By knittykittybangbang, Jan 10 2015 02:13PM

I asked members of the knittykittybangbang presents... facebook group what they had learnt in 2014 and the answers that came back were enlightening, especially to those new to the craft fair/craft business circuit!

Invest in yourself and keep learning

Whether it be learning how to do your own books or something more specialist to your field, there is always value in learning or honing your skills. It might just be making time to read or research a bit more, or it might be taking classes or a course, it is all beneficial and can save you money in the long term! Here’s a really obvious example – how much do you pay your accountant compared to how much a booking keeping class is?

All craft markets are not created equal – pick with care!

I think everyone has to go through trying EVERYTHING to see what works for them, and I think we’ve all found events that work for us and ones that don’t. There are a lot of variables when it comes to choosing events and each of us have to work out what the important variables are for us.

Be confident with pricing and don’t undervalue yourself.

Oh how I nearly cried with joy when the first person wrote this! You deserve to be paid, just like everyone else does. If a shop didn’t pay their staff because they weren’t worth it, then there would be outcry so why do it to yourself? Pricing is too complicated to go into in this post but there is a knittykittybangbang e-book coming later in the year that will cover some of it.....I could spend hours just talking about pricing....mmmmmm numbers......

Diversification VS Narrowing of product range

There has to be a better word than ‘narrowing’ but I couldn’t find a suitable one that didn’t sound hella negative! I think this is a terribly ‘space dependent’ issue. If you have the space – whether that be in a shop, wholesale or online, then diversification is certainly no bad thing – even the most avid bow lover will tire before getting to the end of 500 pictures of bows, for example. However if you only have a 6ft x 2.5ft space to contend with, there are definitely problems that come with diversification – display looking over complicated or ‘jumble-saley’, lack of a cohesive ‘brand’, having to cart about loads of different bags/packaging. Some people manage to achieve a ‘boutique’ look and product range (Crafty Wee Birdie is a superb example of this) within the small space, but it is definitely tricky to do.

Just because a fair was good one year, doesn’t mean it’ll be good the next (and vice versa)

Things change. People change. New things come into fashion, people get bored/lazy, or have already bought everything you offer! YOU change, your product refines, your clientele changes. Never rely on something being a sure thing.

Be more organised!

Whether it be with something specific, or just in general, the need to be more organised seems to hit everyone! For a lot of creative/people focussed types things such as admin and bookwork are deathly dull or difficult. Despite being the least tidy person IN THE WORLD (seriously), I don’t feel on top of things if I don’t have my books done every month and I ALWAYS make time at the start of the week to make a proper detailed to do list. (mmmmm lists......mmmmm numbers......)

People appreciate quality

They really do! If you have a well made, well designed item, that is appropriately (ie not too much OR too little) priced then there WILL be a market for it, it’s just up to you to find it.

Brand Awareness is really important

This is one that you might need to experience for yourself, but please just trust us, it really is important! Get business cards, have a table sign, even if you just make them yourself. Remind people it was YOU they got that lovely thing from. Going a bit deeper ask yourself why when in foreign countries do so many people buy coca cola and go to McDonalds? Brand recognition = trust = safety. If you are asking someone to spend money with you, they want to feel ‘safe’. I know from the outside that sounds a bit peculiar but they want to know they can trust your product, that it won’t fall apart/poison them/have a webcam in it/have fallen off the back of a truck. Once someone feels ‘comfortable’ with your brand (and this can be as simple as having heard your name before) they are much more likely to buy from you.

Don’t waste time obsessing about how competitors are faring

Now benchmarking against others is a necessary evil for some as it makes them ‘up their game’, but this isn’t true for everyone, and spending too much time picking through the work of others is a waste of YOUR time and can only be destructive to YOU. Stop following them on facebook and twitter and start watching people and companies you would aspire to emulate, that inspire you or cater for the same demographic.

Embrace technology

This is a biggie for me. I got a tablet free with my mobile phone and I thought ‘ahhh this’ll just be a fun toy to have’ man did I underestimate it! I tend to feel that most ‘tools’ are unnecessary things just to get you to part with your pennies (to the point that some of my students make fun of me!) but my tablet and card reader have let me do so many things (and won me sales!) that I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to. For example - I was at an event checking facebook before I opened. A client had got in touch to ask if I had anything in green. I used the tablet to quickly snap what I had and sent the photos back to her. She picked several pieces, I told her where I was, and she was able to come and get them (and a few more!). Had I not been ‘mobile’ this would have been a much more complicated process, and would definitely have been a much smaller sale. On that same day, the folks right and left of me were losing sales repeatedly because they couldn’t take cards whereas I didn’t have this problem. Technology needn’t just be computery, it could be anything that makes tasks quicker or lets you do things you couldn’t before. Examples might be knitting or sewing machines, stand mixers (or 2 stand mixers instead of 1) or just a trolley for ferrying your stuff around. Not tech savvy? This goes back to the first point about investing in yourself and keep learning.

