First Craft Fair Experience: Incident Happened, Lessons Learned and Love is All Around

Hello!

This past Saturday was CHIC+NAWDIE’s first craft fair and we had a really wonderful time at the Renegade. Having no prior craft fair experience, we did a lot of research to see what other people say about the fair and how to best prepare for it. I would love to write a little post here to share with you our Renegade experience.

 

1. We definitely over-did and over-brought a lot of things. I had no idea how much we would sell and I don’t have much stock to begin with because I just started out with CHIC+NAWDIE. Therefore, I basically brought all my stock: all the cards, all the art prints, half of my notepads. And a HUGE amount of coins! Oh boy, they were heavy (not to mention the *special incident* with the coins, I will tell you very soon in this post…)  Both my husband and I are sort of perfectionists so we wanted the booth to look REALLY good. Nobody knows our brand so we think we’d better make it super pretty for people to notice. And so we came up with a wood shelf-table display system that looks really nice and also can be taken apart and rearranged. It took us a few weeks to build, some $$$ to buy all the wood (we already have all the tools from previous DIY projects for our apartment.) and our tiny Manhattan apartment was messy for a while. However, the display turned out awesome and we got a lot of compliments for it!

Putting up the shelf-table under the heat.

My full booth looking pretty!

 

2. The heat on Saturday was insane and it was exhausting with all the loading and unloading. Because of the custom-made display system, we had a lot more extra heavy stuff compared to other vendors. (Not to mention my stupid coins!) Without my husband, I wouldn’t be able to put up our booth. He was my life savior. Our mistake was that we packed everything in boxes WITHOUT lids. We had a rolling cart on which we stacked all the boxes but we didn’t know the road from the parking space to the site could be that bumpy and… bad! It was tough pulling the cart around especially down the steep rocky path at the entrance. Like many other vendors’ carts, ours tripped right there. However, because we did not cover the boxes, ALL THE COINS spilt onto the ground. This is when my best friend came in as my second life savior. The two of us were sitting on the ground picking pennies for like fifteen minutes! I made her dressed up so pretty to go to the fair to support me so she could end up picking coins… So people, instead of coins, bring your best friend and she will save your life.

On the bottom right corner, do you see those 4 baskets? I have all my coins separated in there… My recipe for disaster.

 

3. My favorite items are not necessarily what the customers like the best. I learned many things about what my customers want through this fair experience. As an illustrator, I’ve always just drawn and painted what I want. Not having any previous sale experience makes me somehow disconnected to my future customers and this craft fair was a wonderful opportunity to talk to them, observe them, learn about them. Our Father’s Day cards were the best sellers followed by the zodiac series.

 

4. We made enough sales to be motivated but not too easy so we stay challenged. I learn at the fair that it’s easy for people to buy something for themselves. You can always have another pretty dress or another pair of adorable earrings right? People tend to stop by those booths a lot. Not so much for greeting cards. Because the essence of a greeting card is to give to someone else. First you need to have someone to give to, an occasion to use the card, and the desire to sit down, hand-write something and mail it. Nowadays, I know many people hesitate to do all that. It’s easier to send a text, an email or write on someone’s facebook wall. However, I wouldn’t choose to sell something else just because it would sell better. I believe in a slower lifestyle where we celebrate more feelings, emotions, memories, and connections. I have a friend in France who often sends me postcards wherever he goes and they always warm my heart. My parents and my sister still sends me birthday card. My best friend even made me birthday card even though she can’t even draw. On our first date, my husband brought me a tiny card with a heart on it. And I keep everything in a box called Memories. I choose to do CHIC+NAWDIE because of my passion for paper and the power of the hand-written notes that can bring people together. For people who truly matter in your life, a $4.5 card plus 49 cents for a stamp can mean more than a $50 gift card. And it was encouraging to see people loving our products and buying cards for their loved ones. I didn’t quit my job to do CHIC+NAWDIE because it’s easy, I did because I believe that it adds value to our life and it’s worth the risk.

Our pretty wooden stencil signage

 

5. Lastly, I felt very much lucky and happy. My friends, neighbors and even ex-coworkers came out to support me! I met some awesome vendors at the fair. And I felt even more determined to work harder and create better products in the future!

Love,

Nhung

3 Comments
  • Ha
    June 15, 2015

    Yep, from my experience, the lighter you can pack the better! The heavy wooden walls aren’t so practical when you have to set up and tear down at events like this. I’d suggest the big metal net that you can easily hang up your frames.

    I use the foldable table from Walmart which you can set up in 2 minutes. If you think it’s to ugly for your taste, table cloths do an amazing job at covering flaws and anything you want to hide under the table. Table cloth is also a great way to add a nice touch to the whole display.

    Over bringing your product is totally fine! You always want to be more prepared than to regret not having something for a potential customer 🙂

    Anw I’m so happy that you survived your first craft fair! CONGRATS! And though the set up may have caused you some trouble, your display is TRULY beautiful and I know you’ve put a lot of effort into this! Keep up the great work next Saturday!

    • Nhung Le
      June 15, 2015

      Hi Ha!
      Thank you for all the suggestions! It was our first time so we didn’t know the process. Now that we know I think we’ll be okay with the setup. Maybe next time when we think about doing craft fairs at another city, I will look into another type of setup. Right now we’re still in New York so we want to try keeping this (heavy!) setup ^^ We get more than 3 hours to set everything up so time isn’t a problem. And about the heaviness, I’m actually getting another truck dolly thing so hopefully we will have an easier time. Will keep you posted on our next Sat!
      Cheers!
      Nhung

      • Ha
        June 22, 2015

        You should try the holiday renegade fair in austin in november 🙂 I’m thinking of applying too 🙂

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