A Beginner’s Guide to Fall Markets Part I: 5 Tips for Your First Market Season
October 2, 2018
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Welcome to the first installment of my Beginner’s Guide to Fall Markets!
The maker busy season is here! The leaves are starting to change, the air is getting crisper, pumpkin everything is everywhere, and for me that means my very first fall market season! I can’t lie, I’ve been excited and dreading this time of year since I decided to pursue participating in markets, if only because I’ve never gone through a market season before – I was feeling a bit under prepared. But! I am so happy to report I had my first market of the season was in September, and I learned a ton! So I thought I would share what I learned in a monthly installment of tips and tricks! This way anyone else who may be new to this area of being a maker can learn a bit and hopefully avoid some of my mistakes!
So let’s dive right in! I’ve got 5 tips to help begin to guide you through your first market season!
Tip #1: Don’t try and be everywhere
What does that mean? That means that this is not the only Fall you’ll ever see, so use your first season as a trial period. Don’t sign up for every single market that you possibly can – that will only lead you to feeling overworked and burned out. Instead, take your time and select a few markets, maybe 1 per month or 1 every 3 weeks, that you think will bring you to your target market. Not every market will be a hit, but by only taking part in a manageable amount of markets in your first season, you can curate your offering without feeling overwhelmed, (we’ll talk more about that below!) and find out what markets or types of markets, fit you best. In the snapshot below you can see what Markets I’m planning to attend this Fall, keeping in mind I attended my first market Sept 22, which isn’t on the list.
Tip #2: Curate your offering
I can’t stress this one enough, for your sanity and for your customer’s sanity. When heading into markets, do your best to bring a defined set of items, in a defined set of colors, so that everything is cohesive, and yet offers buyers variability. I know that sounds complicated and don’t worry, I’ll be unloading this point more in future posts but for now, I want you to focus on what not to do. Making every item in every color is the biggest piece of advice I can give here. I will be the first to admit that this is something I am continually working on… because I love all the colors! When I first started making, I was completely overwhelmed with what seemed like millions of colors and yarn offerings so when I found a yarn I liked for a certain project, I made it in every color that yarn offered… hello to feeling stressed out when I only had 1 of each color! So instead, what I am working to do is to offer each item in a set number of colors, in the same type of yarn. So for example, my Icelandic Beanie uses Heartland yarn from Lion Brand. If you’re at all familiar with Heartland yarn, you know it comes in a million different colors (and I made it in every single one I think *insert face palm here*)! So what I’ve been trying to do is pick the 4-5 colors that I feel best represent my brand, and only continue to make Icelandic Beanies in those colors. I am still bringing my other colors to market, but offering them at a discount so that I can move through that product.
Tip #3: Personalize Your Product
Your handmade product can be your best advertisement, so make it yours! This can look like a product tag that’s been sewn on to your product, personalized price tags or gift bag, even a thank you card that goes in with every purchase. Each on of these things is a little something to remind your customer that they bought your product. Not only that, but it also shows them that you care about the details, and it gives them a fully rounded experience with you and helps to show that exactly what your brand is all about. For my products, I’ve chose center-fold cork labels (found here), from All This Wood and I LOVE them.
Tip #4: Don’t leave all the detail work to the end!
Tagging product, hand-stamping your logo onto your gift bags, and price tagging product all takes time. I know it’s no one’s favorite activity, but it still has to be done – so pretty please don’t leave it all until the end. You’ll only regret it as market day comes closer and closer. This tip is one I’ve learned the hard way… by being up until 1-2am the night before your market when you need to be up at 6am, because you’re tagging product. My best advice I can offer is not to tag as you go, I find that also takes too much time to flip between making and tagging, but instead, have a container, like a big Tupperware bin, and make product until it’s full, or half-way full, and then tag all of that product at once, and then take a break and make the price tags for those items, or stamp that many bags with your logo. Then, once you’ve finished those actions from the product you just made, move back into making, and repeat the process until you’re a couple days out from your market. and voila! No long night before the market finishing up all the last minute details.
Tip #5: Relax! You’ll have enough product.
So the last tip I’m going to offer in this post is to relax and have fun! You’ve been prepping for this market, so you have enough product. How do you know you have enough product? Determine what you want your goal to be at the end of this market. Do you just want to make your booth fee back? Do you just want to have a full looking booth? Both of those things can be figured out before you go to market, so do the math, or set up your booth in your driveway ahead of time, and you’ll be able to see where you fall with how much product you have and that will help you determine if you should make more. Markets are meant to be fun! Yes, they are a lot of work too, but they allow you to connect with your followers and with people that may not even know who you are yet. So once you’re there, don’t stress about if you have enough, just relax and enjoy connecting with people. I promise you won’t regret it!
Well there you have it! Some of the tips I’ve learned post Market #1 of the season. Did they help you? I sure hope so! If they did, give this post a pin or a share so it can help someone else too!
And if you’re going to your first or 50th market, let me know how it goes by tagging me on Instagram (@hanoveriancrochetco) or by leaving me a comment below!
We got this gals! Here’s to conquering Market Season!
Interested in reading more about markets? Check out Parts II and III below!