Crafty People

I spent the better part of yesterday not spinning really, lol

Although, I did get this bit done.

If it looks like I got no further, check out the bobbin at the bottom of this photos.  Yup.  That’s two.  And I still have probably a bobbin left to go.  But I’m wearing it down, baby.  I’m wearing it down!

But, yesterday, I went to The Second Annual Craft Fair at Greenbank Mill.

It was pretty low-key, but it looked great in there!

Aren’t these cute? It’s a doggie biscuit mix by Megan Frunzi.

I guess, I could really ask, what wasn’t there in that Fair?

Very, pretty hand poured candles by Tiffany Stockton and James Bailey of Bo’s Candles.

Handmade jewelry by Sheri Chavez.

Custom crochet designs by Leslie D. Tucker of Surprise Designs.

This wasn’t the first Craft Fair I had ever attended in life.  But this was the first one where I think I may have gotten a glimpse into what vending is really like: It’s hard work!

Well, actually, Natalie made it look easy.  So ignore her table. :)  LOL! Just kidding.  But, seriously, she knit the entire time.  Cool as a cucumber.  As you can see the mitts and jewelry are there.  But she also had a few Christmas trees and some handwovens from Carol to sell.  It was a lovely display.  The alpaca mitts definitely walked off…Now, I wonder who got those. ;)

But, as you may already know, most crafters who do craft shows (or “vend”) as some call it, have day jobs. How in the world do you create a successful craft vending business on-the-side?  And what about when you’re ready to go global?  What are the tools you need to do that these days?  Interesting questions that I think quite a few of these crafters were trying to answer for themselves.

Meet Carol.

Carol is the owner of River Road Candleworks.

Such a beautiful display. It was definitely minimal, but it had maximum impact!

River Road Candleworks specializes in handmade soy candles.  All of them are scented.  I smelled cinnamon stick, amaretto and apple cider (and coffee beans!).  They all smelled great! As I sniffed, Carol quickly and briefly told me about all of the wonders of soy wax.  Who knew it was so eco-friendly? It was also good to note that Carol’s products were not only handmade, but were created with American-made products…and, of course, they match everything!

What was interesting to me is that Carol started her business to supplement her husband’s art career.  Many families have been hit by job loss in this current economy and Carol’s family is no exception.  But she and her husband found their answer in craft vending.  She says once the art show season is up, crafting season begins.  She has been at it less than a year but is already making a decent income with River Road Candleworks.  In a tough time, she seems to have found a formula that works for her family.  That’s a comforting thought for all the craft vendors out there.

Next up is Christine Lewandowski, owner of The Platinum Needle in Wilmington, Delaware.

Christine is an expert seamstress who says she frequently gets referrals from Claire’s Fashions for customizations on their gowns for their customers.  At some point, she decided to take her embroidering business to the next level, selling her wares from her home.

Everything is hand-stitched!

Christine’s table was as full as I was on Thanksgiving Day! That’s A LOT of stitching! In speaking with her, she made mention of the idea she got from another crafter on the site about getting a rack to hang up some of her towels and other hang-able items to make more space for those items that had to be on the table.  She says, “One of the best things about coming to these fairs is what you learn from the people you meet.” Indeed.

Case in point…

Do you remember this lady? :)  I first met Maria Bessette at The First State Heritage Park 18th Century Market Fair (that is still a mouthful).  I spoke to her then about the craft fair the mill was having and about the possibility of her soaps being in the gift shop.  And look! She’s here! Her soaps still smell heavenly! This time I found out that she has been making soaps for six years now.  She uses natural items she finds in Delaware for her soaps (Delaware peaches, honey, etc.).  And one other interesting tidbit that I learned from her is that Delaware actually has a ‘Day’.  Delaware Day is December 7th.  It’s the day that Delaware ratified the constitution, making us The First State.  Good to know (as in, I wonder if I know something my mil doesn’t? ;) ).  To top it off, she is also a part of a facebook group for plein air painters called The Plein Air Painters of the Mid-Atlantic that she told me to look up.  Sweet!

