Scenario: The Facebook post reads, “I’m signed up for a craft fair in a few months! What should I make that will sell?”
The replies are often fast and easy things to make, like dishcloths, face/dish scrubbies, and children’s hats.
Once again, I clear my throat, stretch my fingers, and jump up on my well-worn soap box.
I disagree. (Shocking, I know.)
Don’t Overdo It With Popular Items
Right off the bat, I’m going to assume that you are not signed up for a juried craft fair. A juried craft fair would have made you send in photos of the product you will be selling at the event. In order to do that, you would have to know ahead of time what you were planning to sell.
So, if you are asking a Facebook Group what you should sell, you probably don’t know what you are bringing yet, and so you are probably not attending a juried craft fair.
That being said, without the control of the jury to sort out the booths and make sure there is a balanced variety of goods, odds are that the place will be INUNDATED with “popular items.”
Keep in mind that every other crochet artist there got the same advice to make dishcloths, towels, and scrubbies.
It is fairly commonplace to go to these non-juried fairs and find out that there are twelve different crochet vendors, all selling pretty much the same product. They all make things that will “sell well,” and as a result, the place has very little variety.
The crochet artist who stands out in this setting? The one who has something different.
At a non-juried craft fair, what you need more than ANYTHING is to stand out!
Put yourself in the shopper’s shoes.
She comes in and sees your face scrubbies. Being the first booth she has stopped at, she doesn’t buy but keeps looking, promising to do “a second pass.”
A little while later, she sees another booth with scrubbies and thinks, “I wanted those earlier. And here they are now! I’ll buy these.” She doesn’t care that she isn’t shopping from the same vendor as before — this is the same product!
Now, if she comes in and sees your one-of-a-kind amigurumi, she is not going to find another one later on as she is shopping. When she realizes she wants it, she will come straight back to you because yours is the only one. She can only get that product from your booth.
Standing out and carrying products unlike the others will make you memorable. It will draw customers back to you again and again instead of them buying scrubbies or towels from the nearest booth that carries them.
Make What You Love
So, I still haven’t answered your question about what to make, have I?
Well, here is my answer — every single time….
Make what you love.
Yes, we are all there to make sales, but this is a craft fair. You are here to show off your craftsmanship. Fast stitches and cheap yarn show more desire to make money than a love of the craft — and that can be a huge turn-off to customers.
Now, a booth full of intricately stitched doilies displayed in frames, blankets made from super soft yarn, or amigurumi with cuddly faces — these things display craftsmanship and love of the art form. They show that you are there to find homes for your art.
This is a craft fair. You are here to show off your craftsmanship.Kati, about six lines ago
Do they take more time? Yes. But if they are something you love to make, that time is much better spent than slogging through 30 dishcloths, don’t you think?
I can think of nothing more tedious than making the same thing over and over with only the thought, “These will sell well,” playing in my head.
What do you love to make so much that you never tire of it? Do you love entrelac blankets done in many colors? Do you love Mandalas? Do you love amigurumi?
What project is so ingrained in you that when you pick up new yarn, it’s the first thing you see?
Fill your booth with items you love, and make them in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors.
Let your customers see your passion for yarn and beautiful craftsmanship, not just that you can make towels quickly with basic stitches. Show off your craft.
But Will I Make Sales?
When I started out with craft fairs, I sold “what would sell well.”
I made a lot of infinity scarves, slippers, fingerless gloves, and baby hats. Yes, most of them sold. I never did make much money, though, because all of the items “that sell well” are small, simple, and take very little effort. Therefore, they are not big money-makers.
I also never heard from any customer ever again.
Then I was accepted into my first juried fair with my amigurumi as my product.
I submitted amigurumi photos with my application because they showed off my best work. When I was accepted, I was expected to have a booth for amigurumi — in fact, I was informed that other crocheters would be there with other items, so I was not to make “kitchen wares” at my booth so not to step on the toes of my fellow crafters.
I was a little scared. I made sure that my booth was nothing but amigurumi (and a few hoods with ears that fit the theme) while still making sure I had a variety of price points.
But even with my price points covered, I thought it would be hard to sell as many items without my “sell well” basics.
Boy, was I wrong!
I SOLD OUT halfway through the second day! And every year since at that fair, I have sold down to my last few critters!
I’m convinced it is because of these factors:
- My booth stands out! It is not just any other crochet booth with the same things from every craft fair — it is different.
- Amigurumi show off my skills as an artist. People can see that what they are buying is a quality product from a skilled craftsman.
- I love every single one of my amigurumi, and it shows. They each have a name on their tag. I have even shed many tears watching them go home in the arms of an ecstatic child who loves them.
What are you really good at?
So what do you love to make?
How can you make it in a variety of sizes so you can fill your booth with things you love and still hit every price point for your audience?
And, okay, go ahead and make a few dishcloths to fill in the table — package them nicely, and find a way to make them stand out. But don’t lean on them for your success.
Instead, lean on your love for this wonderful craft of ours and your talent as an artist.
Kati is the designer behind Hooked by Kati. With thousands of patterns sold around the world, Kati prides herself in creating innovative, easy-to-follow amigurumi patterns. She has designed for several publications, including Crochet!, Crochet World, Simply Crochet, and I Like Crochet. Kati finds her inspiration in science fiction, video games, and numerous visits to the zoo — all passions she shares with her husband and two boys.