We are so pumped about this interview with the brilliant maker: Annerys Alba. She creates gorgeous weavings and also provides hand crafted weaving supplies through her business “Woven Craft.” One of the things we love about her work is that she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty, and she is an amazing woodworker. This skill truly shines in her beautiful and innovative market display. Please read on for Annerys’s inside story, and remember to swing by her Instagram + Website to say hi… and to thank her for sharing all her show secrets!
What do you sell at markets?
I offer a selection of:
– Loom kits
– Weaving needles
– Stick shuttles
– Weaving combs
– Cotton rope baskets
– Ready make woven wall hangings
– Woven decorative pillows
Have you found that certain types of markets/shows work best for you?
I attended four markets last year. My first was the Brooklyn Renegade Craft Fair, which by far has been my favorite one. Looking back I think I was a bit crazy in choosing such a big show as my first market. In all honesty I didn’t think I was going to make it in since I applied almost a week before the deadline and they get so many entries. So it was a very pleasant and scary surprise when I found out I made it in. I loved everything about this fair – from the people behind it, to the attendees and my fellow makers. Everyone was very nice and helpful. I got to meet so many great people. Hearing strangers compliment my work felt amazing! It was the pump of adrenaline I needed to continue making/creating. It let me know that I was on the right track, that I wasn’t crazy when I decided to start Woven Craft.
After this show I did another Renegade Craft Fair in NYC, a small Holiday Market show (a 1 day event) in Williamsburg – Brooklyn, and another small Winter Break show in Soho, NYC. All of these shows were very different, and I learn a lot from each one of them – from space restriction to customer demographics. My advice is when you are starting to think about doing markets don’t let the size of the show hold you back, give it a try you might be pleasantly surprise.
How has your display evolved? What are its most important or successful features?
I like to set up my booth with as much free/walking space as possible. I want my booth to be an inviting place where people can come and go freely rather than a standard table situated up front. It gives them a chance to closely inspect each item without having to reach for it or ask me for help.
When I first thought about doing markets and pop-up shows my biggest challenge was how I was going to properly display my woven wall hangings. The best way to do this is to hang them on a wall, but no show will guarantee you will have one – especially if it is an outdoor market. My next thought was if I do build myself a wall, how was I going to transport it to and from the show? How big or small should it be? How am I going to safely put it together? I didn’t want it falling down during the show, or worse falling down on a customer! I wanted my booth to be sturdy and very easy to assemble. I didn’t want to use any power or hand tools to assemble it either, and I wanted it to be made out of wood. I decided to use pinewood because it is very light. So once I had a clear idea of what I wanted, I sketched a few versions of the booth and I headed to my local Home Depot to buy all my supplies.
My booth is like a big jigsaw puzzle made out of wood. It consists of three 8 feet high columns, 36 pieces of 1″ by 4″ pine boards of various length, and 4 ratchet tie-downs cords that hold everything safely in place. It takes 2 people to assemble it, and since none of the boards are put together with glue or screws it all fits easily in my car. The best part of it is when the show its over it can be store anywhere in the house.
After doing my first show (Renegade Brooklyn) I realized I needed a way to storage my packing supplies and all the woven wall hangings I could not display on my booth walls. To fix that problem, I made myself a display rack with a bottom drawer and some wheels. I love this display rack! Seriously! I can put all my packing supplies, and personal items away using the drawer. I also can display the remainder of my woven wall hangings using the top clothes-like rack. Customers can easily sort thru them with no problem. It’s that great! And since I added wheels to it, I can pile my entire inventory on top of it and use it as a loading cart from and to my car. This turned out to be a 3 in 1 cart – LOL. Also this cart is perfect for small shows where I cannot bring my full booth display. Like when I did my last show in Soho where I only had 1 small table, I could still bring it with me to display my wovens!
Do you have any difficult-to-display items? How do you display them?
Yes, I had a hard time displaying the selection of weaving needles I have for sale. I have tried displaying them on top of a stack of wooden boxes, and I even made a wood stand to stand them up against it but they all keep falling down when people touched them or when I accidentally bumped into my display. I am still searching for the perfect way to display them.
Any tips for drawing shoppers into your booth?
I always smile, say hi, and make eye contact with them. I believe a smile and a simple hello can go a long way. I try not to say anything about my work unless they already look interested. I also tell them about any promotional discounts I might be running at that time.
How do you make customers feel welcome once they are in your booth?
