This is PART 2. To read PART 1, click here.
(Due to the length of this post, it will be published in two parts. Part 1 is an introduction and summary of the markets I’ve sold at. Part 2 will express my experience tips under certain categories – and is rather lengthy.)
Some tips from my experience:
What you sell:
Most probably if you’re reading this, the goodies you will be selling would be hand made as opposed to imported goods. Why I have interest in my products is because they are slightly different to what you usually find – such as baby clothes, jewellery or even food. And people like it – even if they don’t buy anything, it’s a lovely feeling when people tell you that ‘you’re clever’ and ‘have lovely things’ and are very much interested in the fact that is actually hand made and all done by you.
I love the challenge presented to me to make products that people will love and cherish.
As a graphic designer, I believe having some form of visual representation of your ‘business’ is essential – and not just something typed up in ‘Comic Sans’ (please, DO NOT USE THIS FONT!!!) In my case, being a designer comes in handy with not only creating a logo, but cards, display information and all the other bits as well. I did find creating the logo/identity a bit of a challenge because being your own client is the worst client you can have; always fussy and never sure of what your after b/c you want everything in it.
Initially for my first market, I had only just finished the course I was doing a few days before the market, thus my identity was just my name (which I didn’t really like, but it was better than nothing.) After that, I create a brainstorm of what I wanted my stall to be; what I would sell, my vision, how it would separate and differ from others. Also about what I believed in – what origami meant to me.
I came up with “Firebird Studios” as the idea of a firebird/or phoenix is that it transforms from the ashes into the bird as a piece of flat paper can be transformed into something beautiful and full of wonderment. I chose the word “studios” to connect it more with the visual art aspect. Was thinking of using “creative” but because I wasn’t necessarily “creating” my own original designs – more making based on existing patterns – I went with ‘studios’ (which is ironic b/c I basically make everything in my bedroom, where everything is stored).
- Stall look
As mentioned above, my first stall I used my own name, and I didn’t have time to create/think of what to do for a sign. I just printed and cut out circles to hang up everywhere, which in the end you couldn’t see. For a graphic designer, I would have loved to have created all the visual packaging and signage – would have looked lovely, just time was against me. After then, I had gone around to a few markets and looked at how they displayed things. I then had the Miners Rest market at beginning of November, thus began new look. My boyfriend at the time made me a ladder shelf which looks amazing as I don’t tend to see anyone else with them. Once I made the sign with mdf board and transparent sticker paper, it all tied together and looked more like a market stall.
Since then, I continue to think of better/quicker ways to display items for ease on the eye and accessibility to the customer. This is important – if they feel they can’t reach it, they won’t look at it.
- Self presence
People won’t talk to you if you don’t look interested. Simple. I have a background in customer service, thus I find saying ‘hello’ to people comes quite naturally. I like to greet everyone who passes my stall and takes a look – even draws people in.
Also, dress nice, but comfortably, for the duration of time at market – it shows. Nice clean top and pants, and I usually wear runners (no one sees those.) I’ve read about how you look more engaging if you stand as opposed to sitting, plus I just prefer to from experience of working long hours.
Some people suggest to me to make items when I’m there. I honestly don’t have room to do that, and I feel I distance myself from direct communication, thus I don’t.
- Time vs value
I still ask people questions about pricing. Some say ‘you’ve got to think about all the time you put into an item’ others are ‘you’ll never get your money back.’
How I’ve often priced my items is by taking out all my things to mum/whoever else is at home and pulling one things out at a time and asking “how much do you think this is worth?” I might change a few b/c I know that some people would pay more than mum, but I often look at a product and ask myself ‘what would I pay for it?’ ‘what is it’s value?’
As I sell paper products, they are a fragile item, thus people won’t pay as much. So I can spend a lot of time on something, and get “slave labour” price for it, but it’s all in the experiment.
