Today, Andy and I visited the Weald of Kent Craft Show at Penshurst Place. It is an annual event and every year I think, 'Must visit, looks good,' and every year I don't. And today being a beautiful sunny day, probably the last decent weekend, weatherwise, of the summer, we thought we'd go out and about.
These craft show visits are more a thing for my enjoyment than Andy's but then he does know that if he wanted to visit, say, a Doctor Who convention, I would happily tag along with him, but probably take a good novel and a notebook with me and home in on the nearest comfy coffee shop sofa as soon as possible. Much as Andy said this morning, 'I'll take a book with me - just in case.' (Just in case what I do not know. But it is nice that he will allow me to potter around as long as I like because he will have book entertainment and coffee entertainment if it all becomes a bit too much.)
Anyway, part of my modus operandi was to investigate just what makes certain craft exhibitors more successful than others just in case I fancy to become a craft fayre exhibitor one day, you never know it might just happen, no laughing at the back there.
And here are the findings of my fact finding mission:
1) good exhibitors engage with their customers. They give them eye contact, they say 'Hello!', they tell people about what they are doing, in fact they actually sit at their stands (or stand at their stands) and DO their craft. The most engaging exhibitors were those who were knitting, sewing, potterying, weaving, cooking, welding, painting etc.
2) good exhibitors have just the right amount of stuff on their stands - they don't overcrowd, they don't adopt the tumbleweed across the prairie look. They also have a clear pricing policy. It is good to look at an item and find a clear price tag. You know where you are with a clear price tag.
3) good exhibitors advertise with business cards, postcards and leaflets. Lots of them were independent one-person businesses making original one-off items. And I think if you buy a one off item then you are likely to want to buy from that crafter again because it is jolly nice to own something unique rather than buy something at a High Street chain store that you know thousands of other people own, too. And having a clear, attractive postcard to give to customers, which contains details about your business and contact details is a jolly good idea.
4) good exhibitors have one simple and effective craft idea and then they expand on a variation of that idea. For example, one lady was a felter (which is on my list of things to have a go at) and she made farm animals and insects. And some of them she put into pictures. And some of them she made smaller and put on key rings. She had a very effective craft business. I bought one of her pictures...
5) good exhibitors use colours well. They are artists in their crafts. They seemed to understand how to put their craft together
in an eye catching way, if you know what I mean. I felt one pottery stand was let down by its wishy washy colours, and a knitwear stand by its palette of black, grey and off white. I liked the pottery items and Iiked the styles of clothes but I was put off by the colours on offer. I wasn't drawn to their stands. But then this is quite a subjective criticism because I like bright colours and defined patterns, so maybe I am not being wholly fair. I suppose colour is a personal thing.
It is said that you should make sure you target a specific audience with whatever it is you do, be it making something original, or writing or baking or being an entertainer of some sort. If you target your audience then you are more likely to be successful. Better a master of one trade than a Jack of many. That became very obvious today as I pottered around the marquees. And I also discovered today that the audience I need to satisfy most is me! If I am happy with what I have produced then chances are others will be do because I am my own most stringent critic.
Lots for me to think about and experiment with, then, over the next few weeks and months of my new 'Sews, Grows and Prose' way of life.
And a lovely day out, too!