After I acknowledge their presence I usually tell them to let me know if you have any questions and give them their space to browse freely. I also encourage them to touch or pickup any item they interested in for closer inspection. I also consider how I like to shop. I personally don’t like to ask for prices, so having good signage with prices is very important to me. Once I noticed that they are interested in a piece, I like to tell them the story behind it and the materials I used to make it with. I enjoy seeing their reaction, and hearing their feedback.
What are some of your favorite marketing strategies? How do you draw attendees?
At this time the only marketing tool I use is Instagram. I am also starting to put together a Mail-Chimp newsletter to stay in touch with my subscribers and to let them know of upcoming shows and sales, but that won’t be ready for some time now.
What are your “market must haves” (packing list essentials)?
I make sure to always bring my cash box, my card reader, my business cards, my laptop, extra price tags, pen/pencil, cotton yarn incase I need it, double side tape, phone, and phone charger, water, and coffee. It is also a good idea to familiarize your self with the area incase you forget something and need to buy some last minute supplies or more coffee.
How do you package/brand the items you sell at markets?
I make custom size bags out of muslin fabric for all my woven pieces and tools – sort of like a dust bag, which also doubles as a shopping bag at shows. I use a Cricut machine to cut an iron on of my logo that I then iron onto the bags. It usually takes me a day or two to make the bags, but I find it easier this way since it is so hard (and pricey) to find custom sized bags online.
Do you use an e-reader? If so, which kind?
I do! I have a Square Magstripe reader, and it is working really well for me. I like that Square gives you the reader for free when you sign up, and their feeds are very reasonable (2.75% per swipe for Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express credit cards). Visit their website for more details. BTW I am not getting pay to endorse Square, I just like to share the tools available out there that are working for me so that anyone that is looking for a solution can take advantage of them as well.
What do your business cards look like? Do you recommend purchasing business cards somewhere specific?
I love simplicity, and I am of the mentality that less is more. I think my business cards, and other paper goods reflect that. My favorite place to order my business cards and postcards is Moo. They make it very easy for people like me who do not have any graphic design background to design your own business cards and postcards. I know their prices are a bit higher compare to other companies, but their quality is worth it. And if you take advantage of their sale discounts you can get a lot more for your money without sacrificing quality. I get many compliments on my business cards at every show. I feel very proud to hand them out every time.
How do you display your business logo/name in your market booth?
I am very lucky to have access to an industrial laser cutter machine at my local MakerSpace. I made a few laser cut sings with my business name and logo that I display at the top of my booth.
How do you wrap up a sold item to send home with a customer?
I packed them in one of my custom-made muslin bags, and I include one of my business card and a postcard inside the bag as well.
How do you store/transport your inventory?
My Scion xB doubles as my company van. I load everything in it, from the booth to my inventory, and hit the road. I love how spacious that little box is!
Do you have a support system for events? Family, friends, employees?
My husband is a big help when it comes to helping me load and unload everything into my car. He comes with me to every show and helps me setup. He stays with me all day on the first day and gets me food and coffee. I also have some amazing friends that come to keep me company on the second day of every show. They also get me food and coffee. I am a lucky gal! My husband and friends help me packed up on the last day of the show and then we go out for dinner and drinks.
Is there a fellow market guru you admire?
I love, love Rebecca Daryl. She is a very talented maker, and amazing person. I have been very lucky to coincide with her at both of the Renegade shows I participated in. I love chatting with her, and sharing experiences from the show. Also, her display is so clever and beautiful.
What does a successful day at a market look like for you?
My goal after every show is to be able to at least cover the cost of the booth space, but when that hasn’t happened it doesn’t mean that the show was a failure. I think promoting my business and getting more people interested in my brand counts as well. I have gotten emails from blogs to inquire if I am interested in a feature weeks after a show. I have also gotten online purchases from people that stopped by my booth but needed more time to decide on a purchase. I have gotten inquires from other shops that found me on the show’s website asking me if I would be interested in doing a partnership with them as well. I had the opportunity to meet some very talented makers that if it weren’t for the show I wouldn’t have. In all honesty making a profit after a show is great – who doesn’t like that? but it’s not the only factor I consider when I think of the show’s success. There is always a lesson to be learned from failure, and to me those lessons help me grow.
Any extra advice for those starting out?
Treat your booth space as you would your own little brick and mortar store. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things, don’t let yourself be limited to a just a table. Dare to be unique; it will help you stand out! You are only going to find out what works best for you thru trial and error. And smile, smile at lot even if your face hurts at the end of the day – nobody like a sour-patch face. Best of luck!
To visit the Woven Craft shop, or to see more work by the wonderful AnneRys (pictured above) follow these links: