We love art and craft markets. It’s a great opportunity to meet talented, locally based makers and get our hands on original work straight from the artist.
It’s a fact that a lot of the remarkable artists and crafters that sell on ideyna also showcase and sell their work at local craft and art markets. If you live in the UAE, you can’t have missed the mushrooming of said markets, community fairs and pop up events in the last two years. There seems to be one every other day!
It’s a crafty jungle out there. So, how does an independent maker stand out from the crowd?
We think one of the best ways that a maker can draw the attention of potential buyers at a teeming market is by having an amazing table or stall display. Your items are incredible but they need an effective arrangement to pull in buyers. So, we went offline and met up with ARTE founder Miriam Walsh. For those who don’t know, ARTE is the original granddaddy of local craft markets. ARTE held its first market in 2005 with 30 vendors. Now in 2015, ARTE markets see as many as 225 makers participating at a single day event.
Through the 10 years ARTE has been in existence, Miriam has worked with more than 6000 makers and perhaps, most telling of all, Miriam herself is a crafter (She creates the cutest felt dolls and animals). This lady certainly knows what she’s talking about. When we asked her to spill the secrets of a great display table at a market, she didn’t hold back.
We also asked Miriam to direct us to three crafters with fabulous tables during one Arte market. Pictured in this post are the tables of Sugar Plum, Komeropuoti – Little Craft Shop and LulaBeau with on point examples of the right ways to grab attention to your work.
Here are Miriam Walsh’s secrets to a great and effective craft table display.
Think of your table as a shop window
It’s what people first see about you. Remember that your display is 2/3 of your product so give it the importance it deserves. Put yourself in the shoes of a buyer and gauge how attractive and eye catching your display is.
Use props to not only elevate your display but as functional tools too. For instance, Leslie from Sugar Plum uses colourful gift boxes to place her items on. Not only do these look good, but they give the display height and bring the items to eye level of the customers. Use table cloths in your signature colors and make that part of your theme and branding.
Avoid a ‘busy’ table
Avoid a cluttered or busy looking display. Try and create space between products (even if it means showing a limited number of items, keep the rest of your stock out of sight under the table for instance). Cluttered displays distract buyers regardless of the fact that your product is awesome.
The importance of signage
Miriam says that sometimes your product or its use may not be obvious. Use signage to explain to buyers what your product is and if you can, try by example to show its function. You can also use signage to display prices, so it saves potential buyers from asking you how much an item costs. We love how Louisa from LulaBeau reminds buyers that she takes custom orders with a clear and cute sign.
Use lighting if you can
Use small spot lights to really stand out and focus the attention of a potential customer. This is especially important for smaller sized products like jewellery and will go a long way in elevating your display.
Use a small portion of your table to keep a bunch of business cards, mini brochures or leaflets with more information about yourself and your work. They are handy to give out, if customers show an interest but are not buying. And it’s something to remember you by even after the event.
Have great packaging
Having individual and brand themed packaging for your items is a great idea (sometimes makers are remembered for their creative packaging). Remember that quality packaging and labelling give good impressions, particularly if the item is being bought as a gift.
We bit the bullet and also asked Miriam about the common mistakes crafters make when participating in a market. First timer crafters thinking of doing a market, this is great information!
You forget to market yourself
Market yourself even before the event. Miriam says that some makers spend all their time making their products while forgetting to market them. You may have great items but if people don’t know about it, they won’t come. Do simple things like telling all your friends that you are taking part in a craft market, invite them and ask them to invite their friends. Spread the word on social media.
You don’t research your product before the market
It is wise to research your product and try and find out if there is demand for what you make. Look into any competitors and try and distinguish your work. Miriam explains to us that she has experienced periods where multiple crafters appear selling the same items, like cupcakes, at the same time, with the result that no maker stands out and buyers get turned off seeing the same things everywhere.
You don’t price yourself right
You know how much your item is worth and the hard work and heart you’ve put into creating it. But be smart and research prices of similar items in the market. Use this information to price yourself right, don’t go too high or too low.
You don’t use quality materials
Sometimes an item may look fabulous, but if you’ve skimped on quality materials, it will come back to bite you. For a small independent crafter, word of mouth is the best recommendation, so you don’t want to hear a customer complaining that your product fell apart two days after they purchased it. Test your item before you sell it, give samples to friends and family and ask for their honest feedback.
You don’t keep your expectations realistic
This is great advice for new makers. Keep your expectations low, especially if it is your first market. It will take time to establish yourself and find your voice (and a following) amongst an already well known community of makers. Very rarely does a crafter sell out at their first market, so don’t feel bad if you don’t.
ideyna says, don’t forget to smile.
Be true to yourself and your craft. When you love and believe in what you make, it shines through. We love makers who take a moment to tell us about their work, rather than tell us the price of an item and turn away. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t do as well as your neighbor at a market. We’ve found that the most successful makers are those who keep at it (this applies to selling online too, but that’s a post for another day)
As ideyna, we believe in championing crafters, artists and makers whether they sell offline or online, so we hope that this little post helps. A big thank you hug to Miriam Walsh of ARTE for her honest advice for this feature and we’d be remiss if we didn’t credit her for supporting the maker community in the UAE from the onset, before markets became du jour. Find out more about Arte here. Or visit ARTE Market every second and last Friday of the month at Times Square Mall in Dubai (visit the ARTE Facebook page here for more venues and dates).
Thank you to Leslie Emslie-Berner from Sugar Plum, Terhi Karppinen from Komeropuoti – Little Craft Shop and Louisa Spencer from LulaBeau for creating beautiful displays and letting us photograph them.