The best advice I’ve been told is by a lady who runs our local KaiserCraft store. She advised me on that people who make craft don’t usually want to pay that much for items b/c they know they can make it (I must say, this is true in my understanding as I’m like that, unless I am just amazed by it.) People who just don’t appreciate the craft won’t even consider the items (in fact, probably shouldn’t even be at the market.) Then there are the people who don’t really know how to do the craft/don’t have the time, but love it and are happy to pay whatever you put on it (these customers are AMAZING!).
Generally how she would price things is double however much the supplies cost. If it cost $10 supplies, then $20 to sell.
Also, when it comes to craft, you’ll never make your money back with all the time you spent on it. I know this and have been told it as well. But you do this because you love it – if you’re in it to make money, you might be in the wrong area if looking for a short term solutions.
Demographic/location of market:
I have found that they futher you get away from a cbd centre the less likely people will purchase the products – at least where I live anyway. I know that my home town isn’t as appreciative of the arts as other communities. In fact, we’re kind of a “bogan” town or at least are know for that. But there are people who do buy things. I’m going to this year perhaps selling at markets further out. It is more travel/money for fuel, but might be worth it.
Why are you doing the market stall?
This can be a crutial part to how it effects you. At the start, I was stressed because I wasn’t selling enough compared to the time I spent on it and to actual start to make money back to buy more supplies and expand my knowledge. The first market cost too much and then the second people wouldn’t buy anything. I thought that no one would ever purchase a good amount and perhaps the direction I had taken wasn’t good. But I stuck with it, taking aboard feedback and talking with other stall holders (this is a great idea, they are not your competition – everyone has their competitive advantage, which means no one is the same. We’re all friends, we’re all creators in our own respect.)
Are you doing you’re market stall to:
- Make money? To provide a sustainable income??
- Supplement income? Bit of extra cash.
- Hobby? Sell what you made at cost value
- Don’t particuallry consider a direction, just like a social chat with people.
For me, I do this to supplement my income. I knew that starting this, it would probably take me a year or so to start making it into the ‘black’ area; money spent I’d get back, then start to make a few profits. I love to make things – to experiment and explore possibilities – and my room was paying for it. I love the challenge to be able to create a product for someone, thus doing this allows me to expand my knowledge as well as making a bit of cash. The money I have made goes back into buying more supplies and improving the display/packaging/promotional material.
I do this because In know that in the end the reward is the delight I bring to people – sharing my light with other.
The business side of stuff:
- Pricing (again)
Cost of supplies, getting a bit back for your time. I still get stuck, but if you’ve read the above section on pricing, I believe that that is a good starting point.
- Spreadsheets & keeping records
I like to keep electronic receipts/type in what I’ve spent each moth on supplies and other items for everything I do, thus this is no different. I make up a inventory sheet, so when I go to markets, I just tally up what I’ve sold, see what I sell the most of and other things.
I also made an invoice tracker for online sales, but I’ve only sold a could of times on Etsy, but it’s there when I need it.
Anything I print goes in a display folder. As I grow, I find different things/data to keep recorded.
I get stressed easily, especially when I’m setting up. However, now that I’ve been to a few markets, I become more confident in what I do. The more people tell me they like my items, I grow in confidence and blossom with passion for what I do.
Where I stand now.
We’re at the beginning of a new year, and this coming week I currently have another stall at Creswick and will be setting up my display at a Lorraine Lea linen party the weekend after. I was supposed to have a stall at a new market approx. 40min drive from town, but due to the thunderstorm weather, I decided to pull out (the road to this place is not good, turns out a few others had to, but there will be another one on next month.) I might try Miners Rest again as well, and I’ve contacted by the Ballarat Begonia Festival to have a stall for 3 days (cost: $400 …. Hmmm have to think on that one.
I also have to send in samples to a craft cottage at the Botanical Gardens and see if they like what I do to sell/become a member.
So a few options out there.
It’s a bit of a long write-up, so thank you for reading it (if you have). It has been a good reflection for me to do to see where I have been and where to go from now on. I’ll continue to post up about the markets I do. Feel free to check out my other blog posts from the market, or you can follow my page on facebook:
Once again, thank you – especially to those who have stood by me and encouraged my creations – I endeavour to bring to you more delightful and endearing wonderments.