We’re so excited to launch this new series of interviews called: “To Market, To Market.” It will feature makers who have experience selling their creations in local markets, craft shows, or other art events. Whether you’re a newbie considering whether to sell your wares, or a seasoned vendor looking for fresh tips, we guarantee you’ll find awesome ideas in these interviews. Our first featured maker in this series is our very own FibreShare co-host: Rainie Williams of The Unusual Pear! Read on for an in-depth look at her beautiful market setup, and be sure to swing by her Instagram to thank her for sharing all her secrets 😉
What do you sell at markets?
– ready made woven wall hangings
– weaving loom kits & weaving tools
– drop spindles
– hand spun yarns, hand dyed yarns & wool roving
Have you found that certain types of shows work best for you?
– I have attended 4 different markets in the past year, the first two times were at a very new market that didn’t really fit my style or target market. The next few were at one of my hometown’s best handmade craft/artisan markets called The Olive Tree Market – I have been attending for a few months now and usually do really, really well there!
– I attended a market in a popular Sydney bookstore called Kinokuniya – this was run by Kylie Walsh of The Workshop Makery. It was a great day! Sydney is full of creatives so it worked really well for me. Kylie is the organiser for another event for fibre artists called We Heart The Arts, the first debut was October 2015 and was a huge success from what I heard.
– I have started attending another local market called the Hunt and Gather Market – I am collaborating with my dear fibre friend Nuria of Chompa Handmade at these markets. It’s great to have someone to hang out with all day and to help set up and pack down. It lightens the load immensely!
– I have been contacted by the Stitches and Craft Show who travel all over Australia and New Zealand, to attend their next show in March next year. They have not yet featured any weavers so I’m pretty excited about getting involved and showing off my weaving skills!
How has your display evolved? What are its most important or successful features?
My fit out pretty much changes every time I do a market. I feel that I am still finding my “market-self” and feel that my stall will never look the same month to month.
I usually have one table at the front of the stall as I feel that people can better see your items without having to awkwardly come in to find out what you sell. I really like for my market stall to be interactive and play with different heights.
Do you have difficult-to-display items? How do you display them?
I have a 3m x 3m marquee tent at the two main outdoor markets I attend every month. I usually hang my woven wall hangings up with either pegs or butchers hooks. I have made myself some bamboo peg boards (cause regular peg boards are getting pretty over-used at the markets now) which really tie in with the products I sell as they are made from the same material. I have my looms, tools, spindles and yarns on the table at the front of the stall for people to touch and feel.
Any tips for drawing shoppers into your booth? How do you make customers feel welcome once they’re in your booth?
I think having my table at the front of the stall works because people can straight away see what you are selling. I usually sit behind the table and either weave or spin. When I bust a drop spindle out and start spinning away, people become mesmerized and find that it’s a big draw card! I don’t like to just sit on a chair and do nothing because a, that’s boring and b, people want to see what you’re there for and what you can do with your products!
When people come up to my stall, I like to ask them a question other than “how are you” or “can I help you”. I engage them by asking a question they have to answer with more than one word. Usually it’s something like “have you tried weaving before” or “what has caught your eye” and it begins a conversation about why they came to have a look. I always, always, always engage anyone who comes up to my stall – even if I know they aren’t interested in buying anything. You can meet some really interesting people at the markets and even if the person isn’t personally interested, they may know someone who is and tell them about you.
What are some of your most successful marketing strategies?
My main platform for marketing is Instagram but I am also on Facebook. I have my Instagram set up so when I post a photo I can also post it straight to my Facebook which is super handy!
I have recently started a MailChimp newsletter to inform my subscribers of when new workshop dates are being announced and when I’ll next be at the markets – I have a sign up form on a clipboard on my market table for people to fill out.
I found out recently that you can also show which markets you will be at through your Etsy store – I found it a little hard to set up and I’m not sure how successful it is but you might as well use it if it’s there!
What are your “market must-haves” (packing list essentials)?
I have a full to-do list and to-take list for the markets. My to-do list is a checklist of things to tick off leading up to the market such as: sand looms, ball yarn, buy bags, get float. My to-take list is a checklist of things I need to remember to take with me to the market such as: table, chair, marquee, looms, wall hangings, scissors, butchers hooks.. I almost always forget to take my wall hangings as they are always hanging up around the house!
Must haves are definitely
How do you package/brand the items you sell?
I use brown paper bags in various sizes – I don’t bother with stamping my logo on them.. I feel that people are more likely to reuse the bag, rather than throwing it out if there’s no logo on it. Most of my products have my logo on there and usually I pop a business card into their bag and let them know they can find me on Instagram 🙂
Do you use an E-reader? What kind?
Haha Beth and I had a giggle at this because i had no idea what it was. In Australia we call it Eftpos.
Nuria from Chompa Handmade was the biggest help when I was getting ready to start attending markets. She told me about the Pay Pal Here app that you can get on your smartphone. It basically lets you punch in someone’s credit card number and charge them straight through your phone. Fees are crazy though. It’s something like 30 cents per transaction plus 3.9% of your sale. I was losing between $20-$40 on a whole market day because of those fees. So many people want to pay with Eftpos at the markets these days.
I have ended up buying a Pay Pal thingo which cost $149 but you don’t get charged the 30 cent per transaction fee and your fees come down to a much lesser percentage of your sale. It will pay itself off in no time! The only thing with these gadgets is that the battery life sucks – you’ll need a solar charger if you have a really big day ahead of you! I usually switch mine off between transactions but it can take a while to start back up.
What do your business cards look like? Where did you have them made?
I used to order my business cards from moo.com – they are really good quality and sometimes you can catch a sale if you sign up to their newsletter but they are quite expensive. Now I order from VistaPrint and they have sales all the time!
How do you display your business logo and name?
I have a laser cut sign with my business name and tag-line: The Unusual Pear – weaving looms and tools. I think the tag-line is really effective and necessary if you have a business name like mine, which could be for any type of product. I also have a chalkboard sign to stand out the front that gives a summary of what I sell.
How do you wrap up a sold item to send home with a customer?
The looms, tools and fibre go in a brown paper bag and the wall hangings get wrapped in tissue paper, business cards in the bags.
How do you store and transport your inventory?
Uuuuggggghhhh I wish I had a nice big roomy van or ute and a storage shed at home but alas, we transport everything in our little Hyundai wagon and store everything in our bedroom.
Do you have a support system during shows? Family, friends, employees?
I run the Olive Tree market stall on my own but my partner comes and helps me set up in the morning and we usually have our one year old daughter with us. I just pop her in the baby carrier, she loves the big commotion of setting up.
I do the Hunt and Gather market with Nuria from Chompa Handmade. We both run workshops through the day, one person runs a workshop while the other makes the sales and vice versa! It’s so great to have the company setting up and packing down, it makes it a lot more fun!
What does a successful day at a market look like for you?
So I’m not going to lie.. The money is the best part for me.. I love coming home and counting how much I made, it’s so exciting haha. What I really WANT to say though is that I genuinely love seeing how excited people get when they go out of their way to come to the market just to see my stall and grab a yarn pack or just have a chat about the wonderful world of weaving.
Even if you don’t make a killing at the market, it’s about getting your name out there and getting more people interested in what you are doing!! Even if they don’t buy something the first time they see your stall, if you’re genuinely nice to them and spark an interest, they are at least going to tell their crafty friend about their great experience with you.
Any extra advice for those just starting out?
Have fun with it. If you’re going to do the markets you’ve gotta be friendly, welcoming, helpful and you’re sure to be a success!