Every year the summer season blooms with craft fairs and markets showcasing the handmade work of independent designers across the country and the world. In this week’s edition of How-Tuesday, Julie Meyer from HandmadeMN, a team of Etsy sellers based in Minnesota, shares a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the organization and process of their first craft show, the HandmadeMN Spring Market. Read on for tips and inspiration for how your team might go about organizing a successful show!
The HandmadeMN Team members are no strangers to the craft and art show circuit in and around the Twin Cities. With local shows filling up with more and more team members it was only natural that the idea of hosting a team show came up. If your team is ready for a show, here are a few tips to get you motivated.
1. Who, What, Where, and When?
Gather a small steering team to meet in person and online several months prior to your show. Members from our team met this past January to begin the process of organizing an exclusive Etsy team show held in May.
- Select the venue and map the space to determine the maximum number of vendors.
- Draft the show application. We chose to jury the show, but you can fill a show on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Don’t forget to collect all the required tax forms needed for your city and/or state from each vendor.
2. Recruit Help
When the venue was booked and applications were coming in, the next thing we easily agreed on was that we needed a lot of help from the team to make the show a success!
- Set up committees to manage different aspects of the show and ask your vendors and team members to volunteer their time when they can. Keep track of each committee’s progress online so the team can see what needs to be done.
- We created committees for graphics, advertising, and show hosting.
The graphic committee selected show poster designs submitted by committee members. Courtney of justanotherday had the winning design for our show marketing materials, which included a show poster, postcard and HandmadeMN blog banner.
The advertising committee got the word out by putting together a press release for local newspapers, set up a Facebook event page, and negotiated print and online ads with local magazines. The show host committee got to work on the last-minute tasks that needed to be done as the show drew nearer. This committee canvassed the show’s neighborhood with flyers the week before the event, worked with the venue to make sure tables were set, and helped vendors during set-up. They were also in charge of setting up the team Information tables and greeting customers once the show started.
3. Creative Budgets
You’ll need someone to loan the down payment for the venue and handle all of the finances, including vendor payments coming in and print and advertising costs. Hit the streets and ask your local supply shops, garden shops, fabric stores, etc., to purchase advertising spots in your show program. These paid advertising spots helped to offset the printing costs, plus our advertisers spread the word about our show to their customer base!
4. Shout It Out!
Ask your team members to network with everyone they know. Blogging, tweeting, and Facebooking are an easy way for vendors and team members to help promote the show. Encourage team members to collaborate with their connections to creatively get the word out.
For example, one member of our team connected with one of her shop fans from Metro Magazine and the team received a beautiful spread in the May issue. Two other team members also had the opportunity to chat up our show and Etsy on FM 107’s Get Real Girls show. (You can hear the podcasts here and here.) Our advertising committee was able to team up with Articulture, a non-profit arts education center, to provide a make and take project for our customers during the show. The added bonus was the advertising that they did about our show to their customer base.
5. Follow Up
Putting on a show is hard work, so you’ll want to find out where your efforts best paid off. Offer a giveaway for your customers. Use the drawing slip to gather information from your customers about how they discovered the show and let them opt-in to receive emails about future team events. Ask your vendors for their feedback post-show so you’ll know what went right and what you might do differently next time.
Our first HandmadeMN Show was a great success, thanks to the entire HandmadeMN Street Team! Forty-six vendors rocked the show with a wide variety of amazing handmade items. Our customers showed their appreciation for handmade goods and left with packages in hand, asking, “When will the next show be?”.
Have you organized a craft show before? Do you have a craft fair tip to share? Let us know in the comments below!