Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Art Fairs, Craft Fairs, Sidewalk Sales

Picture is table set up. We're getting ready to go to a Kite Festival in Ocean Beach, outside of San Diego, where we will have a booth to sell our Sea Glass and Other jewelry. The festival is on Saturday March 6, 2010 at 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. - outside. The weather forecast is now calling for some rain showers - oh, great. We were juried into the show, meaning we had to send pictures of our work and hope they like it, then we were accepted and had to pay a nonrefundable fee and now it might rain - I'm quickly learning that outdoor venues have a major drawback - the weather.

As I've explained in earlier posts, we are new to making jewelry and marketing. We've had home jewelry parties and we've had one indoor art fair, an easy one as it was up the street and one side walk sale that no one attended, and a few sales on our internet site Etsy. How do we get our jewelry out there for people to see and buy was the next question we asked. Luckily, there are nice people who share and one such person told us to buy the magazine "Craftmaster News," which I did. It's not cheap, but it lists almost all the big events on the West Coast - 2,500 evens to be exact.

So now I have the magazine and I begin looking at all the events listed by months. I looked at the location - we can't be driving to Idaho, right, then I looked at the cost of the event. We're small and right now we can't afford to put out $500 or more for a weekend event. I circled the shows in our area and in Oregon because the other half of Sisters Jewelry Design is Shirley and she lives in Oregon (a long way for us to drive, but I can see my sister so it's worthwhile). And I have to look at the type of show - if it is an auto show or farm equipment show for example, I know that sea glass jewelry won't be a big seller.

Okay, so now I have three criteria for picking an event - location, type of show and cost of show. The first show I picked is the one mentioned above, The Kite Festival in Ocean Beach, San Diego. It is a two hour drive for us, but it is near the beach which is a great location for a sea glass jewelry artisan booth, and it is realitively inexpensive at $35 for a 10x10 space. I took some pictures of our jewelry and submitted to the fair committee and waited to hear if we got into the show. We are accepted - yeah.
Back to the garage and the table set up. We've got our first art fair show lined up, but now we have to get ready. I learn that a lot of art and craft shows have rules - for example - they want all the tables to be covered with the cloth falling to the ground, they want fire retardent table covers, and of course, they specifiy the size of the booth. Originally, when we had the home shows and the one show up the street, we just used a bolt of material from Wal-Mart and cut it to size. Now, we realize we have to have something that looks professional. My sister suggests we have the table covers made - that idea turned out to be quite expensive so I went on the internet and found these black covers made to order - not cheap, but fire retardent and cheaper than having a seamstress make them. (There are a lot of sites on the internet that sell table covers and booth setups - ranging in price from low to high. You can even have your company's name or logo on the skirt of the covers, of course that is not an inexpensive option.)

I forgot to tell you that for tables, we had a bunch of banquet table legs, so Steve went to Home Depot and bought plywood and made the tables to fit the 10x10 space. We saved on not having to buy professional convention tables that fold up, they can start at $100 and go up, but our tables have two drawbacks - heavy and you need a pickup to carry them to the site as they are long. Luckily, we have a pickup and Steve is strong so he's in charge of setting up the tables. I am thinking that if we are successful at selling our wares at art fairs we may eventually buy the fold up tables - for now, we're on a shoe string budget.

Okay, we've got the tables and the covers, the next big questions to solve is how do we display our jewelry. In the past, we'd just put everything on the table flat - easy, but not really attractive. My sister and I hashed over some ideas, nothing grabbed us. I decided to go to an art festival and see what other people were doing which led me to The Southwest Arts Festival in Indio, California at the Empire Polo Grounds. This fair charged a $10 admission fee and you had to pay for parking in a big dirt lot. Approaching the Polo Grounds, we could see a myriad of tents set up on the polo grounds grassy area.

The art fair included a myriad of artisans from rug weavers to fine artists, watercolorists, sculptors, leather bags and of course, jewelry artists. There was food and music and lots of people milling about. We mapped out our course of how we would see the booths - doing the full circle then the inner rows.
(I've learned there is actually an art to picking where your booth is located as psychologically, most people enter say a room and turn right, often not seeing the row down the center or the left side booth area - interesting, huh?)

There was a lot to see and as we went along I asked if I could take photos for my blog and some people graciously said yes, and some were paranoid that I might copy some of their work - not, but that was okay too. One of the artisans I really liked was a woman from Albuquerque, New Mexico - Karen Carlson - she creates with leather and her bags were simply stunning. Another artist, I really liked was Cameron Kaseberg from Redmond, Oregon, who does solvent transfer of images. He had wonderful images of crows and as I'm a big fan of crows I was drawn to his work. Note in the above two pictures, you can see the two different booths and the set up. We also saw several jewelry booths and their set ups.

Note the plastic boxes and the large photos of jewelry on back and side walls of booths. These last two pictures show very sophisticated booth layouts. Hopefully, as we do more shows and learn more about the business of selling our jewelry at shows, we'll develop more of a look for our booths, but right now time and money dictate a simpler look for us. We left the art fair with more knowledge and more questions in our mind. So much to learn and yet, I'm confident as we sally forth to do a few shows this summer we will answer a lot of questions we have on "how to."
As I write this and look at these pictures again, I realize that most of the pop-up tents are white.
We bought a pop-up for this weekend because of the forecast of showers, but they didn't have white. I hope our light brown one will be okay. I'll let you know in my next post which will be after the show coming up.