The year of the 1,000+ cranes

(This post is a summary/expression of tips and tricks I have encountered along the way of running my market stall: Firebird Studios – selling hand-crafted origami and other paper craft items at local markets in the 2015.)

I find it fascinating when it comes to the end of the year/beginning of a new one and you think back to the beginning of all the plans you made. I know that there are some goals I didn’t achieve, yet some surpassed mountain-folds.
I had the goal of selling at four markets throughout the year/one every season. I completed this by mid February. It became rather addictive I found; I liked to create and make/experiment with origami plus it’s rather fun to make money. Not to mention all the people you meet and the wonders of knowledge you learn along the way.

I decided to make a goal to make 1,000 cranes, hence why in many of my goodies they contained these beautiful models. To achieve this I broke it down to making around 25/week/100/month to manage. I managed to make 1,000 before October finished and had made many more since then with the lead up to Christmas.
According to my records, I have made 1,503 origami cranes for the year 2015. (Well on the way for 2,000 with 500 of these crane made in the past two months.)

In this post I wanted to share with people some experiences that I have encountered in the case there was anyone thinking of running their own market stall and needed some guidance. These are my experiences and all this considering, everyone will find what suits them best.
Before I start, I would just like to thank EVERYONE who has helped me, given me advice, suggested ideas, and just been really nice. It means a momentum of confidence to me and I hope you like the goodies I make. 🙂

Some pointers from my experience:

  • It’s hard work.

    151127_MHW market - Nov(web) (1 of 4)
    Although I still consider my market stall to be a hobby, you’re basically running a business and people expect it to be like so. You have to make (if you craft/cook your goodies), package, design, photograph, market, sell, set-up and pack-up, purchase/find supplies, and a great many other things. People ask questions and you’ve got to know the answer (sometimes I get tongue tied and I don’t know what to say) but you’ve got to act and look professional/nice. It’s not easy, and in the beginning you may feel like giving up and not wanting to get up at 5am, but through experience you gather knowledge and it’s sometimes the only way to improve. Through the cold winter months with stock blowing over and things breaking I just wanted to go home yet persisting through I founded myself a presence and people got to know me and I know them and make connections.

  • Pricing

    151127_MHW market - Nov(web) (2 of 4)

    Tricky! Very tricky!! People go to a market and don’t want to pay retail but you’ve got to factor in the time you spent making it plus supplies, travel, stall fee, and maybe a little bit of profit (although that word doesn’t really apply to hand-made goods.)
    I put up my prices from feedback as many people thought that I imported my items/origami. I fold every piece and having this perception was hurtful. I’ll be putting up my prices again as before Christmas I was selling heaps more than I could ever have imagined and I couldn’t keep up with doing ever part, thus my mum and my two sisters were helping me package items and other things.

    When it comes to pricing, best advice which I followed was to calculate the total cost of supplies used for an item, then triple that amount for your selling price. This might not apply to everything, yet it generally will cover cost of supplies, time spent and a bit of money to cover other costs. 

  • Which markets to attend??

    Crane in Baubles

    Crane in Baubles

    In my experience I have found that markets which focus on hand-made and local produce, I have greater interest and sales opposed to a mixed/general/car boot market. The customers who attend are more appreciative, and I found that different demographics is something to look into. Most markets I go to I have to travel about and hour out of town (b/c my home town doesn’t have any regular craft markets, only farmer’s) but theses towns really appreciate my goodies and I keep going back because they’re nice, and by this, it give me confidence.
    Something that I quite enjoy is meeting all the people; customers and stall holders alike. I don’t get out much thus when I do to markets it’s always nice to have a chat.

  • Set up

    It takes me about 1.5 to 2hrs to set up, then about and hour to pack it all up. This is a crazy amount of time and I’m usually buggered before I even start selling. I would really like to quicken up the process but due to all the little items I sell (and that I’m on my own) it just takes so long. Depends what I have, I try and arrange to fit in/display it nicely.It takes time and money to have a nice looking display. Compared to how I started the year out to what it looks like now has taken some thought into what I can carry/is portable and will show off my pieces nicely. I find that having a display that I can “hide behind” makes customers willing to look as they feel that I’m not basically in their face. Just something I noticed. And when they walk past they tend to look down right at the front of the table and wont even look up, thus I usually make the front showing a range of products. I have three different sections to my set-up which I find good if someone is looking at one section, people can still look at a different part.

    But seriously, you don’t want to be like me and be spending just as much time setting up to what there is for selling time, it simply takes too much out of you.

  • Stock

    151127_MHW market - Nov(web) (3 of 4)
    Can be trial and error. At the moment I think I’m at a fairly good point with selling my general stock, then throughout the year make seasonal items. It just depends on who turns up on the day.
    People will always want something new, and this can be tricky if you still have lots of old stock. And if you’re in a similar situation where you live at home and have to keep all your stuff in your bedroom, it does become rather cramped for storage space.



Where am I heading now?

Well, that is a question I ask myself a lot. What am I going to do?
My plan for this month is to purchase new supplies, make items, photograph and get my webiste+Etsy store off the ground. I have heaps of people asking if I have an online store. Because with what I make is rather individual/can only make a couple of each before I run out of that paper, it was something I didn’t want to think about at the time. Now that Christmas is over, I have a bit of money in the balance to play with and experiment with new items/ideas that I’ve had for ages.
After January; well I’ll be put on the Doll for six months unless I can find 35hrs work per week. Thus I might disappear for a bit.

But perhaps I might be able to get by. Who knows, the world is ever evolving.

151212_Buninyong Market - Dec(web) (2 of 6)

Aside from the money I make going back into creating new items, I have decided that the money will go towards me taking a trip to Japan. I have many people ask me if I’ve ever been to Japan due to what I do, yet I don’t have my passport – or have even been a plane for that matter. It’s really nice to have a motivation behind the scenes… just have to learn the language. 😛

Good-luck with your adventures and I hope that if you’ve read through that you have found the information a worthwhile guidance for your future endeavours.

Firebird Studios



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