event (of course, when I signed up I didn’t realize this was their first time, sigh…) Anyway, people would stop by, look at my stuff, compliment how lovely it was and then go away… so frustrating… the only consolation was that about 15 people took my newly minted business cards when I told them I do custom work – so maybe ONE will contact me about making something special for them. How are you folks doing with your sales?

  12. @ Maria

    That stinks (wanted to use another word but didn’t want to offend), most of my sales have been from people I commute with on the train, and people who have seen me selling to the folks on the train (we see each other coming and going), I haven’t sold anything in a while because I’ve been too busy with my day job and performing to make anything other than pieces for the FB Gallery, but my last sales were during the early winter of this year and were very brisk (and economic conditions aren’t much better now than then), I wouldn’t let this get you down, a poor showing at a first year event (and it doesn’t sound like an event that is going to pull the type of crowd that goes to craft shows), now if you do some other shows and you see a trend then I might start being concerned and revisit how you’re targeting merchandise to the type of show, but it sounds like you do well at the bazaars. Keep the chin up!

  13. Here is my first craft show story. My husband’s ex-wife works at the local community college. She was to organize a special “festival” to help attract new students to the college. She spent a lot of money (that had to be spent on recruiting) from the government. She said not only crafters were wanted but food vendors, antique car owners for a car show, musicians to provide entertainment, clowns, magicians, animal trainers you name it!! It was free to have a booth so no cost to me! I said yes and collected my projects and headed off to sell. Well, she “forgot” one important thing, ADVERTISE the event!!!!
    Only twenty current students showed up with their children! Maybe fifty people total showed up!! The car show had NO cars!! Maybe they knew something we didn’t! No food vendors either! I was the the first of the crafts to set up and waited two hours before another booth was set up! We were all so bored and hungry. No one thought to bring food. One girl offered to go find fast food and do a food run for all the crafters!! We started to buy from each other just so we could say we sold something!! Can you believe that? I didn’t mind too much. But these people do is for a living and ended up wasting a day of a good weekend to sell nothing!! They were not too happy that no one showed up. It is one thing to have a lot of people and no sales. But to have no one show up and the whole event was a flop was unheard of. My husband explained it to me as this: it is government money that has to be spent so they can get more! The event didn’t have to be successful!! It just had to happen!! What!!!??

  14. I am currently in Wheat Ridge, CO, with a gal who usually sells lots of pieces, some rather high ticket items, at gallery shows. There was a show Friday evening … she sold only one pair of earrings! She was quite disappointed to say the least. Has there been something strange in the air recently?! Maria, your day will come. Don’t give up.

  15. Maria, my son has been making Hair Twisters and my soon to be daughter-in-law has been selling them at craft fairs in the area since February. In June she started doing a weekly Farmer’s Market on Saturdays and her sales started fine. Then when I decided to share the table, with some of my items, things tanked ( I hope it was just that the same crowd was showing up and not a reflection on my work ;)). We moved to another Farmers Market with a different crowd, and much better reputation, and things have been picking up. This past Saturday was my best day so far. My best advice to you with my limited experience is the same the Market Organizer gave me. “Don’t get discouraged, things with pick up, especially with the holidays coming up.”

  16. @Ken, Catalina, Carolyn and Marlene- thank you so much for the kind words of encouragement and commiserating with me! I can’t quit – after all my entire garage is full of my clay and jewelry making stuff – I have to use it – ha-ha! As our CA governor says:”I’ll be baack” : )

  17. This is a great list! thank you for sharing! I always seem to forget something or another whenever I do a craft show, probably in part to waiting until the last minute to try to get everything ready, prices, and displayed properly! Live and learn i suppose! :-)

  18. Just went to Lucinda’s site from 2008 and saw her beautiful artwork! What talent!

    I am new at jewelry making. I just retired from teaching with a disability that makes it hard for me to do crafts like knitting and crocheting because they take long and etc. Anyway, a friend suggested making earrings. I am enjoying this immensely. My son helps if anxiety sets in. ha I am thinking of either selling on line or going to a craft fair or show. This list has a lot of great reminders that I wouldn’t thought of. I will continue reading for more ideas. For sure I will go to some shows as a visitor and see what they are like. Thanks for the input!

    • @Connie N: Welcome Connie to our friendly blog. I think you will find it to be a creative and supportive place to hang out and learn about polymer clay. Making jewelry is fun and rewarding and I am happy to see you are enjoying the process. I wish you lots of success with it! Let us know if you want to add polymer clay bead making to your skill set. It is pretty fun!

  19. I had a check list on our fridge – the only Other items I took to our outdoor markets were sun block, bug spray and an umbrella–the last year we had the market it seemed so much hotter a FAN would have been great!

  20. Thanks for this list. I haven’t been brave enough to go out and try to sell my stuff at a craft fair yet but I must do so soon … hopefully this coming Christmas season. I have made so many different items that my craft room looks like a tornado went through it. This post as well as the info about how to display items and the Jewelry card post are just great. Thanks Cindy !

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