Meg's Guide to Moonlighting: 5 Tips to Survive Your First Craft Show

This is the first in a (loose) series about my experiences working two jobs: By day, I'm a marketer for a local training company. By night, I'm a jewelry-and-sometimes-other-stuff designer. Here's my story!

As I prepped for my first week of the Knoxville Market Square Farmer's Market, I read a lot of gals' posts on how they survived their first show. The rookie lessons learned helped me a lot, so I thought any of you crafters out there could benefit from my silly mess of a life. Hope it helps, or at least entertains!

1. Over-prepare rather than under-prepare. And always wear your under-wear. What? No. Well, yes, but what I mean is do your research. I looked at a ton of websites & pinboards with craft show advice, sample packing lists, display tips, and more. It seemed like overkill, but it helped immensely.

Andy & I practiced setting up the tent & display beforehand, which was a huge help. One big tip: Take good care of your tent & buy weights! There are tons of DIY weight options out there, but I didn't feel up to the task so I bought the standard sandbags and they worked great.

Other helpful websites:

2. Make lists & goals. To-do lists, shopping lists, inventory lists, e-mail sign-up sheets for customers, and anything else you can think of. My brain was falling out of my head the week before, and I couldn't function without my to-do lists & shopping lists. I copied about 5 really thorough lists and highlighted everything I thought I'd need. It'll be different for you, based on your product & personal style, but here's my list for reference. 

I also figured out what it would take to make a profit, and that was my sales goal for the day. Thankfully, I exceeded it! If you don't meet your goals, remember that shows are a great marketing opportunity as well. You may have snagged some future customers!

3. Don't go it alone. Bring a friend (or man candy of choice). It was a huge help to have my hubby with me to help put up the tent, make coffee runs, and watch things while I used the restroom. Andy was also essential in moral support, and he knows my business better than anyone. Also, invite friends to stop by. I asked buddies to come visit me, and some even became customers! It was a great confidence booster.

4. Be open and inviting. Be ready to make friends with any person who stops by, because they're all potential customers or colleagues. Be welcoming but not hovering, saying "Hi, how are you today?" and "Let me know if you have any questions." It also helps to say more practical things like "Feel free to try it on - the mirror is over there." and "Everything's made with vintage repurposed items." When someone tries something on, consider it sold! 

Note: I know a lot of artists advise you to be working on something during the show so you don't look awkward, and that's not a bad idea. However, I worked on a pre-paid custom item for about 20 minutes, and not one person even entered my booth during that time.

5. Have Fun! Be authentic. Maybe don't make that creepy face I'm making. But remember why you're doing this, and why you love it. I stayed true to my feminine vintage aesthetic in my display & product, and it worked out well. I acted like myself, and connected with a fellow violinist and a woman who truly understood the hard-and-soft, modern-and-rustic aesthetic I love so dearly.

 If your booth & your product isn't a true reflection of who you and and what you love, customers won't resonate with it. They might not be able to put a finger on it, but they'll see that you're trying too hard. 

More pics, for you, your best friends, and your extended family to look at for ever and ever:

Come visit me Saturdays from 9-3 this summer at the Market Square Farmer's Market!