What have YOU, dear reader, learnt in the past year? Anything you’d like to share? Anything you would like to query or disagree with? Please feel free - but no abuse please! (as if you would....)

By knittykittybangbang, Sep 17 2014 10:05AM

Knittykittybangbang’s basic sewing class has now been running for 2 weeks and I am seriously impressed with the items the students are making!

Week 1 we started off making a basic envelope cushion cover. Students produced their own patterns, then cut and stitched up their own cushions. Almost everyone finished at least 1 cushion in class and nobody sewed themselves to anything or swore!!

Last night everyone started on making their own bags. They were told how to make a very basic pattern then they all amended it to produce their own designs. Each design was different and unique and I can’t wait to see them all finished next week! It’s amazing that on the first week most people weren’t sure how to thread their machine up and now they are making their own patterns without a second thought!

After our bags we are moving on to skirts. Not everyone wanted to make a skirt so 3 have decided to make dresses the brave brave people!

By knittykittybangbang, Aug 11 2014 09:14AM

I met Magda from My Decor Ideas at one of the very first fairs I attended in the early days of knittykittybangbang. The fair was a complete disaster, but Magda and I stayed in touch and she has attended almost every one of the knittykittybangbang presents events. I've seen her progress from making cushions and small painted household items, to completely renovating everything from shelves to chaise as well as making her own candles.

On 1st August, Magda took the brave step of opening up her own shop! Any excuse for a party, of course, so along to the opening I went and ate cake and drank fizz. Magda has really great taste so I knew the shop would be gorgeous and it is!

Magda is an example of what hard work can do, as well as proving that craft doesn't have to be twee. Her pieces have a 'modern rural' feel, using beautiful, comfortable and warm materials, but in, as the name suggests, a more urban colour pallette and slick lines than the usual shabby chic look.

Shades of Blue and Grey is open Tuesday - Saturday from 11am, 281 Holburn Street, Aberdeen (parking directly across the road)

By knittykittybangbang, Jul 24 2014 03:22PM

This seems to be the attitude of a lot of crafters to facebook events - much to the pain and suffering of fair organisers across the board! So why DO we bang on about facebook events all the time? Hopefully this article will enlighten you....

How facebook works, in the nicest possible way, is like a virus - the more people come in contact with its content, the more that content spreads. Facebook events are NOT just about advertising the event on that day, although of course that is a big part, but they are also about collectively getting together and promoting every single stallholder there in a very quick and cheap way.

Check out the flowchart that shows this spread. You see it doesn't actually matter whether or not the people you invite can attend the event, everyone who doesn't actually press 'decline' will still see promotional material from the event, and given that most of us have options for people to buy online, this is very very useful. If you are one of those people who spends a lot of time on 'like for like' pages, I think if everyone came on board with this it would be much more fruitful in terms of actual sales.

LET'S DO THE MATHS! You can't argue with maths.

Let's take the lower end of the 'average facebook friends' number of 130, and imagine we have an event with 20 stallholders. Let's say each stallholder only invites half their friends - that's already 1300 people. 1300 people who have DEFINITELY had a notification of an invitation - not 'might have seen a share if they were online at the right time'. Let's say that half of those people actually hit the 'decline' button - that's still 650 people left who are going to see some updates from the event in their newsfeed. Let's say only 10% of those people 'join' the event or like a page or picture in it - that's another possible 8450 people (using the lower end of the average) who could be seeing your goods!

I can hear you say to yourself - 'but I don't want to annoy people'. Let's be frank businesses always need to rely to some extent on their friends and if they get pissed off at, at the most, 4 invites per month they aint that great a friend really are they? And if they find a business they love through one of your invites, they're only going to love you the more for it!

By knittykittybangbang, Jul 4 2014 02:22PM

As many of you will know, Carolyn has been blogging, under a few different names, for several years. The plan now is to combine all the separate blogs, along with stuff from classes, magazine articles that Carolyn and Craig have written and guest spots on other people's blogs, into one place! Please be a bear with us while this happens...