One of the questions I was asked snooping around the fair (lol), was what would it take to expand a craft vending business…Well, truth be told, I’ve never done it.  But, my best guess would be to know your client base and make yourself extremely visible to your customers.  To me, that would include:

  • an attractive, informative, functioning website-it’s a global economy out there anymore, where else is someone in Timbuktu going to see your work?
  • a facebook/twitter page/account devoted to your crafting business-some form of social media is necessary these days due to how folks are consuming information…don’t believe me, watch commercials or even the football games!
  • an easy way to be contacted-self-explanatory
  • an active account in an online setting devoted to your craft/medium where you can interact with others of like interest-(blogging platforms, forums, discussion boards, etc.)
  • (optional but probably really advisable) an easy way to purchase from you online

For examples of online craft vendors that I am familiar with who are grappling with craft vending issues and also use such tools, visit Elisabeth of Artistic Expressions by Elisabeth and Flora of Flower Pot Designs.

Now, of course, the problem becomes, keeping up with these tools when you really need to spend most of your time crafting.  Again, I don’t know exactly how to answer that except to say that it’s probably going to be a lot more work! But, if you can’t do it yourself, and if you can’t afford to hire someone, you might enlist the help of a relative who is always on the internet and is familiar with your work.  A responsible niece, nephew or grandchild who can post for your accounts could come in handy in such a case.  Take this advice at your own risk, of course, but given a strict idea of what to post, they might be a good tool in your arsenal to grow your craft vending business.

Wow.  Crafty crafters crafting a career in crafting.  Say that fast seven times, lol.

Comments

  1. Thanks for the memories! 30+ years ago, my mom and I would craft and “vend”. The money earned was used to pay tuition at a private school. I honestly think Mom put more into it moneywise than she got out moneywise, but it taught me a good work ethic and the value of hard work and being good stewards of money. The skills we used, I still use today so if you don’t count the money, Mom could definitely say it was profitable. Again, thanks!

    • I have always admired folks that do this. They have such a passion for it! I think it has to be very rewarding to actually be out in the public and see your hard labor rewarded with interest. Well, after you get over the jitters!! I love the anonymity of the Internet for that. But, I’m sure once you start connecting with an audience, it doesn’t matter how you do it. If that is your love, it just shows through? Thanks for sharing some of your history!

  2. What fun and the great thing about craft fairs, you always find unique one of a kind items. Thanks for sharing! Your spinning looks awesome :)

  3. These pictures are so wonderful! I love the soaps a lot! About two years ago, I decided to put a bit more thought into what I used for cosmetics, soaps, shampoo, etc.- and since then, I have made quite a couple of changes. Handmade soaps are (in my humble opinion) often free from all that weird, scary-looking stolen-from-the-chemistry-lab stuff …
    And candles. Woo-hoo, candles!!! *yippieeeeh*

    The dolls really look like they are truly hard work … But I have to admit I wouldn’t buy one. they seem scary … ;)

    • I loved everything! I need a bigger house…

      Handmade soaps tend to smell the nicest to me. And they are friendlier on my skin. Loves!!

      Those dolls are really popular! She gets a ton of sales! I remember Raggedy Ann and Andy being very popular when I was small. This was the first time I had seen them in a while. Really brought back memories…I don’t mind the eyes much. I thought when I was younger they were slits though? Maybe have that mistaken…But, I remember the crafter saying she can’t have them all looking at her at once either, lol. The eyes are so powerful, aren’t they?

  4. River Road Candleworks just got a new customer! Thanks for sharing. :D

  5. ohhhh thank you for sharing the lovely pictures! There does seem like there is actually a lot behind owning your own craft business! I actually wouldn’t mind doing it I think…maybe at some point in my life…Who knows?

  6. I just found your blog through a reference of my art and I when doing a bing search for Plein Air Painters of Mid-Atlantic. I love the story regarding the Greenbank Mill Craft Show in 2012.
    Thanks for all the kind words regarding my creative side. I love the links you inserted for the other crafters. So easy to find them again through your blog. Keep up your creative self in the many areas you are gifted with.

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  1. [...] remember Christine Lewandowski?  She’s learning to spin on a drop [...]

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