Our guest today is Rebecca Daryl Smith: master of chic handwoven accessories, both for yourself and your home! We’ve had our eye on her gorgeous market display photos, and are so pleased to be featuring her! Read on for some real gems of advice, from how to safely wrap up your dowel rods, to how to kindly set social boundaries in managing your space. Oh! And remember to swing by her beautiful Instagram feed + Etsy shop! We’re hoping that you sweet readers will buy her necklaces so that we don’t go scoop them ALL up ourselves 😉
What do you sell at markets?
Hand woven necklaces
Ready-to-hang wall hangings and air plant weavings
Macramé plant holders
Have you found that certain types of markets/shows work best for you?
When you are looking into markets, it is super important to do your research! Different markets have different vibes, price ranges, coordinators, and styles, and you’ll have to work to find the right fit, but when you are just starting out (which I still am) its good to try as many as possible to get a good sense of your customer, and what you are looking for in a market. I personally love the Renegade craft shows because they are really organized, attentive, have a pretty great curated group of vendors, and they fit my style of handmade, fun and well crafted goods.
Do you have any difficult-to-display items? How do you display them?
My display has evolved a ton since I started showing, and will continue to change every show I do depending on the venue, how far I’m travelling, and what my current mood is 😉 I’m still finding what works best for me and gives off the right vibe of my work. I started out by building a pretty elaborate full booth structure, which I loved and felt was very inviting and unique and gave me tons of wall space for my weavings – but it was really hard to carry around and set up/breakdown by myself and I haven’t used it since. Each show I do I find myself pairing things down and getting to the simplest way to highlight my products. If you have a car and come up with a good set up system, I highly recommend any type of wall you can do – but as a New Yorker, I’ve had to get creative. Folding screens, hinged pieces of wood, and clothing racks have been great DIY ways to create walls and hanging space for weavings and wall art. I try and bring plants, yarn and branches with me because they add to the atmosphere of my space and give some quick ideas of what I’m selling and my aesthetic..
How do you make customers feel welcome once they are in your booth?
Highlighting your product, keeping things clean, good lighting, and using unique display items that add to the atmosphere of your work are great ways to stand out in a crowd. But the biggest thing I’ve found that draws people in is having great customer service. I try to be inviting without jumping on people, always smile, stay off my phone, and be myself! I try and think of my customers as people, and make connections that way. I try and make sure everyone knows I am the maker, and offer up help and info as needed-but I let people browse. Everyone has their own style of selling, but I try and stay busy at fairs so I don’t seem eager, and I try to not pressure anyone into buying – just be as helpful and sincere as possible.
What are some of your favorite marketing strategies? How do you draw attendees?
When I’m preparing for a show, I usually hit social media pretty hard for the whole week before the show. I show in-progress shots of new product, new display things, any marketing material the show sends its vendors, and just try and be as excited and informative as possible. I try and tell my story about and how I prepare for a show and what I’ll be showing off- and also highlight other makers who will be there. Old school tactics like putting up flyers in your neighborhood, talking to people who might be interested etc. work too. I recently started using mailchimp to let people know where I’ll be.
What are your “market must haves” (packing list essentials)?
Square reader, change, a notebook, pens, phone charger, snacks and water, tape, hammer/nails, and straight pins, and business cards. I always try and bring small projects to work on – like crocheting; nothing that takes up too much attention, but something to keep me busy and stop me from looking too eager to jump on a customer while showing that I am the maker.
How do you display your business logo/name in your market booth?
I put my name and logo into a picture frame on the table, but that will probably continue to evolve with my display.
How do you package/brand the items you sell at markets?
I try and keep my packaging simple and on the less expensive side but also gift ready if it has be! I use large envelopes that I stamp for my jewelry and tissue paper for my other products with a hand stamped bag. Simple and memorable – and try and keep it consistent with the feel of my brand/product but most importantly make sure my work is protected.
How do you store/transport your inventory?
I use stacking plastic containers, suitcases, and bubble wrap. I actually use branches and dowels in my display and I’ve found saran wrap is the easiest and most compact way to carry them. I mostly fit everything into the suitcase after set up so I have the most space for moving around at the show. I keep a crate with me too- I use it for transport and then transform it into a little packaging station under my table.
Do you have a support system for events?
It is great to have a support system for when you do shows- sometimes it is really stressful! But I have to say, the more shows I do, the less help I really want! My wonderful boyfriend used to help me with load in and set up, and it always ended with a tiff – trying to manage him as I figured out how to put my display together as he tried to take charge of the set up wasn’t worth it. If you need help from your partner carrying things etc, maybe send them for your coffee/breakfast run while you get the lay of the land- this is your space and you want to feel comfortable and in control! I used to invite all of my friends to shows too and I’ve slowly stopped that as well. I don’t mean to sound anti-social, but often, friends come to show their support and end up in the way- either taking up space in front of your table, or taking your attention away from potential customers. There are some friends that are great at getting out of the way and being helpful (most of mine are other makers)- and by all means- invite them to stop by, give you a bathroom break, or to shop if you think they will- but try not to make your booth the “hang out spot”- customers can sense it and will sometimes walk away. My best advice is to make friends with your maker neighbors! You will meet some awesome people, get invaluable advice, laugh, help each other, and start building your maker community- I’ve met some great friends doing craft shows and I’ve learned about great opportunities for other shows, wholesale inquiries, made some amazing trades through engaging with other vendors.
Is there a fellow market guru you admire?
My market gurus: these ladies have helped me figure out what I was doing, inspired me with displays and attitudes, and given me some great advice and laughs along the way:
Jenny of J. Topolski Jewelry
Erica of Amelia Brooklyn
Erin of Oxalis Apothecary
Any extra advice for those starting out?
All I can say is try and be yourself, be open to new experiences, and try and take something away from every show you do. A successful day doesn’t always mean bringing home the big bucks (although that is always awesome), it can mean making new connections, having a display break through, a possible wholesale or large order, or getting to know your market/target customer better.